11th - 16th MAY 2014




It was early May, and my girlfriend Polly and I were looking forward to going with some of our pals to Armathwaite Hall once again. Happier times too, from our visit in March as Dad was now fully recovered from his operation.

"I can hardly believe that is it nearly five years since Dad adopted me, on his and Uncle Brian's first visit. How lucky I have been since then to go on the all the many holidays with our pals too."

"Wow is it that long ago Fletcher", replied Polly. "You have really been fussed too over the years, especially by the girls on reception."

"Oh yes, but sadly now they have all left, but I will never forget how kind they all were. I will always remember with affection, Gemma, Kim, Lorraine and Mia."

Dad came in and hearing the last part of the conversation, added "I miss them all too, but at least we can keep in touch with Gemma and Kim on Facebook. We were able to see Kim for a time afterwards, while she was working at the Wordsworth Hotel in Grasmere."

"That's right", I replied. "Our pal Southey was adopted from there, and what a happy bear he is, as he usually comes as one of my guests, and has become the sixth active member of the walking club and goes with STAG on all those wonderful adventures.

"So have you decided who is on your guest list this time?, asked Dad.

"Me for one", called out Polly.

"Of course, however could he leave you behind", replied Dad.

Polly then went on saying, "there are those who always seem to go, but Fletcher and I have tried to take a few who have never been before or not for a long time."

"So", I said, "that means that as well as Fred, Gladly, Craig, Ralph and of course Jacques who comes from Armathwaite too, with his pals, Ashley, Southey and Wray, there will be Figaro, Brandy Twinkle and Marmite. Is that OK with you."

"Of course", replied Dad, "it is totally up to you."

"We are so glad that you are better, which will make for a more enjoyable time for you", said Polly.

"Thank you, I am looking forward to the holiday as always as of course is Uncle Brian."




Sunday dawned cloudy and it was to be a day with heavy showers at times. We had packed last night as had Dad and Uncle Brian, so there was not much to do this morning. Well apart from Dad who had the job of getting the luggage safely stowed in the boot of the car."

As we heard this slam shut for the final time I called out, "come on pals, time to get settled on the back seat ready for the journey."

"We were on our way", called out Gladly.

And so it was about 10:20 Dad backed out of the drive. Ashley asking. "which route are we taking?"

"Up the M6 to Penrith then along the A66", replied Dad.

As we headed north we passed the Howgill Fells, all of which STAG and Dad of course, have climbed, but for once Dad did not point out any of the summits.

"Well that makes as change", remarked Fred, after we had passed by.  

On the A66 a caravan pulled out in front of us, so the journey was a bit slow for a while, but when an opportunity presented itself, the driver pulled off into a layby allowing us and other cars to pass. "That was very considerate", remarked Polly.

Just before 12:00 we were pulling into the car park and I said, "here we are at our second home again."

"What are those animals with tall necks?, asked Brandy.

"Alpacas", Wray replied.  

Being near the fence Dad went and snapped off a few shots. More about that later.

I went in with Dad to check in, David doing this for us, and telling us too that he was leaving today. We wished him well. Then we sat in the hall for a little while to rest seeing Christian, Alina and Dan. Christian also told us that he too was leaving today, although we were not too surprised as he had been looking for another job for a while now.

Soon Dad then went and got Polly and pals Brandy and Twinkle, to come along to the Brasserie, where they were having lunch. On the way we saw, porter Antonio, Hugo and Rytis, who all made a fuss, Dad chatting to Rytis about television as they like the same kinds of programmes.

Daisy welcomed us in the Brasserie, hugs being exchanged with Dad and Uncle Brian. We immediately settled on the chair provided for us.

l-r Twinkle, Polly, Fletcher & Brandy

So lovely and thoughtful too was the table decoration that Daisy had done just for us.

They had a nice meal and some chats and laughs with Daisy as time allowed for her. Now Dad is a real tea belly never failing to finish his meals with a pot of tea. He particularly likes Assam, which Daisy and some of the other staff have got to know. Now we suspect that Dad is one of the few guests however that has this tea, and to ensure that it can be found for him, if there is a member of staff that is not aware of his partiality, the caddy has been labelled. Now you might expect this to read 'Assam', but no, as this picture below illustrates. What is he like!

So now we went and sat in the hall. Well apart from Dad. With the porter's help he brought the luggage up to our usual room 131, and the rest of my guests who had very patiently waited in the car, enjoying the picnic we had packed for lunch. They immediately settled on the settee, Fred saying, "now I can have a bit of a snooze, after the journey." Dad unpacked then came and sat with Uncle Brian.

"Can we go and see the alpacas?", asked Brandy

"OK", I said, "but you must be careful not to go too close, we don't want you getting trampled.

"I'll get my camera", said Dad.

"Ooh yes, I would like to include some pictures", I replied.

"You have done this before in the account of the stay last Christmas", said Polly.

"Yes I know, love, but there may be some young ones now."

First the shots that Dad took as we arrived earlier. A nice group with different coloured fleeces. Polly said, "the one on the right facing the camera is Dudley, who nuzzled Dad's arm last time."

And a close up of the faces. "Aww they are so sweet", remarked Twinkle."

These were taken from the car park, but now we followed Dad, through the gate into the large paddock, walking along the mown path.

"That's nice grouping of the three brown ones", said Polly.

Walking further across the paddock, Brandy called out, "there is a young one. It is so cute!"

We ventured a little off the path, towards a group with white fleeces, and you must admit, such lovely faces.

We stood a while longer looking at others too. Meanwhile Dudley came over. He seemed to recognise Dad, allowing him to tickle him under his chin. Ahh!

"Thanks so much for that", said Brandy as we made our way back to Uncle Brian.

In the evening we had our dinner as usual in room, as I had arranged. Meanwhile Dad and Uncle Brian went for dinner in the Lake View restaurant. Before, they sat in the lounge having drinks that Christian brought.



A day of just relaxation for Dad and Uncle Brian, and for us too. Fred and Gladly, our Chief Hug Bears, came down to sit with them in the Lake View Lounge. Here they are taking their ease.

Dad and Uncle Brian chatted for a while at first to a couple from Carlisle who had been staying last night.  During the conversation it came our that we were from Morecambe, to which then gentleman replied, " I have refereed matches at Christie Park."

"Sadly it is no longer there now, but a Sainsbury supermarket", replied Dad. "The new football ground is near where we live, but not as good by far."

After the couple left they just sat quietly. Peace and silence - wonderful. Then a little later Dad went off to reception to book for December (great!), Miri making the arrangements. She likes the yellow frog t-shirt, related to the television series Fringe, that Dad has, so he wore it today for her, which was appreciated. She comes from Slovakia and a really lovely person. Also, she has the same likes as Dad of television programmes, and mentioned that she particularly likes Blacklist. Dad watches it too, and agreed how good it is.

Another couple came in and had coffee, sitting looking at the view.  They were from Selby in Yorkshire, but the husband is from Seattle in USA.  When Dad told her where we were from, she said jokingly, “I will forgive you for coming from the wrong side of the Pennines!” 

They had stopped to get a brochure and when the husband had seen the inside, he told his wife, “you have got to see this.”  They were obviously taken with Armathwaite and maybe they will come and stay here sometime.  Dad said how much he likes Yorkshire and that he had walked extensively there and in the Lake District. He then went on to tell them about STAG going too with their heads poking out of the rucksack. They understood and thought that was great, and Fred and Gladly got introduced.

Lunch time now so it was off to the Brassiere, Fred and Gladly having their own chair. A nice time. Marian and Alina were on and they chatted with them and having some laughs too.

After sitting in the hall a while they then came up to the room to rest, before dinner. Again we had ours served in the room, while Dad and Uncle Brian dined in the Lake View Restaurant once again, having a delicious meal

Amuse Bouche Celeriac and Parma Ham Salad
Starter Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Sauteed Scallop
Sorbet Orange (UB) Pink Grapefruit (Dad)
Main course Escalope of Salmon, Crab and Chive Crushed Potatoes, Samphire, Hollandaise Sauce (UB)
Braised Feather Blade of Beef, Creamed Horseradish Potatoes, Roasted Carrots, Confit of Shallots, Red Wine Sauce (Dad)
Dessert Natural Yoghurt Mousse, Poached Rhubarb (UB)
Deep Filled Lemon Tart with Clotted Cream (Dad)

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

Returning to the room, the sun was beginning to set, and Dad captured this atmospheric shot of that wonderful view from our room.



It was rather a disturbed night as neither Dad nor Uncle Brian slept very well, and were up at 04:30 having tea and biscuits.

"Oh hell", said Fred.

"I know", agreed his brother Gladly. "I think we will be spending the morning catching up on our sleep."

As they returned from breakfast, Craig called out, "the view from the room is stunning, with a superb reflection on the lake."

Yes I know every time I write a story this view is included, more than once too, but it really is never the same twice, so make no apologies.

Soon Uncle Brian went to sit and relax in the Lake View Lounge, and Dad was off to the Spa for his full body massage, So we were left in peace to rest and relax, Fred and a few of my other pals promptly dozing off to catch up on sleep.

Upon Dad's return, he asked if any us wanted to go and sit in the lounge and then go down to the Brasserie. "

"Ooh me, please", called out Figaro.

"Me too", said Jacques and Southey together.

"Can I come too", called out Marmite.

So off they trooped with Dad, settling and relaxing as you can see.

l-r Jacques, Figaro with Marmite & Southey

Southey said, "that is a lovely and so colourful floral display on the table.

They were all very glad that they had decided to come down as suddenly there was a loud noise outside, and looking out we saw a Royal Navy helicopter land on the lawn. It woke us up in the bedroom too, and we all crowded by the window to watch.

It touched down gently, and one of the crew disembarked and walked across the lawn to a couple, who we deduced must have been his parents. Meanwhile the pilot lifted off and circled around.

After chatting with his parents a while he said goodbye, carrying a box. Now we wondered if it was his birthday, and that the box contained a cake. Well that is our conjecture. Crouched by on the lawn, they watched as he boarded again,

and then the helicopter lifted off and disappeared over the hills to the west.

"Well that was exciting", exclaimed Figaro. "I am so glad that Fletcher invited me to come and stay."

Today both lunch and dinner for Uncle Brian were in the Brasserie. Figaro and his pals went there for lunch, and in the evening it was the turn of Craig, Ralph (rear), Wray and Ashley (front).

Johnny and Marian were on tonight and there was opportunity to chat with them while Dad and Uncle Brian had a nice meal.

Main course Ginger beer battered fillet of haddock, orange and cardomen jam, celeriac remoulade, hand cut chips (UB)
Roast breast of chicken with gruyere and pancetta, crushed potatoes, leek and bacon, cream sauce (Dad)
Dessert Selection of ice creams (UB)
Gooey chocolate brownie, raspberry coulis, pistachio ice cream (Dad)

To round off, of course Dad had a pot of Assam tea, from his caddy! Two young ladies who were on a Spa break, noticed and commented on my pals and understood. Dad and Uncle Brian chatted to them a little while. So after a nice evening they and my pals made their way to the room, stopping at reception to allow Uncle Brian to catch his breath. Miri was on, so my pals got introduced and a lovely chat followed.




As usual we had room service for our breakfast, while Dad and Uncle Brian were in the restaurant. Antonio the manager was there to welcome them. So nice to see him again and he looked very well and tanned having just returned from Portugal.  Rytis told them that his fishing had been successful catching three trout. They were barbecued and shared with Antonio with lots of wine.  “Sore head next day”, he said. 

Back in the room, Uncle Brian said, "we are going out visiting Maryport."

Dad added, "Do any of you want to come along?"

"Me and Polly", I said, "and Figaro, Twinkle & Brandy are coming too."

Reaching the A66, Dad turned left. "where are you going", Polly called out, "it is right to get to Maryport."

Dad replied, "we are going to Keswick, as I need to get a bear for Aunt Wendy for her birthday."

"Oh I see", said Polly. "Now see you do not buy one for our hug."

"Yes you are quite right", added Uncle Brian.

"I won't, I promise", replied Dad.

We all stayed in the car, while Dad went to Toy Chest. The owner unsurprisingly recognised Dad, his eyes lighting up in anticipation. They chatted, then Dad looked at the shelves of Charlie Bears, and after a little deliberation made his decision.

When he returned we checked and indeed there was only one bear in the bag. So he had kept his promise, but it was only later that he admitted to Uncle Brian that he had actually ordered a bear for himself. Wozley is his name, but we were to wait five months before he arrived and was adopted into the hug. 

So now it was off to Maryport.  There have been a few visits in the past, so Dad knows the way to get round to the outer harbour.

Uncle Brian said, "I am happy to just sit in the car watching the tide coming in and there are the extensive views over the Solway Firth to Scotland, to enjoy too."

"Right then, I will go for a walk if that is OK", Dad replied. "Are you coming along too, guys?"

"Ooh yes please", I said as we all scrambled out of the car.

We had hardly gone a few yards, when Polly said, "that looks to be a nice shot across to the town."

The road then took us along past the marina, that provided the opportunity for Dad to get the camera out again.

"Where so we go now, Fletcher?", asked Figaro.

"We have to walk round and along to pass that building with the tall roof, to get to the inner harbour, and then round that to the town proper."

"Phew, that's quite a long way", replied Brandy.

"I recall that there is a bridge over one of the docks", I said, "which will save us some walking, provided it is down of course."

As it came into view, we were disappointed to see that it was up. "Sorry", I said.

"Never mind", replied Brandy, "it is not your fault."

"I'll give you a piggy back if necessary", said Figaro.

"Thanks pal, but I am determined to do it on my own."

Passing round the end of the inner harbour, this shot clearly shows the bridge raised high.

Twinkle said, "well now we know why the bridge is up. Being high tide, boats are coming and going like that one just now."

A number of fishing and other boats were in the dock. They provided a colourful scene and Dad took a few pictures, of which I include these two.

Finally we reached the town and with Dad walked along Senhouse Street with its shops. A greeting card shop called 'From the Heart" caught Polly's eye, saying "you should be able to get a card for Aunt Wendy's birthday there, Dad."

We looked round and Twinkle said, "what about these. They are 3D and have the bear with the blue nose like our pal Blue Boy. This one of the bear baking is particularly nice"

"That's perfect", agreed Dad, "but there is just one problem, my money is in the car."

"Oh flippin' heck", exclaimed Figaro.,

"Time is getting on Dad", I said. "We had better be making our way back as it is a long walk."

So returned down the street to the harbour, crossing the river.

"What is it called?", asked Brandy.

"The Ellen, and by virtue of the fact that the town stands at its estuary it was originally called Ellenfoot. In 1756 the name was changed to Maryport by Humphrey Senhouse, in honour of his new wife Mary", I replied. "The Senhouse family who owned most of the land in the area, and other local luminaries were responsible for bringing industry and prosperity to the town. The building behind is the Wave Centre, which houses a museum all about the towns history and Polly and I and some of our other pals visited it in March 2012"

"Oh yes, I remember", said Polly, "It was really interesting too."

Figaro then said, "I wonder what that statue is all about?"

We did some research when we go home and found that this life-sized sculpture in resin and iron ore portrays the custom of selling fish on the harbourside. It was created by Colin Telfer, a former miner, and was unveiled on 24th April 1999. It is called 'A Fishy Tale'.

Now we hurried to get back to Uncle Brian, the final part being along a raised embankment on the outer harbour, that looked like it had once carried a railway line. Just before the end, we found a convenient place to sit and have our picture taken. Of course!

l-r Twinkle, Brandy, Figaro, Polly & Fletcher

"Phew", said Brandy, "I have enjoyed the tour Fletcher, but it is sure nice to sit down in the car and rest."

After a little while Dad drove to the Wave Centre, where they had a nice snack in the café.  Uncle Brian had savoury cheese sandwich on brown, and Dad had salmon and cream cheese.  A very large pot of tea too – so big that Dad could not finish it all. Amazing really such is the tea belly he is!  I had arranged a picnic, which we had sitting in the car. Afterwards we sat patiently with Uncle Brian in the car, while Dad walked to the card shop to buy the one Twinkle had spotted, of the bear with a blue nose baking, for Aunt Wendy.

We were rather tired now and had a nap while Dad drove back to the hotel, where we told are other pals all about our adventure.




This morning we awoke to find it was raining and the cloud was down such that the view was completely obscured.

"Oh heck", said Fred. "I hope it clears up, as it will not be very nice for Elaine and Sharon, when they come for lunch."

I am happy to say that it did. Oh and in case you are wondering, Dad and Uncle Brian go every Monday they are free, to Elaine's Tearooms at Feizor. So today it was nice to be able to welcome Elaine and her daughter Sharon, for lunch here.

"I guess that you and Polly will be going down to welcome them on behalf of us", said Craig.

"Yes pal", replied.

"That's fine, the rest of us are very happy to just have a quiet day and amuse ourselves here", said Gladly.

Soon after breakfast Polly and I went down and sat in the Lake View Lounge, whiling the morning away and relaxing. A couple came in for coffee. They saw us, and Dad explained about me being adopted here, and the large hug of pals that live at home. The lady understood, telling us that she collects sheep and some bears.  Also she helps a group who knit sheep in all different guises that are given to children by ambulance crew when they are taking them to hospital.  How lovely we thought.

I was overjoyed when Uncle Brian suggested we come to stay in July for three nights. He said, "it is along time to wait until October."

So without further delay, Dad went straight to reception, where Brian arranged the booking forthwith. "That's great", I said.

Absolutely", agreed Polly, "just wait until we tell the rest of our pals."

About 12:15 Elaine and Sharon arrived and settled with us in the lounge chatting over drinks and deciding what to eat. Here is Uncle Brian and Elaine.

 Then Antonio came and took our order and when the starter was ready we processed into the restaurant.  The menu today was -

Starter Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Soup (E & UB)
Chicken Liver Parfait, Tomato Chutney, Toasted Brioche (G & S)
Tasting of Melon, Parma Ham, Balsamic Dressing
Main course Braised Blade of Beef, Creamed Horseradish Potato, Green Beans, Onion Marmalade, Port Sauce (B, E & S)
Roast Leg of Fell Bred Lamb infused with Rosemary & Garlic, Pomme Anna Potatoes, Ratatouille Vegetables, Red Wine Sauce (G)
Salmon Fillet, served with Sun Blush Tomato & Black Olive Salad, Chorizo and Lemon Dressing
Leek, Brioche & Emmental Pudding
Dessert Caramel Cappuccino Tart with Vanilla Foam (All)
Marble Chocolate Torte, Cocoa Reduction
Selection of Appleby Creamery Cheese and Biscuits

Here is a picture of the dessert that everyone had.

It was a lovely and relaxed meal with lots of chat and fun, after which we went and sat in the hall to round it off with tea and coffee with mint chocolates.

Polly and I stayed with Uncle Brian and Elaine, while Dad took Sharon to show her round.  First they walked along outside to the Spa so that she could see the hot tub then round the paths to sit a while on the terrace chatting with that wonderful view before them.

"I can see why you keep coming here", Sharon said.

"Let's go and see the alpacas", suggested Dad.

Walking round the front, they waved to Uncle Brian and Elaine, as they headed to the gate into the large paddock. Dudley came over immediately, and Dad tickled his chin while Sharon took a picture. 

photo courtesy Sharon Taylor

Then quite suddenly he reared up, causing Dad to take a step back, and losing his balance was suddenly flat on his back. Meanwhile Dudley, perhaps in some contrition, sat down.

photo courtesy Sharon Taylor

No harm done and after they had come out of the field they both just fell about laughing, particularly Sharon.  And unbeknown to Dad, Uncle Brian, Elaine and us had seen it too and we all had hysterics.  A sign on the gate states that alpacas are friendly, but that is maybe taking it a bit too far. Still laughing Dad then took Sharon to see the Brassiere and he introduced her to Daisy.

The incident was related and Daisy was amused too, saying, "I would have given anything to have seen it."

Then they returned to us, to be told that we had all seen the incident. It really was the talking point of the day, and for a while afterwards too. Whenever Uncle Brian thought about it he burst our laughing. Later Dad showed them our room, and they saw the rest of our pals too. So finally about 17:00 they set off for home, still laughing about Dad's encounter with Dudley.  It had been a lovely day enjoyed by all. Let's hope they will come again for lunch on a future visit.

After resting in the room, Dad and Uncle Brian went off to the Brasserie for dinner with my pals Ashley, Jacques, Southey and Wray, who were commented on by two couples. They both had a nice meal rounded off with 'Gerry Ball’s tea!'  Goodbyes to the girls as they left and hugs and kisses. The rest of us had room service as usual, that I had arranged.

So that was the end of another enjoyable stay, and here's to July.

Love and Hugs always



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