7th - 10th DECEMBER 2010



Barely a month after our October visit to Armathwaite Hall, I overheard Dad and Uncle Brian discussing having another few days away in December. Dad had had a very busy time and said he wanted to get a way for a rest. At first they considered the idea of making a return stay at Peebles Hydro in the Scottish Borders, but when it came down to it, they agreed that for the relaxing time they wanted, it just had to be Armathwaite Hall. I was overjoyed with this decision, and as it turned out, due to the very heavy snow that affected Scotland, getting to Peebles would have been difficult. December arrived, and I had to decide which of my pals would come along as my house guests. Of course Fred and Gladly always go as they are the Chief Hug Bears, but otherwise I tried to invite friends who had either not been for a long time or indeed ever. So, the day of departure arrived and we, with our pals Barnaby, Chuck, Elmer, Elmo, Lee, Sam & Sandie, settled ourselves in the car.

The Lake District, like much of the country was blanketed with snow, so for the most part we were happy to stay tucked up and warm in the hotel, enjoying the room service I had arranged for us. But I took some of my guests for a trip to Cockermouth on the Thursday. I hope you enjoy reading the account of our stay.



As Dad opened the curtains, Gladly exclaimed, "it has snowed overnight. Not much, but we all know that we hardly get any here in Morecambe, but it will be worse in the Lake District".

"Oh dear and I was hoping Dad would take us as usual via Ambleside etc."

Fred said, "I will listen to the traffic news on Radio Cumbria, to see how the roads are."

We all waited anxiously, but knew all was well by the smile on Fred's face as he strolled in to tell us. "The roads we are to travel are clear, the only problems being in the far west."

Soon after, we heard the boot of the car slam shut, so we hurried to settle on the back seat, ready for the off.

As we headed north the depth of snow in the fields increased and by the time we got to Windermere, we could see that the fells were blanketed with snow. The usual stop was made here at Lakeland Ltd, for lunch.

Before setting off we had packed a picnic and some flasks of warming soup for our lunch. We normally sit on the station to watch the trains, but it was ever so cold today, so we opted to just sit in the car.

After a while Dad and Uncle Brian returned, and Elmer asked, "did you enjoy your lunch."

"Yes thanks", replied Uncle Brian. "We had a warming bowl of soup, followed by a cake and tea."

So onwards north, beside Windermere where there were fantastic views to the Langdale Fells. Then beyond Ambleside we passed Rydal Water and Grasmere. These lakes were completely frozen and overnight the ice had been covered by snow. Quite an enchanting sight. Soon we crossed Dunmail Raise and passed by the reservoir of Thirlmere, that supplies water to Manchester, once again absolutely full to bursting.

"Well at least Aunt Tish and Uncle Eddie will not be short of water", commented Gladly.

Shortly the snow covered bulk of Blencathra came into view, then Skiddaw, and soon we were skirting Keswick, to join the road under the slopes of Dodd, and on to the Castle Inn, where we turned left. This side road was still rather snowbound, but it was just a very short distance to the entrance to Armathwaite Hall.

I of course, went with Dad and Uncle Brian to check in. Glasses of sherry were provided and later Dad shared his with me. Then Rytis, came out of the restaurant, and seeing Uncle Brian, shook his hand and said, "how nice to see you again."

Dad then went to get the luggage, by which time, Prem, the restaurant manager and his wife Anna had appeared and were making a fuss too. This was to be the case with many of the other staff as well during the stay, so you can see why Dad and Uncle Brian so love staying here.

The luggage delivered to the room, they unpacked, meanwhile my pals and I had settled on the settee as usual.

l-r, Sandie, Lee, Fletcher, Barnaby, Fred, Chuck & Sam Eagle, Gladly, Elmer & Elmo

We had looked out of the window, everywhere white under the snow, lying quite deeply on the extensive lawns.

"The trees look lovely", said Lee.

"Yes", agreed Barnaby, "I bet that they will make lovely photographs."

"Well I was thinking of taking my camera and getting some shots", said Dad. "Do any of you want to come with me?"

"No fear", said Fred. "I just want to sit here and rest and keep warm."

Something we all agreed on too, so Dad set out on his own. Well it gave us and Uncle Brian a quiet hour or so.

I will hand over to Dad to recount his walk.

"Thanks Fletcher."

So leaving Brian and the Lads in the warmth of the room, I set out camera in hand. Walking to the rear of the hotel I then set off across the lawns. The snow was deep and often came over the top of my shoes.

Looking over the trees, mighty Skiddaw was dazzlingly white under its blanket of snow, with Ullock Pike to its right.

Looking back, the late afternoon sunlight was catching the Hall.

A gate at the left hand end, allows access beyond the fence, and crossing the snow covered ground this brought me to the edge of the cutting through which the road runs. Across this the trees looked magical the branches edged with snow.

Returning to the gate, and once through, I then made my way to the path that leads via the bridge over the road, down to the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake. The snow was not deep on the path so I resolved to walk to the lake. The branches of the trees and bushes were heavy with snow and at times it was necessary to duck down to get under them.

With the path being covered in snow, it was not slippery and soon I was standing at the side of the lake. Like Rydal and Grasmere, that we had seen on the journey, it was frozen, and the ice had been covered overnight with snow. The track of some animal, a fox perhaps, can been seen in the snow. The fell lit by the sun, is Skelgill Bank and Catbells, that I had climbed with STAG just a month ago.

The scene was to me one of exquisite beauty and I just stood for some minutes in quiet contemplation. Hard though it was to drag myself away, the sun was getting ever lower and the temperature was beginning to plummet, so with reluctance I headed back along the path, coming to the snow girt steps that I climbed to cross the bridge over the road.

Beyond, the path stretched ahead, the late sunlight shining through the trees, giving some of the snow a pinkish tinge.

Soon I was at the path across the back of the Hall, and after walking round the woods on the opposite side, I was by now thoroughly chilled, so returned to the warmth of our room, to tell the Lads and Brian, all about my outing.

Back to you Fletcher.



Thanks Dad.

Overnight it had been absolutely bitterly cold, the temperature dropping to -15C, and it never rose above freezing at any time today. Being so cold, Dad asked Uncle Brian what he wanted to do today.

"Stay in, if you don't mind", was his reply.

So they spent the day relaxing in the lounge, where they had lunch too. As usual we enjoyed room service. The hotel had been decorated in a most festive manner and Christmas trees abounded everywhere, so during the day my pals and I took time to wander round and look at them. We were mightily impressed. Apparently they had taken a week to put up. I thought it would be nice, as we stayed in today, to show you some of the decorations.

I will start outside. As visitors approach the car park, these illuminated silver reindeer are grazing.

While entering, this tall tree, bare of its leafy foliage, shines out.

Christmas trees and garlands bedeck the entrance, the lights reflecting the cold winter so far this year.

While a warming feel radiates from the trees in the entrance hall.

Here is the hall, with trees either side of the roaring log fire, and one on the first landing of the stairs that lead up to our room.

And finally the Lake View Lounge, where Dad and Uncle Brian had spent most of the day. The door leads to the bar, with yet another large tree.



After yet another cold and frosty night, the day dawned, the snow still blanketing the ground.

"What are we doing today Dad?", I asked.

"Going to Cockermouth, so we can see how it has recovered after the floods last year, and to spend some money to support the traders", Dad replied.

"Great. Is it alright if a few of my guests and I come along for the ride?"

"Sure", replied Dad. "We will be setting off soon after breakfast, once I have defrosted the car."

The time soon passed, and diving into the car, off we went. The road to the A66 was still rather covered with snow, but Dad took it carefully, and once on the main road, we were soon turning off into Cockermouth, joining the main street opposite Wordsworth's birthplace. The disabled parking places were taken, but Dad found a spot to park further along the road. The pavements had been cleared of snow and ice, for which we were glad as it made it much safer for Uncle Brian to walk. Here is a view of the main street. It is hard to imagine, but the water level at the time of the floods was such that it would have been as much as two feet above the heads of the people crossing the street. We were pleased to see that many of the shops had now reopened, but over one year on, there were some shops that were still undergoing renovations.

The first stop was at the newsagents so that Uncle Brian could get a birthday card. Then as we walked on further we found that the disabled parking space was free, so Dad moved the car. This was so that we could have up the three hours parking. Crossing the road we visited The New Bookshop. Last time Dad had bought a book about place names in the Lake District. Today he spotted a book about the mountain Blencathra. It has wonderful photographs, and was just the sort of book that Dad and our walking group STAG would enjoy reading, so he bought it.

Uncle Brian did not want to walk further along the street, so he waited while Dad took us along, finding a convenient place on a snow covered wall, for us to sit for our picture, with the Nativity scene in the background.

"Come on pals, settle down and smile for the camera", I said.

l-r, Fletcher, Elmo, Sandie, Chuck & Sam Eagle

Suddenly, Sandie called out, "look up there Fletcher. I did not know that you had clothing shop here."

"Well that's a coincidence", I said laughingly.

The shop in this building had indeed once been Fletchers Clothiers, although we were unable to find out exactly how long ago. Also it remains a mystery what, 'Fearless Clothing' was.

Dad and Uncle Brian were hungry now, so went to the nice cafe called Coffee n'Creme. Here they had a drink and a very tasty toasted teacake. The place had a very friendly atmosphere and Dad and Uncle Brian chatted to other customers and the owner too. One lady customer had a large wheelie suitcase and a guitar in its case. It turned out that the suitcase contained all manner of percussion (tambourines etc). She visits old peoples homes, to play her guitar for them, handing out the percussion instruments to the residents so that they can be involved too. What a marvellous thing to do!

Taking our leave, we strolled further on, then crossed the street, to walk back to the car. This involved passing for the second time a shop called Fagans. On first passing, Uncle Brian had pointed out the large teddy bear in the window. He did not stop, but Dad did, and saw, sitting with the large bear, a smaller teddy with a beautiful face. It was love at first sight, and in fact Dad had manoeuvred the return to pass the shop again so that he could adopt him to the Hug, and as Dad said further support the shops in Cockermouth. Well that's his excuse! He is one of the range of 'Charlie Bears', his name being Kieran.

We welcomed him to the Hug, and he snuggled up with us, for the journey to the hotel. We then introduced him to the rest of my guests, who we told all about the visit to Cockermouth.

Dad and Uncle Brian a little later went and sat in the lounge to enjoy a pot of Assam 2nd Flush tea, with two mince pies each, served with rum butter. They said that they were the best mince pies they have ever had. The pastry melted in the mouth and the mince meat was ever so alcoholic and tasty.

Then after they had returned to the room, Dad took us all for our usual end of holiday picture, sitting on the window seat on the half landing of the stairs.

top - Barnaby, Fletcher & Kieran
bottom - Lee with Chuck, Gladly, Sandie with Sam Eagle, Fred, Elmer with Elmo

Later we had our final dinner, served in the room, while Dad and Uncle Brian went to the restaurant, where they enjoyed the following from the choices on the menu -

Amuse Bouche (a pre starter) Minestrone soup
Starters Red Pepper Panacotta with Tomato Bread and Micro Herbs
Medallion of Monkfish wrapped in Parma Ham with Black Pudding Boulin served with Bacon, Baby Onion & Red Wine Sauce
Sorbet Blueberry
Main Course Char-grilled Fillet of Beef, Pate en Croute with Red Wine and Vegetable Sauce. Served with potato & mixed vegetables
Desserts Ginger & Chocolate Pudding with Amaretto Brandy Sauce & Cinnamon Ice Cream.
Mixed Berry Iced Terrine with Fruit Compote.
Afterwards in the lounge Coffee & Tea, with scrumptious home made chocolates



So, yet again, that was the end of another stay here at Armathwaite Hall. The Lads and I were sad to be leaving this morning, and but for the fact that Dad had to be at the Lifeboat Shop on Saturday afternoon, they would have taken up the offer from my friend Lorraine on reception to stay another night. Oh well...... The return journey today was east along the A66, stopping at Rheged, as Dad was hoping to get another long sleeved top to wear when he goes walking. He found a nice one in red, but they did not have his size. Uncle Brian bought some bread and biscuits. There is also an IMAX Cinema here showing interesting films some in 3D. Sadly there was not time to see one of these today, but maybe I will get the chance to go with Dad and Uncle Brian, some time. Now down the M6 stopping at Tebay for lunch at Junction 38 Services. Then straight on home where we told our other pals all about our adventures, and introduced our new pal Kieran to the rest of the Hug.

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

Love & Hugs always





shopify analytics