Wednesday, 15 April 2009

S1E6: UK 2009 - The word district has lost all meaning.

When you say a word enough, it starts to lose all meaning. That is what happened to the word District over the next couple of days, and whenever I'm talking about this part of the holiday! England loves a good District! After our night of luxury at the motorside inn (a mattress thicker than a pillow and a pillow thicker than a doona - such heaven!) we headed up whatever M road it was, got stuck in an M-road traffic jam in the junctions prior to Nottingham (very exciting, I took a photo) and then struck off towards the Peak District. Our first stop was the lovely Chatsworth House. Though not so lovely was the freezing cold and windy rain that the haves saw fit to unleash upon our poor Brisbane souls. Thankfully, after strolling through the house the sun was out and the wind was down for a delightful stroll through the gardens!

Lunch was an in the car while driving affair, a tasty combination of salt and vinegar chips (or crisps, for thouse of you who are confused), blue Sheese, pitta bread and Cauldron marinated tofu (YUM! I'll have some of that over here, thanks). We stopped off in the little town of Eyam, famous for being the plague village of 1665 and visited the church and the plague cottages. It was so sad reading about all of it. We then continued our drive through the Peak District. We drove through the pastoral southern area, the White Peak, as opposed to the more rugged Dark Peak. And it is called Peak after the Picts who used to live there, nothing to do with mountain peaks. Thanks Lonely Planet! We used this time to pull over lots and lots and take a gazillion photos of hilly paddocks with stone walls running through them, and lots of cute sheepies.

Our end desitnation for the night was the lovely little town of Chester. We were getting in a bit late for things to be open, so we headed straight for our YHA. This is the home of the Lovely Vegan Sue. Chester YHA has breakfast included, and I asked about soy milk and such at the time of booking. Lovely Vegan Sue responded that she too was vegan, and there was lots for vegans to be feasting upon for breakfast. Hurrah!

Upon arrival we retreated to our room for a spot of reading (I was making my way through books 2 and 3 of Twilight. Is there anyone more useless and annoying than Bella? Ugh!) before heading down to heat up our Waitrose dinners. Oh, how I LOVE Waitrose still!

What you see here is Waitrose Coriander Rice with Waitrose Cauliflower and Broccoli Masala. Though the amount of rice you get is twice the amount of vegetables! Too much rice! The third item you see there is some left over curry, supplied by the Lovely Vegan Sue. We went down a bit after they had finished serving dinner, because of course most YHAs don't do vegan. Apparently the Lovely Vegan Sue does though! And she gave us some free chickpea curry. It was yummy! So vegans, go and stay at Chester YHA with the Lovely Vegan Sue. It's actually a nice place, for a hostel. ;)

But wait, there was no potato at all in that dinner. What is going on? It's OK! The following day I more than made up for it...

Starting with my Chester YHA vegan breakfast! Mmmmm... cereal and fruit, baked beans, toast (not pictured here), tomatoes and lots of hash browns! The Lovely Vegan Sue even made sure to leave some of her own vegan margerine in a container in the kitchen for me to use. Awwwwwwww!

With a full stomach the next morning we strolled into the lovely and cute town of Chester itself and spent some time in the cathedral and also taking lots and lots of Tudor house photos. Hee. Then we hit the road again and headed for... The Lake District! Two Districts in two days. Hardcore!

We stopped for lunch at the little town of Kendall based on a place mentioned both by Happy Cow and Lonely Planet. Only we didn't have a map so it was sheer luck that we were able to find this place!

The place was Waterside Wholefoods. The lunch was cassoulet served in a baked potato (hee) with a choice of three salads (garden, carrot and tabbouleh) for 6.75. Mmmmmmmm... delicious and warming on what was another cold and drizzly day! Followed up by a soy hot chocolate (1.65) and some lovely conversation.

We drove to lake Windermere where we half froze to death (there was SNOW on the mountains. I do not do snow. It is evil) taking photos by the lake before heading to Grizdale Forest for a gentle (and thankfully not as cold) bush walk and photos of the sculptures. It was here that Jen announced our petrol light was flashing and I had visions of being stranded in the middle of the forest with no phone coverage and a serial killer, and no pretty Supernatural boys to save me. But thankfully we made it to Ambleside, where we filled up both Miss Fanny Price's bellies and our own!

We went to Zeffirellis, which seems to serve as a restaurant, cafe, jazz bar and cinema. It was mentioned in both Lonely Planet and Happy Cow, so seemed like a good bet. It was a bit early for dinner when we got there, but too late and too cold for walking around so we had some tea in the bar before heading downstairs for our dinner.

We of course shared a started of wedges (£3.45), served with salad and non-vegan garlic mayo for dipping. I skipped the mayo which we got because Jen isn't vegan. They were not bad but could have been crispier and better seasoned.

I felt like something nice and simple and pasta-ish for my main, so I got Pasta Puttanesca (£7.95), which was exactly what I wanted. They offer optional parmesan for the non-vegans out there, to which I say ewww, why would you spoil a perfectly good dish with cow gunk? But I did have a bit of a nooch craving when I was eating this!

And finally dessert - Eternal Summer Pudding (£4.95). Unfortunately it seemed to have more crappy white bread than berries in it, and was all just a bit blah. I longed for a glass of soy milk or a scoop of soy ice cream to go with it, the berry flavours were just a bit too intense.

We then drove the dark and windy way to our hostel at Arnside,a bit out of the Lake District. It was quite a nice little place. We had The Nurse's Room, with out own little ensuite. Also a cupboard that contained a boiler (oh, toasty warmth) and billions of spare pillows and doonas. So if the monsters escaped we could make a fort of pillows (oh please, tell me someone gets the reference). It was another cute little YHA, with lots of activities (including the mattress game - ask staff how to play - ummmmm... hee) and also a cute reception guy in the morning. Cute reception guys are ALWAYS a bonus.

The next episode shall take us to Scotland!


  1. I'm loving reading all about your travels (so much so that I have even come out of hiding to comment!).

    I had no idea that the Peak District was so called because of the 'Picts'~ I just thought it was because it was hilly and peak-y! Maybe I should buy the Lonely Planet guide and learn me some history?

    How marvelous is Vegan Sue? She rocks!

    Parmesan sucks~ it's not even vegetarian (made with rennet) but often appears on menu options which are labelled veggie!!! Arrrgghhhh! I bloomin' well despair!

    And snow is not evil! It's magical and beautiful and I cant get enough of it! >;o)

    I'm really looking forwards to the Scotland episode now......I've never been. Did you see Nessy?!?

  2. Hooray for CHester YHA! Sounds like a great place for vegans to stay :)

  3. Awesome eats and awesome travels.

  4. You say spoil your meal with "cow gunk" and yet you spent half your trip chasing down fake cheese :P

    I know you're going to beat me up for that comment when you come down in July... but worth it ;)