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No-one can complain that this holiday, the first of 2012 in our Lake District hide-away, lacked variety.

Not only did the opalescent Spring sun shine throughout our four day stay but it gave us the chance to visit some exciting destinations without the seething masses common to the area in the height of the tourist season. The highlight was undoubtedly the visit to Lowther Castle. Here the fake 19th century castle of Mr Smirke is emerging from 60 years of neglect to become the centre of a new “destination” along with its surrounding parkland.

Donning our hard hats and luminous jackets we tramped through the building site which is the castle, where loos, bio-mass equipment and catering facilities are being introduced to await the anticipated hordes. They will not be disappointed as this spectacular ruin forms the centrepiece of a park where all sorts of delights are being excavated from a tangle of brushwood which has hidden it for over half a century. Rockeries, Summer Houses, Avenues and a world-beating view of the Lakeland hills await the enquiring visitor. On from there to see the work of Basket Maker, Phil Bradley. Hidden away in his village we found Phil growing his own varieties of willow, and weaving them into traditional baskets of all shapes and sizes, in addition to creating willow-arbours at Harlow Carr Gardens in Harrogate. Lectures also were in abundance with talks on the lustre and beauty of the Pearl, the ribaldry of caricaturists ranging from Gillray to Gerald Scarfe, the architectural influence of Andrea Palladio, and the effect of Madame de Pompadour on the Decorative Arts of France.

Well, that seems quite a lot to cover in a four day stay not to mention various meals and time for shopping! There will be another session at Rothay from 18th-23rd November, when you are most welcome to join us.

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