It’s Been a Long Time
The last time we took a “proper” family holiday was 2019, our epic driving adventure in France. That was two years ago. In fact we set off on that trip exactly two years before this one. There’s been a lot of trauma since then, which I’m sure I don’t need to explain, but we decided it was still a bit early to go abroad. Still too much risk of cancellation at the last minute. So we reverted to type and booked a trip to the Lake District. We were heading up on a Sunday, to make it a bit less stressful. I’d been away in Lincolnshire the previous weekend and it felt like a rush to get everyone ready on Friday night. Kas and me were both working all week. So Sunday it was.
The route up to the Lake District is somewhat familiar to us. We tend just to hack up the M6 because it’s easy and, very helpfully, it goes near to the Lake District. Always advantageous to use a road that goes where you want to be. Our traditional stop on the way is at Norton Canes Services. It’s about 90 minutes from home. That’s only about a third of the way, but it’s one of the better service stations. So we set off at around 11 am to make sure we arrived at lunchtime. It was kind of full when we got there. We had to rely on our usual parking karma to find a place. I guess it’s a warm summer day and maybe quite a lot of other people were setting off on holiday on Sunday. I dunno. We didn’t really get much – just some snacks and drinks to keep us happy for the rest of the drive. We were hoping (expecting) to do the rest of the trip without stopping.
The rest of the trip was as dull and uninteresting as it ought to be, apart from a couple of flurries of wet weather. So we arrived at our chosen venue mid-afternoon, filled up the last sensible parking space, and retired indoors.
Home for the Next Week
We’d booked rooms at the The Swan in Grasmere for a week. We normally do some form of self-catering in the Lakes, but this year we picked a hotel because it was a late decision to go. Options were limited and we wanted somewhere central. It turned out to be quite expensive but it’s well placed and it included breakfast. In comparison to previous trips we were planning a fairly leisurely week, with not quite so much hill walking and plenty of eating and drinking. So that was fine.
We booked a double room and a twin. They were able to put these across the hall from each other so we weren’t separated by any great distance. The rooms were clean and tidy if a bit old-fashioned and not huge. We learned that they’d just been taken over by a new hotel chain, and that their promised refurbishment had been delayed by COVID. If we go again it’ll probably be smarter. It was fine though.
An Evening Stroll
We did a couple of things in the evening, and to be honest I can’t really remember what order we did them in, so I’ll guess. We hadn’t really decided what to do for dinner at this point.
Firstly we legged it down into Grasmere and back. It was a half-mile or so from the hotel. We found a decent place for cake and coffee just as many places were starting to close. I remember sitting outside and I think I may have partaken of an alcohol-based coffee. After this, a quick walk around the village confirmed everywhere was full for dinner, so that made the decision for us. We’d have to eat in the hotel. It proved a strange week as many places were either running reduced numbers because of COVID, or they weren’t taking bookings.
Secondly, while the ladies were getting ready for dinner and/or snoozing, I legged it up the road to grab the nearest geocache. As I do. It never takes me long to get ready, so I had plenty of time. The weather looked a bit threatening while I was out, and this became a bit of a theme for the week.
The hotel was able to accommodate us for dinner, even though we hadn’t booked. To be fair, they didn’t have a lot of spare tables, so we were probably lucky. Anyway, they had a reasonably broad generic hotel menu of British favourites covering everything from fish ‘n’ chips, through steaks, burgers, stir-frys and curries. Something for everyone, as it were. They also did beer.
Whilst enjoying dinner we had a chat with the proprietress. She told us about the lack of refurbishment and also mentioned that the hotel was normally full in the early evening because people tend to pop in for a drink and a bite after they’ve been walking, but then it gets quieter later on in the evening. That’s good to know. When we came back from our walk the car park was significantly emptier than when we’d arrived.
And that was more or less it. We ate a variety of things, all of which was decent, before heading up to bed. A fairly relaxing start to the holiday, given that it involved 4 hours in the car.