2nd - 7th September 2012



As the end of August arrived, I began to get excited, as soon my pals and I would be off again with Dad and Uncle Brian to Armathwaite Hall, on the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake.

The question for me was who were to be my guests. Lately Uncle Brian had not mentioned quite so much restricting the holiday hug to five, so I dared to hope that I could get away with eight guests and myself.

I went and sought Dad out and asked him what he thought about that.

"Fine by me", he replied. "As I said last time, Uncle Brian does not really check, and when you are all settled on the settee in the room, it will be too late. So, who is going?"

"Well Fred and Gladly of course, and I cannot go without my girlfriend Polly. On Wednesday afternoon, you are going to the Theatre by the Lake, so that means Rex and Starbuck will have to come. Jacques too, the Armathwaite spa bear, and finally Craig and Ralph. My pals and I are even more excited this time as it is a five night stay instead of the usual three."

"That's right Fletcher", Dad replied. "We will certainly feel more benefit from the longer stay, and with any luck this will become the norm on future visits."

I am part of a very large Hug, of over 500 teddy bears and other animals, so obviously it quite impossible for Dad to take us all for days out or indeed holidays. Not because he loves them any less, he had decided that for a better life, some of the hug would be going with us to be gifts for the girls who we have got to know, who work at Armathwaite Hall, so I said, "have you decided which bears are going to new homes in Cumbria?"

"Yes, and I have redone and printed the record for each, so that they will know where they originally came from."



Sunday dawned, our day of departure, and as I heard Dad loading the luggage into the car boot I called out, "come on pals, it's time to get settled on the back seat of the car."

"OK", called out Fred, as he marshalled us together.

As we pulled out of the drive, Craig asked, "which way are we going?"

"The M6 route, as this will be quickest, and it will probably be rather busy with traffic through Ambleside etc", Dad replied.

The day was sunny and warm, so the Howgills were clear as we drove north, and leaving the M6 and heading west along the A66, it was not long before Blencathra came into view. Clearly defined it is a magnificent sight, as too are the mountains around Keswick, which we are all by now very familiar with.

I remarked, "I remember my one mountain walk, with STAG up to Hobcarton End. It was a wild day, and made me realise how intrepid they are to have climbed all those hundreds and hundreds of summits."

"Yes", replied Fred. "I prefer a more leisurely pursuit of sitting in the chair."

It was not long before we were turning off the main road, and then soon we were turning into the entrance and along the drive to the car park.

As is usual, I always go in with Dad, and we were greeted by the smiling faces of Gemma and Kim on reception. They welcomed us and Kim checked us in. We went and sat in the comfortable sofas in the hall, but then Dad and Uncle Brian decided to have lunch in the Brasserie. 

Andra was on, and seeing us she came over and gave Dad a big hug and one of Uncle Brian too.  She made ever so much fuss.  She is very ebullient, and such a lovely person. 

I sat quietly in the chair while Dad and Uncle Brian had soup and prawn sandwiches accompanied by beer. When Dad was not looking I pinched some of his sandwiches. They really were quite delicious. He later had crumble and custard and the meal was rounded off with tea.

Dad said quietly, "I am going to get Copperfield, who is the bear I am giving to Andra."

She adored him on first sight, and said "for me!", when Dad told her it was a gift. It almost made her cry, she was so happy. Dad got more hugs.

She then showed the bear to Arturus, who said to Dad, “you have made her very happy”. 

A little while later Dan came on to take over, and Andra departed hugging the bear and giving Dad and Uncle Brian more hugs and kisses.

I guess it made her day!   

Now we went and sat in the hall. The room was now ready, so Dad got the key and brought the luggage in, settled the rest of my guests on the settee. We were in room 131 as usual, with that superb view over the lawns to the lake. 

As Gemma and Kim were there, I said to Dad, "why don't you give them their bears too."

"Good idea Fletcher", he replied, heading off to the car.

When he returned he came and collected me, so we could pass them on together. He was giving Kim, Faye (on the left below) and Gemma, Leo

Like Andra, they were very pleased with the gift, Kim saying, "it's made my day." 

A little later we saw Gaby, Andra's boyfriend, who said, “nice bear.”

So after all this excitement, we finally went to the room, and I settled with my girlfriend Polly, and pals. Later we had dinner in the room, via room service, that I had arranged, while Dad and Uncle Brian had a delicious dinner in the Lake View Restaurant.

Amuse Bouche Lentil & Bacon soup
Starter Deep Fried Hake in a light Potato & Onion Batter with Tartar Sauce & Orange Cardoman Jam
Sorbet Strawberry
Main course Breast of Chicken with Bianitze Potatoes with Pancetta, Leek & Butter Onion Sauce
Dessert Glazed Lemon Tart with Raspberry Coulis & Lemon-Lime-Cucumber Sorbet decorated with Raspberries & Red Currants

This was then followed by tea (Dad) and coffee (Uncle Brian), with delicious home made chocolates, served in the Lake View Lounge.



After breakfast, Dad and Uncle Brian sat in the hall. This was to see if Uncle Brian's iPad would connect to the router, as bizarrely yesterday it would not. Happily it did, so all was well with the world. 

Mia and Katherine were in today so Dad was able to give them their bears, Jarvis and Jo-Ann respectively

They were both very pleased, Mia saying, "I will look after him", and Katherine, "it has made my day." 

"We are going for a drive, so will some of you like to come along."

"Ooh yes please", I replied.

So off we went, Polly, Jacques, Craig and Ralph coming along with me too.

It was another beautiful day, and the fells were stunningly clear so there were magnificent views as we drove to Keswick, and then continued along Borrowdale, beside beautiful Derwent Water. The road then continued up the Honister Pass, which leads over to Buttermere. On the way down Dad pulled in to take some pictures. This below is of High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike that form the ridge above the west side of Buttermere.

There was a large boulder in the lay-by, and Craig called out let's climb up, and have our picture taken."

Soon the road brought beside Buttermere

"What a wonderful view", called out Polly.

For our information, Dad said, "the dominant fell is called Mellbreak, and the rounded one to the left is Hen Comb. STAG and I climbed them both last year." 

"Thank you", replied Jacques.

"Will you take another picture of us, with this view behind?", asked Ralph.

"Sure", replied Dad.

l-r, Craig, Ralph with Jacques, Polly & myself

Looking on along the road the fells rose majestically above. "What are those, Dad?, I asked.

"The one to the left is called High Snockrigg, which I climbed last year, while that to the right is Robinson."

The road meanders above the lake, to reach the tiny village of the same name, where just by the road junction is St James's church. We stopped here to visit. It is quite a simple church, as can be seen in this picture looking along the nave.

At the bottom right of the picture the light can be seen shining through a window, on the sill of which is this poignant memorial to Alfred Wainwright.

And indeed that is what we all did when we went outside.

After a few moments quiet contemplation, I said, "STAG has told me that in accordance with Wainwright's wishes, on his death, his ashes were scattered at Innominate Tarn on Haystacks." This photo was taken in 2006, when they climbed Haystacks with Dad.

Now we headed on along above Crummock Water, where mighty Grasmoor dominates above the east side.

It was getting to lunchtime, and Dad had a plan to stop for a snack at New House Farm, but when we got there, a sign stated that the tearoom was closed. 

"Oh heck", said Craig.

"Let's give Cockermouth a try", suggested Uncle Brian, knowing full well that he was risking Dad going Fagans, where they sell teddy bears.

Well again we were thwarted, as there was nowhere to park on the main street. I think Uncle Brian was actually relieved, as there is no doubt that Dad would have gone to Fagans.

"Well there is nothing for it but to go to the Brasserie", said Dad. 

I had arranged a picnic for us, so we went and sat on the benches overlooking the lawns, lake and mountains. "Paradise", sighed Polly.

Andra was on in the Brasserie, so there were hugs again. They had soup and sandwich, washed down with a pint of beer.  Arturus came on to take over, so before Dad left, he was able to give him Charlie, the bear, for Natalia. 

Later in the day, she sent a message to Dad on Facebook, thanking him for an amazing gift.  

We by now had returned to the room, to rest and tell our other pals about our trip. Uncle Brian was now content to sit in the hall with his iPad, but Dad was eager to go for a walk.

"Does anyone want to come along?", he asked.

We were all really just wanted to rest, but Jacques piped up, "I have spent so long just sitting on the shelf in the Brasserie, before Arturus gave me to you Dad, that I would love to explore the area around the hotel."

"OK", replied Dad, "let's go."

I am handing over to Jacques to describe his walk.

"Thanks Fletcher."

Dad told me that he had tried to do this walk earlier this year, but had had to abandon it due to rain. It starts just about opposite the exit drive from the hotel. As we got to the road the mountains reared up ahead. "What are they called?", I asked.

"Broad End rising to Skiddaw, with to the right Ullock Pike", Dad replied.

"I guess that you and STAG have climbed them?"

"Yes lad, more than once too."

The plan was to walk to Scarness, as indicated by the signpost by the road, and then come back in a circle to the start.

Some steps lead up to the stile, and I posed on them for my picture.

The initial path beyond was very muddy, and the fields were nearly waterlogged. It was hardly surprising after all the rain this year, but I did wonder if they would ever be dry. We crossed a stile, then it was on to the next.

We were heading for the wood, and looking over the stile I said, "that looks to be another very wet and muddy path Dad."

"Quite", he replied. "It is certainly essential to have walking boots or wellies on."

In the wood duck boarding allowed progress, and it was necessary to climb over some fallen trees.  Exiting the wood we came into a field that was a mass of tall and dense vegetation. "The way to Scarness is on ahead, but there does not seem to be much of a path, and we will have to return to this point to continue and complete the circle", Dad said.

"Doesn't seem to be a very good idea, particularly as you are wearing shorts Dad, and I do not mind if we don't go there today", I replied.

This shot with Binsey behind, gives some idea of what we faced.

So, we turned left down by the wood and rounding the corner went through a gate, then on with the fence on our right. 

"Look Dad, the cloud is beginning to roll in over Skiddaw."

The path was well waymarked and more stiles had to be crossed, which were quite daunting for my little legs. "Ooh this is a long way down Dad", I called out here.

Finally the route brought us over a field to the buildings of Kilnhill. 

"Where now Dad?"

"We go left before the building along a track and pasture to a gate where we turn left on the access to Low House."

This accomplished, Dad said, "we need to look for a path going right."

"Here it is", I called out after a little way.

Beyond the stile we crossed a tiny bridge and then another stile into a large pasture, where there were cows grazing, and so back to the start.

"Thanks for a lovely walk Dad."

With all the mud, Dad had got pretty muddy legs, so he dived into the shower when we got back to the room.

So, it's back to you Fletcher. 

Thanks Jacques, glad you enjoyed the walk.

Lorraine was now on reception, so Dad and I took Ray, who he was giving to her, for her daughter Niamh.

She thanked Dad very much.  What was rather scary was that Ray was Lorraine's late father’s name, and all the children in the family have it as their middle name.  I could not have possibly known, but I certainly made the right choice here. Lorraine told us that Niamh had taken pictures of red squirrels that inhabit the large cemetery in Cockermouth, and she had entered them into a competition   It had won too, being picked out by David Bellamy, and will appear on a calendar for the Red Squirrel Trust. "How wonderful", said Dad, "you must be ever so proud." 

In the evening we had our dinner in the room as usual, while Dad and Uncle Brian went to the Brasserie, where their usual table had been reserved by Andra. A nice meal followed and it was a very enjoyable evening, with plenty of chat and laughs with Andra and Arturus. She feigned outrage when Dad said they were eating in the restaurant tomorrow, Dad explaining that we have to come to the Brasserie when Sunshine is on.  It was all fun of course, but she was pleased when Dad said we would be coming for lunch tomorrow, after his massage.  A lovely day and more happiness spread via the bears.



This was a day of rest for us all, and my pals and I spent most of the day in the room and around the hotel soaking up the so so relaxing atmosphere. Uncle Brian sat in the hall all the morning with his iPad and MP3. Later in the morning Dad went to the Spa for a full body massage by John. This did him the power of good relaxing the muscles in his shoulder and upper back in particular, the areas where Dad suffers most. Afterwards Dad met Uncle Brian in the Brasserie for lunch. Later, Lorraine was on reception, and she told Dad that her daughter Niamh just loves Ray. What was so nice, was that Niamh had gone to the trouble of taking a photo of Ray with his new pals.

photo courtesy Niamh Gorse

Not only this, but she had sent a letter from Ray, saying how happy he is, and thanking Dad herself too. Here is it below. Just look at the effort she had put in with the border of pictures of Ray, and too, a larger version of the picture has been applied to the page as a watermark.

This left two bears to deliver, one being Hannah for Juju. However Lorraine told Dad that she had left and returned to France. He was still resolved to pass Hannah on, so decided to give her also to Niamh, particularly as she had gone to so much trouble to say thank you. Before he and Uncle Brian went for dinner, he amended the record sheet, which Lorraine kindly printed off, when he gave Hannah to Lorraine.



Today was when Dad and Uncle Brian were going to the Theatre by the Lake in Keswick, and of course my pals Rex and Starbuck always go along too. 

Fred said, "Gladly and I are content to just rest again today", as he tucked into his cereal.

"Me too", added Craig and Ralph in unison, as they spread the butter and marmalade on their toast.

"Well I'd like to explore some more of the grounds", said Jacques.

"Why don't you ask Dad, if he will take you for a walk, when they come back from breakfast", I suggested. "Polly and I have explored before, so I hope you won't mind if we do not come."

We'd like to come", said Rex, speaking for Starbuck too. "It will make a full day for us together with the theatre."

"That's great", cried Jacques.

"Well over to you for the narration", I said.

"OK", Fletcher.

Dad readily agreed to this, and while Uncle Brian sat relaxing in the hall, off we went.

"We'll take a circle through the woods first", said Dad, turning left from the entrance and rounding the side of the building.

It was just lovely and peaceful with only the sound of the birds singing, as we walked along the wide clear path.

The trees are huge and obviously old, and some idea of the height can be seen from this shot looking skyward.

As we strolled on, Starbuck called out, "let's go sit on those tree stumps and have our picture taken."

l-r, Jacques, Starbuck & Rex

By the old horse jump, on the long forgotten equestrian course, we exited the woods via a gate, and down by the pool. "That makes a nice scene", said Rex.

"OK, I get the hint", said Dad lining up the camera.

Climbing the bank, we joined a path, and going right came to the gates into the car park.

"Where now?", asked Starbuck.

"Along the terrace towards the Spa", Dad replied.

Then turning right we came to this curious globe faced with small stone pebbles.

Examining it more closely, Rex exclaimed, it has a light in the centre, that will glow through the gaps in the pebbles. Must look nice a night."

Our way was down the path, passing the two deer sculptures, the one to the left seen here in close-up.

At the end of the path Dad turned right, then left through the trees.

"Where does this take us?", I asked.

"Down to the lake", Dad replied.

This involved crossing the footbridge over the road, and we had to climb the steps, which was rather hard for our little legs, and then on down the muddy path, this being the case on the last part in particular. It was disappointing as due all the rain, the lake was unusually high, so we could not get to see the view.

"I should have realised this" said Dad, as he critically inspected his mud bespattered legs.

"You'll need to wash that off before going to the theatre", remarked Rex.

We had to return by the same route, and we were faced with those steps again, at the footbridge.

"Oh heck", sighed Starbuck.

These surmounted, we then took the path by the sculptures once again.

"What are those line of trees?", I asked.

"They are lime trees", Dad replied. "Twenty one in all, planted by a previous owner on the occasion of his son's 21st birthday."

"Thanks Dad. As we are at the end of our exploration, will you take our picture sitting over there."

"Sure Lads,"

Rex and Starbuck went and sat with Uncle Brian, while I trooped up to the room to tell Fletcher and the rest of my pals about the walk. Dad took the opportunity to wash the mud off his legs. Uncle Brian had called him a dirty tyke!

"Thanks for narrating that section Jacques"

"You're welcome Fletcher, it's back to you now."

We had lunch in the room, then rested for the remainder of the day. Meanwhile Rex and Starbuck went to see Bedroom Farce by Alan Ayckbourn, with Dad and Uncle Brian. It was rather deja vu for Uncle Brian, as many years ago he had acted in this self same play. In fact Uncle Brian has acted in many plays and musicals, over a long period of time, playing some leading roles too. These days he is retired, but nevertheless we are all very proud of him. They did enjoy the afternoon, but thought that some of the parts could have been done better.

As a result of the walk on Monday, Dad had got his legs bitten a number of times by insects lurking in the tall vegetation.

"They itch like mad", he remarked to Uncle Brian. "I'll have to walk up into town and go to the pharmacy, to get something to stop this."

"OK", Uncle Brian replied, "I'll sit and wait for you in the car."

Although he really did need the ointment, there was another ulterior motive that Dad did not disclose. The route took him along Lake Road, where one of the shops is called Toy Chest, and yes you have guessed it, they sell a large range of teddy bears. These include Charlie Bears, which Dad is very fond of, and indeed my girlfriend Polly is one. He walked straight past going in, but coming back, just could not resist having a look inside. He soon found the Charlie Bears, and initially none took his eye, until they alighted on a silver grey one with a lovely face, called Kiki. He was a lost cause - well no surprise there - and soon she had joined the Hug. He sneaked her into the car, and only when they arrived at the hotel again, did he confess to Uncle Brian.

"You're crafty, but I am not surprised. At least you have given some away."

Looking at her face, I guess it is little wonder Dad, succumbed.

Going to reception to get the room key, they saw Kim, and Dad showed Kiki to her.

She said, "what an adorable face. What is she called."


"That's me", she breathed. Then explained, "when my brother was young he could not say my name properly, instead saying Kiki, and this is now what my dad calls me."

In the evening we had room service as usual, while Dad and Uncle Brian went to the Brasserie, where Sunshine and Arturus were on tonight. Kiki went along too, and Uncle Brian told them that she had been bought this afternoon. She was fussed and they thought she was lovely. To eat Uncle Brian had fish chips and mushy peas, while Dad had chicken breast stuffed with sun dried tomatoes. Then later dessert - ice cream for Uncle Brian, apple and rhubarb crumble with custard for Dad (what else).

By now it was quiet most of the diners having gone, and Sunshine brought us the coffee and tea to round off the meal.  It was now that Dad gave her Su-Shi the panda as her gift. 

She was delighted and immediately fell in love with her, thanking Dad very much.  She was amused by the growl, and said that she would try to scare Johnny, her fiance, with this tonight!

At reception Dad saw Lorraine. She told him that Niamh loves Hannah!  When she had got home last night she had peeked in Niamh’s bedroom and saw that Ray was in bed with the rest of her bears and animals.  There was then quite a chat then about Dad's teddy collecting and he told some stories of him being recognised on the fells, because of STAG in his rucksack.  David the Food & Beverage manager was there too and joined in.  Of course he showed them Kiki, who they all liked.  With what Dad gets up to they realise exactly what Uncle Brian has to put up with. 



For the first time this week we did not wake up to the sun shining, and as forecast the weather was on the change. Uncle Brian wanted to rest today so Dad and he, spent the morning sitting downstairs.

"What do you want to do", I asked by pals.

"Take it easy too", replied Polly.

"I agree", added Gladly.

We had a nice lunch in the room, and Dad and Uncle Brian went to the Brasserie. Johnny was serving, and he said to Dad, "the panda is great, and has settled in with his new pals, a panther and rabbit."

After Uncle Brian again settled in the hall with his iPad, to relax. Dad however decided he wanted to have a walk, so came up to see us and ask if we wanted to go.

None of us were enthusiastic about the idea, that was apart from Jacques, who piped up, "I'd love to come!"

"OK, let's go", replied Dad.

So once again I will hand the commentary over to him, to describe the walk.

"OK, Fletcher."

Where are we going, Dad " I asked as we turned right along the exit drive.

"Somewhere that I have not walked before, Jacques, which is why I have my map with me. Basically the route is a circle via Trotters World and Messengermire Wood.

"STAG say that it is very important to always take a map."

"That's right lad, and a compass too, as if the mists come down they are essential for safe navigation, and to prevent getting lost."

At the road Dad turned left, then shortly left again at the junction on to a minor road that end by the car park to Trotters World of Animals. Here at the path junction, we took footpath signed Irton House, then left as directed by the waymark along the track.

As we walked along we could see some of the animals in Trotters World.

"There's a fork ahead", I called out.

"We go right up to the corner of the wood then right along the track by it", instructed Dad.

"That tree with the red berries is lovely. What is it called, Dad?"

"It's a Rowan tree like we have in the garden at home."

Onward we passed through a gate, and crossed a forest road. Dad said, "we continue on until past the end of the wood, and then after a short while go right. I doubt there will be a proper path, looking at the map.  Dad was indeed correct and we made our way over the rough pasture.

"We are looking for the gate into Messengermire Wood, which should be mid way along that section of woodland ahead", said Dad.

And sure enough it soon came into view.

It was a pleasant stroll through then lovely woodland, the path being generally good, if muddy in places.

"Can I have my picture taken, to record I have been on the walk?"

"Sure Jacques. That looks a good place just over there."

As we continued on there was a pattering noise. "It's raining", remarked Dad, who was just in shorts and t-shirt. "Well never mind, it is not that far to the hotel, and I have been a lot wetter at times on walks."

It looked like the rain might pass over, so we stood a while under the shelter of the trees at the end of the wood, and indeed it did stop.  We crossed the bridge over Coal Beck, and then followed the good track to the road, by which time it was raining steadily again. At the road it was right and ahead we could see clearly the entrance to Armathwaite Hall. 

Pretty wet now, Dad cut in by the Spa entrance out of the rain. This took him past the Brasserie, where we called in for a chat with Sunshine.

Then we returned to Uncle Brian, and as we settled in the chair, I said, "thanks Dad for a lovely walk."

Later, after Dad and Uncle Brian had gone for dinner, I told my pals all about my adventure. "Back to you Fletcher."

"Thanks Jacques."



So it was time to go home. We had had a wonderful time, and Dad and Uncle Brian had really felt the benefit of the five night stay, and our planned stay in December, has been extended to five nights too. Great!! There was one important thing to do before leaving, that was the usual group photo with my guests, so we trooped out into the grounds and settled on the steps down to the lawns.

back row - Fred, Ralph, Craig & Gladly
front row - Kiki, Polly, Fletcher, Jacques, Starbuck & Rex

Dad and Uncle Brian were not rushing off, and had decided to have lunch in the Brasserie before departing. So Kiki and I went along too. Andra was serving and Kiki got introduced - she thought she was lovely.  Arturus and Natalia were there having a meal before their departure for the airport and their holiday in Turkey. Natalia told us that Charlie was safely packed ready for his holiday, and indeed here he is on the beach in Marmaris

photo courtesy of Arturus Striauka

So that was that, after goodbyes to Andra and Sunshine, and Kim too, Kiki and I settled on the back seat with the rest of my guests, and we drove home. Thanks for a lovely holiday Dad and Uncle Brian, and here's to December.

And finally, you will have noticed that it is our pal Jacques, that has appeared more than any of us in this story, finding that like STAG he enjoys going for walks. He does not however feel brave enough to go on the mountains like our intrepid group, but in recognition of all he has done on this holiday, they have decided to make him and honorary member of STAG.

Tetley with Little Eric, Jacques, Allen Shaun & Grizzly

Love & Hugs as always




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