Saturday 27 August 2011

Windermere Town

Day 1

So from Kendal we sped off to Windermere – to be exact Windermere Town. I thought we’d end up by the lakeside, but I forgot there were two Windermere’s – the Town (station) and Bowness-on-Windermere (lakeside).

We hadn’t been to Windermere Town for years and it was a lovely little wander. Since the last time we’d been there more cafes had popped up. There were of course a few charity shops, but didn’t prove to be fruitful pickings for Neil.

There was the big homeware shop with lots of knick-knacks to pick up for pressies and the home. There were very trendy type shops selling very well designed knick-knacks you never thought existed. Even the charity shops were packed full of vintage knick-knacks for all occasion.
Slight blog detour / rant – I find the word vintage is a word that has become over used of late – it’s just the posh word for second-hand. The word second-hand doesn’t quite have the same cachet and it does annoy me when people use it to disguise the fact they are selling over priced, second-hand stuff they found at the local charity shop or car-boot. Rant over…

There were lots of tourists taking time out having a coffee or a beer in the street side cafes with outdoor seating. Outdoor seating in the Lakes is an example of hope in what is essentially a very damp place. One has to ensure there is a waterproof or brolly close to hand just in case. Otherwise that afternoon the Gods of weather were being rather benevolent – well for that moment at least.

There was a Booths supermarket nearby to cater for the campers and self-caterers. The station was a stone throw away from this little industrious centre for coffee and light bites.
However something was niggling me and I couldn’t put my finger on it. As it only takes about five minutes to get round Windermere Town and we had already stuffed our faces in Kendal it was time to move on. So we decided to drive onto Grange-Over-Sands – our final destination of the day.

As we were driving down towards Windermere Lake it dawned on me what was niggling me, there was the other Windermere – Bowness-on-Windermere. Doh! We would have stopped if we had more time, but we needed to get to Grange-Over-Sands. On the whistle stop drive through I noticed it had a lot more high street shops and less twee than the last time we went there. It was also rammed packed full of people and there’s a big lake too.

Note to self – there are two Windermere’s.

Thursday 25 August 2011


Day One

We parked on the outskirts of Kendal in the Kirkland area of the town. Luckily for Neil I didn’t notice the art exhibition going on in the nearby Abbott Hall. It was a shame, as it did look good. Whilst the car park was handy, there was a rather officious parking attendant stalking the cars. He was primed and ready pounce on any car that exceeded the allotted time. There was already a car slapped with a parking notice, so I made a mental note of the time I needed to get back.

The shops in Kendal fan off Highgate (A6) and the buildings are a hodge-podge of different shapes, sizes and eras reflecting the evolution of the town.

The shops were the usual high street suspects although there was Booths - the Cumbria equivalent to Tescos. As it was Cumbria it had the addition of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill and outdoors shops selling outdoorsy-kill-yourself-whilst-climbing-up-a-stupid-hill-sort-of-stuff. There was a little market with a mishmash of odds and sods and yummy local fare. There were yards that fanned off from the Highgate with the local independent shops – it is well worth a wander. Although we did noticed there wasn’t a decent independent bakery, just Greggs and Greenhalghs. There were nice looking delis and sandwich shops just not proper old-school bakeries selling Cumbrian delicacies.

As ever Neil was on the hunt for records in charity shops and Kendal had plenty of shops to offer. In one charity shop there was the whole collection of Barry Manilow vinyl records. Whilst in another he found a Bryan Ferry vinyl 1990s album, which is worth £20 – soon to be sold at Vinylnet. Apparently 1990s vinyl albums are quite collectable these days as CDs outsold vinyl at the time. Obviously it depends on the artist – you’re definitely not going to retire on the proceeds of your entire Mariah Carey vinyl album collection. Neil hit hyperventilation city when he saw the prices of the records in Oxfam – they were well over priced. It’s a shame as there was plenty of stuff to be had there.

We did find an antiques / bric-a-brac shop that I liked. There is nothing like a ramble of a shop to keep my magpie eyes darting from one sparkly thing to the next sparkly thing – heaven!

I had to pop into The Works to pick up my annual Great Britain 2012 Road Map. I found one of the male shop assistants to be rather flamboyant – my gaydar picked up on this immediately without even looking at him. He was very friendly and he did have eye candy to get him through the day in the shape of a young, fit, male fellow shop assistant.

We did spot the famous 1657 Chocolate House and Restaurant and just had to go in and try their wares. I had a gateau and Neil had the ice-cream sundae. Neil got the better deal as his was delicious with the thunder and lightning ice cream. My gateau wasn’t what I expected – I thought it was going to be a traditional gateau with layers of cake and creamy yummy stuff. What I got was a single gateau layer with creamy yummy stuff on top. Don’t get me wrong it was nice, just unexpected. Whilst we were stuffing our faces I did have to utilise my fly killing skills on a wasp. Thank God for laminated menus as that proved to be an effective weapon of choice. All summer I had been wasp free in Salford, but come to Cumbria and we were plagued by the buggers. Maybe the Salford bee population are just too hard for wasps.

Of course there was the Brewery Arts Centre for the culturally inclined, but as we were only in Kendal for a couple of hours we didn’t have chance to have a good old nosey.

Kendal is the gateway to the Lake District. It’s a nice little town, but the town council could try harder. Maybe it’s the recession hitting the town with empty shop units, however some care and attention with shop fronts and planting would elevate the town. We had been previously to Kendal and the weather makes a huge difference to the experience and as it was a nice day, we had a pleasant time.

Thankfully we got back to the car before our time ran out, which disappointed the officious parking attendant who was eyeing up 'Lil Princess (my car btw). So we hit the high road and headed towards Windermere…

The Lake District

Day One

We decided at short notice to go to the Lakes for the weekend and this gave me the opportunity to do an epic Life in Northern Towns splurge – seven towns in total. So there are plenty of entries to read in the coming weeks:

As we decided at last minute to go up to the Lakes we struggled to find a hotel that was available for one night, reasonably priced and didn’t look like a dive in a lively location – we got three out of four. So courtesy of Laterooms, we settled on Grange-Over-Sands in the southernmost part of the Lake District overlooking Morecambe Bay.

Anyway the drive up to the Lakes was okay - we hit a traffic jam where the M61 meets the M6, as it seems other people had the same idea to take a trip to the Lakes. We got to Kendal in an hour and fifteen minutes from a sunny, but riot torn Salford.