FLETCHER ENTERTAINS HIS GUESTS AT
ARMATHWAITE HALL HOTEL, BASSENTHWAITE, LAKE DISTRICT
14th - 19th JULY 2013

 



Preamble

The wait, particularly for Dad had seemed to be interminable since our last stay here at the beginning of March, and to ease this somewhat Dad and Uncle Brian had been twice for lunch, taking me along too. Well seeing as I came from here, there was no way that I was staying at home.

Finally July arrived, and my girlfriend Polly and I began to get excited, as too did those of my pals, who were coming along too. The time when Dad was ill while we were staying is long past now, and Uncle Brian's assertion after that, that only five, besides Polly and I could go, has long been forgotten and he is resigned to there being a settee full of my guests in the room.

A few days before departure, Dad asked me, "have you decided who is going with you this time?"

"Fred and Glad, of course and Craig and Ralph with Wray and Jacques, all who have been before. I am also taking Hal and Kingston, for their first visit, and it goes without saying Polly."

"Great. A nice group and with the forecast being good there should be some days out, which your guests will be welcome to come on as well", replied Dad.

"Thanks, that will be nice and I know some will want to, but I don't think Fred and Gladly, and Craig and Ralph will be bothered, as they are just happy to totally rest and chill out at the hotel."

Dad replied, "there is no doubt that is what Fred and Gladly, at least will want to do."

"Roll on Sunday", was my reply!


 

Sunday

We made sure we were ready in good time, but waited patiently while Dad put Uncle Brian's mobility scooter and the luggage in the car. This was because one case and the scooter battery had to go inside on the back seat, where we would be sitting for the journey.

Dad came in, and announced, "I have got everything loaded, Fletcher, so you and your guests can settle in the car."

"Thanks, Dad", as we all trooped out of the door.

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

"Through the Lakes, and we are stopping in Grasmere, for a snack."

"Why is that?", Craig then asked.

"Well I always loved to see Kim, at reception, and she always made a fuss. However, she has recently left Armathwaite Hall, and is now working at The Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere, where she is the Head Receptionist. So Dad and Uncle Brian are going there to see her, provided she is working today."

It was a hot day, but the views were clear, and the drive to Grasmere was lovely. Lunch was first for Dad and Uncle Brian, and they went to the Dove Bistro, for a nice sandwich.

Then into the hotel proper, and there was Kim, looking well, and very smart. It was so nice to see her happy smiling face and they had a chat, while she gave them a brief tour. Then they sat in the conservatory, and Dad had a pot of tea that Kim insisted on paying for. She had also asked, "where's Fletcher.", which was so nice.

Well, I had stayed in the car, just in case she was not on duty. After his tea and while Uncle Brian relaxed, Dad came for Polly and myself, and collected his camera too, so that he could take some pictures of the lovely grounds.

Then looking from left to right in the picture above.

"Will you take our picture, sitting by the gazebo?", asked Polly

"Of course", Dad replied.

Crossing the lawns he then noticed a rear entrance that led to reception, and we walked along the corridors that twist and turn. Finding this was obviously meant to happen, because close to reception we passed a display case, where there were lovely Wordsworth Hotel bears.

Dad was immediately a lost cause, and said, "I have got to adopt one for the hug."

"Ooh yes", I replied. "It is just like the first day you ever came to Armathwaite Hall, and saw me."

There were many to choose from, and we looked closely at the faces, then Dad pointed, "he's the one."

"Yes", replied Polly, "he has the nicest face."

So in haste we went to reception, and Dad asked Kim. Well another receptionist actually went off, and meanwhile we said hello to Kim, who made a fuss. I was so pleased to see her, and will really miss her at Armathwaite. We and Dad really care about her, and we hope that all goes well with her new job.

By now the receptionist had come back with a bear, but Dad said, "I'm sorry, but there is a particular one I want", Kim smiling at this, knowing what Dad is like.

So leaving us as reception with Kim, he went off to point our new adoptee out. After a few days deliberation, Dad decided to name him Southey, after one of the so called Lakeland poets, with Wordsworth and Coleridge. He is a lovely new pal for our hug, and when introduced to friends of Dad and Uncle Brian, they without exception thought the same too.

Well after all this excitement, we went to sit again with Uncle Brian, Southey being introduced. Finally it was time to continue our journey, so goodbyes were said to Kim, promising to call in on the way home. Before returning to the car however, we posed with our new pal, outside.

Settled in the car, we drove on, and I introduced our new pal, to the rest of my guests, Southey forming an immediate bond with Hal and Kingston, who he chatted to on the rest of the journey. It is not many miles to Keswick and then just a few more along the main A66 beside Bassenthwaite Lake, to then turn right, and about 10 minutes later we were parking in front of the hotel. I went with Dad to check-in, seeing Gemma, who said hello to me. We of course had our usual room, 131.

As my pals settled in, looking out Hal exclaimed, "Kingston, Southey, just look at this fabulous view. Now I see Fletcher, why you always have this room."



 

Tuesday

I ended Sunday with a view from our room, but make no apologies for including this taken early today. Looking out, Dad said, "the lake is almost like a mirror, I must take a shot."

Fred and Gladly are our Joint Chief Hug Bears, and recently, Uncle Brian took a picture of Gladly that ended up on Dad's, Facebook page.

Fred did not complain, but Dad did not want him to feel slighted, so he snapped off this close-up, to upload. "That's lovely, Uncle Gerry. Thank you", said Fred

While Dad and Uncle Brian, went for breakfast, we had ours in the room as usual, and I outlined their plans for the day.

"Dad and Uncle Brian are going to Keswick. With Uncle Brian using his scooter, they intend to explore Hope Gardens, and then go into the town. Dad has some shopping to do, including going to Toy Chest, with the view to adopt a new Charlie Bear."

"I hope Uncle Brian has agreed", said Kingston. "The hug is very large, and he did unexpectedly adopt Southey, on Sunday."

"I understand what you are saying, but despite that Uncle Brian is resigned to another new addition today", I replied. "But, what I was really coming too, is who wants to come along with Polly and I."

Immediately, Hal and Kingston raised their paw, Hal saying, "can Southey come too."

"Sure", I replied.

So after a little rest for Uncle Brian, following breakfast, we scampered down to the car, and off we went, Dad parking close to Derwent Water, in the car park adjacent to the Theatre by the Lake, where our pals Rex and Starbuck go from time to time to see plays.

Dad assembled Uncle Brian's scooter, and off he went into Hope Gardens, along this wide path beside the lovely herbaceous border.

Then turning along a side path, we came to this lovely, planted border. The pattern of the different plants and colours, are we assume related to the slate plaque that indicates Keswick became a Fairtrade Town, in January 2005. The plants are not yet fully grown, but in a few weeks the display will look quite magnificent.

Then down a narrow path, a bridge crossed the small stream.

The path now reached a wide area with lawns and flower beds, with seats on three sides. Here Uncle Brian decided to rest and sit for a while.

Behind a blackbird alighted on the branches of a bush, and Dad was quick to snap a picture.

"Is it alright if we go and explore, while you sit and rest a here, Uncle Brian?", asked Kingston.

"Yes, that's fine. Off you go with your pals."

"I will take you to see the lake, and views of the mountains", Dad said, "but first, all of you, go and sit on the lawn, and I will take your picture"

l-r - Fletcher, Kingston, Hal, Southey & Polly

"Which way do we go?", asked Hal.

Out of the park the way we came in, then right along the path and through a gate on to the grassy hill that we can see rising behind that is Crow Park", I said.

As we walked through the gate, nothing was in view, until we climbed up the grassy slope, then Kingston exclaimed, "wow, that's beautiful. I can see why STAG so love to come to the Lake District on their many adventures."

"What exactly are we looking at?", asked Polly.

Dad replied, "the island is called Derwent Island, and behind the fells are from the left, Skelghyll Bank, rising to the unmistakable rounded peak of Catbells, with beyond Maiden Moor. You can see the path STAG and I took up Skelghyll Bank, then onwards to Catbells."

"Catbells is very distinctive, and is in view from our room at Armathwaite Hall", I went on.

"What is the boat?", said Hal.

Knowing this I jumped in again, "one of the many launches that ply the lake. Some go in a clockwise direction, some anti clockwise. They make stops at a number of places on the shoreline, for people to enjoy other parts of the lake for walks and other activities."

We wandered down to the shoreline, and Southey called out, "let's sit on that rock and have our picture taken again, if that is alright Dad?"

"Fine, now just settle so I can frame the shot."

As we were about to move off, Dad called out, "just sit a little longer, so I can take a close up of Fletcher & Polly."

"Ahh, thanks Dad", I replied.

After wandering along the shore and exploring, Dad said, we had better be getting back."

"OK", replied Polly, as she led the way across Crow Park.

"Wow", exclaimed Southey, "just look at those mountains behind. What are they called? I suppose you and STAG have climbed them too."

"We certainly have climbed them and more than once", replied Dad. From the left they are Dodd (1647ft), Ullock Pike (2270ft), Long Side (2408ft), Carl Side (2447ft), then highest of all in the centre Skiddaw (3053ft) and to the right the twin summits of Skiddaw Little Man (2837ft), and Skiddaw Lesser Man (2674ft).

"Wow, STAG really are a brave and intrepid group", said Kingston with wonder in his voice.

Having paused a little while longer to look at this view, we then put best foot forward and hurried back to Uncle Brian, who was waiting patiently. We think this is a really lovely photograph of him too.

"Right we are off into Keswick now", said Dad.

"Well if you don't mind we would rather stay here, than walk round the shops, so we will go and sit in the car and have the picnic I arranged from the hotel", I replied.

"That's OK."

Their route was initially through more of the gardens, with the Skiddaw Fells providing a backdrop.

Uncle Brian was leading on his scooter, the path going then through the tunnel under the road and up the road beyond. Dad's first call was to George Fisher's the outdoor shop, to purchase a map measurer. He asked an assistant on the ground floor where they were and she directed him upstairs. As he got to the top of the stairs, another assistant said, "I understand you are looking for a map measurer."

The obviously surprised expression on Dad's face, then prompted her to say, "we are psychic, here!"

Soon finding what he wanted, and completing the purchase, he then chatted a little more to her about walking etc.

Now finally to the main reason for shopping, walking a few yards on to Toy Chest. Just a few days before our holiday, Dad had had a e-mail from Aunt Wendy, who sent a photograph of Charlie Bear, Horatio, she had bought in Windsor. Dad had immediately fallen in love with him, but on checking the Toy Chest website, found he was only available for pre-order. "Never mind", he had said. "I will just have to see which they have in stock and am sure I will find one to adopt."

Entering the shop, he made for the bottom corner, where the Charlie Bears sit. His eyes scanned down from the high shelves, and suddenly, he was looking Horatio in the face. Wonderful! Taking him to pay, he mentioned the situation on the website, and the assistant said that she had been looking through the boxes in the stockroom and had found him hiding at the bottom of a box. Obviously waiting for the time that Dad would come and adopt him!! And, here is our new pal, and we are overjoyed to welcome him to our Hug!

So, really that was the end of the outing for today. Dad and Uncle Brian had a snack at a cafe, then we drove back to the hotel, where we went to the room and our new pal, Horatio was introduced to our other pals, and later to Gemma and Lorraine on reception.


 

Wednesday

Another glorious day, and before they went for breakfast, Dad announced, "Uncle Brian and I are going for a sail on Ullswater, today, so you can decide which of you are coming along."

We deliberated, and it was decided that those of us who went yesterday, would not go today, and as we have said before, Craig, Fred, Gladly and Ralph just wanted to chill in the hotel, so that just left Jacques and Wray.

"I'll narrate this part if you like, Fletcher", said Wray.

"OK pal. Have a good time and behave yourselves.", I replied.

"Where do the boats sail from?", Wray asked.

"Glenridding", Dad replied. "To get there, we go along the A66 towards Penrith, but turn off at Troutbeck, and go on through Docker, to the road by the lake, then right to Glenridding."

The boat landing is a little way off the road, and we drove the narrow road to the shore, and the large car park.

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District, being about nine miles (14.5km) long, and 0.75 miles (1200m) wide with a maximum depth of slightly more that 200ft (60m). The lake was formed after the last ice age. It is shaped like the letter 'Z', caused by three separate glaciers.

The anti slavery campaigner Thomas Clarkson lived on the eastern shore at Eusemere, just south of Pooley Bridge, and it was after a visit to see him in 1802, with his sister Dorothy, that William Wordsworth was inspired to write his famous poem 'Daffodils', on seeing them growing on the shore.

Looking south this tall fell dominates the scene. "What is it called", asked Jacques.

"Birks the summit being at 2040ft. And yes, before you ask STAG and I have climbed it, "said Dad.

While Dad got the tickets, we went with Uncle Brian on to the jetty, where the M.V. Lady Wakefield was moored.

The Ullswater Steamers leaflet informed us that she was built in 1945, and had been previously named Berry Castle, Golden Cormorant and Totnes Castle.

"Is this the boat we will be sailing on?", asked Jacques.

"No", Uncle Brian replied. "Our vessel, is on its way from Howtown at present."

So, we went and sat patiently on the pier,

l-r Wray & Jacques.

for our boat, M.V. Western Belle, to arrive.

Western Belle, the latest addition to the fleet here on Ullswater, was built in 1935, spending her early life in Devon as a firm favourite on Tamar and Yealm excursions.

Dad and Uncle Brian had got near to the front of the queue, so once the arriving passengers had disembarked, when we boarded, we were able to get a seat in the bow, to enjoy the wonderful views there and back. Jacques and I settled between Dad and Uncle Brian, nestled in a plastic bag so we would not get wet if water splashed up, looking out all the time.

All aboard, the ropes securing the boat to the pier, were released and we headed north, the first reach of the lake stretching out before us.

After a little while a prominent hill came into view on the right. "What is it called", I asked.

"Hallin Fell (1273ft)", Dad replied. "The ascent is made by a clear path from opposite Martindale church. STAG and I climbed it in October 2005. Its summit is marked by a 12 foot obelisk of squared and prepared stone, that can be seen for miles around."

And indeed here is the picture Dad took of it, that day.

STAG, then climbed up for their usual picture. Allen, Grizzly and Tetley, have found a comfortable niche, but Shaun is rather precariously balanced.

Rounding Hallin Fell, the boat headed into Howtown Wyke, and the pier at the small village of Howtown.

Dad said, "this is a popular stop for walkers, intent on doing the 7 miles walk, back to Glenridding. The route goes round the slopes of Hallin Fell to Sandwick and then along the slopes of Place Fell to Side Farm. Then the track leads to Patterdale, and finally along the road to Glenridding."

"I suppose you and STAG have done it", I said.

"Yes, we have, Wray."

Heading out again, we continued along the northern reach, towards the landing stage at Pooley Bridge.

"There is another prominent hill at the end of the lake", said Jacques. "Does it have a name?"

"Yes lad", Dad replied. "It is called Dunmallet or Dunmallard Hill (787ft), on which is the site of and Iron Age Fort. STAG and I climbed this on 27th January this year." Dunmallard Hill

A building can be seen over to the right of the picture, and this is famous and renowned Sharrow Bay Country House Hotel. It was here too, that the famous dessert, Sticky Toffee Pudding was invented. Dad is glad about this as it is one of his favourite puddings.

And so shortly we arrived at Pooley Bridge, where the boat was moored for about half an hour or so, while the crew had their lunch. The day was very hot, the sun beating down. While the boat was moving there was nice breeze that kept the heat off, but now it was rather relentless, and as there was no shade, it seemed an interminable wait until we set off again.

The return was a reverse of our outwards route, but now we got to see the western shore. As we were approaching Howtown again, more fells reared up to the right of Hallin Fell. "Can you tell us what they are called", I asked.

Dad obliged, saying, "the one on the centre is called Steel Knotts (1417ft) that STAG and I climbed on the same day as Hallin Fell. Its summit that can be discerned to the rear is actually called Pikeawassa."

"What a lovely name", interjected Jacques.

"Yes it is", replied Dad. "The pike crowns the hill and is in fact the sharpest summit in Lakeland. The name may well be a previous name for Steel Knotts, being the Pike of Wassa, referring to Wat's hill." Then after a pause, "the other fells in view are to the right Place Fell, while distantly to the left is I think High Raise (2633ft).

"Wow Dad, your knowledge is amazing", I said.

Nearing Howtown, we saw another of the boats in the fleet, M.Y. Raven. This vessel was launched at 3 o'clock precisely on 18th July 1889. In 1895 she was made a temporary royal yacht. This is we think a lovely picture that Dad took.

Our boat, like all the services today, was we thought full and when we saw the considerable number of people waiting to return to Glenridding, we did not think that they would all get on. However they did and we set off on the last part of our sail. Up to now we had made good speed, but on this last section we crawled along slowly with only occasional burst of speed. This was explained after a while by the captain, who told us that due to the hot weather the engine was overheating, necessitating having to nurse it back to Glenridding. Well finally we made it and despite this we, Dad and Uncle Brian had enjoyed our day, and we had seen such wonderful scenery, that we could not wait to get back to the hotel and tell our other pals all about it.

"Well you certainly had a great day", said Fletcher. "Thanks Wray for relating today's events.

"That's OK pal, but I am glad I only had to do today", replied Wray.

So we all rested now and then enjoyed a lovely meal, served in our room, and tired little teddy bears, after such and exciting day, Jacques and Wray slept very soundly.

Meanwhile Dad and Uncle Brian, enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Lake View Restaurant, and Dad took some pictures of the dishes, which I will relate below under Thursday. There was however a wonderful sunset tonight, as captured by Dad.



 

Thursday

The last full day of our stay this time, and it was to be a restful one for us all. Dad went to the Spa for a massage, and Uncle Brian spent most of the day in the hall, with his iPad, and book.

As I have mentioned Dad and Uncle Brian enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Lake View Restaurant, last evening, and here are some of the dishes they had.

First, Uncle Brian's starter - Melon Trio Tian, Fresh Berries, Fruit Sorbet & Fruit Coulis

Dad's starter - Chicken Liver Parfait, Homemade Chutney, Toasted Brioche

Their main course - Seared Loin of Tuna served on a Nicoise Salad & Poached Egg

And finally, Dad's amazing dessert - Deconstructed Jaffa Cake, Apricot Jelly with Crème Fraiche & Lime Sorbet

All the dishes were quite delicious, especially Dad says the dessert, which we think has the wow factor!

In the afternoon we all decided to get some fresh air in the grounds, and Dad took this shot of from left to right, Ralph, Fred, Gladly and Craig. As I mentioned earlier, Fred and Gladly are our Joint Chief Hug Bears. They are amongst the original members of our hug being adopted in 1982 and 1981 respectively.

And then finally all that remained was for us to settle for the usual end of holiday group photograph -

top - Ralph, Craig, Gladly, Wray, Fred & Horatio
bottom - Southey, Jacques, Polly, Fletcher, Kingston & Hal


In the evening, Dad and Uncle Brian went to the Brasserie for their final dinner, and their usual table was reserved. It is a table for four, with just one chair removed. One each for Dad and Uncle Brian, and the other for some of my guests, so when Dad did not take any of us with him, Marian who was serving with Arturas, said "no friends tonight?"

When Uncle Brian asked Dad to get his puffer, he also took the opportunity to bring some of my guests, taking Horatio, Jacques and Wray.

Dad's very favourite pudding is fruit crumble and custard, so he was disappointed that it had been taken off the menu here in the Brasserie. However for this evening, Arturas, Johnny, Marian and Sunshine had got together with the chef, who made a special summer fruits crumble with custard, for them both. It was such a kind gesture, made more so by the fact that they would not accept any payment. Having said their thanks personally and via Facebook, I on their behalf want to say here, thank you to you all. Here they are ready to enjoy the absolutely delicious crumble.



 

Friday

So, another lovely stay here draws to a close, and the room vacated and luggage loaded, we all settled in the car and Dad drove it to the Courtyard car park, so that Uncle Brian would not have far to walk to the Brasserie. The weather all week had been hot, but today is was exceptional, and makes it harder still for Uncle Brian to breathe. A snack was had here, and Polly, Southey and myself, went and sat with them, seeing Arturas and Marian. He had had a look at the website and enjoyed reading the first story he came across, which STAG will be pleased about. Then after Dad walked down to reception to check-out, it was goodbyes, and off home. What we are all pleased about is that further five night stays have been booked for October and early December. Great!!

So we took the route through the Lakes calling in at the Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere to see Kim, as we promised. She had just come on shift, and I went in with Horatio, who I introduced to Kim, and who she thought was lovely. She also made a fuss of me too. She was about to go into a meeting, so we hope that we did not keep her too long from this. I am just sorry that I will not get to see her very often in the future, but maybe we will go for a lunch or dinner there sometimes.

So on home. The temperatures outside varied between 29 and 31 degrees. Thank goodness for the climate control in the car!

A lovely holiday and lots of memories for us all, and here's to October.

Love and Hugs, as always,
Fletcher

 

 

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