Time to leave Bath and head north. The big 4+ hour drive to the Lake District was ahead of us. We rented a luxury self-catering cottage near Coniston for a week, so that was our destination. The plan was to stop enroute and buy supplies for the week ahead, so that when we arrived we would be basically set up.
We got a good start in the morning and set off for the Lake District via the M5. Big mistake and good thing we had lunch on board. The M5 ground to a full parking lot halt just south of Birmingham. After about an hour and a half it was clear that things were not going to be moving anytime soon. Police arrived and started backing cars up and turning them around and then exiting them via the last exit. So much fun to drive the wrong direction on the M. Apparently a truck had crossed the barrier into oncoming traffic, taking out a Mercedes. Needless to say I was happy it was not our Mercedes. It was a huge mess and the highway was closed for hours and hours.
We managed to figure out a detour, found the M6 and made it to Low Sizergh Barn before they closed, but no time to visit the castle. With the entire back of the car full of local food, we headed to No. 1 Silverbank in Coniston. The last time we stayed in the Lake District we stayed much farther east and north at Lowther Farm – a lovely place which arranged for Organic chicken and eggs. We found that sourcing organic, artisan and local food challenging. Believe or not the best place was the Westmoreland Farms Motorway stop. Low Sizergh Barns has a great reputation for stocking all that and more, and although I was disappointed it didn’t have a butcher shop, we were not disappointed and got most things we needed.
The cottage awaited us in the rain. It was a bit farther to bring the bags in than I had planned and the bedrooms were all upstairs, but the cottage itself was nicely decorated and I was super pleased to find the kitchen had lots of utensils, pans & a full freezer! The plan was to BBQ. I am not the primary BBQ-er in the family, so I set out to investigate. There was a fancy BBQ up where the patio furniture was. I sent Jack out to hunt for charcoal and he found the last quarter of a bag. With that in hand, a box of matches, and some newspaper I set to get something lit. The charcoal left was little pieces and powder. It was raining and windy. Did I mention it was raining? Using a crazy number of matches, I got it lit. After a while I had enough heat to actually cook something so I threw on the burgers and steak and the buns. It was still windy but the rain had mostly let up. We ate burgers and steak and salad. It was not my best meal ever but it was edible.
The next morning, T & J both woke up with colds. I started with homeopathic remedies and we called it a movie day. It was pouring outside and the cottage came stocked with lots of DVDs. We watched Nanny McPhee and Inception. The rain let up and we threw ourselves together and went out to Gilpin Lodge for dinner. Dinner was very good and Trent was a trooper making it through a long dinner. The next day we managed to do almost nothing at all. I started some bread dough with the biodynamic stone ground flour I had scored. We had a lazy morning with a big breakfast which set off the smoke alarm (this would not be the last time.)
We headed out in the afternoon to Ambleside in hopes of getting Organic Milk and Coffee Beans. Don’t laugh too hard. Neither was acquired, but we did manage some psuedo-local milk. Apparently where we needed to go was Booths in Windermere. Jack scored a sweatshirt which got lots of use on the trip. Trent’s cold was better but not perfect. I still was managing not to get it. An ‘off’ day was a huge luxury, but a much needed one. I made a fire, baked bread and roasted a chicken (oh why oh why didn’t I bring my instant thermometer??) Despite my best efforts to ruin it, the chicken turned out perfectly and dinner was delicious.
Next up: Recovery Day Aquarium.