Thursday 9th August 2013: Keswick

It's over 24 hours since my parents left our beautiful apartment in Keswick. We are are really missing them although I am happy that there are 2 less people to compete against for the red chair in the bay window. A red, mock-leather single chair set against a sash window where you can watch the world and its wife walking by.

Whether walking towards Keswick town-centre or preparing for a day walking on the Lakeland fells, you can peacefully people-watch from that window all day. Actually, 'peacefully' is a little bit of an exaggeration when you have 2 children under 4 years old running around, also peering out of the window and asking why that "bad man is being shouted at by that angry woman". It was difficult to explain to Bethan why these people were having a domestic and beating each other with their Ordnance Survey maps. 

Rob, the assigned cartographer expert for our trip did try to explain to our daughter that "rookies often have this inflamatory argument when hill-walking for the first-time" an answer which seemed to confuse but satisfy her as she immediately asked afterwards if she could watch 'Princess Stories' for the zillionth time.

Yes, it was obvious that although we didn't want as frenetic a week as we did in Consiton, like wise, we didn't want to sit in our Keswick apartment all day people-watching and listening to Princess Jasmine telling us, yet again, how wonderful bloody Aladdin is.

The Red Chair. A Source of competitiveness
as well as a source of some serious
Keswick really is my idyllic place. Rob and I allowed ourselves some me-time whilst in the Northern Lakes. I chose to spend that time in an antique bookshop searching out original Beatrix Potter books. Rob used his me-time to wonder along the fells and take some breath-taking pictures of some breath-taking landscapes. 

Indeed, I found a copy of Beatrix Potter's "Tale of Pigling Bland" in the book shop which I was thrilled with because it was the 100th anniversary of its first publishing. Usually, it is very difficult to date Ms Potter's books as you have to look at the art work on the inside to ascertain when it might have been published. However, I knew this was from 1942 as inscribed it said, "To my beautiful daughter, love Daddy, 1942". 

There are lots of reasons why people are against writing in books but this particular inscription set my imagination on fire. In 1942 the Allies were being pummeled by the Nazis. Was this a final gift from a father to his daughter whilst on leave from the War? Was this a gift simply to celebrate her birthday? All of that night I kept wondering about who bought the book and who the book was intended for. 

That's the beauty of books, it's not only what is inside them that sparks your imagination but also what they represent on the outside to different people. The history of Beatrix writing 'The Tale of Pigling Bland' and the history of the relationship between the person who sent the book and the person who received it is one of my highlights of being in Keswick. 

What a place...what a picture...well done Rob!

Monday 5th August 2013: Keswick

It's incredible to believe that we have been in Keswick, in the North Lakes, for just over 48 hours.

My parents arrived yesterday morning and it's the first time all weekend that I have had time, on my own, to write my blog.

Keswick is stunning and although it is to be found right in the centre of the Lakeland Fells, there is certainly a sense that it could be a Victorian seaside town. A bit like Matlock in Derbyshire but with lots of outdoor walking shops instead of the many bleary lights of the slots to be found in deepest, darkest Derbyshire.

Actually, I would go as far as to say that the number of outdoor shops in Keswick outnumber people by 4 - 1; there are more outdoor clothing shops than there are sheep grazing on the Fells. And that's saying something.

Rob and I made this assertion whilst travelling around the Keswick one-way system a number of times; reminiscent of the Griswalds when travelling around London in 'National Lampoons'. However, instead of saying, "There's Big Ben!" many times we were saying things like, "Oh! There's a Bootles" (Bootles being a very posh food store in the North of England) and "Exciting! There's the Lake!"

10 minutes later...

"There is the flamin' Lake again, now where the bloody hell is our apartment?". It turned out the apartment was 5 minutes from Lake Derwentwater as stated in the brochure; however, our SAT NAV (i.e Rob) took a wrong turn. 

No one could blame him really. After having a poor night's sleep at The Black Bull in Coniston the night before we left, I'm surprised he didn't drive us into the Lake because we were that tired. Bethan's insistence on familiarising herself with the old Inn House (a place famous for its brewed onsite beer and frequenter, Donald Campbell) during the night meant that the hours ticked by very, very, very slowly.

When we arrived at the apartment, things got better...and then they got worse.

As I was frantically unpacking for the second time in two weeks I overlooked the fact that my 14 month old toddler aka The Destroyer was running around under my feet whilst Rob with Beth's 'assistance' (ahem) was bringing things in from the car.

Disaster struck as I walked backed into the kitchen, slipped, but managed to get up again to see James' face looking down at me whilst holding a bottle of cooking oil - with its lid off! Frantically, I tried to clean up the oil disaster with kitchen roll as my parents were about to arrive and I didn't fancy them re-enacting the end of Torvill and Dean's Bolero as they walked in to the apartment. Damn bloody laminate floors. And oil. And me for putting the bottle within easy-reach of, let's face it' a toddler on a mission of discovery.

It's pure luck that I didn't do any damage to my leg. Although, as Rob pointed out, I was in easy reach of the many outdoor shops that surrounded us if I need lint, bandages, cream... Whilst spread-eagled on the floor I kept imagining the headline, "Woman trips and breaks ankle, not on Helvellyn but on a kitchen floor".

The shame.