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…