Monthly Archives: October 2007

Lake District

We are back at home in Menlo Park and getting caught up. Here’s a quick rundown on the first week after London; we’ll post another in a few days covering our visit to Wales.

The second stage of our vacation was five days in the Lake District in northern England, an idyllic rural vacation spot made famous in the poems of William Wordsworth and the Peter Rabbit stories of Beatrix Potter. We loved our time there and wish we had more — it was a magical combination of cute villages, quiet country lanes, mirror still lakes, and rolling mountains.

We stayed in Braithwaite, a village in the mountainous part of the Lake District which consists of a handful of cottages, two pubs (the Royal Oak and the Coledale Inn), one restaurant, and a general store that had all the basics and even saved the Times and the Independent for us each morning. For the first few days, we rented a cottage in the middle of the village, right on the side of the Coledale “beck” (local term for a stream) with fantastic views of the “fells” (a.k.a. mountains) nearby. For the final two days, after the discovery of a few too many beetles in cottage #1, our rental company moved us to Ladstock Hall, a country house in the next village that was converted recently to condominiums and offered great views of the countryside plus a taste of country gentry life.

Our daily routine was to wake with Claire, usually around 8am, make tea and toast then spend the morning pottering around the cottage or walking on the nearby fells. Most days we would then take a three- to five-hour drive exploring the Lake District’s rural splendor on a country lane far too narrow, steep, and filled with sheep for a car like ours. We particularly enjoyed the remote and mountainous Wasdale valley and having dinner at the Wasdale Head Inn. We took Claire to a pub just about every day and she quickly learned the difference between bitter and stout and has gotten pretty good at telling which ale is real. We usually got back by 7pm so we could get Claire to sleep and then enjoy our books, a movie, or an early night.

Otherwise, we caught up on many fun things about England: warm beer (among our favorites was the delightfully named Snecklifter), fish and chips, McVitie’s biscuits (including extensive taste testing that determined Plain Chocolate are better than the sweeter Milk Chocolate), cream tea, steak and ale pies, Rowntree’s Fruit Pastilles, Stilton cheese, Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate, and endless cups of tea.

Click on the photo below for a slideshow.

Claire looking at a pint of beer in a pub in the Lake District


We’ve had a wonderful time on the first few days of our UK vacation.  Our 11-hour flight from San Francisco was half empty, so we had a bulkhead row to ourselves. Claire hit all the superlatives: cute as a teddy bear, quiet as a church mouse, and slept like a bear in winter.

We whizzed through customs at Heathrow and ran into our first real problem at the rental car desk.  Turns out the car we had reserved, an inexpensive economy wagon chosen to help offset the feeble dollar, was two-sizes too small to fit our baggage which included three duffel bags of Claire’s things (two massive and one that was merely large), an infant seat / stroller / base, a diaper bag, and a small bag each for Katherine and me.  The Hertz agent patiently explained to his groggy customers that there was no way our heap of bags (Mt. Claire?) would fit into the car we ordered.  Fortunately, he gave us a deal on an upgrade to a bigger wagon and we ended up with stylish and sporty all-wheel drive turbo diesel German station wagon.

My cousins Anne and Peter Storey were incredibly generous, turning over half the rooms in their house to Claire and her things, feeding the three of us, and exhibiting great patience with the most feared monster in Great Britain since Nessie the Loch Ness Monster:  Jetlag Baby.  They even took us on a few tours including to Hampstead Heath.

Saturday night we caught up with our friends Sean and Jessica, and met their daughter Honor, over some of London’s legendary Indian food. Sunday morning we drove by the house my Dad grew up in (see photo in slideshow), then stopped off in Oxford to see my old traveling pal Peter Coombe, his wife Nikki, and their energetic trio of sons Rufus, Noah and Elliot.  We walked through Oxford and had lunch on the Christ Church college lawn with an ice cream stop for the kids.

After a quick drive up to the North of England, we’re now safely ensconced in our little cottage in the tiny village of Braithwaite in the northern part of the Lake District.  We’re looking forward to a relaxing week!

Click on the photo below for a slideshow with some photographs from us and Peter & Anne.

Anne & Peter with Claire

Grandma Judy visit

Claire’s grandmother Judy came to visit this weekend and they had a great time together, including strolls around the neighborhood, three or four feedings a day (thank you Judy!), reading, and even some multi-generational shopping with Claire, her Mom, and her Grandma hitting the mall together.  Other highlights included Judy buying the first pair of shoes Claire has worn on the town, all of us going out for dinner at our neighborhood Mexican restaurant, and Claire’s first professional photo shoot.  Judy was kind enough to take an evening shift Saturday so Katherine and I could celebrate my birthday over a nice dinner and plan our trip to England which begins Wednesday.  Click on the photo below for a slideshow.

Three generations of strong women

Gone fishin'

Thanks to a generous Katherine who agreed to manage Claire solo, I took a quick fishing trip over the weekend to the Northern California mountains. Alex Siegel (who flew in from Chicago for the occasion), Kaya Westling, and Joe Tou (who was fly fishing for the first time) came along and we fished both Deer Creek near Mt. Lassen and Putah Creek near Lake Berryessa. At the end of the trip, Alex, Kaya, and Kelley (Kaya’s 7-months pregnant wife) came over to our house for dinner and to meet Claire. Click on the photo below for a slideshow.

Stu wading in Deer Creek in the Northern Sierra, trying to fly fish