Having a few days off work and awoke to rain. Despite having a sign in my hall saying “A tidy house is the sign of a boring woman” I started doing the job I hate most. Defrosting the freezer. Soon lost interest, and left it to it. Wandered up the village, and saw two people gazing in a melancholy fashion from a holiday cottage window. This got me thinking. There is so much to do on a rainy day in Grasmere, I almost knocked on the door, told them to grab their coats and follow me!.
First port of call, another look round the Lakes Artists Society Exhibition in the Village Hall. This usually runs from end July till beginning of September every summer and is open daily. Founded in 1904 by artist W.G.Collingwood (secretary to John Ruskin no less). Membership is limited to 45 artists all who must reside in the Lake District.
A fascinating mix of painting and sculpture. For more info see http://www.lakeartists.org.uk
Next stop. Barney’s Newsbox on Broadgate Grasmere.
Now while you may have bought your newspapers from here while visiting Grasmere, have you ventured upstairs?. Home to over 20,000 jigsaws, you can’t fail to find something to while away a few hours, or more!
A few pieces, many pieces, jigsaws for young and old, take a look you will be amazed.
Can’t manage to Grasmere, they ship Worldwide. http://www.jigsawsuk.co.uk
Grasmere is lucky to have lots of independent shops, and that’s what makes it so interesting. One of my favourites is Sam Read Bookseller. Established in 1887 this is the place to browse for every type of book imaginable. Snuggle up on the couch of your holiday home or guest house, listen to the rain against the window, and transport yourself into another world.
Situated on the corner of Broadgate and College Street Grasmere, you will be surprised by what you find inside. Very helpful staff, with great knowledge to find you just the right holiday read.
To see a selection of their books, maps and other reading material. http://www.samreadbooks.co.uk situated next door is Lucia’s Takeaway Coffee Shop, great for a quick snack or picnic item. On sunny day’s you can borrow a sit mat to use on the village green opposite while you eat.
Across the green is situated Heaton Cooper Studio. Another family business that was established in 1905. I don’t think I have ever managed to get out of here without making a purchase from their wonderful art shop. This time wasn’t any different!
The Gallery features work by several generations of the Heaton Cooper Family. Wonderful images of the Lake District in all it’s glory.
They also have a new exhibition space. A great addition and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the exhibition currently on, entitled “Working The Landscape”.
Have a look at their website to see what’s on when you visit. http://www.heatoncooper.co.uk
Walk out and turn to your right. Another wet weather idea is National Trust Allan Bank situated up the lane to the side of the Miller Howe Cafe. This is not your normal National Trust experience. A quirky house, once lived in by Wordsworth and co-founder of the Trust Cannon Hardwicke Rawnsley. Each room has a loose theme, Art Room, Play room, etc. No ropes and no “Do not touch” signs.
It now features a kitchen cafe with a great selection of cakes.
Dogs are welcome in the house too, so no need to leave four legged friends behind. Another interesting room has the Chorley Hopkinson Mountaineering Library in it, so if it’s not the weather for climbing you can at least read about your next adventure.
Plenty for children and adults alike to do. Sit beside the roaring fire and read the complimentary newspapers while the children paint a masterpiece. Fantastic views too, even on a miserable day.
Best of all there are red squirrels at Allan Bank and they seem to like the wet weather best. Sit at the window and see what you can spot.
No squirrels about? You never know what animal you might find (dressing up optional!).
Allan Bank Information http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/allan-bank-and-grasmere/
So what else to do on a rainy Grasmere day? Pop in to St Oswald’s Church.
Buy some Grasmere Gingerbread. Always warming on a miserable day.
Or pay a visit to the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage another of Wordsworth’s homes in the village. They usually have a great exhibition on too.
And if all else fails. Treat yourself to a fab Herdy Umbrella and do a bit of singing in the rain!
So I hope this has given you some ideas of what to do on a rainy day in Grasmere. Only one problem. I spent so much time enjoying myself wandering round the village my freezer had defrosted it’s self all over the floor, so it was not only wet outside but inside too!
Recently as part of the Museums at Night initiative Dove Cottage Grasmere, held three evenings for a limited amount of people to experience the cottage at night as it had been when it was an inn called the Dove and Olive Bough.
A welcome awaited with the sounds of the fiddle floating through the air.
The history of the house is referred to in William’s 1806 poem The Waggoner. “Where once the Dove and Olive bough offered a greeting of good ale to all who entered Grasmere Vale”. And on this occasion real ale was also supplied. It was wonderful to wander around the garden, drink in hand, on a balmy summer evening.
The sun was just setting on the village, and visitors had made their way home.
Walking further up the garden you come to a seat overlooking the rooftops.
The view would have been different in Wordsworth’s day of course as Dove Cottage was built on the old turnpike road, the view would have been much more open, the lake not obscured by the buildings on the “new” road that exists now.
It was getting chillier so we repaired inside for some real ale poetry and prose, with a few drinking songs thrown in for good measure.
To quote “The Waggoner” again we had to “leave it with a jovial heart” as time waits for no man, and neither does the 555 bus which was speeding some of our party home. A good night had by all. Thanks to http://wordsworth.org.uk Why not have a look and see what events are on when you next visit Grasmere Village.
This has been a spectacular spring for bluebells in the Lake District. The very cold weather earlier in the year seems to have really helped them bloom.
I had visited Rannerdale, famous for it’s bluebells a few weeks ago, and had been just a bit early to see them in all their glory.
However there was no need to travel any further than Grasmere. Loughrigg Terrace was a sea of blue, and right beside the main road Baneriggs Wood was looking stunning from the main A591 road. Baneriggs Wood is situated on the opposite side of the road from Penny Rock, the corner you go round as you approach Grasmere Lake. Did you know it is called this because a penny was added on to the rates to cover the cost of blasting through the rock to build the “new” turnpike road to Grasmere. Although the Rydal section was made about 1770, this section was not made until about 1831.
The light was just starting to fade but all around, a sea of blue. Bluebells prefer moist and shady conditions so the Lake District is perfect for them. Some estimates suggest that the UK has up to half of the world’s total bluebell population and most are found in woodland like these.
I am sure Wordsworth enjoyed the Bluebells when he went on his walks around Grasmere. The Romantic poets of the 19th Century, such as Keats and Tennyson, believed that the bluebell symbolised solitude and regret. Well despite being right beside the main road through the Lakes I was still able to find solitude and certainly wasn’t regretting my decision to have a wander through the woods!.
Grasmere is beautiful in all the seasons but when the fell side is tinged in blue, it is certainly a sight to behold.
Wordsworth is always all around when you visit Grasmere, however sometimes more than expected! We have had a huge amount of snow this week. Imagine everyone’s surprise when despite a blizzard blowing, the valiant servants from Wordsworth House in Cockermouth made their way up the valley to Allan Bank in Grasmere.
The visit had been planned a few weeks ago but with blizzards, snow and roads closed no one had expected them to even set off!
But these servants from Wordsworth’s birthplace were made of stern stuff and it wasn’t long before they were warming themselves in front of the fire in Wordsworth’s Study.
Warmed by the fire and a welcome cup of tea the servants explored Allan Bank. Wordsworth moved here from Dove Cottage, and I did spot a servant giving a wistful look down the valley in that direction.
Time for a recital of some poetry. Wonder if it was “I wandered Lonely as a Cloud” as some of the other servants were spotted admiring some Daffodils!
Wordsworth spent a lot of his time walking the fells, and frequently walked from Grasmere to Ambleside to collect the mail. I imagine he would have loved a map like this to plan his journeys.
One last look out of the window before heading off through the snow to visit Dove Cottage and the Rydal Mount.
Group photo on the doorstep before setting off into the blizzard again.
We are so lucky to have all the History that Wordsworth brought to this area. In Grasmere alone we have the Wordsworth Trust and Dove Cottage, Wordsworth’s family grave in St Oswald’s churchyard, Robert Newton’s Inn at Church stile where he stayed and drank (now a National Trust shop), the Yew trees he planted in the churchyard, and Allan Bank where he lived, now a National Trust property open to the public. Add in Wordsworth House at Cockermouth and Rydal Mount and it is a literary feast in Cumbria.
Now about these servants…..
They wrapped their shawls warmly around them and set off,
A long cold walk to the village,
Next stop Dove Cottage, another Home from Home.
When leaflets started circulating around the village at the beginning of this year, with the bold banner “unseen for 200 years” I wrote my first blog about the phenomena that is Allan Bank. At that stage it was still very much an experiment. Who knew what would happen. An empty building, on a hill, just outside Grasmere. An unusual National Trust property to say the least!.
So let’s see what has been happening over the year.
This is what the building looked like at the beginning of the year. Run down and unloved. Various paint samples of colours previously used daubed on the outside.
Looking rather good now that enough money has been raised to paint the outside.
People were asked what they thought should happen to Allan Bank. A lot of people seemed to like it as it is. A space to chill out, dream and relax.
It looks as though it isn’t just the visitors who have been having fun either. Looks like the volunteers have been enjoying things too.
Perfect venue for a few events. Having to walk to the house doesn’t seem to have been a problem. This was a book launch for Taffy Thomas.
Totally brilliant for a Skywatch, very little light pollution. This event was a sellout but I hear may become a regular event.
And then there was Halloween at Allan Bank. Lots of Pumpkin carving going on, every one a different face. Even the Victorian viewing tunnel was decorated in a spooky fashion!
And some famous folk found their way up the hill to Allan Bank too. Here are Sherrie Hewson and Amanda Barrie painting the stunning scene of Grasmere from the grounds of Allan Bank.
Then the season moved on, it became colder, and Allan Bank was a great place to shelter from the elements. Handy radiators to dry cold and wet clothing on. I understand that an eco friendly biomass fuel boiler is due to be installed over the winter, saving money and keeping everyone toasty warm.
And even better, just when it started getting really chilly, Allan Bank started selling soup.
The house was due to close for the winter on the 4th of November, however everyone seemed to be having so much fun it is staying open until 23rd December.
And while you might think the best views from the house would be in the Summer, to be honest when the weather is more seasonal, the views can be even more atmospheric.
The house is now decorated for Christmas. It has been a new chapter in the life of Allan Bank.
You know how I said the leaflets said “Unseen for 200 years” ?. Well considering you have to walk to the house, in theory it’s an “empty” house, and it wasn’t even in the National Trust Handbook, can you believe over 27,000 people have made it up the hill to Allan Bank ?. Quite amazing, and many repeat visitors too.
So just over a week to go before Allan Bank closes for the Winter. But don’t panic. Visiting Grasmere in 2013 ?. Allan Bank opens March 18th. Come along and see what is new.
Previous post can be found at “Allan Bank Grasmere. Unseen for 200 years” on this blog.
As a young student straight from Art College I applied for a summer job working in Grasmere Village. My interview took place in the then Prince of Wales Hotel bar. At the time, this was one of the best places to visit and stay in Grasmere. That summer job ended up being employment that lasted more than 30 years. Grasmere has changed over this time and the Prince of Wales has certainly had mixed fortunes, but I am happy to say has now been restored to not only its former glory but far surpassed it as the newly named Daffodil Hotel. Regular readers of this blog will have read my Prince of Wales Then and Now post, and more recently my post The Daffodil Hotel, A New Beginning.
Life in the tourist industry can be a long haul from Easter till the end of season. By the time October comes around we are all starting to flag a bit. But as my Mother-in law used to say “bear in mind these folk could have chosen anywhere in the world to take their holiday, and they have chosen here, make it worth their while”. Wise words!. However time for a bit of “me’ time and where better to try than the newly opened Daffodil Hotel Spa.
Nice to be met with a smile, and we were quickly changed into towelling robes and ready for our Rasul Room Treatment. What I hear you ask is that?. Well the name is of Ancient Middle Eastern origin. We went in to a room where various types of mud had been prepared for us to apply. Some smelt of chocolate, some were anti-aging, you get the picture, and no guesses which I chose !. You then go into another room which has two individual mosaic covered loungers which are heated. Lying on them a variety of relaxing aromas infuse the air, while coloured lights play across the ceiling. After some time the lights then brighten and a shower of warm rain falls from the ceiling to wash the mud away. Wonderfully relaxing!
Next to the pool. A series of different “experiences” awaited. There are six different areas in the pool, all with benefits to different parts of the body. Some lying, some sitting and some standing. Now it was at this point that we realised what a friendly place the spa really was. Watching our fellow bathers standing under three pipes which aimed various amounts of water on to them, everyone in the spa got a fit of the giggles. It was great because everyone was chatting away about the spa, the hotel and Grasmere in general. Lovely to hear such positive views about all three!.
Would have made a great picture someone under one of the pipes but didn’t feel it was really appropriate!
On to the very large sauna and steam room next, and the same friendly banter. A real tonic. And guess what I found in the changing room. My favourite Pure Lakes products.
After a lovely afternoon at the spa we left feeling really ready for the rest of the season. So if you are at the Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere and wake to a day like this.
Why not visit the spa and leave feeling like this!
Who would have thought that the Olympic Torch would pass through the centre of Grasmere.
The day before had been the most beautiful sunny day, however we woke to torrential rain. But all was not lost, although it was still drizzling when the torch arrived it had eased off a lot.
The torch arrived just as everyone was locking up shop for the day, we knew it had arrived by the sound of drumming coming from the park. Grasmere School were performing and apparently gave the torch a rousing welcome. We all dashed on to the pavement to watch.
A rather strange parade of vehicles for the streets of Grasmere then appeared. First came the CocaCola one, with music blaring. Heavens only knows what the Herdwick sheep in the fields were thinking!
Next up we came face to face with David Beckham, not something I thought I would ever say in this blog!
Lloyds Bank was next. Presumably these are all the sponsors of the Olympics.
It was a shame that none of the torch bearers were actually from Grasmere, would have been lovely to see one of our own carrying the flame.
However I have to say the bearer that we saw was very nice and chatty to everyone waiting.
And then torch lit, the bearer ran through the centre of the village
and was past before we knew it.
Everyone remarked how brilliant it was that the flame had actually come through the centre of Grasmere and not just along the main road. After another handover the flame proceeded to Ambleside by open top bus, then by Lake steamer to Bowness on Windermere for an evening of entertainment. The rain did little to dampen spirits and it was great to feel part of the London 2012 Olympics in this little part of the British Isles.