It’s been an extraordinary year in our family. We’ve had the joy of seeing our eldest son graduate, with all the accompanying proud parent moments that you’d expect, and we’ve had the sorrow of saying goodbye to a dearly loved member of the family when my Father-in-Law, Roy, passed away at the beginning of the year.
Roy had grown up in the Lake District and had spent much of his early life rowing the lakes in the summer, skating on them in the winter and cycling up and down the hills. We, therefore, decided that the family holiday this year had to be a visit to the Lake District so we could remember him in the place that he called home, to see the lakes through his eyes and to be thankful for his life. Fortunately for us, a couple of our oldest friends decided to join us in our adventures.
Lay some ground rules when you holiday with friends
I don’t know what you think about going on away with friends? Holiday-Heaven or Holiday-er-the-other-place? Will our friendship be fractured beyond repair, falling out over tipsy arguments, or would it be re-affirmed in a great big ‘Yes! Our friendship can survive storm, tempest and late night G&T’s‘ We decided that a few ground rules might be a good idea – something I would recommend to you all. Obviously, they’ll be holiday specific, but ours were:
- The boys shalt walk up Helvellyn as long as the girls shalt have a right old lazy day in the Swim Club
- Once the boys have doneth the ‘hill thing’, we mayst go for a walk that is flat. If there is a coffee and cake half-way round, all the better
- There shalt be hot tubs and gin at the end of the day
And, so it came to pass, that is pretty much what happened.
We were fortunate to stay in the brand new Another Place Hotel right on the banks of Ullswater in the Northern Lakes. In fact, it was so brand new, it wasn’t even properly opened and was in ‘soft launch’ phase. The team at the hotel had prepared us for this saying that there might be one or two things that were still being worked on. We’d decided already that, as the focus of the holiday was discovering Grandpa and maintaining 40 years of friendship, as long as there wasn’t scaffolding outside our bedroom window, we’d be absolutely fine. It turned out that the only issue was lack of wifi for the first 2 days – at first, sharp intake of breath, but we were on holiday, and a digital detox was just what was needed, right?
Another Place is the sister to one of our favourite places in Cornwall, The Hotel in Watergate Bay and you can see the similarities immediately. The laid-back, contemporary luxe of Sunday-supplement-ville, the feeling that you’ve arrived in the home you always wanted and the immediate thought that you’re going to completely redecorate as soon as you get back so you can channel hotel-chic in your lounge.
Sage is the new grey.
Where the decor at Watergate Bay is bright and cool, with colours that reflect the beach and the sea, Another Place is a more muted colour palate. Warmer, earthier and more ‘country’, but without looking like a shooting lodge; the rooms were decorated in shades of sage, forest, greeny-greys with accents of petrol blue, proving that cool colours aren’t the only fruit. The sofas were oversized, the cushions plumped to perfection and sheepskin throws reminded me that I was in the land of the Herdwick. My favourite was the high-backed large blue sofa which looked out towards the lake where I found the perfect spot to read the papers and chill out.
Helvellyn Vs Swimclub
As the boys were donning waterproofs and marching up Swirrel Edge, my friend and I spent the day lazing around in bathrobes, catching up on all the news and enjoying a swim in the stunning pool, a sauna and hot tub or the massage that we’d treated ourselves too. The boys came back fizzing with tales of windy ridges and elemental challenges while we were in a zen state of relaxation – and had got to the gin slightly before the boys. So – that was all good then!
Long walks on the flat – with a surprising treat
As promised, we got togged up and ready for a walk from Glenridding around Ullswater and with a plan to catch the ferry back. Fortunately, the weather was kind to us, which mean not having to lug raincoats and all the kit and kaboodle around the lake. I’d forgotten my walking socks (such a townie!) so my friend selflessly lent me hers and I promised not to give them back until washed. The scenery was beautiful and the walk was long, but there’s something rather wonderful about taking a whole day to walk, chat, admire, eat Tunnocks Tea Cakes (more of that later) and recount shared stories, just because that’s what friends do.
As we were starting to flag, with the ferry still about an hour away, we came across a hut – with Espresso (result!) and wifi (bonkers result!). Was this a mirage in one of those black and white movie about the desert? No, it was a real place WITH a twitter account (@becksidefarm). Deep joy!
Reader, we just made the ferry, had THE best pub meal in Glenridding (Ham, Egg and Chips tasted like the food of the gods after a day walking) and back to the hotel for a hot tub and gin.
Hot Tubs and Gin
This happened. Lots. It was very good. Especially the Tarquins Gin (we stayed loyal Cornwall!)
Some of our favourite things:
- The infinity pool which overlooked the lake. There’s something lovely about seeing the mist covered lakes while sitting in the hot water in a Canadian cedar (I think) tub.
- The mini kitchen area outside the rooms, with a microwave – and the glass jar of help-yourself Tunnock Tea Cakes -perfect for families with little ones or anyone with a TTC addiction.
- The staff were super friendly and hard working – especially as we were staying during the soft launch and the hotel was new to them too. It was nice to see Cornish products such as Tarquin’s Gin, Cornish Orchards and Origin Coffee on the menu.
- The breakfasts were absolute winners. Fresh fruit, bircher muesli, help yourself fry up and make your own waffles. The latter was a winner with our teenager – who discovered a new taste sensation in the form of TWO waffles with Nutella and sausages. Ah well, I guess he needed the energy for all of that fell walking.
We could have all happily stayed ensconced in our Ullswater haven for the rest of our time in the Lakes, but we did go out discovering and found the house that Grandpa had lived in, the lakes he skated on and some of his favourite places.
The beauty of the area is hard to describe without falling into cliches like ‘breathtaking’ and ‘stunning’ – all I can say is ‘Just go and see for yourself’
And the holidaying with friends? I’m glad to report that it all went swimmingly and the bonds of friendship grew stronger. The memories we made and the photographs we took will blossom into stories we’ll be telling each other for years to come.
Another Place has received quite a bit of press since we went and I have steadfastly not read any of it as I knew I’d be writing this. I can’t wait to see what Caitlin Moran wrote in The Times and Fiona Duncan in The Telegraph – at last I can sit and enjoy with my feet up, a cup of tea and a nice Tunnock Tea Cake.
Photos by Amanda with additional photos by Ian Birtwistle