Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Lake District, a beautiful place but .

Mrs Stuffy is a black belt in the arranging of short breaks, brief respites to boldly go, to discover strange new lands and cultures ... you get the idea. She has, in the past, scored notable success with the delightful Riad Meriem in Marrakech and the superb Bourgondich Cruyces in Bruges.

Imagine my joy then, on receiving, for my recent birthday, a pair of hiking boots and a couple of days accommodation (with my lovely spouse) a rambling break in the Lake District, an area I'm pretty fond of, resulting from a childhood passion for the works of Arthur Ransome and from my climbing days when, living in Yorkshire, it was easy-peasy to pop across the Pennines with Mountain-Mate-Mike and scare ourselves nigh to death on the lovely Cumbrian crags (as opposed to scaring ourselves nigh to death on more familiar Yorkshire crags).

Our drive up was only marred by

  1. the need for every inbred bottom feeder in creation to sit in the middle lane of the M3,M25,M40,M42 and M6 having a fag, sending a text and discussing Coronation Street with their ugly halfwit passengers
  2. Knutsford
  3. a large chunk of the M6 disappearing into a hole and being replaced by all the cones in the world
Still, we eventually got to Windermere and the Hillthwaite House Hotel, billed on t'interweb as overlooking the lake, which it did, in much the same way that The Great Wall of China is overlooked from space. There was a definite hint of Fawlty Towers about our lodging, faded 60's decor, elderly clientele and staffed entirely by well meaning and enthusiastic East European teenagers with no evident catering experience.

We arrived, thanks to the Great British Transport Infrastructure only 2 hours later than we planned so a quick grimace, a G&T and we were whisked into the dining room.

Dinner, (included in the not inconsiderable price) was a 5 course affair best summarised as beautifully presented blandness. Someone, possibly the Head Chef,"award winning John Kelly" or one of his brigade of highly skilled drizzlers of jus and coulis had a good eye for a stack of raspberries but it appeared that, tragically, no-one in the kitchen had a taste bud. Mrs Stuffy's "Goat cheese on Mediterranean couscous with new potatoes and carrots" still causes her to leap up in the night weeping with the sheer beige horror of it all.

We retired to bed, it wasn't the least comfortable bed I've ever slept in, it was pretty close though.

Up and at 'em the next morning. The bathroom was, evidently, recently refurbished and all the fixture and fittings were new and of a very reasonable quality, sadly the water pressure was such that I effectively put in a 5 mile run jogging around the rink-like surface in an attempt to catch enough precious but desperately scarce water to get wet enough to ablute.

I got off lightly, Mrs S still bears the technicolor bruises caused by a reckless attempt to walk across the slightly moist tiles to open the bedroom door. She's a little prone to opening hotel doors in a state of undress, I'm in favour of it, saves tipping and the staff always seem to enjoy it.

Breakfast was a revelation, whoever does the breakfast should be put on the evening shift at once, great ingredients, well cooked and delicious. Refreshed, reinvigorated and fortified we donned our new hiking boots and set off for the first leg of our trek, from the hotel to Lake Windermere.

To be honest, once we'd got that far we'd pretty much broken the back of it and the next few hours passed in a cordial blur of boat, trek, beer, boat,trek, ice cream (30p for a flake !) trek,beer, yomp, boat and the fruitless search for a pleasant pub or restaurant.

Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside all seemed to be a little bit "lowest common denominator touristy" if you know what I mean, and if you don't then I heartily recommend that you take a weekend at the Hillthwaite Hotel, you'll love it.

Me, I'd rather gouge my own eyes out with a spoon,
a blunt one.


At 11:33 pm, Blogger IzinSing said...



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