Posted in Travel, places to visit, mini-adventures

Lawrence and The Freemasons

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Does luxury and East Lancashire go together? Well, in the case of The Lawrence, it does. On the outside, it looks like a normal large house, sitting on a corner of an ordinary looking street.

A guesthouse or B&B maybe. Attractive Grade II listed building, certainly (it’s actually 200 years old), but it doesn’t necessarily look like a fancy spa or boutique hotel.

However, the minute you enter the hall – adorned by quirky animal wallpaper – you know you’re somewhere special.

High class.

Along the hall, to the left, is a small reception where we met Hannah, she was very friendly and helpful. The hotel prides itself on providing a bespoke experience for its guests. After filling in a short questionnaire asking what we would like to have for our breakfast in the morning, she took us on a short tour, showing the breakfast room, unmanned bar (it has an honesty box) and sitting area. There are also function and conference rooms and an outside courtyard.

Upstairs was the Tolkien suite – luxurious, elegant and extravagant.

 

There was an enormous television (which we discovered had Netflix, neither of us has this subscription channel but we took full advantage by watching The Outlaw King, about Robert the Bruce, and Alliances, a spy thriller starring Brad Pitt). A luxurious dark blue velvet settee faced the TV, with a massive bed behind – actually the room was huge, much bigger than what I am used to in hotels and B&Bs. Elegant wallpaper adorned the wall, there was a sweets jar, biscuits, bottles of water, tea, coffee, kettle… On the side of the bed was a pile of Tolkien books, a nice touch.

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Am I missing something? The bathroom, ah, the bathroom.

Normally, the bathroom is a much overlooked although necessary component of a hotel room. Toilet, tick. Shower, tick. Sink, tick. But this was different.

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For a start, it was upstairs. Yes, this guest suite sits across two floors. A floating bathroom atop a mezzanine balcony. There was a separate shower and toilet cubicle, while the sink and roll top bath was in a more open plan setting.

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The whole vibe was contemporary luxury, unlike many chain hotels though, The Lawrence oozes character. It is no surprise to learn that the 14-room boutique hotel was been renovated last year. It now has one suite, three signature rooms, three superior rooms and seven snugs.

The luxury doesn’t end there. Relaxation treatments are also available if booked in advance and afternoon tea is served on a weekend. Again this requires booking.

We went for a short walk in Padiham, a small attractive town, located next to the River Calder. In the 1900s its industries were coal-mining and weaving and by 1906, there were 20 cotton mills. Of course, all this is gone now.

Eating at Freemasons at Wiswell, in the rural Ribble Valley, was a gastronomical treat. It’s a venue full of refined rustic charm, a combination of country pub and shooting lodge.

We sampled many dishes on the Taste of Freemason menu, which highlights chef Steven Smith’s work. Many of these, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t personally have chosen but was happily surprised. The dishes were just the right size, none were too filling.  At the end, we were both full but not unpleasantly bloated.

Our wine was a Painted Wolf chenin blanc 2017, which was very nice. Our 30-year-old dessert wine at the end of the evening was sweet and delightful. Booking a taxi there and back turned out to be a good choice so we could both sample the wines!

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Where to start? I’m a cheese lover and I found the Lancashire cheese and beetroot tartlet very creamy and moreish. The salmon scallops and pine nut sauce was scrumpish, as was the brioche cooked in goose fat and rosemary.

The duck liver was neatly presented on toast, cooked Yakitori-style (Japanese type of skewered chicken), sitting upon a bed of Wiswell Moor brambles, alongside smoked eel.

Simon didn’t think the taste of the brambles would go with the rest of the dish, but it did and he was very impressed.

 

The native lobster dish offered Butter poached Tail, tempura claw, crispy chicken wing and sweetcorn among lobster sauce infused with Thai Flavours.

Now normally, I wouldn’t choose lobster or duck liver or smoked eel, but on this occasion I tried them and I liked them.

The menu also offers a Winter Blues Menu, a la Carte, Vegetarian and a Sunday Family lunch.

 

The following morning we had cereal and our cooked breakfast in a very pleasant room adjacent to the garden room. We met the hotel’s dog, Hetti, who was very charming indeed!

It would have been delightful to have stayed another evening, but alas, we were only here for one night. So after packing, we left for witch country, aka Barley and the Pendle Hill area, which isn’t far from here.

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I’ve been to Barley a few times, twice last year when walking up Pendle Hill. I opted for what seemed a never-ending bowl of potato and leek soup (no complaints though, it was very tasty) in the popular cafe at the car park (only £1 to park!) Rather than hike up the steep hill, we had a pleasant meander to the reservoir and back.

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Barrowford, a short distance away, and its Pendle Heritage Centre was the next stop. The last time we came here, we did not have enough time to look around so we took full advantage today. The centre is a Grade II listed farm building known as Park Hill, restored using traditional building skills. It actually dates from the 1400s and the museum takes us on a journey of the evolution of the building, from the medieval farmhouse to today’s museum. I found the 1600s hearth display particularly fascinating. We also learn about the families who lived in the house – the Bannisters and the Swinglehursts. According to the museum, the famed runner Sir Roger Bannister is a descendant.

And of course the fascinating but disturbing story of the Pendle Witches, who came from surrounding parts and were executed in 1612, is explored here.

The fine Walled Garden, which dates from the 1700s, wasn’t looking its best as it was November but it promises an array of plants to wander amongst in the spring and summer. And Cruck Frame Barn is an example of early building construction.

Before my visit, I never thought of Padiham as a place to stay but apart from The Lawrence being a splendid venue, just perfect if you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking for a romantic retreat, the town is ideal for a convenient stop-over for East Lancashire. Explore the beauty of Pendle Hill, visit Clitheroe and its ancient castle, learn about the witches in the heritage centre in Barrowford or wander around the historic Gawthorpe Hall, there’s so much to do in this often over-looked area.

The Lawrence Hotel

http://www.thelawrencehotel.co.uk

26-28 Church Street, Padiham.

07921 684742

Freemasons

http://www.freemasonsatwiswell.com

8 Vicarage Fold, Wiswell, Clitheroe

01254 822218

My previous Pendle post can be found here:

https://cosycottageandthequestforthegoodlife.wordpress.com/2018/03/24/trek-diary-part-3-february-march-pendle-hill/

 

Posted in Blogging

Versatile Blogger award

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I was delighted when I was nominated for this award by the Arty Plantsman. Thank you, Darren. His website is a wonderful mix of plants, beautiful art, humour and much more. Please go and visit him at https://artyplantsman.com/

The rules of the Versatile Blogger Award are as follows:

  1. If you are nominated, Congratulations – you have been awarded the Versatile blogger award!
  2. Thank the person who gave you the award and include a link to their blog.
  3. Select 10 -15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly.
  4. Nominate those bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  5. Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

My selected bloggers:

This is simply a thank you to a few of the fantastic bloggers out there. Some of them are particularly supportive of other bloggers, some are particularly versatile with their blogs but all are entertaining. Please pay them a visit.

https://silverbells2012.wordpress.com/

https://chomeusewithachou.com/

https://itsgoodtobecrazysometimes.wordpress.com/

https://aguycalledbloke.blog/

https://familyfurore.com/

https://diaryofawouldbenovelist.com/

https://amandaonline.blog/

https://therapybits.com/

https://mesmotsbysazz.com/

https://anitashope.com/

https://blessingsbyme.wordpress.com/

https://revolutionarymusings.wordpress.com/

There is no obligation to take part!

 

7 things about me.

  1. I love castles, cathedrals and old buildings in general.
  2. I wanted to be a vet when I was a child. Unfortunately I was, and still am, too squeamish and impractical.
  3. I think the world would be a much better place if there was less greed and more wisdom.
  4. I used to go horse riding when I was 14.
  5. My favourite colour is green.
  6. I used to read and collect Bunty comics when I was a child.
  7. I’m a Taurus.

 

 

 

Posted in Thoughts on life and spirituality

The story of the angry 😔 face

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

My friend came to visit recently and we had a fantastic time catching up and visiting scenic places near me. But she was preoccupied and the reason behind it was an angry face.

Users of Facebook will know that, a few years back, they changed the reactions to posts from just ‘like’ to emojis depicting ‘sadness’, ‘anger’, ‘laughter’ and so on.

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Well, my friend, H, posted a comment on her Facebook friend’s post. The comment, seemingly innocuous, received an angry face emoji.

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Why had Mr Angry appeared? My friend responded with another comment, fearing she had upset her Facebook friend. After a silence, she added to her response, and then feared she was making the situation worse and offending more with each new comment.

We discussed and went around in circles, debating the potential reasons behind the worrying emoji. Had H offended? Was the Facebook friend easily offended? Could she have made a mistake? (But then why the silence, queried my friend). Was she referring to a previous comment and was actually agreeing with a statement H had made?

A few days later, the riddle was solved.

A mistake, a simple mistake. Mr Angry’s face had been pressed by accident, unleashing all his fury and bringing confusion and concern into the world. 😡

Easily done.

And I wondered if there were two lessons here. Was it too easy to press the buttons on our technology, our social media and text messages, not realising how a tiny mistake can lead to misunderstanding, miscommunication and potential break-up of friendships.

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And is it also too easy for us to fear other people and their reactions to what we say or write or do? So often, I have worried that a late text, message, email or letter meant that the person concerned did not like me or I had offended them in some way.

So many examples of my fear yet so few times I can definitely say, I upset so-and-so and they are no longer speaking to me.

It is a balance, I think, between trying to be considerate and compassionate and also being oneself and not worrying what other people think. I’m still on that learning curve!

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Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com
Posted in Fitness challenges

Fitness Challenge 2019: January round-up

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So for my new year’s resolution to get fit (the same resolution I’ve had for the last 10 years!), I decided to break it down into monthly chunks, each month would have at least one challenge.

January was Red January and is an initiative organised by mental health charity Mind. Red originally stood for Run Every Day but I prefer Random Exercise Every Day, a phrase I spotted on the internet!

My second challenge for this month was to reach 100 miles by walking. This is to contribute to my overall 1,000 mile target by the end of the year.

Challenge 1: Walking 100 Miles

By the end of January, I had walked 74 miles, not what I aimed for but still more than what I would usually do in the month of January. This was what I would call coat-on walking. Coat-on for me means every mile is counted outside, via a pedometer. However, as it’s January, it’s cold and dark and I was aware of how easy it was for me to find an excuse not to go on a proper country ramble.

But I still:

Frequently walked to work and back (1 mile. I sometimes drive as it’s on my way to other places I go to after work).

Frequently went for a walk at lunchtime (2 miles)

Walked the family dogs (Various, 1 mile to 5 miles)

On two days out with friends/Simon, we ambled around the cities of Lancaster/Chester (about 3/4miles)

One canal walk with Dad (2 miles)

One walk into city centre and back (7 miles)

Nothing spectacular but it all adds up.

Challenge 2: Red January

This challenge was primarily for me to get into the habit of becoming more active. I included any additional walking in this but there were days because of snow, a headache, a stomachache or perceived time restraints when it wasn’t as easy to venture out. So I lifted two dumbells and did 100 arm curls on those ‘lazier’ days. It won’t get me fit or strong but it still keeps me thinking along the lines of ‘doing something every day’ and only takes a couple of minutes.

Red January aims to help people’s mental health as well as physical health and raise awareness of the charity Mind (https://www.mind.org.uk/)

(Exercise is believed to be good for mental wellbeing).

So overall, a mixed month. I don’t feel particularly pleased but I don’t think I’ve let myself down too badly. It is only the first month after all!

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February

So my next set of challenges for February is:

1. Aim to walk 100 miles again. I failed this month but maybe I might do better in February?

2. Continue to do something active everyday – even squats or arm curls if nothing else.

3. Aim to set aside 15 minutes five days a week for yoga.

4. Start planning at least one long-distance hike this year.

5. Buy trainers for exercise classes.

I will see if February is a more successful month! 🙂

 

 

Posted in Environment, Gardens, Gardens, lifestyle, self-sufficiency, environmental issues, adventure

Meet the neighbours at Cosy Cottage Garden Cafe

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Long-tailed tit. Photo by Michel Berube on Pexels.com

I often have neighbours popping into Cosy Cottage Garden Cafe. It is a self-service restaurant where customers can just help themselves to the regularly replenished supplies.

Fat balls are supplied, a delicacy favoured by the tits. The long-tailed tits come as a large close-knit family, the blue tits and great tits venture in by themselves or in pairs.

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Blue tit. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Robin is a regular, a nosy fellow, he likes to keep an eye on any gardening being done. Unfortunately, he is a jealous loner too, and doesn’t like to see others in his café.

There’s plenty of room for you all, I say, keeping the peace as cafe proprietor.

But he ignores me and shouts abuse at a larger blue tit.

Luckily, when the argumentative Robin flies on to another cafe, my customers come back. But despite his bad behaviour to other clients, he is a favourite regular and is always welcome here.

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Robin. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Blackbird prefers the ground seating to upstairs. As well as scatterings from the bird table, he may be lucky enough to catch a juicy worm for dessert. He too comes by himself, but is happy enough to share the edibles with the other birds.

Pigeon too, is a regular customer, sometimes he brings his mate and they munch on tasty leftovers, dropped by messy eaters from above.

Fat balls aren’t the only item on offer. There are coconut feeders and an array of healthier seed is also available, although the fat balls are the most popular. A drinking area with water is also set aside for my clients.

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As well as regulars, there are the more flamboyant visitors. A bullfinch and his mate have hovered in the nearby trees, a nuthatch paid a visit on a couple of occasions, sampling the goods, and a Jay has also been a colourful client, staying a short while. Sparrows, starlings, a coal tit and a shy little dunnock, who prefers not to be noticed, have all sampled the delights of Cosy Cottage café.

It is a pleasure to serve such a diversity of characters. Do you have a ‘cafe’ in your garden?

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Bullfinch. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
Facts of the Day

1. The tail of the long-tailed tit is more than half the bird’s total length.

2. The great tit is the largest member of the tit family in Britain. More than 50 distinct calls and songs have been identified.

3. Coal tits are the smallest tit in Britain. Its favourite habitat is coniferous woodland.

Information from Reader’s Digest The
Best of Wild Britain.