For the sake of context I should point out that I wrote this a week and half ago when I was still very much on holiday in the Lake District. I’m not any more. It doesn’t really matter but I don’t want anyone reading this to feel mislead.
Because I care.
That’s just the kind of person I am.
Anyway, without further ado, here is my account of my holiday in the Lake District:
As I write this I’m warming myself by the fireplace.
Which is unusual.
Because, while there notionally is a fireplace in my small Victorian terraced house in Reading, it is not something Mrs Proclaims and I ever use, for all kinds of practical reasons.
However, even if we did avail ourselves of the facility in question, it would not be usual recourse for us to do so in the height of the British summer.
Which is, supposedly, happening at the moment.
However the fireplace in question is not in my usual abode, but rather a charming holiday cottage in Ambleside. Which is in the Lake District, a soon-to-be World Heritage site in the North West of England.
As the name suggests there are quite a few lakes. There are also some mountains.
It’s colder up here than it is in Reading. And today it’s raining, which means that Mrs Proclaims and I are rather less inclined to take advantage of the stunning scenery that the region has to offer, and instead are nestling down in our lovely holiday home until the weather becomes a touch more clement.
Hardier souls than us might well have donned their waterproofs and braved the elements but we prefer to do our walking in more moderate conditions and offer no apologies for adopting this stance.
Plus the cottage we’re staying is really rather lovely and I’m all for having a lazy holiday after recent months which have seen me more than a little stretched in work
No matter, such is the life of the modern education professional and even though I’ll be returning to Reading at the end of this week, the prospect of five more weeks of not having to go to work is rather appealing.
It’s not entirely true, though – my job is such that I still have a vast amount of paperwork to get done so I will have to pop in to my place of work over the next few weeks, but in a rather less formal capacity than is the norm. And I won’t have to wear a tie.
Still I also intend to take some time off and to do some fun things.
Quite what those fun things will be I’m not certain yet – for now I’m enjoying the Lake District.
Yesterday I went on three boat trips on Lake Windermere, saw a fairly rubbish National Trust property and went for quite a long walk.
Long walks, boat trips and National Trust properties do seem to be rather the main features of a Lake District holiday.
Along with pub lunches, gingerbread and Kendal Mint Cake.
If you’re not a fan of that kind of thing then it probably isn’t the sort of place you’d enjoy coming on holiday to.
Fortunately Mrs Proclaims and I find all of the above rather tolerable, even, to some extent, enjoyable. I can take or leave a National Trust property but I do enjoy a long walk. And I’m fine with boat trips. As long as they’re short. Sea sickness can make longer trips rather less enjoyable. I am very much a landlubber at heart.
I generally do enjoy a pub lunch too. Perhaps a little too much, as my waistline will attest to.
Gingerbread is something I thought I was indifferent too – I’d have a piece if it was on offer, but I’d rarely seek it out. Lake District gingerbread is rather fantastic though and apparently quite famous. I’m definitely a convert.
Kendal Mint Cake is not a cake, but once I’d got over that fact I was ok with it. It does just seem to be quite a big mint, really. It’s nice enough though and provides a pleasant sugar rush when out for a long walk.
I have actually enjoyed just sitting around in the holiday cottage. Normally Mrs Proclaims and I take our annual vacation in the form of a European City Break, and in recent years have enjoyed the delights of Vienna, Rome, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. However Brexit and the subsequent decimation of the British Pound has meant it’s more economically viable to opt for a holiday in this country, a ‘staycation’ if you will, and if one is forced to holiday in the UK then one could certainly do much worse than the Lake District.
And whereas I’d be loath, on a trip abroad, to spend too much time dossing around in the hotel when I could be our experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of a different culture, I tend to feel more at ease missing out occasionally on the sights, sounds and smells of the northern part of my own country on a rainy day and I’ve been more than content to sit and read (I’ve managed to get through an entire novel in the last four days – JK Rowling’s ‘The Casual Vacancy’ if you’re interested. I quite enjoyed it but it certainly won’t change my life) or play trivial pursuit (I’m currently beating Mrs Proclaims by seven games to three, which is no mean feat – my wife is seriously clever and in many ways the superior player, but has no interest in sport, which is, alas one of the categories and means she more often than not manages to snatch defeat from the jaws of almost certain victory).
We have got out though and amongst other things, we have visited Beatrix Potter’s cottage.
Which is, essentially a cottage.
We also visited William Wordsworth’s childhood home.
Which is, essentially, a house.
And we’ve seen a few lakes and mountains.
Lots of tourists
From all over the world.
Which perhaps shouldn’t be surprising but was, a little bit.
It is a minor irritation that everywhere in the world that is worth visiting appears to attract lots of other people. I wonder if they couldn’t all arrange to visit on a different day to me?
Maybe I’m asking too much.
Also, because it is such a popular tourist destination, all of the towns seem to have taken on the mantle of tourist traps. There are so many shops selling overpriced fudge and jam that it’s hard to know where to go for actual groceries.
There are two very small ‘mainstream’ supermarkets in Ambleside that seem to be perennially under siege.
Fortunately, the advantage of the ‘staycation’ is that I was able to bring additional provisions with me in my little car. And I’ve also been able use my little car to drive to a less touristy town to replenish said provisions when needed.
But I feel sorry for our foreign guests who may not have the luxury of a little car.
Then again, someone needs to keep the overpriced tourist traps in business and, frankly, our pre-Brexit economy needs as many foreign visitors to spend ridiculous money on pretentiously-marketed boiled sweets as possible.
So perhaps I shouldn’t complain.
No I definitely shouldn’t complain, because all things considered, the Lake District is rather lovely and you should definitely visit if you get the chance.
But maybe slightly out of season.
And don’t buy the fudge.
But do buy the gingerbread.