Jul 1, 2014
We spent three days exploring the Lake District stopping at Coniston, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Windermere, Grasmere and Keswick. On our first day we spent most of our time exploring Hawkshead where Beatrix Potter created her characters for the Peter Rabbit series of childrens books. Jenny was brought up on Beatrix Potter, amongst others, so it was wonderful to visit the Beatrix Potter Gallery to see the original illustrations of so many of her books. Beatrix Potter donated her properties to the National Trust which now owns and manages not only her properties in the Lake District but also her original illustrations. It is well worthwhile reading about her life which seemed idyllic. From Hawkshead we followed the road to the Windermere ferry which crossed Lake Windermere. We decided not to take the ferry because of the delay but instead drove along the west side of Lake Coniston to Ambleside and wandered around for a short while before stopping for English 'fish and chips' (most overrated) and returning back to Hawes Farm to watch a video in front of the blazing fire that Kate had lit for us.
The next day we planned to meet friends of ours from Melbourne for lunch. We picked them up from their hotel overlooking Lake Windermere and drove to the Mason's Arms at Strawberry Banks a little south of Bowness-on-Windermere where we had a very pleasant lunch. It's never advisable to order a 'caffé latte' in Europe! We ordered one in Castres in France and again at the Masons Arms and on both occasions what arrived was a concoction, starting at the bottom of the glass, of a band of milk followed by a band of coffee and then a band of froth. We thought we had managed to explain to the barista at the Masons Arms that we wanted an Australian latte. When the waitress brought it she could see that we weren't impressed and it turned out she was from Brisbane (well I suppose she can't help that) and took the coffee back and brought us a proper Australian latte. We took our friends back to their hotel and prepared ourselves for an evening meal at the Blacksmith's Arms. A day dominated by food!
On our last day in the Lake District we drove to Keswick via Grasmere. It was market day in Keswick but nothing to compare with the markets that we were used to in France. So we walked to the Derwent Pencil Museum which was fascinating. It brought back memories of schooldays and wanting the big box of one hundred and forty four Derwent coloured pencils. Anyone who had those were envied. I had never understood why pencils were made in the Lake District but it turns out that the Lake District was replete with deposits of graphite which was, at certain times, more valuable than gold. Nowadays the pencils no longer contain graphite.
On our way back to Hawes Farm we drove along the eastern side of Lake Grasmere before returing to the main road to Ambleside and Coniston.