Tuesday, 22 March 2011

In Praise Of The Lazy Fish

We're back from our week in the Lake District. We had a great time and I want to dedicate today's blog to Mark and Rachel the owners of the wonderful barn conversion that we stayed in for their attention to detail that makes their property -The Lazy Fish- a (pretty big) cut above the competition. 

The scenery is magnificent throughout the whole National Park so few could be disappointed on that front wherever they stayed. And I think that this beauty can lead to an air of complacency amongst those involved in the tourist industry. Even now, in March, the roads were busy at times and we passed scores of places proclaiming "No Vacancies". In such a sellers' market there must be a temptation not to put in too much effort -why bother?

Because, as you can see from this photo (pinched from Lake District Now. Net), the popular sites can be jam packed in high season even on the fell tops. 

Fortunately for their clients, Mark and Rachel have not taken that laissez faire attitude and the property - a few miles outside the pleasant Georgian town of Cockermouth - is an object lesson on how to get things right.

Located less than a mile off the A66, the trunk road that connects the North West to the North East coast, the barn is easy to find and well positioned for discovering Cockermouth, Keswick and many of the beautiful lakes such as Derwent Water and Buttermere, which are just a short drive away.

Uninspiring and unprepossessing from the outside, the building has been converted to the very highest standards and it is these high standards that make the property stand out. Despite its great height, the building is kept at a comfortable temperature by underfloor heating powered by a very green ground source heat pump.

And to boost that comfortable heat there is a magnificent wood burner with an endless supply of logs - at no extra charge. We were greeted with a welcoming hamper containing the usual basics like bread,jam, milk and eggs but with the welcome addition of the not so usual bottle of champagne, chocolate and delicious home made muffins.

As I said at the start of the blog, attention to detail like this makes The Lazy Fish stand out and other little touches that you don't often find in holiday lets include.

A hammock for lazing away those inevitable rainy afternoons.

A wide selection of CDs with a top quality sound system powerful enough to blast away the cobwebs.

Flat screen TV and DVD player with a selection of films to please film buffs like us including some great but lesser known classics such as "Finding Eric" and "Cinema Paradiso"as well as blockbusters like "Avatar".

The option to have an excellent three course dinner served in the cottage. One of the biggest drawbacks of self catering is the catering but Mark enjoys cooking and he and Rachel, who live in the adjacent farm house, cooked for us on three of our seven nights allowing us to enjoy restaurant quality food without the argument about who was going to do the driving. Being able to drink our own quality bottles of wine with our meals without the typical 200% restaurant mark up was an added bonus.

Luxurious bedrooms and bathrooms. Both bathrooms in the property are fitted to a boutique hotel standard. One has a deep bath and the other a powerful shower. I remember my very first Lake District self catering holiday when the toilet was outside and the water was drawn from a well at the end of a field - it was a long time ago. The beds are comfortable and attractively dressed with throws and cushions. 

And finally, a real rarity for a holiday "cottage", the use of an outdoor hot tub. After a long walk  on the fells this outdoor jacuzzi was the perfect tonic for aching limbs and it was great to sit in it in the dark for half an hour and wind down from our already wound down state to being near comatose.

We didn't bother going out at night, preferring the home comforts of the barn but if you do fancy dining out, there are plenty of pubs and restaurants within easy driving distance and the ancient coaching inn, the highly praised Pheasant where we enjoyed a decent Sunday lunch is a pleasant and comfortable walk away (Mark was even kind enough to offer to drive us there). 

I am lucky in having Marion to discover places like this. They don't just turn up at the first click of a mouse. Marion is an avid reader of holiday magazines and the travel sections of the Saturday and Sunday supplements and she catalogues everything that catches her eye and files it away for the future. She found The Lazy Fish reviewed in the Guardian a few years ago and, like so many of the places that she finds, her painstaking thoroughness has proved well worthwhile. We normally have a rule that,as life is short, we don't visit the same place twice but this could be one place to prove the exception to that rule. 

Click on this for more information, prices and bookings.  but don't book for March next year!