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Rainy Day Grasmere. So much to do.

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!.

Lakes Artists Society Exhibition

Lakes Artists Society Exhibition

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.

Lakes Artists Society Exhibition

Lakes Artists Society Exhibition

A fascinating mix of painting and sculpture. For more info see http://www.lakeartists.org.uk

Next stop. Barney’s Newsbox on Broadgate Grasmere.

Barney's Newsbox Grasmere

Barney’s Newsbox 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!

Jigsaws Galore

Jigsaws Galore

A few pieces, many pieces,  jigsaws for young and old, take a look you will be amazed.

Even more Jigsaws

Even more Jigsaws

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.

Sam Read Bookshop Grasmere

Sam Read Bookshop Grasmere

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.

Sam Read Bookshop Grasmere

Sam Read Bookshop Grasmere

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!

Art Shop Heaton Cooper Grasmere

Art Shop Heaton Cooper Grasmere

The  Gallery features work by several generations of the Heaton Cooper Family. Wonderful images of the Lake District in all it’s glory.

Heaton Cooper Studio Grasmere

Heaton Cooper Studio Grasmere

They also have a new exhibition space. A great addition and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the exhibition currently on, entitled “Working The Landscape”.

Working The Landscape

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.

Allan Bank Grasmere

Allan Bank Grasmere

It now features a kitchen cafe with a great selection of cakes.

Butlers Pantry Allan Bank

Butlers Pantry Allan Bank

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.

Mountaineering Library Allan Bank

Mountaineering Library Allan Bank

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.

Allan Bank View

Allan Bank View

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.

Allan Bank Red Squirrels

Allan Bank Red Squirrels

No squirrels about? You never know what animal you might find (dressing up optional!).

Allan Bank Fun

Allan Bank Fun

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.

St Oswald's Church Grasmere

St Oswald’s Church Grasmere

Buy some Grasmere Gingerbread. Always warming on a miserable day.

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

Grasmere Gingerbread Shop

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.

Dove Cottage Grasmere

Dove Cottage Grasmere

And if all else fails. Treat yourself to a fab Herdy Umbrella and do a bit of singing in the rain!

Fab Herdy Umbrella

Fab Herdy Umbrella

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!

 

 

 

Dove Cottage in the evening

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.

Dove Cottage Grasmere

Dove Cottage Grasmere

A welcome awaited with the sounds of the fiddle floating through the air.

Dove Cottage welcome

Dove Cottage welcome

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.

Dove Cottage Garden

Dove Cottage Garden

The sun was just setting on the village, and visitors had made their way home.

Dove Cottage Evening

Dove Cottage Evening

Walking further up the garden you come to a seat overlooking the rooftops.

Grasmere rooftops

Grasmere 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.

End of Day Townend Grasmere

End of Day Town End Grasmere

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.

 

 

Baneriggs Bluebells Grasmere

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.

Grasmere Bluebells

Grasmere Bluebells

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.

Baneriggs Wood Grasmere

Baneriggs Wood Grasmere

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.

Carpet of Bluebells

Carpet of Bluebells

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.

Beautiful Bluebell

Beautiful Bluebell

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!.

Woodland Bluebells

Woodland Bluebells

Grasmere is beautiful in all the seasons but when the fell side is tinged in blue, it is certainly a sight to behold.

 

 

Wordsworth and Snow in Grasmere

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.

Windswept Servants

Windswept Servants

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!

Wordsworth's Study

Wordsworth’s Study

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.

Looking towards Dove Cottage Grasmere

Looking towards Dove Cottage Grasmere

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.

Reading Wordsworth

Reading Wordsworth

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!

Admiring Daffodils

Admiring 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.

We travelled from here.

We travelled from here.

One last look out of the window before heading off through the snow to visit Dove Cottage and the Rydal Mount.

Through the window Allan Bank

Through the window Allan Bank

Group photo on the doorstep before setting off into the blizzard again.

Servants from Wordsworth House

Servants from Wordsworth House

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…..

Wordsworth servants at Allan Bank

Wordsworth servants at Allan Bank

They wrapped their shawls warmly around them and set off,

Allan Bank

Allan Bank

A long cold walk to the village,

Back to the Village

Back to the Village

Next stop Dove Cottage, another Home from Home.

Home from Home Allan Bank

Home from Home Allan Bank

Allan Bank Grasmere. A New Beginning.

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!.

Allan Bank Grasmere

Allan Bank Grasmere

So let’s see what has been happening over the year.

Exterior Allan Bank

Exterior Allan Bank

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.

New Paint. Allan Bank

New Paint Allan Bank

Looking rather good now that enough money has been raised to paint the outside.

Comments Board

Comments Board

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.

Volunteers at Allan Bank

Volunteers at Allan Bank

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.

Taffy Thomas Allan Bank

Taffy Thomas Allan Bank

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.

Skywatch Allan Bank

Skywatch Allan Bank

Totally brilliant for a Skywatch, very little light pollution. This event was a sellout but I hear may become a regular event.

Halloween at Allan Bank

Halloween at Allan Bank

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!

Amanda Barrie & Sherrie Hewson

Amanda Barrie & Sherrie Hewson

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.

Drying Out

Drying Out

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.

Soup with a View

Soup with a View

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.

Early Morning Grasmere

Early Morning Grasmere

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.

Allan Bank Christmas

Allan Bank Christmas

The house is now decorated for Christmas. It has been a new chapter in the life of Allan Bank.

Handmade Christmas

Handmade Christmas

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.

Grasmere Snow

Grasmere Snow

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.

Grasmere Daffodil Hotel Spa.

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.

Friendly Staff at the Daffodil Hotel Grasmere

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!

Daffodil Spa Grasmere

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!.

Various areas in the pool

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.

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.

Moody day in Grasmere

Why not visit the spa and leave feeling like this!

Rainbow over Grasmere

Olympic Torch Relay Grasmere

Who would have thought that the Olympic Torch would pass through the centre of Grasmere.

Waiting for the torch 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.

Met police bikes Grasmere

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.

Olympic bus

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!

CocaCola vehicle

Next up we came face to face with David Beckham, not something I thought I would ever say in this blog!

David Beckham

Lloyds Bank was next. Presumably these are all the sponsors of the Olympics.

More Relay vehicles

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.

Torch Bearer Grasmere

However I have to say the bearer that we saw was very nice and chatty to everyone waiting.

Olympic torch outside Gingerbread Shop

And then torch lit, the bearer ran through the centre of the village

Here comes the flame

and was past before we knew it.

There it goes

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.

Wenlock waves goodbye to Grasmere

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