Day two was the beginning of us really taking it easy, once again we arose late, we ate some brunch and talked about where we’d go and what we might do. Given that we were so reticent to leave it’s a wonder we saw anything at all, but eventually we did head off and our first stop was Sizergh, yes, you can blink and ponder on the pronunciation for that one, I’ll spare you the headache and tell you, ‘you’ll be wiser after Sizergh’. Can’t say it’s entirely true, the wiser part that is, as we didn’t really uncover any great mysteries or discover any secrets, but it is a lovely ‘castle’ – origins of a Norman tower that are now included into a more gothic style mansion – with several gardens that are worth exploring. We inspected most of the building, climbing the several levels of stairs and venturing back down the 14th century tower staircase to return to ground level. It was impressive no matter where we went, the ornate carved wooden or plaster ceilings, the leadlight glass windows, the stone or marble fireplaces, all crafted to perfection from an age where appearances were key, and I guess not much has changed in that respect. In many ways it reminded me of Castle Drogo – from the beginning of the trip – but at least this one was more than a Victorian folly.
From Sizergh we drove back through Ambleside and around to Hawkshead and to our last attraction for the day, Wray Castle. If Sizergh was ‘the real thing’ and Drogo was the ‘dream version’, Wray is an absolute farce. Sadly it’s an empty shell at the moment, the furnishings etc were removed and sold nearly a hundred years ago when the building was given/sold to the National Trust as a failing estate – seems to have been one of the favoured way of palming off a problem property – and the previous owners ran for it. After exploring the lower levels as much as possible – taking in the reception rooms etc – we climbed the stairs to the upper levels and had a thorough look around the ‘private’ rooms – bedrooms etc – before departing back down the main staircase. Whether it was because we’d just seen Sizergh, or because we’re avid fans of ‘real’ castles (ruin or intact and functioning) but we were left feeling rather deflated by Wray. The whole structure feels ostentatious, or as some of the contemporary residents called it ‘a modern monstrosity’, given it was completed in 1847 that kind of says something. I honestly couldn’t recommend this ‘sight’ to anyone, unless you want to see what money will buy you if you have more of it than sense.
A drive home via Kendal (and a side trip to Morrisons for some half price Jammie Dodgers) and then down the back roads through Tebay and we were headed for ‘home’ and a chicken salad dinner. Even with the ups and downs of the day it was still enjoyable and we did get a lot from it, including a few treats that we’ll bring home with us.
Wednesday morning we woke to the sound of ‘pitter-patter’, the much maligned spring rain had returned and the outlook from the cottage windows was one of grey and dreary countryside, it was lovely. In some ways we were looking for an excuse to have a ‘quiet’ day, a day spent in idleness, with endless cups of tea and biscuits, with a hot lunch and feet by a warm fire. Well, we had everything but the warm fire – central heating is wonderful, but the other two members of our party have forbidden me from lighting the open fire, we’ll see how long that lasts as the evening draws on and brings the chill with it – and it’s been wonderful. I do feel a little guilty, that we’ve ‘wasted’ a day in not going out and seeing or doing anything, but at the same time after a night of broken sleep and gaining a sore throat I have now made my peace with having a slower day than most of our others, and of course the delightful aromas wafting through the cottage from the kitchen aren’t half bad either! Wonder what’s for dinner…