5th - 8th OCTOBER 2010



October arrived, and I began to get excited about going with Dad and Uncle Brian, once again, to their luxury retreat of Armathwaite Hall, where I originally come from. There was excitement too amongst the Hug, as to who would be lucky enough to be my house guests. Of course Fred and Gladly, always go as they are the Chief Hug Bears. So, the day of departure arrived and we, with our pals Brandy, Craig, Kernow, Ralph,Twinkle & Wilf Benedict, settled ourselves in the car.

Some of my pals were quite content to spend the holiday, relaxing in the hotel and the grounds, and indeed on one day both Dad and Uncle Brian stayed in to rest and recharge after a busy time. But I took some of my guests for a day out on the Thursday. I hope you enjoy reading the account of our stay.



Setting off, I asked, "which route are we taking Dad?"

"To Windermere, to get some items Uncle Brian wants from Lakeland Ltd, and to have lunch there. Then on through the Lakes to Keswick, Fletcher", Dad replied.

"Well there would have to be a food stop", remarked Fred, knowing what an appetite his Uncle Gerry has.

It is not very far to Windermere, so it seemed like no time at all we were pulling into the car park. Not interested in shopping, instead we sat on the railway station watching the trains, while we ate our sandwiches and drank our pop.

Ralph was on look out, and called out as he saw them coming out, and we scampered back to the car, just in time.

"Did you enjoy your lunch", asked Kernow.

"Yes", replied Uncle Brian. "The soup was delicious"

"Is that all you had. My my, what restraint", piped up Fred.

"Don't be so cheeky", said Uncle Brian.

Craig, who is a John Lewis partner, asked, "did you get all you wanted in the shop."

"Yes", said Uncle Brian. "We bought a new potato bag, and two poach pods for cooking eggs [they were to turn out to be excellent too]. Finally we bought a new glass plate to cover the hob, to replace the one your Dad accidentally burnt."

So now onward north along Windermere to Ambleside, then passing Rydal Water and Grasmere and over Dunmail Raise, to pass Thirlmere and so on to Keswick. Again Dad pointed out the different fells and mountains, adding that he and STAG had climbed them all too.

"Oh, how he goes on!", yawned Fred, promptly dozing off until we arrived.

Some of our party, Brandy, Kernow, Twinkle and Wilf, had not been here before, so were much more interested, marvelling at the great heights that STAG had attained on their many adventures.

As we neared Keswick, the familiar sight of mighty Skiddaw came into view and then to the right the massive bulk of Blencathra.

Armathwaite Hall is on the road on the north shore of Bassenthwaite Lake. At the large roundabout on the A66, we took the A591 right under the slopes of Dodd and Ullock Pike, turning left at the Castle Inn, and just minutes later we were pulling up in front of the hotel.

I of course went with Dad and Uncle Brian, to check in. The lady on reception remembered me, offering me a glass of sherry too, but I said I would share Dad's. We were in the same room with the wonderful view overlooking the grounds and Bassenthwaite Lake. Uncle Brian and I settled in the room, while Dad brought up the luggage. My other guests trotted up to the room, and we all settled on the settee as usual.

The remainder of the afternoon was whiled away just resting, although some of my guests who had not been here before, were fascinated by the wonderful view. Suddenly Kernow, called out, "the sun is casting a lovely light on to those fells to the left. What are they called?"

We all went to look. "They are Ullock Pike and Dodd", I said. "Dad and STAG climbed them a few months ago with Uncle Eric."

Later Uncle Brian and Dad went down for dinner. I had arranged for room service, for my guests and I.



Today was to be a day of complete rest. The weather was a little unsettled, with heavy showers at times, so we were quite happy to be staying in the hotel. When Uncle Brian and Dad returned from breakfast, we were up and settled on the settee, apart from Gladly, who had decided to have a lie in.

Uncle Brian had brought a good book to read, as well as his MP3 to listen to music. Dad, as usual had brought his laptop, and spent much of the day working on a story of one of STAG's recent adventures. I was glad about that as this meant I would fairly soon get a slot to write this account. We read, and played games in the room.

As well as the luxury accommodation, the food here at Armathwaite Hall is outstanding. As an indication, here is the dinner that was enjoyed tonight. From the selection of starters, mains and desserts, they chose those below.

Amuse Bouche (a pre starter) Tuna Carpaccio & Sardine with mixed salad
Starters Pan Fried Scallops with Cauliflower puree and Cumbrian Pancetta
Goats Cheese, Red Pepper & Pesto Panacotta with Tomato Bread
Sorbet Strawberry
Main Course Pan Fried Fillet of Wild Sea Bass with Creamed Potato, Green Beans, Spinach and a Salsa Verdi. Served with potato & mixed vegetables
Pre-dessert Tiramasu
Dessert Chocolate Fondant with Mint Chocolate & Chocolate Chip ice cream
Afterwards in the lounge Coffee & Tea, with scrumptious home made chocolates



As Uncle Brian drew back the curtains, we could see that it was going to be a lovely day weather wise, so the day out I had planned to Maryport was on. I was taking some of my guests, so after breakfast, Brandy, Kernow, Twinkle and Wilf Benedict and I trotted down and settled in the car.

Turning right out of the hotel, we drove along, above the path by the lake that some of my pals and I had walked along, on the last visit, when we did the nature trail. Soon we reached the bridge over the river Derwent. In the terrible floods, almost a year ago it had been almost completely submerged. The road we wanted, once we had crossed, was left, but a sign said the road was closed. Instead Dad, went right along a road that led us through Embleton.

"This used to be the main road", I told my pals. "It was replaced by a new road that you can see to the left, built on the trackbed of the long closed railway line that ran from Keswick, through Cockermouth and on eventually to Workington."

"Thanks for the information Fletcher. You are knowledgeable", remarked Brandy.

Soon we joined the main A66, and by passing Cockermouth, it was just another seven miles to Maryport. Dad followed the signs and after what seemed a bit of a roundabout route, we arrived at the Wave Centre. This houses a theatre, conference facilities and exhibition about the town and its history.

This was quite excellent and we spent quite a while looking at the interesting displays, giving us an insight into the history of Maryport. We would recommend it to anyone visiting the town.

In Roman times there was a fort and urban settlement, which we were to learn more about later when we visited the Senhouse Roman Museum. The urban settlement continued after the Romans left, but the town today dates from the 18th century, and even today it is a well preserved example of a Georgian planned town. The charmingly cobbled Fleming Square, is a good example, with its many large, mainly Georgian houses.

This was taken later, on our way to the Roman museum, and we could not resist posing on one of the seats by the obelisk.

l-r - Wilf Benedict, Kernow, Fletcher, Brandy & Twinkle

Right, back to the history. The Senhouse family owned much of the land that was known as Ellenfoot. In 1756 Humphrey Senhouse changed the name to Maryport, calling the new town after his wife Mary. They were responsible for development, together with other local luminaries and industrialists whose businesses brought prosperity to the town. One was the Ritson family, who developed shipbuilding including one of the first iron ships. What was unusual, was that on completion the ships were launched sideways into the dock. Among the ships built was the Britannia for the White Star Line, a sister ship to the ill-fated Titanic. This never saw commercial service, being requisitioned as a hospital ship in the First World War, only to be sunk in 1916. As ships grew larger, the facilities at Maryport became unable to cope and shipbuilding finally ceased in 1914. It should not be forgotten that George Stephenson played a role in the towns prosperity bringing the railway in 1845. Coal mining was another industry in the area, as well as a thriving import and export of goods as the port expanded with the building of more docks. Gradually over time coal mining ceased and trade through the port declined, such that by the late 20th century the town was in great decline. No longer an industrial area, the town has been revitalised for tourism, much regeneration having taken place round the harbour.

Lunch was next. Dad and Uncle Brian, went to the cafe in the Wave Centre, where they had a delicious crispy cheese savoury baguette with side salad and coleslaw accompanied by tea. I had arranged for the hotel to pack a picnic for my guests and I, which we ate overlooking the River Ellen, that runs past the Wave Centre. Then Dad drove us to the harbour. Initially Uncle Brian sat on a seat, while we went for a walk with Dad, round the docks There were quite a number of boats in the harbour, like this group.

And this of fishing boats, with the restored bridge behind. It was up all the time we were there, which was a shame as we would have loved to scamper across.

By doing so we discovered that it was possible to drive round, and this we did so that Uncle Brian was able to see the fishing boats etc. Here is the view along the whole length of the dock.

Away by the entrance stands the harbour light, that can be seen up to twelve miles out to sea.

We sat a while looking out from the harbour.

"What are those hills over there?", asked Twinkle.

"Well pal," I said, "Maryport is on the Solway Firth, that divides England from Scotland. The hills you can see are the Galloway Hills. STAG and Dad see them frequently, from walks in the more northerly fells of Lakeland. I know for a fact, from what STAG have told me, that the large hill to the right is called Criffel."

Well, the harbour well and truly explored, we now went on to the Senhouse Roman Museum, that is housed in a building we could see high on the cliffs away to our right.

The building known as the Battery, formerly a Royal Naval Artillery Volunteer Drill Hall built in 1887 to train naval gunners, is where the collection has resided since 1990. This comprises an amazing number of inscribed stones (altars and other sculptures), from the Roman fort and civilian town, the site of which is immediately adjacent to the museum. The collection was started in 1570 by John Senhouse, Lord of the Manor of Ellenborough. We were all in awe of the wonderful items on display. It seems that every year that altars were created to the gods and for the emperor, by the commandant of the fort. All the writing is naturally in Latin, but a helpful translation leaflet was provided, so that we could understand them. The collection is of international importance. We recommend clicking this link to the museum website, for more information and pictures. Senhouse Roman Museum.

Hadrian's Wall is of world renown. This frontier was extended down the Solway Coast at least as far as Maryport, by the construction of milefortlets (small turf and timber forts) spaced every Roman mile, with two watchtowers between each. Inspired by these, a watchtower has been built at the museum.

This allows visitors an unrivalled view over the coast to Scotland, and down to Maryport. It also gives an elevated view of the earthworks of the Roman fort, in the background of this shot. This is the view looking east of part of the earthworks.

I wanted my pals and I to have a record of our visit, and perhaps you spotted us in the picture of the watchtower. Here is a close-up Dad kindly took, at my request.

So, it was time to return to Armathwaite Hall, so we settled in the car for the journey.

Kernow said, "what a wonderful day we have had, and on behalf of Brandy, Twinkle, Wilf and I, we want to say a big thank you Fletcher, for organising it all."

"Your welcome, pals", I replied.

Soon we were bypassing Cockermouth, and on along the towards Keswick, Dad turning off again at Embleton, to avoid the road closure.

"Those mountains ahead look ever so high", said Brandy in awe, as having only joined the hug recently, he had not been here before.

"The highest away to the left is Skiddaw at just over 3000ft", I replied. Adding, "of course STAG and Dad have climbed it, and in fact every other one you can see."

"STAG really are an intrepid group", said Wilf.

Once we were back in the room, we told our other pals all about the day. It was then time for the usual end of holiday group picture, so we all trooped out and wandered to different locations in the grounds to have it taken.

back row - Ralph, Gladly, Fletcher, Fred, Craig
front row - Kernow, Wilf Benedict, Brandy, Twinkle

This was the third location, on the seat of the old equestrian jump.

Fred who is not a big one on exercise, said "I hope that's the last, as I am ready for a rest after all this tramping around."

It was, so back to the room for a welcome rest, before dinner. We as usual had ours in the room, while Dad and Uncle Brian enjoyed another sumptuous and leisurely meal in the dining room.

Amuse Bouche (a pre starter) Cream of Butternut Squash soup with a Parmesan Crisp
Starters Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps with Cayenne Pepper, Lemon & Watercress with Wholemeal Bread
Sorbet Banana
Main Course Char-grilled Fillet of Beef with Roasted Vine Tomatoes, Bearnaise Sauce & Garlic Mushrooms served with home made Chips.
Roast Turkey with Bacon & Sausage, Sage & Onion Stuffing. Croquet Potato & Carrot & Swede
Pre-dessert & Dessert Replete they did not have any dessert tonight
Afterwards in the lounge Coffee & Tea, with scrumptious home made chocolates



So, that was that, the end of another wonderful stay here at Armathwaite Hall. The Lads and I were sad to be leaving this morning, but I am sure that Dad and Uncle Brian will be coming to stay here next year, so we can look forward to that. The return journey was through the Lakes again, and on to Low Sizergh Barn. This is an excellent farmshop where Dad and Uncle Brian have been many times to buy goods, which they did today. There is also an excellent cafe serving mouth watering dishes. Dad was especially in need of some fortification, so a stop for lunch was made too.

As we set off again, Wilf asked, "did you have a nice lunch."

"We did", replied his Uncle Brian. "Delicious pea and mint soup with bread. Tea to drink, and of course your Dad had a piece of cake."

Why am I not surprised", called out Fred.

Then straight on home where we told our other pals all about our adventures.

We all say a big big thank you to Dad and Uncle Brian for taking us.

Love & Hugs always




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