We had a fitful sleep going into the Wednesday of our journey, the day we moved out of London and headed north to the Lake District. Our host’s live-in girlfriend had worked late the night before, arriving back at the mews at 1 AM, and the two of them churned for a time trying to debrief on the day, organize for the next day, quietly padding around the flat like two dogs circling and circling before settling in for the night.
We had spent a lovely day the previous day doing our own bit of a churn, setting off mid-morning to find a place to get new SIM cards for our phones, to follow up on our host’s recommendation for a place to repair my fanny pack which seemed to be coming apart at a strategic seam, and to discover a place for a decent lunch.
EE became, by virtue of being most obvious storefront in the neighbourhood, the provider of our new SIM cards. The less than subtle change in process and usage did cause and continued to cause concern for several days. Those concerns were based more on naivety and a lack of familiarity with UK and European cellular networks. In short, any challenges were not really their fault, although coverage in the Lakes would be spotty at best due to a shortage of transmission and relay towers.
We thought that lunch at the Railway Tavern would be in order, but on arriving we were informed by the bar staff that the cooks hadn’t turned up that morning, leaving only the bar staff. They suggested we grab a pizza from across the street and enjoy it in their bar. Instead we opted for a lovely lunch at a pub called The Queens which I had referenced obliquely in a previous post. Great old building and bar, with a great staff and a really nice menu. Gail had the requisite fish and chips, and something she reported as a very nice half pint of lager. This is her ‘homecoming food’ that she always has within two days of landing back in the UK, with varying degrees of success. The Queens fish and chips were declared ‘lovely’! Ever concerned about my issues with gluten I had a cobb salad with some really nicely done grilled chicken. I also had a glass of an interesting unoaked chardonnay from Lavender Hills Winery in California. Yes, I had come all the way to England to have an American chardonnay.
So far the food and the service in the Crouch End neighbourhood had been great!
I mentioned the Monkey Nuts Steak House which we had dinner in the night before, which was a local pub masquerading as a steak house restaurant. Again, fabulous staff, good food! Gail had a Corona, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that they stocked a very tasty gluten free beer by the name of Fantasm from Magic Rock Brewing. This was after I had a charming SA Sauvignon Blanc while wandering the neighbourhood, exploring.
Fabulous staff all the way around!? The team at The Queens rescued my shoulder bag when I left it behind as I raced off to the one of the Callis shops to get my newly repaired fanny pack. The bar staff saw me coming back in the door and held it out for me to loop to the bar and retrieve. They assured me that no on had ‘looked in it’. I enjoyed the humor and genuine engagement of that team.
We went back to the Mews for a nap, and while Gail napped, I scouted the area for someplace to have dinner. I settled on The Marsden pub and restaurant and began composing my arguments for going there for dinner.
We chatted with our host for a time after Gail resurfaced, then I suggested going down to The Marynard for dinner, knowing quite well that we would pass a couple of quaint boutique restaurants whose posted menus wouldn’t pass muster with her ladyship. So, yes, we had dinner at The Maynard, guided through our menu choices by the lovely and entertaining Hannah who was on the verge of running off to Poland to attend the wedding of a close friend.
It was a fabulous evening to cap off a really interesting day.
We slipped out of bed early the next morning, trying not to disturb our hosts. We showered, packed and fought the bigger cases down the steep, creaky and winding staircase. I found a couple of bananas, called and booked a cab from the Islington Cab people, and got ready to depart.
I have promised a more detailed discussion about the AirBNB. That will come.
Tony was the driver who arrived to ferry us to Euston station to meet our niece and start our journey north to the Lake District. Tony was a great older expat Greek(?) who navigated the maze of London streets efficiently, and with great humour. I would have been absolutely furious had I’d been driving. My frustration did surface momentarily when we wrestled the bags out of Tony’s immaculate vehicle, piling them onto a luggage trolley with a broken wheel. Having tried to steer clear of hard currencies I did not have a pound coin needed to get another trolley. One of the attendants took pity on me and, with a little sleight of hand, freed a trolley for me, and helped stack the load.
And off we went…
The train trip north was another interesting experience. We don’t do trains like that in Canada, and I suspect that we don’t do it in much of North America except in the larger commercial centers like New York that are dependant on the ‘suburbs’ to house the talent that drives the economy. My one experience with New York City and trains back and forth to Connecticut is from the ‘70s, and my memory of the commute was not unlike the train experience between Surrey and London, and now the train to Oxenholme.
I had originally used the “Trainline” app to book tickets on the Eurostar and had lined up our travel from Euston Station to the Lakes when our niece made a pre-emptive move to get the tickets for us.
We had used Bookings.com to reserve a room at The Brown Horse Inn in Winster, strategically located near Kendal, Bowness and the site of the wedding we were travelling north to attend. We actually didn’t stay there because my sister-in-law found us alternate accommodation. Thank goodness for Bookings.com and their progressive cancellation policy.
The trip north to Oxemholme was lovely. We were met by a family friend and driven to our temporary digs.
I must say, by way of caution, that the cab/taxi service in the Lakes is a largely hit-or-miss exercise, as is the cellular phone coverage.
A future post will describe the wedding, the family drama and successes associated with it, and heap praise on the catering staff at the wedding venue and pillory the transportation team from Mountain Goat Transport. Stay away from that incompetent and openly rude team in The Lakes! I don’t know what they are like in the rest of the UK but the team in the lakes is not to be trusted.