A Magical Family Reunion in the Lake District

We’ve enjoyed a magical week in the Lake District. It holds a special charm for young and old alike. As an adult it is wonderful to visit a place that was treasured in my youth as a place of awe inspiring beauty and wonder. It is especially poignant to see my own children now wonder in its treasures and for Charlotte to experience her first taste of country walking, English style.

We’ve stayed in a beautiful home, dating back to the 1880’s, called Bracken Howe (formerly known as ‘Moresby’) in beautiful Ambleside. It belonged to the former headmistress of the local Ambelside School, Miss Thompson and was constructed of local stone and green slate. She lived in the house with her dog, Settle, and evidence of Settle is clearly visible in the scratch marks of each door frame!

Grandma and Grandad Aspinall kindly rented the house for a week so that we could come together with so many of our dear family, whom we’ve not had the pleasure of seeing for three years. Charlotte and Sophie have thrived in the company of their six cousins, Aunts and Uncles.

Charlotte has enjoyed choosing who should read to her each evening and her older cousins have been extremely patient with her as she has enjoyed various board games (many a little on the challenging and frustrating side for her age!). Sophie has been equally blessed with warm attention and has risen to it all with charm and laughter. She has grown up so much in a matter of weeks – even going regularly to the toilet for ‘pee, pee’ and ‘poo, poo’! Her vocabularly is amazing and she is a very bright button.

We’ve been blessed with enough sunshine to walk in the hills and ample time to dine at leisure round the huge dining table of Bracken Howe. On our longest walk, around 5-miles, the girls fared so well. Charlotte set off with extreme determination at a record pace, determined not to be out done by her cousins. Unfortunately we all forgot the probability of blisters on her tender feet and by the time she mentioned discomfort it was too late – popped blisters and too much pain to walk any further. This meant that Aunty Claire and Daddy took turns to carry her on their shoulders (Sophie was happy in the back-pack on Mummy pack-horse’s back!). Claire mentioned that Charlotte was a breeze to carry and lighter than her usual climbing gear – and it was a lovely chance for them to ‘bond’.

On a shorter waterfall walk, before the blister incident, Charlotte led the entire way. She delighted in following red arrow markers and helping Grandma and Grandad over the rough ground. There were some steep drops down into the ravine, but Charlotte proved more than able to safely navigate the terrain. It was so beautiful to see her hand in hand with her grandparents.

There have been moments when I’ve wanted to be back on home-ground in New Zealand, but those moments are short lived indeed. Ninety-five percent of the time this huge trip is proving extremely worth-while and already, half-way through our stay, we’ve made so many special memories which will keep my heart happy until the next time we are all united. I so wish New Zealand wasn’t so far away. The girls are learning so much from being with their family. They are blessed to have a such a loving, caring family comprising of so many fun, interesting and talented people, with so much to give. And I know that the girls are giving so much in return – the joy and smiles they create on everyone’s faces are beautiful to behold.

Oh dear, I’m welling up with emotion! I’m not looking forward to the first leg of our return flight!

And what of the torrential rain that’s been headlining the news these past weeks? Well, we’ve been extremely fortunate to not, as yet, have been caught in the floods. In the Lake District, the rain has only added to our week’s stay, providing an opportunity to gather around for some family board games and conversation. However, a trip to the Zoo earlier in the week was cut short by a torrential down-pour of rain-forest proportions, which fortunately we took in good heart. Dan and I made a dash for the car with the girls (who were fully togged in raingear) and made our way back to the house, driving through a couple of feet of water in parts!

The Lakes are blessed with plenty of places to ‘hide-out in when the heaven’s open. We’ve whiled away time (and added to the waistlines!) in numerous pubs and restaurants and enjoyed some retail therapy (which if the bank balance would allow could be enjoyed extensively!).

At The Beatrix Potter Exhibit:

A ‘must do’ for the girls was a visit to ‘The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction‘ (which of course Dan loved ��� ha, ha!). Later in the week we enjoyed a scenic boat trip to the far end of Lake Windemere to visit ‘Aquarium of The Lakes‘.

Our visit coincided with it’s 10th Birthday celebrations and the scene that greeted us was like something out of Charlotte’s beloved ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ stories – with flags, balloons, a brass quartet playing and a steam engine at the station. Charlotte was in heaven!

In the late, light evening’s of summer in the Lake District, we’ve sat in awe at the colours of dusk as the Grandfather clock of Bracken Howe strikes 10.30pm. The bats circle every night in the garden and the lush countryside, dotted with cottages, dry-stone walls and a seemingly never-ending maze of footpaths lead my heart to a certainty that we will return.