FLETCHER ENTERTAINS HIS GUESTS AT
ARMATHWAITE HALL HOTEL, BASSENTHWAITE, LAKE DISTRICT
8th - 11th JULY 2014

 



Preamble

It was Friday and over a mug of tea, Fletcher and Polly were sitting chatting with Fred and Gladly.

"My Dad did not need a second asking to go and book, when Uncle Brian suggested we have a short three day stay in July at Armathwaite Hall."

"I know", replied Fred. "I was surprised really as it is usually Uncle Gerry who makes the suggestions. It would however have been a long time between visits from May to October and Uncle Gerry is always busy, so it will do him good to have a break, and my Dad just loves sitting relaxing in the quiet and peace of the hall or lounge."

"Who's going with us this time?", asked Gladly.

"Me", interjected Polly.

"Of course", agreed Fred, "how ever could Fletcher leave you at home."

"Well you two of course, with Craig and Ralph", said Fletcher. Then Jacques, as like me he comes from there, with his pals Ashley and Wray. It is during visits that Dad has adopted our Charlie Bear pals, so I thought it was about time that I took Kieran again, with his girlfriend Sandie, and Bracken."

"Well let's hope that the weather is nice and that some of us will get the chance to go out", said Gladly, "although I fully understand that some of the time Dad and Uncle Brian will just want to rest and relax."

"Something I will be glad to do too", added Fred. "I'm not one for too much exercise. I leave that to our bold adventurers STAG. I do like to hear about their adventures and read the stories. They really do have some amazing days."

"I went on one of the walks", said Fletcher. "It was a wild day with strong winds and made me realise how intrepid they are. I'm glad to have done that, but have to say it really is not my bag, and like you, I prefer my comforts."



Tuesday

FLETCHER, POLLY, KEIRAN & SANDIE VISIT THE BRASSERIE

Excited we were all up early and made sure we were ready. Dad loaded the luggage and once we heard the boot slam shut, I called out, "come on pals, time to get settled on the back seat."

"OK", replied Sandie, "were coming."

Driving off, Fred asked, "which way are we going, Uncle Gerry."

"Through the Lakes, as it is a beautiful day and there will be good views of the fells", replied Dad.

"Oh heck that means we will be getting the usual naming session", laughed Wray.

The journey was trouble free apart from getting through Ambleside which is always busy.  

As we approached Grasmere, Dad said, "I did a few walks around here this year to advance Little Eric's Wainwrights, and to see Kim a few times whilst she was working at the Wordsworth Hotel."

"Here we go", said Fred. "Predictable as ever."

"One was to Stone Arthur that rocky outcrop up to the right", went on Dad

Then there was the Greenburn Horseshoe, that involved four summits, the last two being Gibson Knott and Helm Crag with the famous Lion and Lamb rocks.

Continuing past Thirlmere, Skiddaw and Blencathra then came into view. "Just a month ago now STAG and I climbed Blencathra again, taking in all the tops for Little Eric's sake", Dad went on.

Like the other pictures this has been borrowed from the extensive archive. It was actually taken from High Rigg in August 2003. The valley is St John's in the Vale.

Once through Keswick, it was not long before we were turning off the A66 and after crossing the River Derwent, to soon turn sharp right along the drive. Dad took Polly, Kieran and Sandie and I as we went to check-in. I sat on the counter and go fussed by Miri. The room was ready so with the help of porter Oscar, the luggage was brought in. Meanwhile we went off to the Brasserie with Uncle Brian, being welcomed by Marian. 

Polly said, "The tables have been changed so there is no seat for us"

This was solved by Marian kindly turning a bar stool round. Being higher we actually get a better view!

l-r Sandie, Kieran, Polly & Fletcher

Alina was on too, and Dad and Uncle Brian had a good chat with them both, until Marian went on his break.  Then we had more chat and lots of laughs with Alina.  A nice meal too, with Dad finishing off with a pot of Assam tea from the caddy with the label Gerry Ball’s Tea.  Then the rest of the afternoon was whiled away sitting in the hall. At my request Dad went and brought the rest of my guests in, who immediately settled on the sofa in the the room. Then later we all went up too.

Remembering the amusing incident of Dad's encounter with Dudley the alpaca in May when Elaine and Sharon came to lunch, he went and bought a card with his picture, to send to them. It gave them a good laugh again!

As usual my guests and I had room service and enjoyed a lovely dinner, as did Dad and Uncle Brian served in the Lake View Restaurant. This is what they had -

Amuse Bouche Sundried Tomato Pasty
Starter Cartmel Smoked Salmon, West Coast Crab, Dill Creme Fraiche, Cauliflower Tempura
Sorbet Raspberry
Main course Loin of Cartmel Venison, Cranberry Sausage, Pomme Anna, Red Cabbage & Port Sauce (UB)
Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Pork Fillet, Creamed Potato, Chorizo & Sweet Peas, Red Wine Sauce (Dad)
Dessert Marinated Strawberries, Strawberry Sorbet, Cocoa Nib Tuille (UB)
Black Forest Gateaux with Griottina Cherries (Dad)

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



Wednesday

Dad and Uncle Brian did not sleep too well, and so were up at about 05:00 having tea and biscuits.

"Oh hell", said Fred. "I'll need to have a doze later to catch up."

"Me too", added his brother Gladly.

After breakfast Uncle Brian went and sat the the lounge with Dad taking our pals, Craig, Ralph, Jacques and Bracken. A little later Dad then went off for his usual full body massage. On return after changing,he then went to see if he could find Dudley the alpaca that he had had the incident with last time.

"Can we come too, asked Jacques.

"Of course lads", replied Dad.

Making their way across the car park, it was then through the gate into the large paddock, and towards them. Dudley is very distinctive having long pale brown fleece between his ears, so they were sure to spot him. They looked about and after a minute or so Craig said, "he's definitely not here."

"Oh dear", said Dad, "I was hoping to see if I could tickle him under the chin."

"Look they have been shorn of their fleece", called out Ralph. "But still ever so cute."

Then Bracken said, "there are two over there that have not been shorn yet, and one is hungry."

A bit disappointed at not seeing Dudley, they now made their way back, Jacques saying, "those flowers are colourful under the tree"

Then as they neared the entrance Bracken called out, "the flowers in the stone tubs are very pretty."

"That they are", agreed Dad. "I'll take a few pictures to make a nice feature in the story. I'm sure Fletcher will be pleased."

I was too, and here is the display either side of the door.

And then just to the left..

Wandering round the building they came to the terrace and the steps down to the lawns, these flanked by more colourful stone tubs, with that wonderful view of Bassenthwaite Lake and the fells beyond. "That must be worth a shot too", said Craig.

"Now let me see", said Jacques. "If I remember what Tetley told me. The fell to the right is Barf, while the pointed summit is Catbells, with Skelgill Bank to its left and rising right to Maiden Moor."

"You are clever", said Ralph.

"Well although I do not go with STAG, I have been on walks from here with Dad, so they made me an honorary member of the club. I so enjoy listening to them tell me about their adventures, and I of course read all the stories."

So the exploration over they returned to Uncle Brian, and then all went off for lunch in the Brasserie again, settling on the bar stool like my pals and I yesterday.

l-r Craig with Bracken, Ralph with Jacques

Dad and Uncle Brian had a nice meal. Alina and later Daisy was on, and there was some time to chat with them both. When Alina went for her break, they wished her and Marian a happy holiday. They are driving to Rumania tomorrow.



Thursday

FLETCHER, POLLY, ASHLEY, FRED, GLADLY & WRAY VISIT ST BEES & WHITEHAVEN

Another lovely sunny day was in prospect. The early morning view for our room was quite beautiful with lovely reflections, and I said, "will you take a picture Dad."

"Sure Fletcher."

Yes I know that in every account of our visits I include this, but I make no apologies.

Then Dad said, "Uncle Brian and I are going to St Bees today, does any of you want to come."

"Yes please", called out Ashley, "and Wray too."

"Fred and I", Gladly then said.

"As the host I want to come too, with Polly of course", I then said.

So off we went, along the A66, and then onto the A595, to find the narrow road that led down to the village nestling below St Bees Head.

"We are first going to visit the Priory, again", said Uncle Brian. "It will be nice and peaceful and there are interesting things to see."

"Oh yes I have included an account from that visit in a previous story, but am sure we will find something else to write about today", I said.

Parking quite close, we walked the short distance to the entrance. This is through the magnificent Norman west door dating from about 1160. This was the main entrance to the Church built on this site by the monks.

Inside the nave with its arches and pillars to either side stretched away towards the chancel. There are six bays with alternate round and octagonal piers, being in the Early English style of plain pointed arches, and belong to the years after 1200.

In the story of our stay at Armathwaite Hall in September 2011 there is much more information about the Priory. If you wish to see this please click the link.

We looked round and Polly suggested, "this time perhaps it would be nice to include some pictures of the stained glass windows."

"That's a good idea", I agreed.

This below depicts Jesus giving the Sermon on the Mount. The appropriate text being from Matthew Ch 5.-
'When Jesus saw then crowds he went up the hill. There he took a seat, and when his disciples had gathered round him he began to address them. And this teaching he gave:'How blest are those who know their need of God; the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.'

while this is of the Transfiguration. The appropriate text being from Matthew Ch 17. -
'Six days later Jesus took Peter, James, and John and led them up a high mountain where they were alone; and in their presence he was transfigured; his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And they saw Moses and Elijah appear, conversing with him. Then Peter spoke, "Lord," he said, "how good it is that we are here. If you wish it, I will make three shelters here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." While he was still speaking a bright cloud suddenly overshadowed them, and a voice called from the cloud: "This is my Son, my Beloved on whom my favour rest; listen to him."

"Just look at the magnificent Chancel Screen", said Fred. "I don't think you covered that in the story of the last visit."

"No, you are right. Please take a picture Dad."

As we walked into the chancel, looking back Gladly said, "look there is a dedication relating to the screen.

It reads - To the glory of God and in memory of William Fox, who departed this life February 20th 1886. This screen was erected by his widow.

Having found some different things the visit was concluded and settling the car, Dad drove the short distance to the beach. It had been expected that there would have been a few cars, but what we were faced with was the car parks being nearly full and people everywhere including many children.

Rather perplexed Fred said, "it's not school holidays, so why so busy."

Just then a realisation dawned on Uncle Brian's face. "You are right, Fred, but the teachers are on a strike today."

"Oh heck", said Polly. "It is not very nice with all these people."

"I agree", replied Uncle Brian. "I don't want to stay here."

After a minutes thought Dad, then said, "let's go to Whitehaven instead. We will surely be able to find parking near the harbour." He was right too.

"We would like to go exploring", said Gladly.

"That's OK", replied Uncle Brian. "You all go with your Dad, and I'll sit here looking out over the marina, and watching life pass by."

"We'll try not to be too long", I said, "so that you and Dad can go and have lunch."

So off we went, passing the Beacon which is a museum. Whitehaven has a long history of coal mining. All the pits are closed now, and we noted this sculpture, called 'The End of an Era'. The Whitehaven Miners Social Welfare and the Whitehaven Miners Memorial and Living History Project commissioned this monument to the men and women who worked in the local coal mining industry and to raise awareness of the major roll mining has played in the history of the town. Sculpted by Colin Telfer of Maryport this monument depicts a pillar of coal surrounded by a miner, a deputy, a brigadesman, and a screen lass. The figure at the rear is cutting the words 'The End of an Era' into the pillar of coal.

Strolling on Wray said, "we have to appear and that wall looks a good place for us to sit."

"It maybe for you, but Fred and I will fall over without something to sit against", retorted Gladly.

"Now, now", interjected Dad. "What we will do it take two pictures. "Fletcher, Polly, Ashley and Wray sitting on the wall and you and Fred standing against it."

l-r Fletcher, Polly, Wray & Ashley

l-r Gladly & Fred

"Is that and island I can see on the horizon", called out Ashley.

"It is", I replied, "the Isle of Man, in fact."

"Aunt Tish and Uncle Eddie are over there now, so let's sit and give them a wave", suggested Fred.

"Good idea", agreed Polly as we got ourselves sorted out.

Scrambling down again Wray said, "I wonder what that chimney like structure on the headland is."

Well later we did some research, and discovered that it is called the Candlestick and is one of the very few remains of Wellington Pit that operated between 1840 and 1932. It was also the scene of the worst mining disaster to affect the pits in the locality. On the evening of 11th May 1910, there was an explosion and fire caused by a build up of methane or fire damp being ignited by a spark or naked flame that ultimately resulted in the death of 136 men and boys. What makes the story even more poignant are the chalked messages found afterwards showing many of them had survived the initial explosion. Rescuers battled all night and most of the next day, until despite the opposition of some of them, the mines inspector ordered them to pull out and seal the mine to starve the fire of oxygen. The Edward Medal is awarded to people who have shown exceptional bravery in industrial rescues. 64 were awarded after the Wellington Pit disaster which is the most ever awarded in a single incident.

This poignant memorial stands nearby.

We were all rather somber having seen this, and Polly said, "how awful.

Checking the time I then said, "we had better be getting back to Uncle Brian." On the way Dad took this shot of the marina.

"Have you had a good time?", asked Uncle Brian.

"Yes thanks Dad", replied Fred.

His Uncle Gerry then said, "if you can manage mate, I suggest we walk to the Beacon and have a snack in the Wellington Cafe."

"OK", agreed Uncle Brian.

I said, "we have brought a picnic, so if it is alright with you Dad, we will sit by the marina."

"That's fine."

They had a nice snack at the cafe, Uncle Brian having Cumberland sausage in a white roll, while Dad had a ham sandwich, both served with chips and salad. A pot of tea too, with extra hot water. Dad's kind of cafe! Uncle Brian's treat too, to which Dad said, "thanks mate."

So our visit over, it was back to the car and to the hotel. It was busy in the lounge and hall, so instead we all went to the Brasserie for a drink, spending a very pleasant hour with Daisy.

Then we all sat a while in the hall. We were introduced to Maisie on reception, who especially liked Fred & Gladly. Then we also got commented on by a lady from Whitehaven who was here having afternoon tea. When Dad explained about his collecting, and she said “I understand.”  It was up to the room then to relax and we told our other pals all about our interesting trip.

Later, prior to dinner, we all trooped out for our holiday hug group picture.  A young couple saw us and said to Dad “we are intrigued, may we ask."

"Of course", replied Dad who then explained once again.

They too understood. They have two young children who are staying with his parents at Lorton, so they were having a nice couple of days to themselves.  He had come to the Lake District as a child with his parents and walked the fells.  Today he and his wife had climbed the Fellbarrow group (this was where Dad had met Uncle Bob).  His father loves the Lakes and is in second heaven now he lives here. 

"I know how he feels" said Dad with feeling.

l-r Wray, Ashley, Fletcher, Polly with Bracken, Fred, Jacques, Gladly, Ralph, Craig with Sandie & Kieran.

This was the final night of this holiday and as usual my guests and I had room service and enjoyed a lovely dinner, as did Dad and Uncle Brian served in the Lake View Restaurant. This is what they had -

Amuse Bouche Tomato and Red Pepper Soup
Starter Chicken Liver Parfait, Grape Chutney, Toasted Brioche (UB)
Cumbrian Goats Cheese, Organic Beetroot, Basil Salad (Dad)
Sorbet Orange
Main course Loin of Cartmel Venison, Cranberry & Venison Sausage, Braised Red Cabbage, Wild Mushroom Croquette (Dad)
Flambe of Fillet of Beef, Brandy, Green Peppercorns & Cream served with Pomme Anna, Green Beans and Sundried Tomato (UB)
Dessert Vanilla Panna Cotta with Poached Rhubarb

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


 

Friday

So another stay at Armathwaite Hall drew to an end. Although only three nights it had as always been enjoyable. After the final breakfast Dad and Uncle Brian packed, and Dad took the luggage to the car. Then my guests settled on the back seat ready for the journey home. Jacques stayed with me and we went to reception to check out. Miri and Maisie were there, and Dad explained to Maisie about my pal Jacques and the fact that he had been given to Dad by Arturas, because he could not be sold due to having a defective nose. Dad then explained that he had been to Aunt Wendy, who had given him a 'nose job' and replaced the elastic in his shorts too.

Meanwhile I had checked the account, and given Miri the debit card to complete payment. After we all sat in the hall for a little while before finally departing, calling goodbye to Miri, Jacques and I waving our paws.

Lunch was next and Dad and Uncle Brian had decided to have this at the Daffodil Hotel at Grasmere. It is situated close to the lake with lawns running down to the shore. As can be seen many of the rooms have a lake view.

I had arranged for a picnic for my pals, and being such a lovely and warm day, we had this sitting by the lake looking across to fell rising on the other side.

"I wish STAG were here, then they could tell us the names of the fells", said Gladly.

Well after his lunch Dad came to get us, and we were enlightened. "That is Silver How (1296ft), and was the last of 214 Wainwright fells for Shaun, Tetley and I."

"What's that to the left at the end of the lake?", asked Ralph.

"Loughrigg (1101ft)", Dad replied. "STAG and I climbed it again in September last year."

Looking the opposite direction Polly then said, "and that one?"

"That is Helm Crag, with the famous Lion and Lamb rocks, that STAG and I climbed at the end of May. In fact the walk was a horseshoe starting from Grasmere village. First going below the right side of Helm Crag to climb to the fell behind called Steel Fell (1812ft), then left on the ridge behind to Calf Crag (1762ft) in the far left of the picture. To then get to Helm Crag we came along the ridge crossing Gibson Knott (1382ft) in the process."

"Phew Dad, you and STAG are very brave", said Craig.

"Did you have a nice lunch", asked Fred.

"Yes it was excellent, that was after we had been directed to the restaurant on the first floor", replied Dad. "We were looked after by Sam. She was very pleasant and friendly too. She brought iced water to start then we ordered drinks and food."

"Your Dad had a delicious ham sandwich with piccalilli chutney served with salad and crisps."

"I had a ploughman’s lunch served on a wooden platter. It was huge!  Two slices of ham, two large wedges of cheese, onion, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, celery, piccalilli and bread of course. Your Dad said, "you'll never finish that."

"It took a while but I did."

"He should know you by now", said Fred. "You really live up to the nickname Dyson, Uncle Gerry!"

"The hotel is nicely appointed and our table had a view of the lake. We saw and chatted to Albert who worked at Armathwaite Hall for a while."

"Oh yes I remember him", I said.

Dad went on, "then he worked at the Wordsworth, and I saw him there too, when I went to see Kim after some of the walks."

"I guess you and Uncle Brian may well come here again", said Gladly.

"Probably, and I would have the ploughman's too", replied Dad with a laugh.

So now all that remained was for Dad to drive us home. Here's to the next time at the end of September!

Love and hugs always
Fletcher

 

 

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