New Year’s Eve may be the thing we have written most about over the past few years. It is not a favourite night for either of us and hasn’t been for a long time. It’s a strange night - it almost feels like all the stresses and sadness you have experienced in the year behind you will be washed away at the stroke of midnight and we will all awaken the next day to a bright shiny new world. Of course, it doesn’t take long for everyone to find out that that doesn’t happen, but we try every year to do something special for us be that a concert, fireworks, ice skating or takeaways with friends. This year was particularly poignant, after the sadness we experienced at the end of the year it somehow didn’t feel appropriate to be standing in the crowds in Albert Square to toast in the New Year. We both felt we needed to be somewhere together and just pass the night quietly with our own thoughts. As the date neared though it was hard to shake the feeling that we were just going to be sad all night and maybe needed a plan. We looked at spending the night in a city, but as we had left it a bit late the choice of hotels was meagre and very expensive – Hotel Gotham are you really worth £350 for one night?? We debated the cinema, eating out and even the International Horse show in Liverpool (neither of us are horsey people!!) but eventually we settled on a ‘big day out’!
We decided to take the train to Windermere in the Lake District – something neither of us had ever done, but thanks to our trusty ‘Two Together Railcard’ we booked our tickets the day before and were very pleasantly surprised to find it would cost us just £25 for the whole journey. (For more info on this check out our how we did it bit at the end.)
So, 10.25am on an almost balmy December 31st found us on the platform at Wigan North Western with a 45-minute journey to Oxenholme ahead of us to catch the connection to Windermere. As is all too familiar with train travel these days, the train was already delayed before we even got on it and we had a very tight time turnaround at Oxenholme. Surely, we could make up the 7-minute delay though? Well, actually no, because once we reached Carnforth, for some reason, the train had to go at a very slow speed (tannoy announcements but no apologies…) which meant us, and all the other Windermere passengers, missed the connection by 10 minutes and then had a 40-minute wait for the next one. Luckily the weather was good and Oxenholme station is small and pretty – cue first outing for the cameras that morning!
We arrived in Windermere just before 12.30pm and then set off to make the trek down to Bowness. Bowness is a very special family place – honeymoon destination of my parents many, many years ago and the place of what feels like a thousand family holidays and trips over the years. We used to visit the famous Lakeland, home of every kitchen appliance and gadget you could possibly think of, when it was mostly famous for its plastic bags – in fact I am sure it was known then as Lakeland Plastics. In view of the current world view of plastic it was probably a good idea they changed their name! Anyway, as I said Bowness is a very familiar place to us both, but it is some years since we last visited and how it has changed!
Bowness and Lake Windermere probably pull the biggest crowds of any of the Cumbria lakes and the town is almost always full of coachloads of Japanese and Chinese tourists, families eating ice cream and chips, dog walkers, couples in love (more of that in a second!), motorcyclists and lots and lots of people having a good time and enjoying the scenery. It was also traditionally the worst place to find anywhere nice to eat for many years, but it seems to have undergone somewhat of a change with a more upmarket feel to the café bars and restaurants and a completely different style of shops. It was good to see some of the shops, which have been there since I was a child, including Hutton’s the chocolate makers (their chocolate truffles are delicious!), Lakeland leathers at the top of the hill sitting next to the gift shop I spent all my pocket money in when I was young and the jewellers where Chris impulsively bought me a lovely silver ring once.
Our day consisted of a 10km circular walk from the station down to the lake and round to the ferry and then back up. We ate lunch at the very lovely Fizzy Tarte, sat outside under heaters with blankets for our legs watching other people starting their new year early with some very exciting looking cocktails. We took photographs (bet that surprises you!), reminisced, photographed, window shopped the yachts in the marina, ate ice cream and photographed. We strolled past a couple sat at the side of the lake and were momentarily distressed to see she was crying, until Chris pointed out the sparkly new ring on her finger she was admiring and realised we’d almost interrupted a romantic proposal (never ask about my wedding proposal!).
We finished the day with a coffee in Booths, whilst we waited for our train back in the dark after admiring one of the best trees we've seen for a number of years outside Lakeland, then 20 minutes to Oxenholme, 40 minutes to Wigan – back home for 8pm after a lovely day, tea in the slow cooker, phone calls to our family and then we fell asleep by 11pm.
We might have missed midnight and amazingly the fireworks didn’t stir us, but New Year’s Eve turned out to be rather special.
We woke bright and early the next day ready for another day of eating with most of our family able to make it.There is a feeling of a new start each January 1st and of course we are all going to lose weight, drink less, travel more and exercise all the time. We don’t make any resolutions as we know (like most people!) that these will not be kept for longer than a few weeks, but we do set ourselves small goals, ones we have a good chance of achieving – save a bit more, exercise more regularly, spend more time with people we love.
In the wise words of Instagram’s @traceybell63 ‘life’s too short to wear boring clothes/to wait before I buy my camera/ to wait to visit my family/ to learn a new skill’. So, you can expect to see me out and about this year in all the items of clothing I save for best and a new camera? We don’t need one but I’m sure we could find one we wanted! Happy New Year everyone.
HOW WE DID IT
More information on the Two Together Railcard can be found at www.twotogether-railcard.co.uk. We've had one for a number of years and use them all the time for our trips to London as well as local hops to Liverpool and Manchester. there are rules such as travelling with each other and an annual cost of £25 but you save 1/3 on the full cost.
We also use the Trainline for our UK rail planning - www.thetrainline.com. Always useful and they have a great app. Just be aware theres a small fee to pay on top of any tickets purchased through them. For journeys like the one above with changes between train operators (Virgin and Northern) this is the easiest way of planning though using each train operators site to book may be cheaper but a lot more complicated. Unfortunately such is the way of the UK rail network!
Life and other