Swallows & Amazons
Last weekend, Steve and I went up North. And when I say North, I don’t mean Northampton, I mean the proper North. Manchester and the Lake District in Cumbria to be precise. We went to Manchester to see John Smith sing in a church. If you’ve not heard of John Smith’s music and you like listening to music like Laura Marling and Ray LaMontagne, then have a little listen to his album Great Lakes. Its the kind of music you might listen to in bed after a heavy week, to lull you into a deep sleep. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I mean that in a totally mesmerising hypnotic way. His voice is like velvet on the album but in person, to a crowd of perhaps 200 people in a church in Chorlton, its like lying in a hammock in a huge meadow of wavy grass on a summers afternoon in deepest Texas. My words don’t do his music justice, so you need to go and listen for yourself. Its not for everyone, I realise, but for someone who loves modern country folk guitar music, then this may just be your bag.
After a night in the luxurious boutique hotel Velvet in Manchester, we drove further up the country to mess around on the water and stay overnight at a very special place called Briar Rigg House. Its essentially a bed and breakfast, but its like no where we’ve stayed before. I’ve never stayed at a B&B where you get your own living room with a wood burning stove, local fudge from Penrith on your bedside table (the best fudge I’ve ever had to painfully share) and a handwritten breakfast menu left in your bedroom with a selection of food to wake up to for anyone with eyes bigger than their belly. Briar Rigg House, a sprawling Victorian property, is set in two acres of beautiful grounds, perfectly secluded from the local town Keswick, otherwise known as the gateway to the Lake District. Derwent Water, one of the smaller lakes is within walking distance, as is the actual town itself which has all the restaurants you might need, if you fancy eating out. If not, then Fiona, the truly genuinely lovely lady who owns this very clever concept, suggests getting take-out, lighting the fire, putting some music on and cosying up for the best night in and I couldn’t agree more. The hotel we stayed in whilst in Manchester was super-cool but I would definitely have traded in that night for two nights at Briar Rigg, no question. Oh, and remember I mentioned the breakfast menu? Both of us selected bacon, sausages and pancakes with maple syrup which is what we were expecting when we woke up from the aroma trailing up the stairs but we actually got a lot more than we bargained for. Freshly squeezed juice, coffee, tea, homemade granola, homemade fruit compote made from berries in the garden and to top it all off, homemade muesli bread. Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day for this exact reason and I’d go as far to say I don’t think I’ve ever had such an amazing breakfast. Even writing about it now is pretty torturous. Knowing that Briar Rigg is just a 4 1/2 hour drive away, makes me want to make staying there a regular treat and not wanting to wish Summer away, but I’m already dreaming of October when we’ll be back again.
Thank you Fiona for taking such good care of us and raising the brekkie bar – I’m not sure breakfast will ever be the same again.