DECEMBER 2012 & MARCH 2013



It is hard to believe that it is over three years since Dad adopted me, on his and Uncle Brian's first visit to Armathwaite Hall at the end of September 2009. I was locked in the display case in the cold porch area, and I can recall clearly seeing Dad walk through to check in, remarking as he did to Uncle Brian, "that is a lovely looking bear. He will just have to be adopted and join the Hug." It did happen of course, but it was only on the very last day of their stay and I did begin to wonder, but of course I should never have doubted Dad!

Since then, on subsequent holidays, there have been days out, and on one to nearby Cockermouth, Dad discovered a teddy bear shop, where he adopted his first Charlie Bear, Kieran. On the next visit to the shop Polly, who is my girlfriend, was adopted, With my other guests, she always now accompanies me on the holidays to Armathwaite Hall. Here we are posing at home.

Many of the staff know me by name and always give me a cheery welcome. Indeed, if you read my accounts of previous visits, you will see that one day I helped out on reception with Kim, Lorraine and Mia. The length of stay has increased from 3 to 5 days, and the number of visits per year seems to have settled down to four. Early December when the hotel is decorated for Christmas, then early March to celebrate Dad and Uncle Brian's birthdays. The others are in summer (June or July) and autumn (early October).

On the last two visits, Dad and in particular Uncle Brian just wanted to really rest, so most of the days were spent in the calm and peaceful surroundings of the hotel. Not enough for two stories, these jottings cover events on both the holidays.


Sunday 2nd to Friday 7th December 2012

Sunday was a sunny day, but very cold with the temperature barely above freezing all day. However, this made for a delightful journey through the Lakes, where the views of the fells and mountains were magnificent and with little or no wind incredible reflections in Thirlmere. We were especially pleased for Uncle Brian, who was now able, once again, to appreciate the scenery in full, following his recent cataract operation.

The hotel was very festive, adorned with many Christmas trees and decorations, for example like these in the Courtyard Brasserie, the more informal dining restaurant.

I liked this close-up of the rather quirky reindeer, with a bemused smiley expression.

A long corridor, off which are a number of the rooms leads to reception, with two more trees and other decorations,

and then past the main entrance, through doors into the panelled hall, where Dad and Uncle Brian spent some of the days, when the rain was pouring down outside. The shot is taken from the entrance to the cocktail bar, looking towards reception.

I organised room service, as usual, for my pals and I during the holiday, but of course Dad and Uncle Brian had wonderful dinners in the Lake View Restaurant on three evenings. The other evenings and most lunchtimes they had lovely meals in the Brasserie, and Polly and I got to go along one evening . Arturus, Andra, Johnny & Sunshine always make them so welcome in the Brasserie, and the table that they like is always reserved.

For dessert one lunchtime Uncle Brian had this scrumptious strawberry cheesecake, and it was every bit as delicious as it looks.

Uncle Brian's mobility scooter had been brought along, and so on the Wednesday, which was the only really nice day weather wise, he and Dad went to Keswick, to get some special Christmas cards, and also for Dad to go on a special mission to visit Toy Chest, the teddy bear shop. This was because, our Charlie Bear, Kiki, who Dad had adopted from this shop in September, was lonely, and wanted a boyfriend. Now, Kiki had already done some research, looking at their website and had been attracted to Brodie, who is a very good looking bear. However to be sure she needed to meet him, so went along to the shop with Dad. Brodie was soon found and it was love at first sight, and here are the happy couple.

That done, they then went to Bryson's cafe for a snack, before returning to the hotel, where Kiki brought Brodie up to the room to be introduced to us all. Meanwhile Dad and Uncle Brian were sitting in the hall, and the barman Silviu, asked Dad if he had bought a bear. When Dad said yes, he remarked that he would like to see the Brodie, so Dad went and brought him and Kiki to show him. He really liked them too! The hotel was busy with diners in for Christmas lunch. This included two couples who Dad and Uncle Brian had met last year, and because of us, they remembered them. They made a fuss and chatted, one of the ladies absolutely falling in love with Brodie, and wanting to take him home.

Now, you may be wondering what we were doing during the stay. Well that would be telling, because as far as Dad was concerned we were safely tucked up in the room. Well..... perhaps we were, perhaps we were not? You will just have to use your imagination!

What we can say is that we all had a wonderful relaxing and enjoyable time, and the good news was that after lunch on Monday, Dad went to see Kim at reception, and booked the five night stay for early March. Can't wait!!

Hugs, Fletcher.


Sunday 3rd to Friday 8th March 2013

Dad's birthday arrived, and as well as wishing him a Happy Birthday of course, I was excited because this meant that just two days later my guests and I would be off for another lovely stay at Dad and Uncle Brian's favourite place, Armathwaite Hall.

Aunt Wendy, who sadly I have not met, hand makes small teddy bears, and Dad is fortunate to get one of her wonderful creations on his birthday, and this year was no exception, when Benedict joined our Hug.

Whilst all the ones Dad has received over the years cannot be included in these jottings, on his 60th birthday he received not one but two bears, namely Felix and Joy, wearing their celebratory party hats, and sitting on their own bench. You may think that Felix bears (no pun intended) some resemblance to Grizzly, and indeed you would be correct, as they are made of the same fur.

Their wicker basket contained all sorts off goodies. A birthday card from them to Dad, and presents for him - bottle of wine, cake (now there's a surprise) and bottle of sweets. There was also a toy train for them to play with.

That was two years ago, and last year, the wonderful creation from Aunt Wendy, was the ever so superior, Cholmonderley Ponsonby-Smythe, seen here on the left with his distant cousin Grizzly. He is Chummy to his pals, and as you can see is partial to a glass or two of wine.

I am sure you will agree that all these are just wonderful members of our large Hug, and Dad says how lucky he is to receive such incredible presents for his birthday.

Well, I suppose I had better get back to the holiday. All packed, and my guests and I settled in the car, we set off about mid-morning on the Sunday, Dad taking the easier drive north on the M6 and then west on the A66. There were reasonable views of the mountains, Dad's heart being stirred seeing Blencathra and those above Keswick and Derwent Water, and in his mind recalling the many days spent climbing to their summits. Soon we were passing along by Bassenthwaite Lake and turning off at is northern end we were soon pulling up in front of Armathwaite Hall.

I always go in with Dad and Uncle Brian to check-in, and today I took Benedict too. We were met by the cheerful smiling face of Kim, who quickly dealt with the formalities. I introduced her and Danni, to Benedict, who they thought was delightful. We then went on with Dad and Uncle Brian to the Brasserie, where they had lunch, Andra and Dad exchanging big hugs. Later when the room was ready, my guests and I settled in.

Monday was a rest day, as was Tuesday too for Uncle Brian, and more especially it was his birthday. Before going for breakfast he opened all his card - really lovely ones too, and his Facebook page was busy with birthday wishes. We gave him our wishes, and he got a special hug from Fred.

Dad did not want to spend the whole day in the hotel, so after breakfast asked us, "does anyone want to come for a walk through the grounds, and do the nature trail?"

"Ooh yes" replied Jacques. "I love to get out in the fresh air."

"Can we come too", said Benedict and Wray in unison. "This is our first time staying here, and it will be great to explore."

"Sure", replied Dad picking up the camera.

Jacques said, "I have done the nature trail before, so if it is alright, I will act as guide."

"I'm happy with that", replied Dad, "as I will be able to concentrate on taking pictures."

"Before we start the walk proper, how about going to the end of the exit drive, to look at the mountains?", suggested Jacques.

We did, but as it was a misty day, they were not clear, instead being a ghostly silhouette, that made for a quite atmospheric picture.

"What are they called?", asked Wray.

"The tallest to the left is Skiddaw, then to its right Ullock Pike, with Dodd, distantly on the far right", informed Jacques. "And yes, before you ask, Dad and STAG have climbed them, more than once too."

Just by where we were standing there was a stile, so Jacques said, "come on, sit here and let Dad take our picture."

l-r Jacques, Wray & Benedict

Then returning along the drive, Dad took this shot looking along the Spa towards the mains lawns.

"Is there any significance to the line of trees?", asked Benedict.

"Yes", replied Jacques. "They are lime trees, and were planted long ago by a previous owner to mark the 21st birthday of his son. So, not surprisingly there are 21 trees. Right, so now we need to walk along to the other end of the lime trees, and then turn left to follow the path that leads to the lake."

Soon we came to some steps with a gate at the top. "This is the bridge over the road, which we drove under on Sunday", said Jacques.

On the other side, before descending the steps, Wray called out, "will you take our picture here Dad?"

"OK. Settle yourselves while I line up the shot", Dad replied.

The path wound on and after a short descent, we were at the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake, the visibility making for another atmospheric shot.

We stood there spellbound.

"Wow, that's just wonderful", breathed Wray. "I have never seen anything like it ever. Oh how lucky I am that Dad came to have tea at Bridge House Farm, and that he brought me home to join the Hug."

"What is that bridge over there?", said Benedict.

"That is the narrow bridge we crossed on Sunday on the way to the hotel. It carries the road over the River Derwent, that is the outfall from Bassenthwaite Lake", replied Jacques. "On those two terrible days, 19th-20th November 2009, when Cockermouth and Workington were flooded, the lake and river level was such that the water was almost to the top of the arch of the bridge."

"Heck!", exclaimed Wray, "that means that where we are standing now, Dad and us would have been completely submerged underwater."

We stood a few moments trying to take this in, then Benedict asked, "so where do we go now?"

"Just back from the shore, and then along the path above the lake", responded Jacques.

So off we went strolling along through the bare trees, the path clear and level.

This path too must have been submerged, certainly on those terrible flood days, and probably on other occasions too, which was why we were not surprised when Benedict called out, "just look how the bank as been eroded away exposing that tree's roots."

Further on the trees became more dense and the ground was covered in fallen leaves, through which had grown patches of lovely snowdrops. "That's a sure sign spring on the way", said Jacques, "and if only the temperatures would rise, it might indeed feel like it too."

"It would be nice to pose amongst those", said Wray.

Soon now we came to a path junction and Jacques said, "we go right here to the road, then left along it, to the corner."

When we got here, we could see that the road swung left over the bridge we had seen before from a distance. "OK, we go right here and walk through the Herdwick Fold Caravan Park", instructed Jacques.

At the end of the caravans, we then just kept along the track that led by a field to some impressive metal gates into the hotel car park.

"Thanks for taking us on the walk", said Wray, "I have really enjoyed it.

"You're welcome", replied Jacques.

"Before we go inside, I want to walk down across the lawns to get a shot of the hotel", said Dad.

He also took this shot looking along towards the Spa. The huge tree is a Yew, and is reputed to be the oldest in Cumbria.

So, rather tired little teddy bears, we now went up to the room, to tell the rest of our pals all about our adventure.

"Thanks Jacques for being the the guide and getting Benedict and Wray safely round", said Fletcher, after we had told the tale.

"No problem Fletcher, I enjoyed it", replied Jacques. "Now it's back to you for the rest of the jottings.

Uncle Brian and Dad were content to stay in resting in the quiet of the lounge over the next two days, and I and some of my guests came down to sit with them at times, and also go along to the Brasserie to see Sunshine, Johnny, Andra and Arturus. Of course we do not expect Dad to take our pictures every time, but it is a tradition that my guests and I have a group picture and this holiday was no exception, us all trooping outside to sit on the steps down to the lawns.

back row - Gladly, Brodie, Kiki, Ralph, Craig & Fred
front row - Sandie, Kieran, Polly, Fletcher, Wray & Jacques with Benedict

"Brr, I am glad that's done", said Fred, who could not wait to get back into the warmth.

We returned to the comfort of the room, except for Craig and Ralph, who went back to sitting with Dad and Uncle Brian in the Lake View Lounge.

where like in many other parts of the hotel are beautiful floral displays.

And so that was it really. That evening was for us all the final dinner, Dad and Uncle Brian having it in the Lake View Restaurant. We all slept well and woke refreshed on Friday morning, but slightly sad as it was the day of departure. However, unlike those early holidays, Dad and Uncle Brian now make the most of the leaving day by having a lunch in the Brasserie, and today Brodie, Kiki and I went along too. It was enjoyable and we got fussed by Sunshine. All too soon though, it was time to finally leave, going to reception where Kim dealt with the formalities of paying the bill, after which Dad and Uncle Brian chatted with her for a little while. Then waving my paw we all said a cheery goodbye.

However, the good news is that as I write this at the end of May, there are two more five night visits already booked for July and October. Just great!!

Love and Hugs, as always,




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