18th - 23rd JUNE 2017



With a mug of tea in paw, Fletcher and his girlfriend Polly were chatting with Fred and Gladly.

"The next visit to Armathwaite Hall is coming up", said Fred.

"Mmm", agreed Fletcher. "It is a few years since I wrote an account of a visit, despite Dad and Uncle Brian going four times a year."

"Uncle Brian's ability to walk any distance has become very difficult, and so he is just content to spend the days in the hotel in the relaxing atmosphere of the Lake View Lounge", responded Gladly. "Dad too has a lot on this plate, so is less inclined to go out. He is happy to keep Uncle Brian company and enjoy the relaxing massages in the spa."

"Well we have had lots of trips out in the past", said Polly. "Many places around here have been visited, so we have those memories, which with Dad's help, you have recorded them for posterity, Fletcher."

"I would so much like to add to those accounts. Maybe I can get Dad to take some of my guests on a walk through the grounds."

"Who are your guests this time?" asked Fred.

"Me", piped up Polly.

"Of course", laughed Gladly. "How ever could he refuse."

"That's a bit of a conundrum", replied Fletcher. "You two of course. Over time the number of guests has steadily increased and last March in all there were 14 of us."

"That's a lot", agreed Gladly.

"Whilst Dad never queries this, Uncle Brian has said that is too many."

"Well I can see his point", agreed Fred.

"Voicing his concerns, Dad accepts this and I have agreed that the number in the future will be limited to 8, including us four."

"It is sensible love", replied Polly, "and I am sure that pals like Craig, Ralph etc., will not mind staying at home.


VISIT 27th FEBRUARY - 4th MARCH 2017

Before the jottings from the holiday in June 2017 I have decided to briefly include some pictures of this stay.

First, to illustrate the size of the holiday hug, with this group picture that was to lead to the agreement to make this just eight in the future.

Top row - Richard, Ping, Polly & Fletcher
Middle row - Ralph, Fred, Little Will, Gladly & Craig
Front row - Kieran, Sandie, Bracken, Ashley & Wray

For us the holiday was spent in the hotel, but Dad did venture out on the Tuesday. This was 1st March and his birthday. He was sad, as in the past, he had received a present of a totally one-off bear made by his dear friend Wendy Sue.

Dad has about thirty of her wonderful creations, these being examples. Firstly Leonora, who has been out getting flowers from her garden.

And for Dad's 60th birthday, Felix and Joy sitting on their bench.

The hamper contained 'gifts' from the two bears for Dad, including a tiny birthday card.

From this you can see that not only was Wendy so clever making bears, she was also talented at drawing and painting. She was also very adept at repairing refurbishing old bears that she found, and making and knitting outfits too. Sadly and tragically she had died just weeks after her 65th birthday. Taken far too soon, Dad was extremely upset when he heard the news.

Sensing this Uncle Brian realised that Dad wanted to buy a bear. So off he went to Cockermouth and to Fagans who sell Charlie Bears. Uncle Brian's birthday is on the 5th March, Dad having decided to find a gift for him too. He loves books, so Dad went straight to the bookshop on the main street. Here he found a recently published book about the Lakeland Poets, with separate chapters on each, and with lovely illustrations. Just perfect. Curbing his desire for the bear, he then went to the coffee shop in here for tea and cake. How unusual!

Raining now, he dashed the short distance to Fagans. Here he quickly found the Charlie Bears. There was a good number, but initially none really spoke to him and he feared that he would leave empty handed. Then right at the back he spotted Caramel...

His face immediately spoke to Dad, who holding him in his arms, prompted a customer to say, "that bear wants to go home with you."

"Yes", agreed Dad, "I'm bonding."

So quickly paid for a jubilant Dad returned to Armathwaite Hall. Uncle Brian loved Caramel, and was so pleased with his book, saying, "what a lovely surprise. Thanks mate."

The next afternoon, Deborah and Paul Slater, who Dad and Uncle Brian had originally met here, came to have dinner with them. Deborah does lots of crafts and also dabbles making bears. She had brought this bear with one of the panda collection they have.

The bear was a gift for Dad, who he named Ewan, after an area of Maryport where Deborah and Paul live. He of course immediately made friends with us and especially Caramel and they sit together at home.


VISIT 18th - 23rd JUNE 2017


Dad had a busy morning finishing packing then getting Uncle Brian's scooter and the luggage in the car.

Keeping a lookout, Polly said, "I think that's everything in the car."

"Right pals", I called out, "let's go and get settled for the journey."

This was through the Lake District, the fells and mountains rearing up all round, Dad pointing out the names, it going without saying that he, Shaun, Tetley, Grizzly and Allen had climbed them all.

"Oh", sighed Fred, "the very thought of this makes me tired."

"You're not one for lots of activity", said Polly.

"No", he replied.

Soon we were skirting Keswick, and taking the road on the east side of Bassenthwaite Lake, to turn off at the Castle Inn and shortly enter the grounds of Armathwaite Hall.

"I'm parking in the courtyard", said Dad, "as we are going to the Brasserie for lunch, but you and Polly can come in as you like to go to reception to check in."

"Yes please", I replied.

Alina was on and made a fuss, hugs being exchanged with Dad and Uncle Brian. Then a nice lunch.

Afterwards Uncle Brian walked down to sit in the hall. Meanwhile Dad drove round then proceeded to get all the luggage in, set up Brian's scooter and to the relief of my guests, bring them in out of the heat.

"Oh that's nice", said Gladly, as we settled on the chair posing for our group picture.

l-r Zebadee, Fred, with Rex and Starbuck in front, Archie, Gladly, Little Will, Fletcher & Polly

Nine of us, but Uncle Brian had made special dispensation for Little Will to come along too, as he is only small. Also he was going to visit Auntie Deborah and Uncle Paul who had given him to Dad, later in the holiday. Mention must be made of Archie. He was Wendy Sue's most special bear that Dad loved and coveted. Mike, Wendy's husband had come to see Dad and Uncle Brian earlier in the month, and had brought Archie to come and live with us. Dad was lost for words which we can say does not happen very often. Archie is a 1930 Merrythought bear wearing clothes that Wendy had made.

"Come and look at the view of the lake, Archie", said Polly.

"Wow", he replied in wonder. "So beautiful."

The side of the lawns are lined with trees, Polly saying, "The fells behind are Skiddaw, Ullock Pike and Dodd."

Early evening, and time for dinner. As I always arrange, we have room service, while Dad and Uncle Brian tonight dined in the Lake View Restaurant. A quite delicious meal. Here are some of choices we enjoyed.

As a starter - West Coast Mackerel, Violet Heritage Potato,  Pickled Cucumber, Crème Fraiche.

Then a main course - Cartmel Venison Loin, Smoked Venison Tartlet, Roast Vegetables, Bitter Chocolate Dressing.

And finally a dessert - Raspberry Macaroon, Chantilly Custard, Freeze Dried Raspberry.



As Dad threw back the curtains, Gladly called out, "just look at the view this morning."

"Magnificent,", agreed Fred.

"The lake is like a mirror," said Archie. "What wonderful reflections."

Uncle Brian just wanted to spend the day relaxing in the Lake View Lounge, which commands the same view as we have from our room. Wanting our pal Archie to enjoy the peace and tranquil atmosphere there, he joined Polly and I.

During the morning we kept Uncle Brian company, while Dad went off to the Spa for his hot stones massage. He came back feeling very relaxed, and very greasy too. So, it was a case of keeping our paws to ourselves! Lunch was had and then we whiled away the afternoon, the lounge getting busier with customers coming for the delicious afternoon teas.

Then we returned to our other pals to later have our dinner, while Dad and Uncle Brian had theirs in the restaurant. For starter they and some of my pals too had this.

Citrus Cured Trout, Pea Relish, Green Grapes, Dill Ketchup.



After settling Uncle Brian in the lounge, Dad finished off some computer work, then said, "I want to get out for some fresh air, so I am going to do the walk to and along the lake shore, then see if I can find Dudley."

Polly said, "it's not the same without the alpacas in the paddock, where have they gone too now?"

"They are in a field adjacent to the Lakes Distillery", I replied.

"Not far along the road on the far side of the bridge, and will fit in with the first part of the walk", said Dad.

"Would you mind if some of my guests came along, if they want?"

"Not at all Fletcher. Anyone want to come."

"Yes please", called out Zebadee.

"And me too", piped up Little Will. "But the thing is, I only have little legs."

"No problem", replied Zebadee, "you can ride on my back."

And so off they went, and I will hand over to Zebadee to describe their adventure.


As we went out of the door, Little Will said, "which way."

To the left then round the hotel, and along the terrace", replied Dad.

"Ooh look at the ever so colourful tubs full of flowers", I called out.

"What's that over there?", pointed Little Will.

"The Woodland Gazebo", replied Dad. "I have been meaning to have a close look at it for a few visits now. It is used as a out door venue for wedding ceremonies."

So we scampered across, Dad lining up a shot...

...in which you can see that we had climbed up onto the rail, for the first of our pictures.

"OK lads", said Dad. "now we go to that path behind."

"Those flowers on that bush our beautiful", called out Little Will. "What are they called?"

"Rhododendrons", I told him."

Just starting along the path, progress was stopped again, by Little Will. "Look at that statue, let's have our picture by it." As you will have gathered Will is a very inquisitive bear.

"Right", said Dad. "Come on now. We can't keep stopping every few yards, we'll still be out when it's dark!"

So trotting on we soon came to the bridge over the road. "I'm glad to be riding on your back, as these steps would be too high for my little legs", said Will.

Woodland surrounded both sides of the track and we scampered on ahead of Dad, exploring a bit either side, then posing, as Dad caught us up.

Soon the path began to descend and after a final short steep section we were beside the lake.

Dad said, "the water level is quite high." Then pointing to a rock sticking out of the water some yards ahead, "I have taken some of your pals sitting on that, in the past.

Wanting to get a wider view we I managed to climb up into some bushes, where Little Will balanced on a branch.

"Wow. How beautiful", I said.

Climbing carefully down, I asked, "where now?"

Walking back a few yards, Dad said, "along this path parallel to the lake."

We came across this abandoned sign. With the arrow pointing to the lake, Will said, "seems you would drive the car into the lake", letting out a bellow of laughter.

Further on Dad stopped saying, "let's go to the shore as you will get some super views.

First looking down the lake to Keswick and Borrowdale...

...then to the left.

"What are those hills called?", asked Will.

"From the left, Skiddaw, Ullock Pike and Dodd", replied Dad.

"I guess you and STAG have climbed them."

"Yes Zebadee. More than once too."

"STAG are ever so brave and intrepid. I don't think I would like to go to such wild places", said Will.

Looking right Dad then pointed saying, "those are Sale Fell and Ling Fell."

We sat on a few minutes just looking at these wonderful views, and thanking Fletcher for being kind enough to invite us, and Dad for taking us on this adventure.

So then onwards along the path, where wildflowers and meadowsweet were in bloom.

Further on a fallen trees blocked the path. Will hung on tightly as I leaped over. Then we waited as the obstacle was a little more difficult for Dad to overcome.

Finally a crossroads was reached. "Which way?", asked Will.

"Right to the road, then left along it and over the bridge that spans the River Derwent", instructed Dad.

Once over Dad took us right. Here we kept close to the side of the road away from any traffic. It was not too far before the buildings of the Lakes Distillery came into view. Looking right just before, I called out, "look here are the alpacas."

Now whether or not we were allowed into the field Dad opened the gate to let us through then we wandered about. They were grazing in two groups Dad looking closely at them. He then snapped this shot.

"Is one of those Dudley?", Will said pointing at a pair.

"No", and having looked all round, went on, disappointedly, "he's not here."

Over time Dad had got quite friendly with Dudley, who seemed to recognise him. Here he is from 2014 when the alpacas grazed in the paddock opposite the hotel.

So exiting the field, Dad told us, "it's back along the road and over the bridge, then through the caravan park."

Beyond the site, the path became grassy, and led up to gates into the hotel car park. Finally Dad took us across the lawns to get this superb shot of Armathwaite Hall.

Trotting back and up the steps to the terrace, we sat by the flowers for our final picture.

"Thank you Dad", cried Little Will. "What a super walk and adventure I have had. And thank you Zebadee for letting me ride on your back. It would have been too much for my little legs."

You're welcome pal", replied Zebadee.

Now I hand back to Fletcher to continue the account.

So my pals came to the room and told us all about their adventure, while Dad and Uncle Brian went off to the Brasserie for lunch. Dad had the turkey club sandwich, and Uncle Brian an open smoked salmon sandwich.

For them the rest of the afternoon was whiled away back in the lounge, Dad quite glad after the exercise this morning. In the evening we had dinner in the room as always, Dad and Uncle Brian being in the restaurant once again.

Here is the starter that they had. West Coast Crab, Sweetcorn, Peach, Cured Ham.

Later Dad and Uncle Brian returned to the room. Polly had been looking out and said to Dad, "I think that will make a nice picture of the gazebo floodlit."



So another lovely day dawned. Rex and Starbuck are our theatre going bears, and were excited to this afternoon be going with Dad and Uncle Brian to the Theatre by the Lake, in Keswick.

First however Rex said, "let's walk down to Derwent Water, and have a look at the view across to the mountains."

"OK pal", replied Starbuck, scampering off.

We had not reached the lake before Rex stopped, and pointing called out, "wow, what fabulous views."

"Will you tell is what the hills are called, please, Dad?", asked Starbuck.

"From the left the flat topped fell is Rowling End, then rising to Causey Pike. In the background is Crag Hill and on the right Barrow."

Looking right, Rex said, "and that?"

"That is Grizedale Pike with the subsidiary summit on the ridge behind of Hobcarton Head."

"I suppose STAG have climbed all of them?", wondered Rex.

"Yes lads, they have. And for Allen, Grisedale Pike was his last Wainwright, back in 2010."

When we got home, Fletcher decided that the record of Allen's achievement should be included in his story, and here he is with Dad at Grisedale Pike, the last of his 214 Wainwright summits. He certainly looks a very proud bear, and deservedly so!

The start time of the play was now approaching, so we settled on the wall by the landing stages for our picture.

The play was called Handbagged. It is about conversations between The Queen and Margaret Thatcher, during and after her time as Prime Minister. We settled down in Dad's arms, as it began. It was supposed to have comedy, but frankly we found little to laugh at. Very wordy too, and despite our best efforts to concentrate, we soon found our minds wandering. We had the impression too that Dad was not enjoying it either as he was making surreptitious looks at his watch. Finally the interval came and Uncle Brian turned to Dad, saying, "well, are you enjoying it."

"No" Dad replied.

"and neither are us", said Rex. "Do we have to stay for the second act?"

"No lads", said Dad, rising from his seat and then helping Uncle Brian up the stairs.

So soon we were back at Armathwaite Hall, Fred saying, "you're back early."

"Yes" replied Starbuck. "The play was boring so we decided not to watch the second act."

"Good for you", agreed Polly.



This was the final day for this time, and we decided just to have a restful day. Dad and Uncle Brian however were going to Aunt Deborah's and Uncle Paul's for dinner in the evening, so Little Will, whom Deborah had given to Dad went to see them too. A most enjoyable evening for them and lovely food.

With regard to future visits, we already had a stay in October booked. To our joy, he also went and booked for December, so there will be plenty more good times here to come.


Love and hugs,
Fletcher xx