I’ve banged on about food being my life for a few years now, but connected to that is travel. One equates to the other for me – my love of food is not only what is on my doorstep (although that is important too). But also taking inspiration from where I go, what I see and do. It always has been, with every passing year being centred around trips and journeys. Even when Persephone was born one of the first things we did was book tickets to Australia, as we thought it was a good idea to go long haul before she was fully mobile (it really was). Pre-baby I realised a lot of my destinations were picked on what I wanted to eat. I adore spicy food, so Asia has seen a lot of love. When we lived in a Vietnamese populated part of London we became obsessed with the food so a trip to Vietnam seemed obvious. Then there are journeys closer to home – a train journey through France, heading for Italy – Piedmont to be specific – in November for truffle and hazelnut season. Staying on a hazelnut farm for £50 a night. It isn’t always about big monies.
So amongst the food posts and recipes, I thought I’d share some of these food based travels with you all. Especially now with a small one in tow because I don’t want our travel ethos to change TOO much (it inevitably will of course). And I know we’re not the only ones out there who must think like this. There will be trips to Centre Parcs when she’s older, I am sure. I love an outdoor rapid and bike ride as much as the next parent, but equally there has to be more to holidaying right? For every family package holiday there has to got to be cool places and people do interesting things out there for the whole family. And if we can centre that around some great eats then we are winning on all levels.
Of course I’m not constantly on the road, so these posts wont be weekly (as if they ever have been!) but if I ever go somewhere great I promise to share. That seamlessly brings me to my first post – The Lake District. Somewhere we spend a lot of time anyway as it is not too far from Pete’s family so vaguely familiar. But we went a few weeks ago and stayed somewhere that was too good to keep a secret.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the lakes – they are huge. And spread out. To get between the main towns can take an hour, so if you go give yourself time. And if you are going with kids take this into account. Our kids does not love the car so we planned strategically around naps etc. We normally stay in the south but this time headed near to Ullswater to stay at the family friend, but still beautiful and cool Another Place Hotel.
While the lakes may seem very far away from London and the south, the beauty of Another Place is that it is only a 15 minute cab ride from Penrith station, which you can get to directly from London Euston in 3 hours. Win win. So even if you don’t drive you can still have a relaxing break away – you’ll just end up staying in the hotel mainly which is no bad thing, as they have all bases covered. This impressive, well thought out hotel has lots to offer. You can paddle board, do archery, wild swim, cycle, sail there is a LOT on offer. Or if you prefer your trips to be more sedate you can use the spa, swim in the indoor heated pool, or just read by the open fire. It’s the little extras that make it for me, hot coffee on tap in the reception area all day with flasks in the bedrooms for walkers and adventurers to help themselves. Kind staff who bend over backwards to make the stay enjoyable. A lined cot, baby blanket and towel all ready in our room for Persephone when we got there. An indoor pool that was heated perfectly so that babies could swim in there too (in a sectioned off shallow end). Family changing rooms, with tables and showers to make swimming as pain free as possible. So many thoughtful touches.
And then there are the big things- the kids cabin, freshly made monitored children’s tea and crystal clear video baby monitors. The kids cabin is run by fully trained nursery nurses and can be used for free play in the mornings. In the afternoons there are age appropriate sessions, where you can leave your kids for free, giving you time off for some much appreciated ‘me (or couple) time’. I was nervous doing it this time, but soon as I saw the space and met the women in charge I would not hesitate leaving P next time, it is brilliantly run. You can also book a baby sitter for the evening if you want to go out.
Another Place also have a sister hotel called Watergate Bay in Cornwall, with all the same fantastic ideas and touches, which is high on our hit list for next year. Also just to clarify nothing in this trip was gifted, it was all organised by us, I just wanted to share our fab experience in the hope other families love it too. I hope if you do go, you love it as much as we did.
Places nearby to visit:
- Lowther Castle – adventure play at this incredible, ruined castle
- Rheged centre – soft play, cinema. There is a LOT going on and just 10 mins from the hotel.
- Aira Force – a stunning waterfall and walk near the hotel. Not buggy friendly, but not too strenuous to do with smalls and a sling
- Ullswater Steamers – get a boat across the lake for the best view
Other places to visit in the lakes:
- Grasmere – basically for the gingerbread. Worth the trip and queue.
- The World of Beatrix Potter – great for all ages, and spotting rabbits.
- Ambleside for a busy town with lots of shops, eateries and things to take in. We especially loved Kysty for the homemade cakes and savoury dishes. Super foodie but family friendly with kids books, high chairs and changing table. And The Drunken Duck, an VERY food focused pub but with (beautiful) rooms. A short drive from Ambleside, this gorgeous, photogenic pub has high chairs, spacious rooms, a small kid playground outside and are kid and dog friendly. Super popular, so book for dinner or just stop for lunch. Nice kids menu too. Great staff.
- Cartmel – if you are driving to the lakes, picturesque Cartmel is worth a visit. If only to visit the village shop and stock up on their famous sticky toffee pudding, which is heavenly. (There are also Alpacas you can visit, which is high up on my to do list). Oh, and it is the home of L’Enclume, Simon Rogan’s award winning restaurant. Not particularly baby friendly, but if you can ditch the kids for a bit this is where you will want to escape to.