…are you out of your mind? Was a fairly typical reaction.
The original vision was to find a cottage in a sleepy little village in The Lake District where we could install ourselves around the open fire in its award winning real ale pub and go for long walks with dogs and so forth. Turns out, when you’re looking to find accommodation for 13 lads in The Lakes, options are limited. As it happened, by the time we’d booked we’d lost a few along the wayside – 9 we were.
After a stunningly epic and utterly majestic drive across from Penrith at sunset we arrived at Bransty House. Nice big house with a bit of a student accommodation vibe to it. Once we’d all assembled and we’d got the back slapping and room choosing out the way we ventured out. Now, every single person any of us had spoken to about Whitehaven made it out to be an utter hell hole that we would be genuinely lucky to make it out alive from so it wasn’t without a hint of let’s say, slight worry, that we headed out. It couldn’t have been further from the truth. From what we saw, Whitehaven is a lovely little spot who’s inhabitants are all polite, up for fun, and certainly not out to beat the crap out of strangers.
I’d read about a nice sounding pub in The Lake District Rough Guide called The Vagabond.The guide practically ‘warns you off’ any other pub in town by saying “Most of Whitehavens pubs are a bit on the boisterous side, to put it diplomatically”. Here we ended up (prior to properly ending up in the towns last remaining night club Captain Smenny’s). Cracking little real ale type place, great barman, above average ale called Gold.
The next day I got up early (totally lost the ability to have a sleep in, even when idyllic conditions present themselves), tidied (I know!) went to the shops the set about turning a shoulder of lamb into a Scotch Broth. Given that this would take a few hours to simmer, we hit The Vagabond again for some pints and I had the rather unexpected pleasure of being half of the towns newest two guitar band where we banged out some blues and some The Beatles. We called ourselves Meat Raffle, in case you’re wondering.
On the way back from the pub we happened to see something quite remarkable. A bunch of lads doing what I later discovered was Parkour.
Now, it struck me as impressive in two ways. Firstly, this was in a impressive thing to watch. These lads were really good, and secondly, I was impressed that in a town where I’d guess there may not be that much to do for the youth, these lads had found their own positive thing to do.
Our evening involved a tour of some if not all of the towns drinking spots. The Roc, The Candlestick where I chatted to a couple who were reviewing pubs, to the John Paul Jones where I ended up buying two jugs of alcoholic Ribina before (I think) we ended back up at The Vagabond and Captain Smelly’s. It all gets a bit hazy after this point, as was most of Sunday.
Monday afforded us a quick stop in the beautiful Keswick where we found a suitably named pub – The Oddfellows – and had a well below par steak, chips and very soggy veg. Lovely town for a bit of a nursing ones hangover stroll though.
I wrote most of the above whilst nursing my head after a night at the wedding party itself. What a party it was. I discovered an ace new drink called an Espresso Martini (“the connoisseurs vodka red bull” according to the bar man). The party was a lovely gathering – a truly lovely couple who were so infectiously sparkly and happy it made the whole party likewise. Wishing them a big DragonDrop all the best for their future.