Our last full day in the lakes was a wash out, just like the first day in Scotland. Though the forecast had prepared us and Samantha booked herself into a spa day. Meanwhile, in flat light with overcast skies, I drove around looking for something to photograph; I walked around Rydal Water, and later Tarn Hows but soon returned to the hotel – perfect weather to go through a few images.
When Sam’s spa ended we went for decent Thai in Ambleside at Doi Intanon. And at Windermere we caught a last glimpse of red light as the sun went down for the day.
With one last opportunity to take some photos of sunrise over a gorgeous English lake, I rose early to try and find a suitable jetty to picture, one of those classic jetty into lake, long exposure photos. I’d found online a couple of possible spots next to Coniston Water, so headed straight there, a couple of hours before dawn.
The jetty wasn’t quite the stereotypical one, but I tried nonetheless. I had two cameras with me, so tried a super long exposure with a 15 stop filter (it didn’t work at all – my exposure maths was slightly off, it’s hard to calculate with changing light over such a long period). Dawn came and went, some clouds turned a soft orange, and the Old Man of Coniston lit up in the distance. It was a pleasant place to be, but not especially spectacular. I was back in time for another fry-up, by now we’d been eating them for two weeks, and putting on the pounds.
Meanwhile Samantha stayed at the hotel, and she had the good fortune of seeing the rising sun break through the pine trees and pagoda, her phone pictures suggest I shouldn’t have gone anywhere.
Soon enough we were heading South on the M6, starting our long journey home to Brighton. The sat-nav said it’d be 7 hours, which was too much in one go. We chose instead to stop somewhere half-way, somewhere a little luxurious, and somewhere with a pool. Stratford is a nice town, and just outside lies the Ettington Park Hotel – a Grade I listed neo-Gothic country house, where the midweek rates were cheap, so we booked a night.
The sun was out today, and in the late summer sunshine we sat outside with an expensive cream tea. The large country house behind us, ruins of an old church in front, towering pine trees sprinkled about the grounds.
The hotel was mostly full of business folk and couples enquiring about wedding plans. The indoor pool, sauna and jacuzzi were empty, and we made the most of them.
The hotel restaurant came recommended, so we dressed up smart (we’d been carting these smart clothes around with us for two weeks – it’d be a shame not to use them), and sauntered down to the dining room. For the first time I ordered a plate of mussels, they came in a Thai sauce and tasted delicious. We were approaching the largest full moon of the year, from our table, above the church ruins, the moon shone. I imagined the badgers and deer foraging about outside.
Breakfast was good too, I turned down my last chance for a fry-up – the menu had options – instead opting for cinnamon pancakes and maple syrup. The head waiter gave me a look, it said “nobody orders that”.
We checked out, but hung around the hotel, making use of the facilities, swimming in the pool again. But we had to leave around lunch time, partly because we ought to be getting back, and partly because paying £9 for an egg sandwich is absurd.
We parked up in Stratford, perused the perpetual Christmas shop, walked past Shakespeare’s home and had a sit-down meal at Carluccio’s, before heading home, this time for real.