What's going on at the cottages?     -  The Sunnybank Blog!    2018 

Aug 8
At the end of the meal we were suddenly presented with an extra dessert of donuts (looking like sausages) and candy floss with dipping sauces!
Our favourite place to eat was at George's where we had a table in a mock up of a seaside beach hut. Bowler hats lying around as decorations were soon made use of!
Aug 8
After an evening meal at Pizza Express near the hotel we had our final excitement of the day when we went on the Ferris Wheel. The screaming from Jill and the girls as we went up to the top of the wheel can only be imagined!
For our last evening meal we went to Pizza Express just a short walk across the dock from our hotel.
Highlight of the day was our 4pm visit to see the Terracotta Warriors at the World Museum in the city centre.
After walking to the Pier Head we boarded the Mersey ferry "Snowdrop" (painted in colours to represent ships' flags) for a round trip to Birkenhead and Wallasey.
Aug 7

Tomorrow is our anniversary so today we set off with the girls towards Liverpool where we will spend two nights at The Premier Inn, Albert Dock. On the way we called at Formby beach for a picnic, some sand castle time (but no sign of any red squirrels in the NT reserve).

On a walk along the waterfront, we saw some of the famous banana statues!

The view of the Albert Dock from our breakfast table!

Aug 6 Caroline headed back to London today, with the girls staying with us for almost two weeks. Lots of things are planned!
Aug 5

A trip to Bolton today to see Saints play Catalan Dragons in the first of two matches to decide who goes to Wembley for the challenge cup final.

Sadly we lost as Catalan muscled Saints out. We decided to leave after the first game and drove towards Morecambe for an afternoon by the sea instead!

Aug 3

Later, at the Horse and Farrier pub in Threlkeld, we had a very pleasant meal and the girls tackled some amazing desserts!

Top - Jessica with a chocolate brownie and ice cream.

Bottom - Megan with a Death by Chocolate Sundae!

Aug 3

Today we took Caroline and the twins (Megan and Jessica) to Threlkeld Mining Museum where we had a picnic inside a portacabin - out of the rain! After looking around the museum dedicated to Lakeland mines and quarries, we took the little steam train to the actual quarry.

We concluded the visit by going on an underground mine tour - not a real mine but you would never know!


Jul 31 Today the twins and Caroline arrived by train at Oxenholme where Richard was waiting to meet them. The good weather meant that playing in Ladybird Cottage was a must for the girls!
Jul 29
The promised rain has arrived. After little rain since the start of May (apart from a few storms which just run off too quickly) we are finally getting some heavy but steady rain. This will help or water supply!
Jul 26

Today we both worked at Ambleside Sports. Richard was a gatekeeper at the main car park entrance where over £15,000 was collected. Jill was selling programmes and raffle tickets.

As well as treaditional races, there are hound trails and a fell runners' race called the Rydal Round. Our postman, Bob, did it in 1 hr 45mins!

Jul 10
Today was Quiz Kids Final day. Richard organises a quiz between four local primary schools with the final taking place in the Parish Centre. Richard was quizmaster and here are the members of the winning team from Langdale School, along with Louise Warehouse (centre) who is Chair of the Lakes Parish Council and Cllr Fiona Sparrow (right) who arranged a grant towards staging the event.
Jul 1 Later today, after a cooling shower we headed to Sizergh Castle for the official handover when Richard officially ended his almost 4 year spell as Assistant Governor of the local Rotary District!

Jul 1

Today was a busy day... We started by acting as gatekeepers at Langdale Gala at Chapel Stile. We took ovewr £3000 and Richard's Rotary Club earned £200 . It was hot and sunny so we were grateful for a gazebo.

The Gala started with a procession by the Kookaburra Drummers from Staveley who led a procession of the valley's children.

Jun 20 Today Rich went to Burneside to film the same train we used yesterday to reach Windermere.Click here to see the video
Jun 19

Today we headed north but the return from Oxenholme to Windermere had the propsect of a real train since a heritage service has been provided free of charge (we didn't know it was free and had booked two singles!).

Sure enough, when our train from London pulled into Oxenholme, the heritage train was threre waiting. Provided by West Coast Railways (who do lots of rail tours), the train had three traditional coaches with a loco at each end. The back of the train had a class 37 loco 37669 with a headboard naming the train "The Lakelander".

At the front was 57316. On return from Windermere that loco would be at the back.

When the train departed it was almost full but the rail replacement buses parked in the station car park were EMPTY!!! Ha Ha!!


Jill heads down the platform as Rich photographed the class 57.

From Windermere we took a taxi home. At £20 it was cheaper than the £46 we might have paid to park at Oxenholme!

Jun 18


Today we were free to explore so we started by taking the train to Waterloo and then the tube to London Bridge where we had booked to go up the Shard. The conditions were almost perfect - sunny and good visibility. The images above Left The Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Right - The City with its amazing variety of buildings.

After the Shard, we had lunch in an old bank before walking along the Thames-side path past The Golden Hinde (below left with Jill doing the same pose) and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre (below right).


Jun 17

Being Father's day today, we had a family get together at Caroline's house and we recreated the group photo first done in 2016. A rabbit called Snowball sneaked into this version!

We had a lovely brunch meal before Ben and family headed back to Reading to see Martin, Alison's father.

Front (L-R) Poppy, Jessica and Snowball, Daisy, Megan

Back (L-R) Alsion, Ben, Andrew, Caroline

Jun 16

It was Winnersh Fete today so Caoline, the twins, Jill and Rich all took the train to Ben's and after lunch we walked to the recreation field where the community fete was taking place.

Poppy went for the "Angel" design - including a little face above the bridge of her nose!

Jessica went for the Disco Diva design.

Meanwhile, Megan decided to have her mails painted purple instead.

At the fete, the girls all wanted their faces painted. Here we wait in line as the two ladies create their works of art on the customers in fron of us.

Later we returned to Staines by train.

Jun 15 As we had a few empty days we decided to head to London for the Father's Day weekend. As Northern Fail were not running trains from Windermere, Keith took us to Oxenholme. After that, the journey was easy!
Jun 4

Having built up its strength again, the pigeon has flown on towards its home - we assume.


However, its place was taken this afternoon by three male mallard ducks - obviously out on a boy's jolly! Two slept at one stage with heads under wings whilst the third one kept a look out!

Jun 1
At last after over three weeks of sun and heat and no rain, the thunderstorms have arrived. This is the rainfall radar map for 5.10pm. We unplugged the phone and router to save having to get BT out again!
May 30

Last weekend we had very strong winds despite the warmth. The result was that the roofing felt was ripped off Ladybird Cottage!

So new felt was rapidly purchased to renew the roof before any rain or thunderstorms arrived. In very hot conditions, Rich toiled away and finished 15 mins before the rain started!

We also gained a new visitor - a lost homing pigeon! We named him "Walter" and tried to feed him up to carry on home towards the NE (according to his leg tags) but he seems to like it here!

May 26

Over the bank holiday weekend we were both involved in the Community Flower Festival in the local church. Twenty-three local community groups had been offered a window sill or a pillar to create a flower display to represent their organisation.

Jill was involved with the WI and the Bellringers' displays whilst Richard was involved with Ambleside Rotary's display. That had been created by two Rotarians' wives but Richard had sourced signs and a box of 100 crocus buttonholes. The purple crocus has become a symbol for Rotary's efforts to end Polio as children have their pinkie finger dipped in pruple dye when they are immunised.

Jill and two other ladies created the Bellringers' display including a miniature bell wheel and sally (the woollen grip on the rope).

Over the weekend there were hundreds of visitors and in the next edition of the local paper, Jill's bells display was the main picture!

On the Saturday the Rotary Club had hosted a swing band concert and made close to £1000 profit from the event.

May 14
Whatever we did to the Wisteria last year in terms of pruning has worked! This year our Wisteria has been the best ever!
May 12

Today we took part in a local litter picking exercise in conjunction with the Daily Mail. We took the Waterhead area and checked the promenade area, the large car park and Borrans Park.

At Waterhead we were surprised to see lots of young grocers doing a sponsored rowing boat trip in fancy dress.

May 9

The final day's evening meal was at Le Caveau (the old gaol in Skipton) with its low vaulted ceilings. The meal was excellent with lots of laughter and ended with a rather special plate!

The three day stay had been a total success and all the plans had worked perfectly!

Following on the transport of yesteryear theme... today we had arranged to hire a canal boat for the day. The Leeds Liverpool Canal goes through Skipton and we took our boat about 4 miles towards Leeds before stopping for lunch before turning around. Here Ann takes the controls. We all had a session at the tiller and everyone agreed that it had been a super day!
May 8

In the afternoon we headed for the Embsay to Bolton Abbey steam railway. We enjoyed the nostalgic ride and then discovered that for £1 each we could upgrade to First Class and thus travel back in the directors' soloon carriage at the back of the train!

Here (L-R) are Brian and Ann Ankers, Moira and Ken Ryder, and Christina Moffatt with Jill.

This morning we did a 3.2 mile walk around Broughton Hall. The walk included quiet lanes and an abandonned railway line which was also used by the Land Rover Experience company. The result was that the line had been purposely flooded and equipped with obstacles to challenge the drivers (and us!)
May 7

Together with 5 friends from Richard's old school in Newton, we arranged a belated 70th birthday trip to Skipton. We had booked an AirBnB house on the Broughton Estate. We were first to arrive and realised that we had booked a gem of a place to stay. With four luxurious double en-suite bedrooms, it matched our needs exactly!

Jill is enjoying the sunny views as we wait for the others to arrive.

May 7

Today we installed the new waterfall at the side of the pond. This would make use of the pump which Richard had brought up the country when the electric supply had failed whilst we were down south for the birthday celebrations!

Once the waterfall was working, Richard landscaped the space behind it and planted it with moisture loving plants bought with birthday gardening vouchers from our "B.Ed" friends.

Apr 23
A few days later, we had a wheel swapping session and soon the Jimny had newly refurbished wheels with new tyres!
Apr 15

By pure coincidence we had bid for some new wheels for Jill's Suzuki 4X4 on Ebay and they were in the Stoke area. So the day after the party, we headed to Hanley and waited in Costa Coffee until the bidding ended!

We won the five wheels plus new tyres for £90 and we were soon heading to Blythe Bridge to collect them!

The seller was very short in conversation skills- perhaps because we had the wheels at the opening bid!

Apr 14

This weekend, we were invited to go to Robert's (Richard's brother) house for an engagement party for Charlotte (Robert's youngest daughter) and Joe. Also present were Helen talking to her Dad here and many of their friends.

On the way to Robert we called at a garden centre in South Manchester to buy a new waterfall for the pond (See May 7)

Apr 6
Ben, Alison, Daisy and Poppy pose at this gate every time they come to see us. It will provide a photo record to show how the girls have grown!
  During the heavy rain Ben noticed thatthe rain was leaking in through the sun visor of his "new" BMW so a few phone calls and it was arranged to take his car to Cockermouth to get it fixed under warranty.
Apr 6
The triangle near the cottage is a favourite lace for group photos and first it was the four girls (Left to right...Jessica, Daisy, Poppy and Megan) who posed!
Apr 5
Ben and his family had Cobbleholes cottage whilst the twins had our back bedroom. Each morning we could hear giggles as Poppy or Daisy or both joined them in their bed for some cousin-time!
Apr 2 Today we all departed from our Dorset holiday house... Caroline and Andrew to London, and the rest of us, including Megan and Jessica, to the cottage for another few days of fun together....
Apr 1
Our final evening before we left was a grand affair with a roast dinner. Everyone did their bit and here we are at the large table about to tuck in!
Mar 31

All ten of us pose for the waiter (in the mirror) inside the old luggage van. The meal was super!

The van had seen service in France in the war when it acted as a mobile hospital for wounded troops.

The evening made a great way to celebrate so many recent birthdays.

Our thanks to all the "children" who had planned the surprise holiday.

On Saturday evening we had a treat in store. We had all been booked into a special restaurant in a railway carriage at West Bay, Bridport.
On the Saturday afternoon we went to Dorchester to visit Dippy the Diplodocus who is on tour from the Natural History Museum in London. He just fitted into this long gallery in the Dorset County Museum.
Mar 29 -30

Three generations in Dorset...

Nana (Jill)

Daughter (Caroline)

Grand daughter (Poppy)

all trying to complete the Screwball Challenge game.

We have arrived in Dorset and found our AirBnB near Charmouth. Now... armed with hammers and goggles we went onto the beach to search for fossils. Eventually we had some really good finds.
Mar 26 -27

We received at phonecall from Keith at the cottages to say that all the pond pumps and computers had stopped working. Rather than risk the fish (probably £2000 worth) dying, Rich purchased a new pump and headed north by train to solve the problem. It turned out to be the wire under the lawn so a temporary connection was made and power was restored. The new pump was now a spare pump!

Richard was back intime for Daisy's birthday team but had missed most of Ben's birthday!

Mar 20-24

In between the two weekends of birthday celebrations, we took the Eurostar train from St.Pancras to Paris for a three night stay in a hotel just off the Rue de Rivoli.

Despite the cool (or cold to be precise) wind, we made the most of our stay and tried to do things which Jill or both of us had not done before.

So we bought a three day travel pass for all buses and tubes and headed for Pont d'Alma and had a river cruise on a bateau mouche along with about 60 enthusiastic and lively foreign students from all nations.

We also took a bus trip along the left bank towards Notre Dame cathedral and found that the building is now back to its original glory (having been covered in scaffolding whilst it was cleaned and repaired in recent years).

Here Jill poses between two bookenistes' stalls on the left bank. The river was still high after recent rains and floods so the boat had not been able to get this far up the river.

The proverbial selfie outside Notre Dame before we had a very pleasant lunch in the Esmerelda Restaurant just alongside the cathedral.
We visited the Galleries Lafayette in Boulevard Hausmann and made our way into the fabulously ornate shop with its amazing galleries and central dome.

On a walk towards Place Vendome (where Princess Diana had started her fateful last journey from the Ritz Hotel) we took a variety of side streets.

Jill contemplates a new outfit for wearing in Ambleside but decided against it as it may cause some elderly WI members to over-react!

We ate out each evening and had a real selection of dining experiences. On the last night we had booked at La Cordonniere and following hints on the reveiew website, asked for a table in the kitchen area. We had a wonderful meal including mushroom and snail casserole (more of a soup really).

The chef and his fellow worker (waiter) - there were only two of them -gave us great service and we watched all the meals being prepared alongside our table!

A wonderful end to an action packed few days.

Mar 19
Today was the birthday for Megan and Jessica (9) and Poppy (4). For the twins, it was a school day but they posed with their large balloon before heading off to school.
Once the girls had gone off to school, we headed over to Winnersh to be there for Poppy's present opening! We had bought her a unicorn garden which consisted of a bowl, grass seeds and various unicorn-related figures!

Later in the day we were back at Staines for a birthday meal out at The Swan Inn (which had caught fire on a previous visit 3 years ago!).

This time the only fire was on the nine candles of the cake.

Here Megan (L) and Jessica (R) pose after "glamming up" from their school uniform.

Mar 17

Today was Richard's birthday but the celebrations in London had to wait as he was due to be at a Rotary conference in Penrith that day! At one point 200 people all sang Happy Birthday to Rich.

At 5pm exactly he was out of the door and ready to drive directly to London via the M6 over Shap. The weather had changed and it was snowing!

The journey over Shap was "interesting" but made possible by following two snowploughs working alongside each other!

Staines was reached at around 10.30pm and the cards were duly opened.

One card instructed us to enter a postcode for a house in Dorset into our Sat Nav after we return from Paris for a whole family holiday near Lyme Regis!
Mar 15

Jill travelled down to London before Richard so that she could go to see the twins, Megan and Jessica, perform at Wembley Arena as part of the "Voice in a Million" series of childrens' concerts.

Jessica waves (just to the left of the tall girl near the camera).

Megan is just behind the middle of the three girls in the front right corner of the picture.

They had a great time!

Jessica spotted Jill, Caroline and Andrew in the crowd and pointed them out to her teacher.
Mar 11

In a rare burst of sunshine, we spotted that the Rotary crocuses planted last year were making a lovely show in Rothay Road. We nipped down to add the sign.

Mar 10

A slightly worrying view of Jill looking like a woman possessed. She was actually pleased that my present to her - a lighthouse shaped jigsaw was finally finished....

Mar 6
In the succession of March birthdays in our family - today was Jill's turn. We took eight friends out to lunch at the Mortal Man in Troutbeck. Here Jill sits near Anne Bowen in the "fake" library room.
One of Jill's cards was a picture of suffragettes with a small Jill photoshopped in. She had dressed as a suffragette as a child and Keith has a good memory!
Mar 4

Despite the fact that we are in March, the weather has been arctic-like with windchill temps down to -15C.

As a result, the old pump in the garden pond is completely frozen right up to the spout and the netting on the pond has become a delicate ice pattern!

Feb 15
Nearby was a carved squirrel.This time, Rachel replaced Sophie.
Today we had a brucnch with Rachel and her children near Portinscale (Keswick). Here (L-R) Megan, Max, Sophie, Emily and Jessica sit in the cold octagonal garden.
Feb 13

Today was bitterly cold and we drove to Keswick (in a blizzard) and visited the pencil museum where there were sketching lessons free of charge.

The two views show why Richard urgently needed lessons!

The lamp wasn't too bad!

Feb 12
The girls still love the prams and during their half term visit they wheeled them up the new tarmac road to the farm.
Jan 7
Before returning home for a warming shower and hot soup, we drove down to Waterhead so that Rich could remove the time switch for the lights along the promenade. As Jill waited in the car, this was the view across to the Langdales.
Whilst 99.9% of Ambleside were asleep having a Sunday morning lie in, Jill Rich and 5 others were out at 7am taking down the lights in Ambleside. By 9.15am we had done Compston Road and here we are tackling North Road with the aid of the cherry picker. We worked on doing two other long streets and three banners until almost 1pm by which time there were only two streets in town plus Waterhead promenade left to do next week.
Jan 1 A lazy morning after a meal out at Shirley and Joe Stephenson's house with our other good friends Geoff and Anne Bowen. This afternoon though we are joining Rotary friends for a short walk before visiting Geoff and Anne's home for cake and drinks!