Thursday, October 24, 2019

MENU's UK Adventure 8. From Glasgow to the Lake District; Keswick and Windermere

It was time to head south, leaving Bonnie Scotland and head for the Lake District in Cumberland. Lynne spent some great times there when she worked for Heinemann Educational Publishing, as they took a group of staff up once a year to do some hill walking on hills like Helvellyn and Great Gable. We followed the paths of the beautiful hand written Wainwright guides and of course it was team building. We are well past fell walking nowadays and all we could do was gaze in wonder and amazement at the beautiful hills that now look so unachievable. Even Cat Bells looks steep. Our first stop was in Keswick and it was a slightly damp Sunday
The sun came out and we spotted a very welcome sign outside this pub. Sunday lunch £9.95
Thirsty for a good local beer, we ventured inside
And this is where it started to go a little haywire. The lass with the blue hair behind the bar appeared to be furious with John for taking photograph with her in it (is she a fugitive from....). We asked about lunch and she mumbled something about there being a delay in the kitchen - could have been 15 but sounded more like 50 minutes. Fine, we said, "it's only 12 o'clock and we can sit in the window and drink a beer while we wait". And wait we did
This was the beer we ordered 
and this is what we got and it was very satisfying. We both know Theakston of old and it’s a great beer. But where was lunch? Just after 1, Lynne looked for our blue haired lass and she was nowhere to be seen - nor was our lunch. So she went to the bar and enquired. The new barmaid was so upset when she heard that we had waited an hour and had obviously been forgotten
Not only did we get our lunch within moments, but she insisted on refunding us in full for the food! We had a long chat with her later, as we had picked up her Antipodean accent; she was very friendly and was indeed from New Zealand and said it was great to speak to friendly others from the south

Just as well we didn't have to pay for the food, as the beef, one slice, was rather like shoe leather, there were two half cooked 'roast' potatoes, a pile of mash, some undercooked carrots and broccoli and rather soggy Yorkshire pudding. The watery gravy was so tasteless that Lynne managed to persuade John to stir in a small spoonful of HP sauce to give it some flavour (that will never happen again!)
Keswick Tourist office is in this old building which looks as though it was once a church
They were so helpful and friendly and gave us lots of maps and advice
Yikes! This was not the last we were to see in Britain. Is our generation having heart attacks on the streets?
Well, at least it's a use for old telephone booths...
Just make sure, if you do have an infarction, that you do it next to an old public telephone
The countryside views are like natural watercolours with every shade of blue and green
High hills, rocky crags and small farms nestled below, surrounded by the famous dry stone walls
Small farms on the sides of lakes
Ancient forests and a palate of green and grey
We took a drive along one of the lesser known lakes, Thirlmere, which sounds as if it comes from the Lord of the Rings
The names must have influenced Tolkien and the map of Middle Earth has always reminded Lynne of the Lake District
Many walkers had left their cars along the roadside and gone off for walks up the hills
Becks (streams) running down the hillside into the lakes
It does rain a lot here; apparently the one of the wettest places in England, which is why it is so green
This is moss on a tiled roof. You see it everywhere
Just a few scattered sheep hiding in this view
We passed Grasmere and Rydal Water
and the car's GPS took us to Lake Windermere, but it took us on a merry dance up hill and down dale
in a complete circle on some pretty and rather precarious roads until we arrived back at the lake side
Still we did get some fantastic views of the lake from the high hills
And there was our accommodation, the Sun Inn, about half a mile down the main road from where we had first been told to turn off. It's an old coaching Inn, a couple of centuries old, but nicely remodelled inside and now owned by a large hotel company. Booked through, we had a very special rate for our two nights. We were a little worried that we might be disturbed by the noise of the heavy traffic heading for Windermere, but the windows are all triple glazed and the traffic abates at night. Our room was under the middle, larger, gable
The room was warm, spacious and comfortable, if a little severe
We had space for our laptops and the bathroom was excellent
A good-sized double bed
Some nice touches in the bathroom, lots of toiletries and huge fluffy towels
Breakfast the next morning, we thought well organised, but a bit sparse
We were wrong! We started with juice, pastries and beverages 
and found a table in the dining room
Good coffee, a pain au chocolat and lots of jams and honey
And then they said, "would you like a full English Breakfast?" Yes, please; it was included in our room rate
We could have had black pudding and baked beans, but we slimmed it down a little
The breakfast bar is also the bar in the evening
Off to see Windermere, which is a lovely town, full of old pubs
We drove down to the lake side trying to find parking. It was raining rather heavily 
Tall hedgerows on either side of the road
After doing a circle twice, we finally found parking quite far away from the boat dock
but found a quick walking route across country to see the lake boats
Lynne patiently shelters while the photographer does his thing in the pouring rain
One of the tour cruise boats. But touring the lake on such a wet day really did not appeal
and the cost is rather more expensive than two good pub meals each
We admired the birds
and were sad that it was too wet to take one of these out for a row. Yes, we do both row competently
Lynne even knows how to manoeuvre a punt. On a Cambridge river
And you can also hire one of these mini powerboats
So we took a walk up into town, admired the architecture and looked at the tourists
In the charity shop - no, won’t do for the next wedding
although it was fascinating
We stopped at this pub, The Flying Pig, for a beer at lunchtime because they been judged the best pub in the Cumbria region
and had another local ale. We had sandwiches, so didn’t eat lunch there, which would turn out to be a huge mistake
and wandered down side streets to see what was there. Very old stone buildings at the back ...
... lead to Hole in t' Wall pub
We went in but it was full of rather unfriendly people ....
... and dead animals so, as we didn’t feel comfortable, we left
Back on the lakeside, a ferry was coming in
and the sun came out, briefly
We walked back to the car, past some amazing old oaks
some crows
and dog walkers 
Later that evening, we ventured back into Windermere for some supper
The John Peel Inn was in the same street as the Flying Pig and it had a menu in the window that looked very good
It was 7 o'clock and that was our first mistake. It seems that, up here, people have 'Tea' from 4 to 6 (supper to thee and me) 
We decided to go upstairs
You have to go to the bar to place your order and tell them where you are sitting
There was a lamb and herb dumpling stew on the menu which sounded just right for Lynne. John fancied the venison pie, imagining a rich filling in a lovely shortcrust pastry. We ordered some John Smith's bitter while we waited, and waited... for our food. Then we were told that the lamb stew had run out. What else did they have? Lamb hotpot. That would do nicely. When you are in the mood for lamb, that's what you must have
They were not very busy, why the long wait?
Not quite what John expected, The puff pastry lid, which looked a bit like a Donald Trump hairdo, placed on top of his 'pie', exploded into dust when he put a fork into it. Marrowfat peas, frozen carrots boiled to extinction and soggy chips. But Lynne's dish was much worse
The same marrow fat peas, dead carrots and, bizarrely, cold pickled beetroot. Had the chef left for the evening? Had the landlady gone out? Who was doing the cooking? Because the "hot pot" was criminal. A thin layer of potatoes had been baked on top of the dish, covered in gravy. What lay beneath was not lamb. It was grey, unseasoned and tough meat with the stringy texture of goat or, more likely, beef. Cold and completely tasteless. There was a strange crust on the left hand side of the dish that had a good lamb flavour but that did not repeat in any of the rest of the food. Lynne moved some of the meat aside and found some remains of old gravy beneath. Someone had taken an unwashed dish that had once contained lamb stew and filled it with some other grey meat, and put a potato lid on top. It was horrifying that anyone would think that they could get away with this sort of thing. It was completely inedible and we had paid for it. We left, hungry. There was no one in the bar to whom we could complain. So if you go to Windermere, remember to eat early and we suggest you chose your restaurant or pub very, very carefully, avoiding John Peel with his food so grey. We should have stuck with the Flying Pig....
Windermere at 8.30 on a rainy night
We loved our wet stay there and resolved that we need to come back for at least a week next time,
but then we’ll have supper at The Flying Pig
All content ©  John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus

Windermere at 8.30 on a rainy night.  We loved our wet stay there and resolved we need to come back for at least a week next time

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