10th - 15th OCTOBER 2021



Polly and I were sitting reading, and having a mug of tea, when Fred and Gladly wandered in.

"It's not long to the next visit to Armathwaite Hall, Fletcher", said Fred. "Have you made any decisions as to who will be accompanying you and Polly?"

"Yes", I replied, "but first do you want tea?"

"Ooh yes", replied Gladly.

Polly filled the mugs and passed them over.

Fred took a sip, then said, "it is delicious."

"Well it is Cumbria tea that Dad found when he went to Cockermouth in July", replied Polly. "The packet says Ramblers blend, but STAG have called it Ramblears tea."

"Ha ha", said Gladly. "Mind you I am not surprised with the arch tea bellies Allen and Southey in the group."

Just then Tetley walked in. "We wondered if you would like some cake to go with your tea. Little Eric has made chocolate coated flapjack, and Grizzly mincemeat slice."

"Yes please", I said, as we all took a piece of our choice.

"They are quite delicious", said Gladly, who is like his Dad for cake, and had had a piece of each.

"We are very fortunate to have such ace bakers in Grizzly and Little Eric", said Fred.

Then Fletcher turned the conversation back to the forthcoming holiday. "You and your pals will be coming to Armathwaite."

"Yes", said Tetley. We have discussed with Dad and we are going for a walk from Silloth."

Polly then said, to Fred and Gladly, "you two will be coming of course." Then she went on, "Dad has booked to see a play at the Theatre by the Lake, so that means that Rex and Starbuck are coming."

"While Polly was one of the early Charlie Bears that joined the Hug, it was in fact Kieran that started Dad collecting them, so I have decided that he must come with his girlfriend Sandie. Bracken is also best pals with them, so he and his cousin Moss make up the rest of the group."

"We thought that maybe Bracken and Moss being the nature bears, will like to have a walk in the grounds with Dad and take some pictures so they can contribute to the story", went on Polly.

"Well then it is all decided", said Fred. And raising his mug said, "here's to another enjoyable time at Dad's second home."




Thinking Dad would be setting of late morning, we made sure to be up quite early to ensure we were ready. "What time are we setting off?", I asked.

"Not until this afternoon, Fletcher", Dad replied. "It is the Turkish F1 Grand Prix, and with the close contest for the title between Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, Martin and I don't want to miss it. The rooms at the hotel are not ready until 15:00 these days, so there is no point in going too early."

"That's fine", I replied. "We know how much you enjoy the Grand Prix and we don't want to deny our pal Martin."

"I do, and it is thanks to Uncle Brian that I got hooked on them. Just wish he was still watching them with me."

The race was exciting Valterie Bottas winning it for Mercedes. Max Verstappen was second, and Lewis Hamilton fifth having started eleventh after taking a penalty for a new engine. It meant that Verstappen was six points ahead of Hamilton in the championship.

As soon as it was over Polly, our guests and I settled in the car, and about 15:00 we were on our way. The journey was good and about an hour or so later we were there. I went with Dad to check in and we were welcomed by Marian who kindly helped Dad bring the luggage in. We meanwhile made our way to the room and settled in to rest after the journey. That evening Dad went for dinner in the restaurant, while as usual I had arranged for room service for us all.



Dad had gone off for breakfast, and we were having ours in the room.

Looking out, Tetley said, "those are Herdwick sheep in the field at the bottom of the lawns."

"Our favourite sheep that we have seen many of on our walks on the fells and mountains", added Grizzly.

"I'd like to see them close-up", said Moss. "I know Dad likes to rest on the first day, but maybe he will take Bracken and I for a walk."

Shortly Dad returned, and Polly said, "Bracken and Moss are wondering if you will take them for a walk to see the Herdwicks."

"Oh them", said Dad. "They were in the paddock across from the car park until a day or so ago. Apparently a guest who was not so wise about the country code left the gate open and they escaped. Fortunately the gate to the tennis court was open too and they congregated in there. Otherwise they would have been all over the place. Of course I will take you two for a walk to see them."

Right I said, "you two are narrating the next part of the story."

So we are Bracken and Moss and are the flora and fauna experts in the Hug.

We exited the hotel and walked round to the terrace. "Let's have a look at the pots with the winter pansies", called out Moss. "They will be very colourful when fully in bloom."

Dad now took us across the lawns to the fence where beyond were the Herdwicks. He walked along, and lined up the camera, but said, "they are too far away to get any sensible pictures. We really need to be in the field."

We knew the grounds quite well as we had explored them before, so as Dad turned away, Bracken said, "if we cross to to the woods on the left, we will get onto the path through it and we can leave it left, which will bring us to the field gate."

There looking across, Moss said, "that beautiful mature oak is worth a picture Dad."

The sheep were making their way towards us, Bracken saying, "you will be able to get the shots now. We'll sit on the gatepost and look on."

l-r Moss, Bracken

Entering the field Dad waited patiently as they approached, not getting too close, and took a number of shots. Afterwards we had a look and decided these two were the ones to include.

We now returned through the woods. Very tall and mature trees surround a clearing, Bracken pointing, "look at the size of that tree stump. The tree must have been huge before it fell."

As we walked on Moss said, "can we have our picture taken sitting on that old tree stump, please Dad."

The path brought us to the terrace again, and we strolled along. "Ahh", said Moss, "I never tire of that wonderful view to the lake."

Dad said, "the pointed fell in the distance is Catbells, while rising above the right side of the lake is Barf and Lord's Seat."

"What is that fell over there", pointed Bracken.

"Where the trees have been felled in Lowthwaite, while the grassy fell to its right is Sale Fell."

"Thank you Dad we have had a lovely time", said Moss, as we entered the hotel by the door from the terrace.

Then we returned to the room to rest.

So now Dad went and sat in the lounge taking some of my guests with him. Later they then went with Dad to the Brasserie, where he had lunch.

l-r, Kieran, Fred, Sandie & Gladly



I said, "it's your day today, Rex and Starbuck, with your trip to the Theatre by the Lake."

"Yes Fletcher. It is four years since Starbuck and I went to see a play. That was As You Like It at Keswick", replied Rex.

"We are really looking forward to going", said Starbuck, "but it will be tinged with sadness, as dear Uncle Brian will not be with us. Over the years I have been to over 100 productions and Rex over 150, all with Uncle Brian. We will miss him today as we do all the time, and I know it will be emotional for our Dad."

Dad had returned from breakfast and overheard what Starbuck had said. "You are right lad, it will be strange not to have Brian with us. I will also miss his professional and expert insight into the performances. I picked up on some of these, but not nearly as much as Brian."

"Well my Dad was a very accomplished actor in his own right", said Fred. "He appeared in musicals when he lived in Nottinghamshire, then many plays over the years at the Little Theatre in Southport and later a few at the Grand Theatre in Lancaster."

"Yes Fred just over 60 productions through the years" replied Dad. "I was so proud of him. He particularly liked comedy and had the excellent timing to pull this off."

Polly said, "we all miss Uncle Brian so much but all those wonderful memories you have of all the years together will live on with you Dad."

"Are you taking your camera?", I asked.

"Yes Fletcher. I intend to take some pictures in the gardens and of the fells."

"Right then pals, you two are narrating the part of the story today."

Dad spent an hour or so sitting in the lounge with Rex and Starbuck, then they headed off for Keswick, parking near the lake.

"Right lads", said Dad, "let's go and have a walk round Hope Gardens."

We trotted off along the path and then down to the lawn. "That border is beautiful", pointed Rex.

Walking along to the top, Starbuck said, "if we sit over there, will you take our picture please?"

"Sure lads."

l-r Rex & Starbuck

Along the path we passed these gardens with hedged borders.

"That's a sundial in the centre", commented Rex, "let's have a closer look."

The information plaque told us that the sundial shows local solar time. To to find Greenwich Mean Time it is necessary to add 12.4 minutes to the time shown to correct for longitude. The longitude of Keswick is 3.1 degrees west of the Greenwich Observatory, London and the earth rotates at 4 minutes per degree. The sun therefore reaches a given position in the sky 12.4 minutes later at Keswick than at Greenwich.

"Well", said Starbuck, "we have learnt something today."

Then we came to the recently unveiled statue of 'Max the Miracle Dog'.

Max gained worldwide fame when videos of his daily walks in the Lake District with his owner were posted online. People from as far afield as Australia tuned in by the hundreds of thousands during the dark days of lockdown. Owner Kerry Irving had Max trained as a therapy dog in 2016 and during the pandemic he became a virtual therapy dog. Live broadcasts of his daily walks were credited with helping people cope with depression and isolation. In February Max was presented with the PDSA Order of Merit, also known as the animal OBE, for his 'outstanding contribution to society'. The statue, designed by local sculptor Kirsty Armstrong, was paid for by a crowdfunding campaign, which raised £26,000 in a single day.

We then strolled back through the gardens, Rex, suggesting, "that long shot of the beautiful borders will be a nice picture."

The flowers in the long herbaceous border were largely over, but Starbuck pointed, "what are those flowers Dad?"

"Michaelmas Daisy."

"Can we go down by Derwent Water?", asked Rex.

"Sure that was what I intended now", replied Dad.

"As we crossed the grass this view was before us. "Wow", said Starbuck, "I guess STAG have climbed those fells."

"Yes lad. That is from the right Skelgill Bank rising to Catbells with Maiden Moor beyond. The ascent path up Skelgill Bank is clearly seen. In front is Derwent Island."

"And those?", pointed Rex.

"Rowling End then rising to Causey Pike. The last time we climbed them we took in Rowling End, but it is possible to miss that out and use the path that can be seen climbing to the col and then just summit Causey Pike."

"As we all say, STAG are really an intrepid group going to all those wild places", replied Rex.

Starbuck had turned to look down Derwent Water. "Wonderful."

"That is the jaws of Borrowdale, lads. On the left is King's How and to its right the tree clad fell is Castle Crag. We can see the track to its right, that is used to access the path to the summit of Castle Crag."

"What is the mountain behind with its top just in cloud?", asked Rex.

"Glaramara, lad."

"That one over there looks challenging", pointed Starbuck.

"Ah yes, that is Robinson. STAG and I have usually just come down that. I recall starting from Newlands and climbing the ridge of Scope End taking in three tops, then there was a very steep ascent to Hindscarth. We then deviated to take in Dale Head, before returning and making the climb over Hindscarth End to summit Robinson. On the descent there are three rather steep and tricky sections down to that long ridge of High Snab Bank to the start."

"Awesome", cried Rex.

"Let's sit on those rocks pal and have our picture taken again", said Starbuck.

Then returning to the road we walked down to the landing stages for the launches that circle the lake...

...one of which we had seen earlier.

So, that was our sightseeing over. Dad then went to the Hope Cafe having a nice scone with butter and jam and pot of tea. We sat out on the table watching all that was going on. Then it was time for the play, so we made our way to the Theatre by the Lake.

The performance was socially distance so there were empty rows behind and in front and empty seats either side, so we were able to have our own seat next to Dad. The play was called Home, I'm Darling, by Laura Wade.

Set in the present day, it centres on a couple Judy and Johnny, who have decided to live in 1950s with everything in the house from that era.  Judy is the dutiful housewife while Johnny goes to work, as it was in those times.  It started as an experiment when Judy was made redundant and they both agreed to try this out.  However it proves harder to be happy doing this in the 21st century.  Johnny is average at this job and not getting a promotion puts a strain on finances etc. In the end he is not happy as to an extent it makes him feel less of a man, in the eyes of his colleagues.  Judy’s mother in one scene explodes the myth of how good the 50s were for women, with men treating them poorly and divorce being impossible.  It all comes to a head in a big argument and they decide to make some changes, sharing the rolls but still in a 1950s environment. It ends with them both back at work.  Through another couple, who are their friends, the play explores the attitude to women at work.  The husband is suspended from the firm he started due to sexual harassment allegations.  He is a bit touchy feely with his PA.  Acceptable in the 1950s but not now.  We thought it was well done and we all had a good time.  However here is where we miss Uncle Brian even more, as he would always see the performance from the actors view, and being a good actor himself would have given a critique on the way home.

"Thanks pals for super account of your day."



As Dad threw the curtains back, Shaun looked out. "Looks like we are in for a cloudy day."

"Yes pal", replied Allen, who had the iPad in paw. "But, the forecast for Silloth is for a dry day so our walk will be on."

We all had breakfast, then after Dad had checked he had all his gear, STAG and he set off.

"Have an enjoyable day", said Kieran.

"Thanks" called back Tetley.

The tale of their day is told elsewhere on the website and can be accessed by clicking the following link - Silloth.

However Polly and I have asked STAG to include just a few pictures from their day.

Southey said, "I have been nominated to give the brief account of our day."

"Driving first to Maryport we then took the coast road through Allonby, and on to Silloth, where Dad parked by The Green with a nice view to the houses and church with its tall spire that is a significant landmark across the Solway Plain."

"Our walk started along the promenade, by the Solway Firth with views across to the hills of Dumfries and Galloway."

"We passed this sculpture of a man with his dog shading his eyes to look at the view. It is called 'Big Fella'."

"At the end of the promenade we joined a footpath to Skinburness, and then walked on along the shingle beach to Grune Point."

"There we crossed inland to pick up a footpath that eventually brought is back onto the promenade. Here Dad decided to walk along the street to look at the houses and gardens, and finally along one of the wide cobbled streets to the car park."

"These are a relic of Victorian times when the town became a resort for people to come for holidays etc, particularly from Carlisle. There was a railway link to Silloth, to facilitate travel."

"Thank you, Southey", I said. "Did you have your picture taken?"

"Of course."

l-r, Allen, Grizzly, Southey, Little Eric, Tetley & Shaun



So our last day for this holiday.

As we were having breakfast, Sandie said, "you and Polly have been so good to let all the rest of us either have a walk, go to the theatre, or sit in the lounge. It is your turn today."

"Yes love, we can go and sit in the lounge with Dad for the morning", said Polly.

Soon ready and with his laptop and iPad, we followed Dad down to the lounge...

...and settled on a comfortable chair.

l-r, Fletcher & Polly

"This is where Uncle Brian and Dad always sat in the lounge", said Polly. "I am sure he is with us in spirit, and has been keeping an eye on you Dad, during the holiday."

"Of that I have no doubt."

"I have always admired the picture that hangs just above us", commented Fletcher. "It is the artist's representation of Derwent Water towards the jaws of Borrowdale, from long ago."

Dad was busy on his laptop setting up the basic pages for the stories that have to be written, so Polly said, "let's go and sit in the window and look at the view."

He had arranged to meet Uncle Simon, who is the General Manager, for lunch, so eventually we all returned to the room. Dad to drop off his laptop. Then after lunch he went off to the Spa for a massage that he told us really relaxed him, for which we were very glad.

I said, "there is just one more thing to do, that is the holiday Hug group picture."

"Well as long as we do not have to go outside this time", replied Fred.

"Dad will take us sitting on the stairs to the tower just outside our room.", said Gladly.

Top row - Kieran, Fred, Sandie, Gladly & Bracken with Moss
Middle row - Rex, Polly, Fletcher, Starbuck
Bottom row - Grizzly, Southey, Shaun with Little Eric, Allen, Tetley

After we were settled again, Dad said, "I have been wondering about coming to stay again this year, and have decided to come in early December. The week is free, and all I need to do is go down and confirm the booking."

"Ooh great", cheered Polly.

"I heartily agree, Uncle Gerry", said Fred. "You may as well enjoy your money. My Dad would be very happy about it."



We awoke quite early, Kieran saying, "home time today. It has been another lovely holiday and thank you Fletcher and Polly for inviting us to be your guests."

"You are welcome", I replied.

Dad said, "I am going to pack and get all the luggage in the car, before I have breakfast. When we first came here Uncle Brian and I used to stay on and have lunch but then we decided that we would rather get home by lunchtime."

This was all done, just leaving us to have our final breakfast, after which we trotted off down and settled in the car. I went with Dad to settle the bill, giving the debit card to JJ, who said, "thank you Fletcher." Then to Dad, "have a safe journey home and see you in December."

As we drove off, Dad said, "some of you will remember Katie, who used to work in the Spa and indeed gave me a massage or two. Well she went to work in Cheshire, but has now moved to work at the North Lakes Hotel and Spa at Penrith. I am planning to call and hopefully get to see her."

"Oh yes, I remember her, she is a lovely person. Can I come in with you to see her too."

"Yes lad."

It was an easy drive along the A66, and we found the entrance to the hotel. Dad and I walked to reception and he explained to the very nice lady the reason for our visit. She said, "Katie is on today, but I am not sure if she is in the office or doing treatments."

She checked and sadly it was the latter so we could not see her. The lady noticed me and Dad explained. She said, "would you like to buy one of our bears."

Now Dad is trying very hard not to add to our huge Hug, and said quite honestly, "I have not got any money", his wallet being in the car.

As we walked back, I said, "he is a lovely bear Dad."

"Yes he is." And by the time we reached the car, Dad said, "I am going to buy him."

And here he is.

His name is Daniel, after Daniel Thwaites that is the brewery that owns the hotel. The logo on the apron he wears, relates to FYR the restaurant at the hotel. This has a large open fire on which the chefs cook some of the meals. We are all happy to have adopted our new pal and he has settled in well with his new pals.

Love and Hugs