Travels 1: Essay on the Lake District

First up I have to confess: I love the Lake District in North West England. Be it Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, it is a wonderful place. Best of all, it doesn’t stop coming up with new treasures.

I’ve been visiting there for around thirty five years, sometimes twice in a year. I’ve been there for holidays and for short breaks; stayed in hotels, in B & Bs, in a caravan, and done the whole self-catering bit. I’ve walked, climbed, rowed, swum, been on a steamer, and on a narrow gauge railway; explored villages, towns, churches, museums, Arts & Crafts properties, homes of writers and great thinkers, and walked in the footsteps of great poets; been awed at the theatre and the cinema; sketched, painted, photographed the scenery; barbecued in the countryside, by lakes, picnicked on the fells. I have laughed and cried, had moments when I couldn’t wait to get home, but many many more when I didn’t want it to end.

I have loved every moment. Each and every precious moment.

Yesterday I returned home from my latest visit. I had thought there would be no more surprises in store. Yet last year it was the discovery of a delightfully perfect Bed & Breakfast home and this year it proved to be an equally perfect restaurant. Both in the theatre town of Keswick, in easy walking distance of each other, and both a stroll from the Theatre by the Lake. There was one downside too.

Due to my health issues it is vital that I maintain a good equilibrium when I’m out and about. My pivot point is razor-thin (maybe not the best analogy for a self-harmer! but in the past it could very swiftly come to that). I have left places in tears on occasion but, thankfully, these times are getting further apart. This visit it was a special meal in a very expensive restaurant that upset the balance. Without going into details, the staff were professional to the point of rudeness. Efficiency is good; efficiency without warmth is not. Attention to detail is good; attention to detail that is a mere ‘ticking all the boxes’ exercise is not. It’s not a return booking I’m prepared to make. So stressed did it make me that the following day, which happened to be my birthday, my immune system went haywire: mouth ulcers, dry cough, sore throat. My sensitivity to sensory input also ran riot and I was left tearful by the slightest noise and unexpected changes to routine. I knew I could be heading non-stop to a Shutdown but for my wonderful ‘personal support system’ AKA my husband.

My new ‘treasures’ in Keswick?

HillCrest22 is a family-run business offering accommodation and (possibly) the best breakfast spread I have ever encountered. A large central table positively groans under the wonderful weight of fresh juices, fruits, cheeseboard, organic yogurts, toppings of seeds and fruits, cereals, fresh pastries, homemade jams and marmalades. The cooked breakfast menu is supplemented daily with extra yummies – avocado toast one day, smoked mackerel the next, and so on. A special afternoon tea is offered on arrival, and there are usually delicious aromas wafting downstairs as baking gets underway.

Fellpack is the most amazing eatery, brimming with a truly welcoming atmosphere and dishes to tempt the most jaded palette. Even simple items on the menu have been lifted out of the mundane and catapulted sky-high into foodie heaven. The staff are relaxed and friendly, sparing a moment to greet newcomers (and their dogs) even when in the middle of a very busy shift. It is so refreshingly relaxed that it seemed to create a camaraderie among fellow diners, strangers just minutes before.

I did not set out to review my two new favourite places in this blog. My guess is that many who read this will never visit the Lake District. But some might and I wanted to set down in writing how special these places are.

If any of you have been to the Lakes, or visited any place that proved to be so exceptional that you did not want to leave, please share. Sometimes just writing about great memories puts it right out there in the ether. And that must be a positive thing.