Thursday, 24 February 2011

Not a daffodil in sight yet, thank God!

I'm sitting there in the Appleby Manor Country House Hotel, contemplating dinner and wondering what kind of wine I would like. That's my new Italian designer dress. The three days away was my Christmas present from my daughter and my birthday present to her. It's a good hotel, it has views of the Eden Valley.It snowed while we were there. We had a big room, lovely wine and food. The place was built by a prosperous local solicitor, I think probably in the Victorian period. It makes a lovely hotel.
The shoots of daffodils were just coming through the grass. The snowdrops and the crocuses were out but that was all and it was bitterly cold. I love going away in cold weather so that you can sit in front of the fire and read. We did venture out, we went to Lucy's of Ambleside where they have probably the best cakes and puddings in all of Cumbria.Also we went to Dove Cottage. I have never been before. I've been past it when I was hiking and I've see the Wordsworth graves but I hadn't ever been inside before and since my daughter hadn't been there either we decided to call in.
And there I discovered that William had gone to France as a young man, had an affair and the woman had had a baby. He came home and married Anne and lived out his life and  ...  I was really upset. Does even Wordsworth have feet of clay? Not that I've ever rated him. All those poems about the bloody countryside. I know, it's crass and they're full of meaning and besides you should judge a poet by his work. But it put me off. It was daunting to know that Wordsworth was just like every other lad, all his thoughts in his trousers. So much for daffodils.
I did enjoy the story of Sir Walter Scott, climbing out of his bedroom window in the mornings so he could avoid his breakfast of porridge and going to one of the local pubs for a slap up breakfast. Apparently the Wordsworths ate porridge twice a day. How boring. We saw pictures sof Coleridge - was he the one who left his wife for Anne's sister?  Another not so nice poet.  And Southey who apparently took on the wife and children. And Charles Lamb and his sister. It  all looks so cosy and sounds so interesting but really it was just a horrid little house in the middle of nowhere with dark rooms, tiny bedrooms, no running water, no comfort. We went back to Appleby ( which by the way has a wonderful Saturday market and a proper old fashioned butcher where the butcher doesn't have already cut chops in the window but actually cuts them for you . We bought homemade lemon curd which we had sampled at the hotel). We had lots of wine and chocolate and local speciality cheese. We could have had porridge but I think old Bill Wordsworth had dented my appetite for such things. The only fluttering and dancing in the stiff cold wind was us running back to the car park and contemplating the fire in the big hall of the hotel. I didn't like coming home. I felt like a spoilt child being deprived of all the goodies. There are no daffodils in Durham yet either, so there.

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