JULY 2021



Fletcher and Polly were sitting quietly having a mug of tea, when Fred and Gladly strolled in.

"Tea?, asked Polly.

"Ooh yes please", replied Fred

"Thanks", said Gladly, as he accepted the steaming mug. "It's just a few days until Dad's holiday at Armathwaite Hall. Have you and Polly decided which of our Hug pals will be your guests.

"You two of course", replied Fletcher. "I am still sticking to a maximum of eight or nine that Dad agreed a few years ago with Uncle Brian, as it is sensible."

"So went on Polly, we have decided that Craig and Ralph are going, and we are taking Kent who has only recently been adopted."

"That means Summer will be going too, as she is his girlfriend", added Fletcher. "And Figaro, who is one of Uncle Brian's bears."

"Ahh that will be nice", said Fred. "My Dad loved Figaro, or Figgy as he called him."

Just then Grizzly and Little Eric trotted in. "We have brought cake for you to have with the tea", said Grizzly.

"Chorley Cakes from Grizzly, and chocolate caramel shortbread from me", added Little Eric.

"Oh thanks", said Gladly. "You two are ace bakers."

After a few minutes quiet, Polly said, "they are quite delicious.

Finishing off a Chorley Cake, Fletcher said, "STAG will be coming too of course. I suppose Dad may have a walk planned for you."

"Yes", agreed Little Eric. "He has talked about climbing Grey Knotts and Brandreth which are two of my outstanding Wainwrights. However we really want Dad to have a restful time, and looking at the weather it is expected to be hot so it may not happen."

"We are not too bothered, it will be nice to rest and enjoy the beautiful hotel and grounds", added Grizzly.

"It will still be hard for Dad not having Uncle Brian there", said Polly sadly.

"Yes lass", said Fred. "I miss my Dad so much, but it is even harder for Uncle Gerry. They went there so many times together over the years, and I know that he is still grieving."

"Nearly 50 years as friends", said Gladly. "But so many good times and wonderful memories to look back on. He will be there with Dad and us in spirit."

"Absolutely", agreed Fletcher.

"Here's to a good holiday", cheered Little Eric.


As Grizzly had alluded to, the weather was indeed rather hot, so we were happy to spend the time just relaxing in the hotel. On different, we all went down with Dad to sit either in the lounge or hall and to the Brasserie, on the days he had lunch there.


Dad announced, "I am going to Cockermouth this morning, do any of you want to come along."

There was silence and then Craig said, "it's too warm. We just want to rest."

Figaro said, "I guess you will be going to Fagans, where they sell Charlie Bears. Could there be a new Hug member?"

"You'll just have to see", replied Dad, as he left the room to drive the few miles to the town.

We had a nice quiet time, just resting and chatting, until Dad returned a few hours later.

"No big bag", commented Fred.

"No lad. There were quite a few bears at Fagans but none that said, 'buy me'."

"Uncle Brian would be proud of your will power", laughed Tetley.

"I did find this book. It is a trilogy about Sir Robert Carey, who actually lived in the reign of Elizabeth I. He was Deputy Warden of the North at the time of the Reivers. It looks a fascinating book, and I was glad to spend some money in Cockermouth."

"What's this", pointed Allen.

"Oh yes, Cumbria tea. Actually Ramblers blend. I thought it was appropriate."

"Sure", agreed Allen. "That will be the tea we have in the future. Can't wait to try it when we get home."

"Of course, tea belly", laughed Southey.

"It should be called Ramblears tea", said Little Eric.

"Ha ha I like that", replied Ralph.

"Aunt Deborah and Uncle Paul are coming to see Dad this afternoon. Whose going down with Dad?", asked Polly.

"Me and Kent please", said Summer.

"And me" added Figaro."

Later Figaro said, "we had a lovely time and got introduced. Uncle Paul brought a panda, and Aunt Deborah brought two bears she had made. We all sat together and had a nice chatty time."



This was the day that Dad had put aside to take STAG on the fells. As we had our breakfast, Shaun said, "it is going to be a hot day."

"I know", replied Little Eric. "Much as I want to tick off these summits it will be too much for Dad in this heat. After all he has really come here for a rest. I think we should tell him not to take us walking."

"Agreed", said Tetley. "The hills are not going anywhere."

Dad returned, Southey saying straight away, "we have decided it is too hot to walk."

"I was thinking the same", replied Dad. "I hope you do not mind."

"Of course not", said Little Eric. "It is decided."

"Right then, instead I plan to go to the Wildlife Park. Do any of you want to come."

There was silence, then Fletcher said, "no thanks.

"Take your camera Dad", insisted Polly. "Then you can describe your visit for our story.


To get there I walked across the paddock, and to the entrance. Jilly was on reception and she remembered me from my last visit, and that then I had just recently lost Brian. She was concerned to know how I was going on. That was very kind.

Entering, in the first pen I came are the Meerkats.

They make me laugh as the scamper about. Of course what now always comes to my kind are the 'Compare the Market' adverts featuring Alexander and Sergei. I wondered if any of them here had those names?

Sitting quietly nearby was George the Harris Hawk, who hatched in 1996

Strolling on I came to the Dwarf Zebu enclosure. The calf on the left and adult on the right.

They are a breed of domestic cattle that is descended from the zebu, one of the world’s oldest cattle breeds. Unlike horses which are measured from the shoulder, dwarf zebus are measured by the hip and cannot exceed 42 inches at this point. They have a large flap of skin under their neck, called a dewlap, and a hump on their withers. If food and water is scarce, they can live off the fat stored in their hump.

Getting to the otter enclosure, they were a bit elusive, but I managed to snap this one.

Adjacent are the Red Panda that is a domestic cat-sized mammal. It has previously been classified with raccoons, bears and mustelids but has been found to be the only living species of the genus Ailurus and the family Ailuridae. They have partially retractable claws and an extended bone which is similar to a 'thumb', that makes them extremely good climbers. With red panda being found in colder climates they have fur on the soles of their feet which helps them remain warm in high altitudes where they dwell.

The female is called Mei li which means beautiful one...

and the male is Charu, meaning graceful.

They met here at the park in 2016 and as they are both part of an EEP breeding program, is is hoped breed them in the near future.

Next I saw the Guanaco that is a member of the camel family. Its closest relatives are lamas, camels and alpacas. Guanacos are native to South America and inhabit scrublands, savannas, forests and rocky areas, usually at high altitude (up to 13 000 feet). Since the guanaco lives in windy areas, it has thick eyelashes that protect eyes from dust and dirt. Two padded feet allow easy movement across the gravel in the rocky environment.

At the top of the park in a large paddock is the Grant’s Zebras. They live in small herds with one male called a stallion and a few females (mares) along with any young foals. Within an hour of being born the foal will be up and running with the herd. The black and white stripes covering their bodies help to blend the herd into one, stopping predators like lions from picking out one zebra. It is thought that many prey species can time the birth of young to coincide with bad weather when predators are less active. The small herd here, consists of three mares, one stallion and a young colt.

Adjacent to this paddock is the enclosure of Wild Boars who had many piglets.

There was a somewhat terrifying occurrence as I with other visitors were looking at them. They had got out into the zebra paddock, and seeing them the zebra chased and made to attack them. Fortunately the piglets all managed to squeeze safely back under the fence and escape.

After this excitement, I walked down to where the Greater flamingos were standing serenely. The flock here came to the park in 2019 from Martin Mere Wetland Centre. They are filter feeders, tilting their head to the side, and submerging their beaks in the water upside down, they use their specialised beak to catch algae and aquatic invertebrates. Flamingo chicks are actually white; they get their pink colouration from the food they eat, a type of shrimp. They live in large flocks, pairing up and mating for life after an elaborate courtship dance. Known for standing on one leg; this is done for two reasons, one to help keep them warmer, the second to conserve energy, to help with a quick getaway if a predator attacks.

The enclosure of the Scottish Wildcat was close by. Scottish wildcats are also known as European wildcats. They are critically endangered in the UK, being thought to be just 200 left. Elusive hunters sticking to the highlands of Scotland they prey on rabbits, hares and other small mammals. The picture is of one of the two females called Skye and Jura, who came here in 2018. It is planned to get a male in the near future to start a breeding programme that could result in reintroductions into the wild in the future.


After watching some of the bird of prey flying display, I walked back towards the entrance, seeing one of the African spurred tortoise. These are the third largest species of tortoise in the world, after the Galapagos tortoise and Aldabra Giant Tortoise, and is the largest of the mainland tortoises. These tortoises dig burrows in the ground so that during the hottest, and coolest, parts of the day they can stay at the correct temperature and humidity. All four of them here were given to the park as unwanted pets after it was realised how large they grow and the specialist care they require.

Then nearby are the lovely Alpacas that are related to Llamas, both are domesticated versions of the Vicuna and Guanaco which are found in South America. They were domesticated about 6000 to 7000 years ago in the highlands of Peru to aid in carrying goods and for their fleece. The picture below is of one of the parks four boys Buzz, Hugo, Hector and Herbie. They are herd animals and will huddle together when frightened.  Although they are normally docile animals they will spit and kick as a last resort to defend themselves.

So that concludes my account of my visit.

"Thank you Dad", said Fletcher. "Very interesting indeed, and you certainly had a good time."


You've got your massage this morning", said Gladly.

"That's right lad. I am looking forward to the treatment and the feeling relaxed and rejuvenated."

A young lady called Melissa did the massage, and when Dad returned he said, "it was good."

By now it was time for Dad's lunch. "I'm going to the Brasserie. Now Fred and Gladly it is your turn to come along."

"Ok", said Fred, "if you insist."

A pint of Wainwright helped to wash down a very spicy 9 inch Peri chicken, red onion & Capsicum pizza. Then to finish a vanilla & summer berry Panna Cotta & shortbread.

Returning to the room, Dad began to gather us together. "What now", sighed Fred.

"Time for the holiday group picture", replied Dad. "You can have a rest afterwards.

In the winter time Dad usually takes the picture sitting on the stairs by our room, but as it was such a nice summer day, we sat on the steps by the terrace that lead down to the lawns. You will see this later to round off our story.

We all settled on the chairs again, Fred promptly dozing off. Summer said, "Dad, Kent and I would like to explore the grounds. Will you take us for a walk."

"For sure."

So off we went, Kent saying, "where first."

"Round the building and to the lawns again", replied Dad.

"Look, a helicopter", said Summer. "A good picture to start."

"Wow", said Kent looking back. "What a super shot of the hotel.

Walking up onto the terrace, Summer pointed, "those flowers are beautiful."

Crossing the terrace, Summer asked, "what is that tree with the hedge round it."

A yew tree", replied Dad. "It is thought to be over 600 years old, and is one of the oldest in Cumbria."

Looking to the right, Kent pointed, "what is that."

"The gazebo", replied Dad. "It is used for outdoor weddings."

"Let's have our picture sitting on the rail", urged Summer.

l-r Kent & Summer

Following some paths we had this nice shot towards the Spa.

Heading along, Kent pointed. "look Summer, there are two deer statues."

He then said, "we must sit on one so Dad can take our picture.

"Where now, Dad?", asked Summer.

"Follow the path down to the shore of Bassenthwaite Lake."

This involved crossing the bridge over the road that skirts the estate.

As we crossed Dad said, "you will note the road is in a cutting. Originally the road actually ran past the front of the hotel across the car park. However a previous owner had the road diverted, and put into a cutting so that the traffic did not spoil the view to the lake."

"You are so knowledgeable", said Kent.

"Well lad, I have been coming here many many years."

Beyond the path led on through the woodland....

...to reach the shore of the lake.

"Wow", we both called out, "what a wonderful view."

Dad said, "the pointed distant fell in the centre is called Catbells. The one rising right above the lake is Barf."

Kent pointed, "come on Summer, we can sit on those stones and have our picture taken."

"Ok Dad, do we go back the same way?", asked Summer.

"Well just a few yards and then take the path going left above the lake."

"What is that plant", said Kent. "It smells nice."

"Meadowsweet. There is some in our garden at home."

"That tree looks familiar", said Summer. "It stands out in the middle when looking to the lake from the hotel."

The path brought us to a gate and the road. Dad said, "we cross over and go through the open gateway."

As we walked along the path Kent said, "what is that mountain called."

"That is Skiddaw, one of the few mountains over 3000 feet in the Lake District. STAG and I have been up there a few times."

"Phew", said Summer, "they certainly are an intrepid group."

A gate to the left took us into the woodland and at a junction we took the path left. This brought is to a curious tall roofed seat, with beyond this pond.

Dad explained. "When I first came here in 2009, I talked to the gardener. He told me that once there had been an cross country equestrian course here, designed by Captain Mark Phillips. The pond was the water jump, and this roofed seat was another of the jumps."

"Final picture sitting on the seat" suggested Summer.

"Ooh yes", agreed Kent.

Continuing we soon returned to the terrace. A lady called Margaret was sitting reading but noticed us as we walked past. So Dad stopped to explain. She liked us, and then Dad sat chatting with her for about the next couple of hours, until her husband returned from playing golf.

During this time the helicopter took off.

Simon who is the hotel general manager, came out and took Dad's picture. We think it is excellent.

Finally we returned to the room, to tell our pals all about our adventure.

"Brilliant", said Polly. "So glad you both had a good time."

So the end of another lovely holiday here was approaching and as usual while Dad had his final dinner in the restaurant, we had ours in the room.

And here is the holiday Hug group picture, promised earlier.

Top row - Craig, Gladly, Summer, Fred & Ralph
Middle row - Figaro, Polly, Fletcher & Kent
Front row - Shaun, Southey, Tetley, Little Eric, Allen & Grizzly.


"Thank you Dad as always for letting Polly and I bring our guests to stay. We look forward to the next visit in October."

Love and hugs