Hello! Here I am, back under the Attic24 roof after spending the most wonderful weekend away with my little family. I do very much like to arrange Weekends Away. Enjoy looking for places to visit, somewhere to explore that takes us out of our lazy At-home Weekends and off into a short mini adventure. This particular weekend away was booked on a whim about a month ago :: it was a visit to a part of the country we've never been to before, so it was all new and exciting, and as it was only forty-seven miles away it was very do-able for a one-night weekend jaunt.
The building in the photo above is where we stayed on Saturday night :: its a rambling old Edwardian building which is owned by the Youth Hostel Association. Its the first time we've stayed in a youth hostel, and to be honest we weren't quite sure what to expect, but oh it's fabulous! This particular youth hostel is a real gem of a place, and if it looks full of character from the outside, then you can imagine what it's like on the inside. It's old and quirky, lots of high ceilings, big wide corridors and sweeping staircases. Slightly faded and old fashioned, but we immediately feel it's our kind of place :: cosy, welcoming, down to earth and unpretentious. We love it as soon as we walk in.
We had booked a family room which contains two sets of bunk beds, a comfy chair and a little wash basin. Each bunk comes with a pillow and duvet and a set of beautifully starched cotton bedding which we put on ourselves. There's much excitement amongst the Little People over the allocation of bunks, the thrill of being allowed to sleep on top. And I get my thrills from the view, out across the terrace and garden to the estuary beyond, it's beautiful.
Once the excitement over the beds/view subsides, we go off to explore the rest of the hostel. We locate the bathrooms, the upstairs lounge where there is a tv (not necessary), book shelves laden with books, puzzles and games (useful) and a sink/fridge/kettle for making brews (most definitely essential).
We go downstairs and out onto the terrace, breathe in the fresh air. The Little People are waaaaay beyond excited by now, they go haring off, then come back at intervals to breathlessly report a bird box, a nature pond, a giant wooden chair with a grass seat, a woodlouse and a slug.
We go back inside and discover a wonderful sitting room with squishy comfy sofas, a wood burning stove and more books, puzzles and children's toys. There is a dining room with views out over the garden where we will be eating dinner later on, and breakfast in the morning. We feel at home, could quite happily squidge into the sofas and stay there all afternoon. But we prize ourselves away and set out to explore :: ten minutes walk down a sloping track and we emerge at the edge of the estuary.
This is the Kent estuary which eventually leads out into Morecambe Bay, and the little village we are staying in is called Arnside.
Technically speaking, it's part of the Lake District, but it's one of those off-the-beaten-track kind of bits that most tourists over look. It's not easy to explain where it is in the country, you need to look at a map to get it. See, it' is sort of up near the Lakes, but doesn't feel like it. It's part of Lancashire but feels more like Cumbria. It's quiet, genteel, tranquil, scenic, open. Wide water which feels like the sea but is actually a river. Cute little shops, a deli and craft bakery, two fabulous pubs. We buy some pasties and a huuuge chunk of chocolate tiffin and eat it sitting on the pier, gazing out across the water.
We marvel at the viaduct which carries the little train line over the estuary to Grange-over-sands. We take in big wide skies and the ever changing tide, currently on it's way out.
Later we stroll along the beach eating ice cream.We paddle in the riverletts which flow down from the woods, we draw in the sand, we find fossils. Eventually we choose a lovely spot on some rocks to sit in the sun and enjoy the warmth of the afternoon . Then it's back along the beach and promenade to the village for a pint of beer in Ye Olde Fighting Cock (yes, I know it sounds rough, but its far from it).
At 6pm we are sitting down to eat dinner at the Youth Hostel and we are hungry. We are served homemade organic bread while we wait :: then follows a three course meal which is utterly delicious. Even the Little People are seriously impressed by the homemade organic wholemeal pizza whilst J and I mmmmm our way through three courses. We end with a very large pudding each (Eaton Mess for him, lemon syllabub for me) and retire to the squishy sofas to rest/play. We are all in bed by 9pm, reading/crocheting/drawing/gaming in our bunks. We are tired and happy, we sleep soundly.
Next morning. we enjoy a most scrumptious buffet breakfast :: fresh croissants, homemade bread and jam, fresh fruit, then manage to squuuuueze in a cooked breakfast with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. I eat with abandon and enjoy it enormously. The dining room is busy :: a group of cyclists, some other families with children, couples and singles. Old and young. We are not the noisiest table, but we come very close so we finish up and take coffee outside on the terrace. Assess the weather and decide to take a walk up above Arnside to a viewing point called Arnside Knott.
a climb up through woodland to reach Arnside Knott, and you know what,
we don't actually make it. No, we don't actually officially reach the summit, but we do
end up high on the hillside where there is a fabulous Mountain Viewing
Point, and we spend a good long while spotting the various mountains
and hills of the Lake District. We also watch the weather change minute
by minute as the clouds roll in. The Little People request food and so
we spread out a blanket and sit a while to eat chocolate buttons and
biscuits. More clouds roll in and the little patches of sunshine on the
surrounding hills get smaller and smaller. J says he can smell rain in
the air. I feel I could walk for miles and miles, but by now I have to admit that J might be right and rain begins to fall. So we say goodbye to the view and head back down the hillside to the car.
We suddenly decide that we might actually be ready to head homewards, perhaps via a gallery/cafe for mid morning coffee and a slab of carrot cake.
A detour for carrot cake is always a Good Thing in my opinion.
As are Weekends Away.