a full week of vacation lies ahead of us: on wednesday is my 40th birthday and we celebrate by “going to the lakes!” we’ve booked four nights at the renown drunken duck south west of ambleside. our plane is supposed to leave at 10:25 from zürich airport, arriving in manchester at 11:25, from where we shall take the next best train to manchester picadilly and pick up a car from easy-car aka avis (easy-car is “cooperating” with their “quality supplier avis […] to offer a wider choice of vehicles in the future”).
the first part goes relatively easy: we are at the station with a couple of minutes to spare, arrive in time at the airport…to learn that the flight has been delayed by about 40min…which we spent strolling through the buzzing “airside center” of zurich airport — it’s so popular that people fly here to do their shopping!…ok, ok, that was a fib: the airside center is pretty much deserted, with lots and lots of expensive shops with virtually no customers inside. it seems like zurich airport successfully cloned the expensive part of zÃ¼rich bahnhofstrasse to the airside center — including the small numbers of visitors…if you are looking for a bookshop: touch luck. looking for a well assorted news agent? tough luck. but if you would want to buy, let’s say, an expensive leather suitcase (though, why would you? once you are “airside” you’ve already checked your luggage in): this is the place! and while you are at it: how about filling it with jewelry from the most expensive of switzerland (though not necessarily most tasteful of switzerland)? need some shoes (though that would beg the question how you got here in the first place: on your stockinged feet?)? airside center is just the place if you’re one of the lucky few farting money (though, non olet)…after an expensive coffee (CHF 4.50 each) we decide at 10:15 to go to the gate and wait there for our flight to be announced. around 11:00 we board (via bus, no less)…and then have a further delay: no on-board power…as it turns out later, when switching back from the external power supply to the on-board generator we blew a fuse (the pilot blames it on the air conditioning). once the local electrician has replaced the fuse we are off…the flight is a bit choppy (not at all my cup of tea, really, and i try to distract myself by listening to the latest editions of the podcasts that i downloaded over the weekend)
compensating for the choppy flight, our british airways pilot does a very smooth landing (nice 🙂 and we are through customs in record time, buy the latest potty harry book and today’s guardian at the first whs, and catch the 12:45 train to manchester picadilly. the avis station is just around the corner from manchester picadilly station (down the approach road, turn right into dulcie street at the first corner).
getting the easycar from avis turns out to be a lengthy procedure — and it’s a good thing i’ve brought the printouts of my email exchanges with easycar customer service with me: we booked the car sometime late last year and at that time the contract didn’t include an excess, all contracts after january or february of this year do have a Â£100 excess included — and sure enough, avis tried to pull that one, only after showing the email from easycar confirming that our contract doesn’t carry an excess did they (after some back office mumbo-jumbo) print out a new contract without any excess…
the good thing is that we don’t have to stop at a petrol station first as the car is filled up already and we are on our way out of manchester towards the north!
by 15:15 we have made it to sizergh castle near kendal, a national trust property — free entry for national trust members! 🙂 we park the car and head for…the tea room ;-)…which has a waiting queue! luckily a couple of people in front of us are too impatient and leave, so after about 5min we get seated and have a nice cup of tea and an apple crumble with custard (nice 🙂 after this pleasant tea break we stroll through the rock garden (really recommendable!) and the rest of the largish garden and just enjoy it…
shortly before 17:00 we are back on the road to windermere where we stop at the booths supermarket to buy some apples for the days ahead and some mineral water — and are off towards ambleside, across the rothay bridge until clappersgate, then onto the B5286 to hawkshead, and after about three miles we turn right towards the drunken duck inn which is about one mile up the hill (well, the sign says “1/2 mile” but that sure is a rather long 1/2 mile).
our room is small but nicely decorated (the bedside tables are a bit on the wonky side — as are some of the bar stools) with a very nice bath en-suite (fully working shower! not the trickle-drip-drip kind so often found in b&bs around the country…). and: best of all the locally brewed beer is good and the food is excellent!