It was the perfect summer’s day. Warm temperature, a gentle breeze and a day off from work stretching ahead of us.
So where would be the best place to spend it? A 10-minute discussion saw us in the car and heading northwards to the Lake District.
An hour’s journey from this neck of the woods and we were at Lakeside, joining a small queue to enjoy a ride on the famous Windermere Lake Cruises.
We opted for the shorter version of the journey, from Lakeside to Bowness, with enough time for a wander around the shops there before heading back. We could have gone as far as Ambleside – but we had other plans.
The cooling journey on the boat and the fact that we had no breakfast before leaving home left us ready for the second part of our grand day out – lunch in the conservatory at the lovely, four-star Lakeside Hotel.
The boat deposits you within a stone’s throw of the hotel, whose lawn sweeps gently down to the lake and offers stunning views of the water and the hills.
While many people were eating outside on this lovely day, we opted to go inside to the conservatory, where you still get the views, but not the wasps.
The Lakeside is not a dog-friendly hotel per se, but our well-behaved Labrador was not just allowed into the conservatory, but positively welcomed, with a bowl of water and a handful of biscuits, all of which were gratefully received and demolished.
I had booked in advance, just to check the dog was allowed, but I was glad I had. This is a popular place with visitors of all ages, and most of the tables inside and out filled up in the 90 minutes or so that we sat enjoying the food and the view.
The Lakeside does a decent set lunch meal, where you can choose two courses for £25 or three for £29. Options included soup and ham hock terrine for starters and fish of the day and truffle poached chicken.
But we opted for the main lunchtime menu. The waitress recommended the homemade mushroom soup of the day and being ravenous we both took up the option.
It was a deliciously earthy concoction, full of dense mushroom flavours and a tasty stock.
Another tick for the kitchen for sending it out at the right temperature, which meant we were able to tuck in straight away, rather than chasing it round the bowl for 10 minutes. Along with a generous portion of bread and real butter, this was a good start.
For our main dishes, we had chosen the fish and chips and the Lakeside club sandwich.
The fish was a generous portion of flaky cod, with proper wobbly chips and the must-have mushy peas and tartare sauce. The batter was made with local Hawkshead beer, and was a perfect crispy compliment to the moist fish. Delicious.
Over the other side of the table, the club sandwich was a whopper.
Bursting out of the three slices of toasted bread, were plenty of roast chicken, smoked bacon, a couple of fried eggs and gem lettuce.
On the side were some of those triple cooked chips and a salad. It was going to take a bit of eating, but I knew hubby was up to it... with a bit of help from the dog!
There were plenty of oohs and aahs throughout the meal, so I’m pretty certain this was a big hit with both of them.
Even though we had been hungry on arrival, we needed a breather before contemplating pudding.
And what better way to do that than with a very large glass of dry white Gavi for me, and a half of Hawkshead beer for husband Bob.
Given that it was a hot day, we had also ordered a bottle of water and we sat for 15 gloriously decadent minutes enjoying the view, finishing off the drinks and discussing whether we could actually fit in a pud.
Fortunately, on the menu that day was something light and refreshing – fresh strawberries and raspberries with an elderflower and champagne jelly. We persuaded ourselves that we could share a portion.
This was not the jelly of children’s parties, but a sophisticated, tangy version, cut up into small, bite-sized pieces and deposited amongst the plentiful fruit. It was the perfect conclusion to a stunning lunch.
The bill for the day came to just over £60, so not cheap, but the Lakeside is a wonderful treat; the perfect place for a little celebration or to round off a lovely morning pottering about on a boat.
It might not be the first place you’d think of to travel from Lancashire, but take my advice, next time you’re considering where to go for a day out not too far from home, head for Lakeside.