Casual racism and excellent cannelloni in Coniston
I hate the word ‘staycation’. You don’t actually give a flying fuck about the environment, you either can’t afford to go to Croatia but are too middle-class to admit it or you can’t cope with the thought of taking a weekend somewhere without your bloody canoes. Either of which, I pretty much loathe you.
Now don’t get me onto glamping, you Eurohike snubbing wankers happy to fork out five hundred quid for some battery operated LED lights wrapped around a sheepskin rug and a cafetiere in the morning. It is not Glamping. It is not glamorous. Especially if you need a poo at four am and you are in a field. You will realise that you are a moron. And I will smile. Except I won’t because that would mean I was there and that would be genuinely unpleasant for everyone concerned.
To make a refreshing change from me writing about being in a pub somewhere vaguely local, Unicycle Emptiness is on holiday!
On holiday somewhere an hour away from my house! One day my loyal readers will all get together and pay for my passport to be renewed but until then, you have to put up with me being withering in possibly the exact same terms I have used before about the price of a large house red in the North West of England.
If it makes you feel better, I will not talk about the price of a large house red in the terms I would normally use if writing about somewhere in the Morecambe Bay area. ‘FUCKING HELL’ is not normally shouted aloud, repeated more quietly yet rapidly whilst the head slowly shakes and then repeated again in a swoon and a sweat in the early hours of the morning.
We are in the Lake District, Coniston to be precise and it is utterly utterly gorgeous.
It is nestled quietly on a valley floor with mountainous crags, fells and hills so luminous and close I am suddenly back looking through one of those red 3D viewers of my childhood and thus am suddenly concerned a T-Rex might burst through the over-vibrant shrubbery.
The hotel we are staying at due to the kindness of in-laws and and a promotion on an internet voucher website is lovely, faded regal grandeur, over five pounds for a single G and T, tartan carpets and a sense of guilt for being here for such a reasonable price.
It is the last time something is a reasonable price. If anyone reading this has spent time at a festival or motorway services, I am sure they identify with the prisoner shock of the outrageous price, then the slowly used to it then the Something that would normally also be an outrageous price but slightly less so, seems like a almost bargain. Supermarkets also do this. The Conservatives do this but with policies.
£12 is the standard price for a normal pub meal in Coniston and over £5 for a glass of house red. As we are vegetarian, we don’t get the heady thrill of a whole tasty dead thing in some flattering sauce, but some cubed sauced vegetables with garlic bread. As we are vegetarian, it’s our own fault for not eating meat completely and it is also a happy thing to see rural pubs actually having a vegetarian option rather than ‘fuck off’ or ‘you can have the vegetables instead-same price though’ (Uffculme, Devon-1999 ) plus excellent cider makes up for well pretty much everything ever.
And pretty much everything in the world becomes a minor quibble when you walk through a calendar landscape, late January becomes a glorious thing here without aggressive Volvo drivers with their precious canoe cargoes barging you off the road, the sun’s reflection on the mountains make them dark and sombre, then a sudden luminous gold in the space of a second, every pub has a fire and a dog and every path leads to beauty.
The Green Housekeeper cafe (all cheese scones as big as your head and old ‘Private Eyes’) has a supper club with 15.99 for two courses and byo wine. We venture in and it is wonderful, cosy, unusual and friendly with superb food (including vegetarian) an outside loo clad in damp maps, and a pleasing amount of fairy lights and fake grass.
After leaving full of genial chat with lovely staff and customers, to a pub on the way ‘home’, it is surprising to suddenly hear in the actual middle of nowhere, people being cross about England being too full.
‘In Malaysia yeah, the mother can’t afford food, the child dies. But here, we’re a fucking soft touch- it’s true, a man from Malaysia said it to me.’
The welcoming beauty of the Lake District surround this little town of Coniston ensnared between lake and hill, where about half the houses are holiday houses, the other half probably worth over 200 grand. But still the delighted terror of the prospect of a mosque on top of the Old Man of Coniston.
Another pub has a cat which follows me to the loo. All pubs should have this option. It could save a fortune on loo roll.
I do not want to leave here- I want to stay sitting on my gritty mini-beach overlooking a mountainous Nirvana and a sweep of water stretching as far as the eye can see. I hope one day a mosque will twinkle at me. Just out of spite really.