Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Our 25th Wedding Anniversary

Windermere, Cumbria, UK. Tuesday 30-October-2018.

We always do something on our wedding anniversary for just the two of us. This year we wanted something special so we chose a luxury county house hotel - the Holbeck Ghyll just outside Windermere in the Lake District.

The view from our bedroom window:

It was set in wooded grounds rich in autumnal colours.

Mary bought an Alexander McQueen dress for our 20th celebration - a trip on the Orient Express - London to Venice. With great self control she has been dieting and exercising to ensure that she could get back into it for our 25th.

Back in 2006 we attended a BBR champagne school as a result of which we bought half a dozen bottles of Pol Roger Winston Churchill 1996 which we are gradually working our way through on special occasions. None more so this this. There was no mini bar in the hotel, fortunately the window sill outside was cold enough to keep it chilled for our pre-dinner aperitif.

When we got married we were two households alike in gadgetry. We had no need of electrical appliances or toast racks; our wedding list included luxuries such as bottles of Chateau Lynch Bages 1989 - the year we met. Our friends could buy as few or as many as they chose; we got up to ten so we bought the last two to complete the case. Like the champagne, we are working our way gradually through them.

The hotel was going to charge a large corkage fee but given the current list price of the wine it was worth paying (fortunately in the end they didn't charge it). We took the bottle down a few hours in advance for the sommelier to decant and allow it to breath.

The meal was excellent and the wine was superb. Celebration unlocked!

Walking in the Lake District 2018 - Day 1

Ambleside, Cumbria, UK. Tuesday 30-October-2018.

Today was our 25th wedding anniversary but instead of relaxing we went for a walk. A repeat of the walk we did in 2012 but this time with better navigation. Before lunch was a walk into Ambleside, up to Wansfell Pike (482m) and then across the moors to The Mortal Man at Troutbeck for a pub lunch.

Distance 10.92 km, Time 2:43:40, Avg Pace 14:59 min/km, Elev Gain 398 m, Calories 1,089 C.

Mostly sunny.

Autumnal colours.

View of Windermere.

More views.

Starting to look a bit murky but it passed.

Wansfell Pike 1.

Wansfell Pike 2.

After lunch we only had a short, mostly downhill, walk home. Carefully planned that way, beer has a way of demotivating the legs.

Distance 3.92 km, Time 47:33, Avg Pace 12:08 min/km, Elev Gain 101 m, 416 Calories C.

View over Windermere.

Back at the hotel...

...for a siesta and getting ready for the celebration meal that evening.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Winter Droving 2018

Penrith, Cumbria, UK. Saturday 27-October-2018.

This is our third Winter Droving festival [2016, 2017]. When we realised that it was the weekend before our wedding anniversary it was an ideal opportunity to organise Lake District double-header. Mary's sister and brother-in-law, having heard all about it from us, decided to join us this year.

A packed programme of live music, craft stall, street food and a candle lit procession.

I didn't think any of the bands were professionals but what they lacked in slickness they made up for enthusiasm and talent. It was great to see such grass roots music.

This group fronted by three female drummers had an almost had a punk ethic to it. "Let's form a band, dress up in fancy dress and bash out some music". On further listening it became apparent that these were well rehearsed numbers and all done with smiles on their faces, clearly having a good time.

Eliza Gutteridge is semi-professional and has appeared on The Voice. Mid-set a couple of mobile buskers passed through including this mobile piano.

Then time for some street food from the Jamaican stall: Jerk chicken and festivals (a fried dumpling).

It was time for the Drovers' Cup, a four-part event with four teams competing: firemen, farmers, bar staff and locals. First was the egg throwing with the firemen showing some serious motor control and catching skills; they had clearly been practising.

Second section was the day of beer relay race. They substituted fruit squash this year to reduce the spillage of good beer. Again the firemen won.

The next was another relay race, this time with bales of hay and sacks of potatoes as befits a rural themed festival.

The last leg was Cumberland sausage eating. Four sausages and two members from each team. The thought of sausages determined our menu planning for the following evening - sausage, mash and onion gravy.

At this point it was time for a wander round the stalls and then to Dockray Hall for beer and supper with our hosts and other friends. A few held the table whilst the rest of us went out for the parade. Flaming torches - but no pitchforks.


Howling Wolf.




Wild boar.

Then it was back to Dockray Hall for more beer to round off the evening.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Pollino National Park

Civita, Calabria. Friday/Saturday 05/06-October-2018.

Our friend Sue was visiting Calabria for a work conference. The plan was that she would come and join us for a couple of days since she was already down in Southern Italy. When we looked at public transport getting from Tropea to Cisternino by train was going to take a bonkers 11 hours. In the end we decided to go and collect her but break up the journey.

We drove over to Civita in the Pollini National Park and to spend the night in an AirBnB and have a look round. The big attraction in town is the Devil's Bridge over the gorge so we walked down, had a look and walked back up. Took about an hour although reading some of the reviews you'd think it was a major transcontinental trek!

A good view down the gorge. This was as far as we could go as a flash flood earlier in the year had claimed the lives of ten walkers and the path was inaccessible.

The town itself is very atmospheric and also is one of the pockets of Albanians in Italy scattered across southern Italy.

That evening we had an excellent meal at L'Antico Uliva recommended by the B'n'B. The town had a weathered look about it.

The next morning we had time to visit Cosenza and get a dose of faded glory.

The old town has definitely seen better days and many of the building were looking sadly neglected.

Our friend Sue caught a train part way, from Tropea to Cosenza, we picked her up from the station and drove her the rest of the way back for her visit to Cisternino. So that was nice.