Uncle Frank’s Family Holiday or, The Lake District

Do you remember when I could post about holidays like they were yearly occurrences? Well, in 2012, a year of change and flux, a holiday was something that was missing from my year-bingo card. It was something I’d aspired to organise, but it was put on the back burner since May due to a move of city and change of flat. Now that that has all settled down and a slight level of understanding has been made between Frank, Connie and I, and the intended location for his… toilet business, we moved forward with plans for a “family” holiday. I decided that it would not only be a family holiday, but a surprise one, one in which all organisation was under taken by myself, and Connie was left entirely in the dark. This was working perfectly until my mother accidentally let slip that the intended location was… the south, rather than north or west. In any case, the final reveal was welcome, and was met with a visible beaming smile and a tiny little yelp. So, win-win then.

Before our final destination of Keswick I planned to tease Connie with a trip to Hadrian’s Wall, assuming she’d remember the significance of the structure from our watching of the History of Scotland series. She was less impressed at first, I guess, but the Biroswald Fort that we went to see was very nice, if a bit wet. It was punctuated with Frank falling off of a wall from a fair height and then managed to pull away from me on the leash, which resulted in a full pace 100m sprint after him to get him under control again… which amazingly didn’t end up with me slipping on my arse, sitcom style, but did give Frank a nice bit of exercise, as he was beaming with glee at his fleeting brush with freedom.

The Lake District, it would seem, is England’s Scotland – lovely hills, great pubs, good food, fabulous walks, and more Bed and Breakfasts than street lights. The first impressions were good – rolling landscapes, a road blocked by a caravan, the tiny streets that give lorry drivers nightmares. Once we were “settled” in the B&B, I took Frank for a walk along…

Oh yes, we took Frank with us. Indeed, we went to Keswick specifically because from my initial research it seemed the perfect place for novice pet-owners (only me, I guess). The bed and breakfast owners were more than accommodating, cleaning up his pee when he went on their stairs and polity telling us to not bring him into the dining room at breakfast. Indeed the bed and breakfast was absolutely sterling; which reminds me, I do need to write a review on Trip Advisor. For reference, it was the Lynwood Guest House inKeswick.

Anyway, after settling, I was walking into town with Frank in tow when I noticed a rather peculiar sight… tons of dogs. Literally hundreds of dogs. It was like Planet of the Apes, in a way, but in a town, and with dogs. Dogs and dogs everywhere, in the street, in the shops, in the pubs. It was marvellous. And Frank was treated like a celebrity; his good looks making most people stop as we passed to admire his Adonis-shaped body. Apparently he’s got the same level of attractiveness as a dog that Ryan Gosling* has a human being.

Taking him into the pub on the first night was an experience; we weren’t 100% sure they would allow him to sit with us, but sure enough, he was and he sat under me as I ate a glorious burger and Connie sent back her steak. Frank appeared to enjoyed it, I think, because there was about six other dogs in the bar food area and he enjoyed watching them, and they all appeared to enjoy watching Frank. After taking him on a long walk the next day along an old railway line, he was far more tired the second night, and this allowed me to sample a few of the local beers in the famous “Dog and Gun” pub, which was exactly as good as I’d read about. The food was lovely and the beer was served hastily. I love Cumberland sausage at the best of times, but sitting there, talking to a Doctor whilst he ate goulash was a great way to cap off the holiday.

Our drive home was uneventful apart from my strange detour through Wigton on the A595. After stopping to let Frank out to pee and poo, we re-entered the car to be greeted with what smelled like pure shit.

“Can you smell that?”
“Yeah smells like shit”
“Smells like Frank’s shit in the car!”
“Shit!”

After pulling over to check the damage, we were greeted with an ecstatic puppy in the back, wondering why the humans had graced him with his presence so soon after the last time – we found no shit, and later deduced it had probably been a rather disgusting fart. I almost had to pull over I was laughing so hard as we were driving away, tears in my eyes. It was a memorable moment.

In the end, the Lake District charmed Connie and I. We will be back.

*Or Joseph Gordon-Levitt wearing a suit.