This past weekend, had a child-free (!) trip to Grasmere. It had been planned since the New Year, and as we rarely (never) go away without Joe, we decided on the Lakes as it isn't too far away and we'd rather spend our time relaxing than driving.
Typically, it rained. A lot. But we're used to that. And we'd agreed that, as we would be staying in a lovely hotel, we'd simply lounge around in the sauna/jacuzzi/actual lounge and just unwind.
But of course, we soon got the urge to get outside. With such spectacular surroundings it would be sad not to. So we pulled on the wellies and grabbed our umbrellas and headed out into the weather. I wanted to get plenty of photographs for my next Creative Countryside article, and perhaps some inspiration for printmaking.
I was most impressed with this place (above): somewhere for the hotel staff to take it easy, perhaps? Note the chimneys. I'd love a cabin just like it. Wood burning stove, rocking chair, studio space...
The rain did actually clear for a couple of hours so we set took a walk just outside the village.
Of course, at this time of year there are daffodils aplenty (and yes, we did visit Wordsworth's grave and saw Dove Cottage). But there was also Forsythia in the gardens and ferns and hellebores.
Our walk didn't take us too far out. We didn't fancy getting stuck up a mountain in a deluge.
It took us through some woods to a National Trust property, Allan Bank. I looked it up later: apparently it's not yet restored inside but visitors can still look around and eat in there too. The Wordsworths lived there for a time.
If you look here, you can see the interior. The idea is that visitors have a say in how the house will look once it's finished.
I like the idea of it being a work in progress, and that there's a sense of decay to it. Peeling paintwork and cracked plaster. Unfortunately, the last admission time was gone when we arrived but you still got a feel for the place.
The setting was beautiful too.
I was quite taken with a Gothic-looking building: the old billiard room. It's also due for renovation.
If you're considering writing a novel, you could do a lot worse than sitting in the grounds here (or in the house itself). A truly inspiring spot.
Speaking of inspiration: The Heaton Cooper Studio is one of my absolute favourite galleries to visit. The watercolours, the carefully-chosen books, the beautiful ceramics...
I could spend hours in there. And a lot of money, even though I'm just a poor artist!
I did make a few purchases though. Some handmade paper for printmaking (I'm planning on starting some new designs this week) and a little sketchbook.
The sketchbook is for my daily drawing: something quick and simple, in pen. No pencil, no rubbing out or agonising over perspective or detail or photographic accuracy. It'll be an exercise in Loosening Up and fighting my perfectionist tendencies.
The staff in the gallery are really helpful and friendly, too. You're left alone to browse (and sigh over everything you wish you could take home). But if you need advice on materials they're happy to assist.
I wish we had a place like this nearby...
Jay was very patient during both my visits. Art isn't really his thing but he's very understanding!
So, after I took lots of photos for this blog post (yesterday), we splashed back through Grasmere to the car and headed home to an equally wet Lancashire. It was a relaxing break which inevitably seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye.
I'll be sharing some work on here shortly...