Thursday, 4 November 2010


Autumn has found its way back again and the trees are changing in preparation for winter. With autumn comes the school’s autumn half term and Halloween.
By now it is a well established pattern that we go and stay with The Granddaughter (TG) and her family in Cumbria, which whilst a short hop compared to road journeys in other lands, it is no easy run from our home.
In the UK, we have a wonderful (?) system of roads or freeways that are known as Motorways which supplement the normal road system. We can use two go North West to their home, the M5 which joins with the M6. The M6 runs from near Birmingham to near Carlisle, a distance of only 230 miles but I have never ever driven on any part of that motorway without finding roadworks causing bottlenecks and slowing down the traffic.
We only use the M6 for about 180 miles or so, joining it at Birmingham and leaving it just past Lancaster, we can use the M5 motorway to link to it or the old Roman road Foss Way, either route is about fifty miles before joining the dreaded M6.
The best time we have ever made for this journey is four and a half hours and the longest is over eight. It does not need to be very busy to cause a problem if something goes wrong. Any roadworks will create a slow line of traffic and there are often several sections of these on the stretch we use, causing an accumulation of delays that can add hours to the journey. Accidents can cause problems too, from a lane closure and the subsequent queuing of traffic, to a complete closure of the road whilst the police investigate a serious accident.

Typically busy M6

A slight obstruction soon causes a queue

This time, we had a fairly easy time, with only one stretch of roadworks and further on a very slow wide load taking up two lanes. We finally arrived at about four thirty PM having started out at eleven AM and stopped for a bite to eat after passing Manchester.

Signs of approaching the Lake District, it is becoming hilly.

Definitely in the Lakes area now.

We were staying a week at TG’s home and our first excursion with the family was a visit to Holker Hall, properly pronounced hooker, although that pronunciation has certain connotations nowadays that Yanklish is being spoken a lot over here.

Holker Hall is a large country estate owned by Lord and Lady Cavendish, which is open to the public. It has some wonderful gardens and a large family house dating back to the 16th century, but which had been damaged by fire and partially rebuilt quite recently, that is, a mere hundred and fifty years or so ago.
A stepped waterfall

Autumn trees

For more views and information follow the link. Holker Hall

Being there in autumn the gardens were not in full bloom but the trees were turning and this made up for the lack of flowers. The grounds are very extensive and at one time stretched from the West coast of England right across to the east coast around Scarborough. That was long ago and now is a more manageable size, which does not take several days to cross.
They had a Halloween theme going for the children and we followed the clues around the gardens to get a little prize for TG, who was much keener on this than looking at the house and grounds.

Another outing was to the local Zoo, properly called; The South lakes Wildlife Park. This park supports the Wildlife Protection Foundation, protecting and breeding a range of endangered animals from many parts of the world. They are very proud to have had a rare Sumatran tiger give birth to a healthy young cub. We were only able to catch a glimpse of him but he is very important in the campaign for saving this endangered animal. They have been able to breed several other endangered animals and have a great programme ongoing for this purpose.
They also have some Jaguar cubs almost adults but still kittenish even when the size of a St Bernard dog.

I'm just a pussycat, want to play?

Like Holker Hall, the Zoo was also doing a Halloween theme and here you had to find the pumpkins in the various animal enclosures. This meant that we had to go around every part of the park and look at all the animals. Since The Son in Law (TSIL) has a problem walking any great distance this was quite a task for him. He coped quite well, with a number of rest stops and we were able to have a good look around.

Lisn bud - I was framed, ya know, a stool pigeon. You gotta get me outa here

Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits...

I'm rehearsing for my winter nap.

I'll do one more length and...!!
Damn press always pointing their cameras at me!

I may be big but I'm really friendly.

In the Madagascar area, the birds and Lemurs native to that part of the world are roaming around the open area and mix with the visitors. They seem very tame but you are warned not to touch them because they may bite and you are expected to keep to the paths. Amongst these Madagascans were some Prairie dogs running around the grassed area and kangaroos and Wallabies too, which are a little unusual for Madagascar I thought.

Some of the birds in this area can be fed but only if you buy a pack of special food to feed them, a crafty way of supplementing the park’s animal feed bill. TG was delighted to do this and was soon surrounded by hungry birds, many of them native to England.
The park has a number of different species of tiger in separate compounds and the tigers are fed each day and given exercise in the process because the food is placed on top of tall posts. Apart from making a great spectacle for the park’s visitors, they have adopted this policy to make sure that the tigers get some useful exercise by having to climb up to get their dinner each day. Cats are lazy animals and if you feed them by placing the food on the ground they will just sit around until the food arrives and get both fat and bored, so the climbing method of feeding them is a method of keeping them fit and agile. It has also been found that big cats fed this way also live longer. They also have some lions which are fed in the same way.

Sunday was Halloween and we decorated the house ready for a small party and prepared for the hordes of trick or treaters to arrive that evening. A pair of glowing pumpkins were set on the porch and we waited to hear the doorbell go but nothing happened and then nothing happened and later nothing happened some more. In fact only one person arrived, who turned out to be the boy from next door and he did not go to any other house that evening. The reason for this was it was raining steadily all evening and the incentive to obtain free sweets was not enough to bring anyone out in the wet. TG was disappointed because she had been hoping to go out too but it was very wet, so we stayed in.

The week seemed to fly by and suddenly it was Monday again and we had to pack up and say farewell. That Monday TG went back to school and having taken her there we then had to face the M6 once more.

Farewell Cumbria


  1. Beautiful photos, snafu -- of autumn colours and funny animals - love your captions, too! It seems strange to think about you all celebrating Halloween over there - I thought it was still a more north American tradition. We certainly didn't celebrate it when I was growing up. Guy Fawkes Day, yes -- and Mischief Night the evening before - but I don't remember trick or treating, at all. I don't think I would have known what a pumpkin was, as a child. Great carving job, by the way!

  2. My two sons both in their thirties do not bother with Halloween, because they see it as a new fad. It has become another commercialised event which is pushed by the big shops as a means of marketing something, much like they see Christmas. Kids are persuaded to buy new outfits, masks and broomsticks just for the one evening. Special Halloween packs of sweets and pumpkins, something that was never seen in this country when we were little, appear every year now in the supermarkets. Hail to the great god Mammon. ( Please note the lower case g.)
    TG’s parents did a good job on both growing and carving the two pumpkins.