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Ambleside and the Lakes, 4 June 2012

June 17, 2012

CSI Ambleside

“If I were you I’d get away from all that relates/ Week in the Lakes/Reasonable rates early September” ‘Dead Men Don’t Need Season Tickets’

After a browse round Sedbergh’s bookshops, and stopping to gawp at a drive-by shouting, we push on into darkest Cumbria, through Kendal and into Stavely, stopping for lunch at the Eagle and Child where our friend Lorna works, and then to Nick’s parents’ house in Windermere.  By now we can safely tick off ‘The Lakes’. Next stop is Ambleside – the first album title on our list.

Getting there involves cycling along the short but unpleasant stretch of road alongside Lake Windermere, on a bank holiday. Progress is severely restricted by hire cars carrying tourists wearing novelty t-shirts on their way to sit in lay-bys next to the lake. They probably all go ten-pin bowling after work and deserve to be dealt with under Operation Less Pricks.


As I start to pine for the serene roads of London with its considerate motorists, Nick informs me that we’re making a detour to Loughrigg Tarn for some freshwater swimming. This involves more climbing, and wheeling the bikes on treacherous paths, but is far preferable to negotiating pavements teeming with overweight Iowans buying overpriced tartans. After a dip in the tarn, drip-drying in the sun, and picking off bits of pond slime, we return to Ambleside, and locate the Priest Hole restaurant. While we meticulously recreate the front cover of CSI Ambleside, hoping the Judging Panel will award bonus points for accuracy, we’re approached by a man in a denim jacket at a Bobby Moore t-shirt, who’s impressed by my ageing roadbike, and its frame-mounted gear shift, and duly awed when he learns of our undertaking. Over a beer it turns out that he’s called Vince and is in fact a former customer at Action Replay records in Bowness, where, 17 years ago, Nick used to order him records by acts such as Freak of Nature and Twisted Sister, in his view, the greatest live act of all time. He’s a man with an unjaded world view, who seems to get passionate about most things he talks about, including the variety of music on Radio 2: “It’s just amazing. They can be playing Paul Simon one minute, then Emeli Sande the next!” We’d like to chat longer, but don’t fancy the trek back to Windermere after too many pints, so bid our goodbyes, pledging that we’ll write about him in our forthcoming bestselling account of our travels, and wondering if we should give Radio 2 a go some time.

Nick’s parents very kindly put us up for the night and we’re joined by David, who’s walked 18 miles from Sedbergh, carrying his laptop. After dinner, he and Nick’s mum walk up Orrest Head to watch Windermere’s most committed nationalists light a Jubilee Beacon. Apparently, one of them kicks off a half-hearted rendition of God Save the Queen, which peters out quickly.  Nick, his dad and I opt to stay in and watch the patently awful Jubilee concert, sneering at Paul McCartney et al, and speculating that Prince Philip has faked his urinary infection to avoid spending more time than he has to with Gary Barlow.

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