Lake District

Lake District
Lake District


Showing posts with label England. Show all posts
Showing posts with label England. Show all posts

Lake District || A Day at Tarn Hows

I may have been home in Northern Ireland for this year but it hasn't stopped me finding my way back to the North West of England as often as is physically possible, mostly thanks to Ryanair and that €1 flight to Liverpool I managed to nab in their flash sale!

Since my last Lancaster post I've managed to pay another two visits, with my last trip actually ending up coinciding with a visit from one of Carlo's friends from school. So, the two of us, plus said visiting-friend and a few of Carlo's friends from home decided to mark the occasion with an amble around Tarn Hows near Coniston in the Lake District. This is going back nearly a month ago now when it was still more or less winter and there was still plenty of snow on the mountains; for sure one of the best things about visiting the Lakes around this time of year.

Before this day I'd never been to Tarn Hows before, or even heard of it. It had been one of the boys, Carlo's friend, Neil who had suggested it and very kindly offered to drive the five of us there. Much of the trail is deep, rich forestland, not unlike that which covers much of the Mourne Moutains I love so much from home. It circles around a central tarn, or small lake which stems off into little streams and at one point even feeds into a rather magnificent waterfall. By the time we'd finished our walk I'd been utterly enchanted by the whole place. It's now easily one of my favourite Lake District spots.

Apparently the land was once owned by author, Beatrix Potter who used the royalties from her books to purchase a great deal of what is now the Lake District National Park in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of developers. She would then eventually pass on much of the land, including Tarn Hows, to the National Trust who have worked to preserve the area and its wildlife ever since. A fantastic legacy if you ask me!

Interestingly, on our travels we came across a few fallen trees that were stippled with pennies. None of us had ever seen anything like this before and at first we were baffled. However, after a bit of googling we discovered they were wishing trees, and the equivalent of tossing coins into a fountain. Apparently the practice began in old folklore, when it was believed that if you were ill, embedding a coin within a tree would take the illness away.

Have you ever seen a wishing tree?


A Lake District Photo Diary || Rydal & Ambleside

Sunset at Rydal, Lake District, Cumbria.

Following on from my last Lake District Post 'A Lake District Photo Diary | Windermere & Grasmere' after finishing up in Grasmere, we hopped back on the 555 and headed to Rydal. We were planning on taking a walk around Rydal Water, one of my favourite areas in the Lake District, but before setting off we made a quick stop at a little pub called Badger Bar for a drink and a bit of a rest. It was getting to that time in the evening just before dusk, the 'golden hour' when the light is just beginning to fade and casts a beautiful golden glow over the landscape. 

A signpost at sunset at Rydal Water, Lake District, Cumbria
Rydal Water in the Lake District, Cumbria

Refreshed and refuelled, and not wanting to miss the last of the daylight, we quickly finished our drinks and headed down to the lake for a quick wander. We didn't manage to stay for too long as by this stage the sun was setting quite quickly and we had to make sure we were back at the bus stop on time.

Rydal Water in the Lake District, Cumbria
Sunset at Rydal Water in the Lake District, Cumbria

After about an hour by the water we actually had to make a proper dash for the bus which we only just caught by the skin of our teeth, and made our way back to Ambleisde where we were staying for the night. We had booked a guesthouse called Lakes Lodge, which I really can't recommend enough. It wasn't a luxury hotel by any means, but it was really clean and cosy, set amid Ambleside's tall grey slate townhouses.

One thing I really liked was that in reception they had a shelf full of about 50 DVDs and we were allowed to choose as many as we wanted to watch in the little TV in our room. 'About Time' was in there which is probably my favourite film ever so we picked that one up and ended up watching it the following morning.

Rydal in the Lake District, Cumbria
Breakfast in Bed at Lakes Lodge, Ambleside, Lake District

Once we'd left our bags and got settled in our room we set off in search of something to eat. We were both kind of feeling Italian food and we had seen that an Italian restaurant called Dodds had gotten really good reviews so that was our first port of call. You can't book a table in advance there and it was really busy so we had to wait about half an hour before we were seated. However, all-in-all it was definitely worth the wait. The food was incredible, so incredible I didn't even think to take a picture before tucking into my carbonara... But trust me, it looked as good as it tasted!

Another thing I thoroughly appreciated about Lakes Lodge was the fact that we had a huge choice of breakfast which was included in the price of the room and then for an extra £5 you could have it brought up to your room which we decided to do, and it was genuinely amazing.

Bridge House, Ambleside, Lake District, Cumbria
Ambleside in the Lake District, Cumbria
Reading on the bus home

Since we'd had quite a busy day the day before, we decided to take it easy and spend the day around Ambleside. We basically just pottered around the shops and stopped at a cafe for quite a large lunch. I ate soooo much the whole week I was in England, I'd missed British food so much! We also had a quick peek into Ambleside's Bridge House- if you've ever been there you'll know that a quick peek is all it really takes! Bridge House has become kind of an iconic symbol of Ambleside. It's a tiny house built over a bridge made up of just one very small room upstairs and another one downstairs. It's owned and maintained by the National Trust, and is one of their smallest properties. While we were there the National Trust guide was telling us all about its many uses over the years, and it once actually housed a family of eight, which is absolutely crazy!!

Just before we caught the bus back home we called into another bookshop to pick up some "provisions" for the journey home. Carlo bought himself a copy of 'Moby Dick' and I bought 'Cider with Rosie' by Laurie Lee. I'v nearly finished it and I've adored every second, it's definitely going onto my ever-growing list of my all time favourite books! I was really sad to have to leave the Lake District, I can't wait until I'm finally back in the area again!

A Lake District Photo Diary | Windermere & Grasmere

Apparently I've taken a bit of another unintentional blogging break- whoooops. It only just occurred to me today that it's now the middle of October and I still haven't posted anything this month; not ideal! However, I'm back now with lots of (hopefully consistent) updates to share over the coming weeks. I might even try that thing they call "scheduling posts", that would be a first.

I've been getting the year abroad blues pretty badly recently. It may be something I'll go into more detail about at a later stage but at the moment it just sucks being so far away from everything I know. I never would have called myself a homebird before, but these last few months in Spain have been a very real challenge for me for all sorts of reasons. I miss absolutely everything about the UK: the people, of course, but also the food, the landscape, and just its general familiarity. 

A couple of weeks ago the yearning for home got a bit too much for me and I ended up booking some cheap flights and jetting back to Lancaster for a bit of a refuel. It was a brief visit, but a completely blissful one. It's crazy how much you appreciate the banalities of your normal everyday after you've been away from it for a while.

While I was in Bilbao I had been dreaming of a weekend in the Lake District, so Carlo and I planned a little trip there during my visit. We turned out to have great weather, even at the end of September/beginning of October, and it really was just exactly what I needed.

We set off for the Lakes early, though not quite early enough since we missed the bus we were supposed to get; but as is life. We just ended up getting the train instead and arrived in Windermere around midday. We hadn't really planned our trip too much apart from having booked a guesthouse in Ambleside for the night, so we decided to stay in Windermere for a little while and have some lunch. According to Trip Advisor one of the best places to eat was a place called Brambles Tea Rooms so we gave it a go and I definitely think it deserves a mention here because the staff were really lovely and the food was delicious! I'll surely be back again next time I'm in the area.

After our quick pit stop in Windermere we caught the 555 bus to Grasmere. The 555 service runs from Lancaster all the way to Keswick and stops at Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Rydal and Grasmere. You can get a day pass for around £10 or just over which allows you to hop on and off anywhere on that route. It's a really scenic journey and a really good deal if you don't have a car to get around the Lakes with.

Grasmere is my absolute favourite Lake District village out of the ones I know well enough. It's so beautiful and quaint and is full of lots of lovely shops and cafes as well as quite a few places of historical interest. The poet, William Wordsworth lived in the town for fourteen years and is buried there in the churchyard of St. Oswald's church. Grasmere is also home to the famous Grasmere Gingerbread Shop which sells gingerbread baked according to a special recipe invented by Sarah Nelson who began selling the gingerbread from her cottage home in 1854, where the shop is still located today.

Outside the Gingerbread Shop there's a spoon garden. It's a bit random, but definitely not in a bad way, in fact it really brightens up the shop's front. Visitors are invited to send the shop a wooden spoon they have decorated to be put in the garden, and each month a winner is chosen out of the newly planted spoons to receive a gingerbread mini hamper! It's a quirky idea but one I very much appreciate.

The Wordsworth graves, those of William himself, his wife, their children, and his sister are right beside the Gingerbread Shop and I always visit when I'm in Grasmere, out of fascination as much as the fact that they're set in such a peaceful location.

The graves look onto Grasmere's Daffodil Garden which sits over the river Rothay and was planted in ode to the poet. It's meant to be a visual representation of his poem 'Daffodils' ('I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud') and in springtime hundreds of daffodils bloom here. Unfortunately it was the wrong time of year for us this time!

While the garden was being constructed visitors were able to buy a paving slab with their name and home town or region inscribed on it to be placed in the garden. Carlo and I spent a while looking through them to see if we recognised any of the places. I found quite a few from Northern Ireland!

At the garden's edge there's a stone slab bearing the poem's final verse:

"For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

We spent the rest of our time in Grasmere wandering around the shops, including a bookshop where I went a bit overboard on purchases. In fairness, it was the first English bookshop I'd been in for a long time!

After Grasmere we headed on to Rydal, though this post has gotten a bit on the long side so I think I'm going to have to post a second instalment later this week.

Have you ever been to the Lake District? What's your favourite place there?

A Day in Brighton

I feel like I’ve been starting every post I’ve written recently with “sorry I haven’t posted in a while” etc. etc. and once again, I do apologise. Life has been pretty hectic as of late and while I was (and still am) really keen to get things moving on my blog again, various other things have just been getting in the way. For instance, I’ve just moved out of my second year uni house. This turned out to be an immensely tedious task, particularly as I ended up having to repaint one of my bedroom walls- our landlord was threatening to deduct £5 from our deposit for every blu tac stain. I had 45 photos on that wall and 45 x 4 is 180 blu tac stains I did not want to risk being charged for! -Finding an absolute colour match to the wall also turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, but I got there in the end (it was ‘Orchid White’ by Dulux in case anyone is wondering). I’ve also been focusing quite a lot of energy on my Etsy recently and, of course, trying to squeeze in some valuable time with friends and family before my move to Spain in what’s now just under two weeks.

While I get myself organised again I thought I’d do a bit of a throwback post to a trip I took to Brighton with Izi during the few days I spent visiting her in London. I’d only ever been to Brighton once before and Izi had never been so we thought we may as well since it’s only an hour outside central London by train. We spent most of the morning just wandering the lanes and having a browse around the different shops. I honestly wish I lived in Brighton, or at least nearby, just so I could live within a reasonable distance of some of the gorgeous shops and boutiques there. We, of course, couldn’t miss paying a visit to Choccywoccydoodah, a cafĂ© and chocolate shop selling the most spectacular chocolate and cakes. I’ve known about the shop for a while because it used to be the subject of a TV show that gave a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse of the shop’s day-to-day running and how the cakes were made. It gave me a huge appreciation of the work that goes into making one of their amazing cakes, so, while a bespoke cake from the shop can cost up to £3,000, I can certainly understand why.
On our travels we also paid a visit to the Royal Pavilion, a curious, oriental-style building commissioned by George IV in 1815 that resembles something of a mini Taj Mahal. We didn’t go inside because admission costs more or less an arm and a leg but we did take some photos outside before heading off in search of some lunch and picking up some watermelon sorbet- a new experience for us both- on the way.

We spent the rest of the day at the pier where we got a little bit hooked on the amusements and ended up raking in something like 600 tickets which we traded in for a bubble wand, two Brighton tea towels and two scented candles, all of which combined where probably worth about a third of the money we’d spent trying to obtain them. It was fun, but now that I’ve got it out of my system I don’t think I’ll be spending a fortune on 10p and claw machines again anytime soon. At the time though, satisfied with our winnings, we made our way back to the station and then on to London. It was a really nice day out and while it would still take me a long time to tire of the busy London life, I being very much a small town girl (by circumstance more than by choice), I think Izi enjoyed the little break.

Have you been to Brighton? What is your favourite place there?

Breakfast at Sky Garden | 20 Fenchurch Street, London

It was a very rainy day last Sunday, though Izi and I still decided to embark on a breakfast date with a difference at the amazing Sky Garden, a cafe and bar/restaurant that sits high above the London streets atop 20 Fenchurch Street. As far as I know, the building is a fairly recent addition to the London skyline, as is the Sky Garden itself which only opened its doors for the first time in January.

Truthfully, at first I was more than a little concerned about how much this expedition to "London's most exclusive social space" might cost, especially as we were ushered through security on arrival! However, as it turns out, access to the Sky Garden is free! Though you do have to make sure and book tickets at least three days in advance and your visit is limited to an hour and a half. Also, believe it or not, but that is actually a very reasonably-priced croissant pictured above!

Once we had finished our breakfast we set off to explore the levels set above the cafe area. We also had a quick peek out onto the terrace but the rain was absolutely lashing it down so we didn't stay out there for long. Honestly, I expected slightly more from the "gardens", as they were the restaurant's namesake, though really they weren't particularly impressive. I'd say perhaps the greatest reason to visit the Sky Garden would be more for the stunning 360° panoramic views of London it provides.

Due to its central location there were some excellent views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, as well as St Paul's, the Gherkin, and the Shard. The building itself was also very striking, a huge dome-like structure made up almost entirely of glass. I'm definitely glad I had the experience of visiting the Sky Garden during my short time in London!
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