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I'm captain of this ship...

So, on the AW forums there is a blog chain and the idea is that you get a slot in the month and, during that slot, you post about the topic given. So, it is now my turn and this month’s topic is ‘Home for the Holidays’. Given the season and the American nature of many of the members of AW, one of course must assume that the ‘Holiday’ referred to is ‘Christmas’.

This is a strange one for me because we generally don’t go ‘home’ for the Christmas. Home is where I live now and if I go anywhere for Christmas it is usually away from home. Ever since I got married and we acquired a dog, Christmas for us has been spent with my in laws in a hotel in the Lake District. This hotel, on the shores of Ullswater, a few miles from Penrith in the village of Glenridding, is a wonderful place to spend Christmas for a number of reasons:

1) The food. There is a lot of it. Many, many courses and not a sign of the endless piles of washing up that are the usual karmic reward for eating too much. The hotel used to do a seven course feast on Christmas day but they scaled it back to a mere five courses recently after too many guests exploded following the consumption of a final ‘wafer thin mint’. No, I am not exaggerating. Well, maybe a bit…

The hills are also wreathed in mist...

2) The isolation. Look up at the photograph on the top of this blog. I took that shot from the field at the back of the hotel. In any direction you look in from there, all you can see are hills and mountains. The photo to the left of this text shows more of them. In fact, the hills and mountains serve to block pretty much all mobile phone signals. Once you arrive there, you are cut off from the outside world very effectively. Well, unless you ask for a log in for the hotel’s free Wi Fi to get onto the internet… :) If you want to be incommunicado, this is the place to be. In fact, I completed Gods of the Sea over last Christmas because it was easier to open a word file and do some typing than it was to log into the wi fi to check the internets. Productivity was improved! Also, it has been scientifically proven (by me, just now, I shall post the results of my extensive experiments in a paper I shall send to the Lancet) that bleak, isolated, pretty locations are not only restful but also pretty cool and very good for the brain.

3) Dog Friendliness.  The hotel for us absolutely defines the gold standard of the concept of ‘dog friendliness’. Some hotels claim to aspire to this but they all fall short. This is a place where your dog can walk in, put his or her feet up on the reception counter, and be given a biscuit from the jar that is always behind the bar. When Santa Clause appears in the bar on Christmas morning to give all guests a present, there are presents for the dogs too. There are also lots of places to walk them and a lake to swim in. And yes, dogs do go swimming in the lake on Christmas day… Insane creatures that they are.

The water here is almost frozen...

4) The walking. You go to the lakes to go walking. With your dog if you have one. There are lots of places to explore in the local area, some of them more hardcore than others. One year we made the ill judged decision to take a seven mile hike around the lake on Boxing Day in some of the worst ice and snow seen for many years. It’s a route we’ve done before and found easy, even after 3 days of eating our entire body weight in food every day, but the solid ice made the gentle rolling hills far more treacherous. Especially when you have a sure footed canine on a lead trying to pull you into the valley because ‘there’s some interesting smells over there’. Crampons and ice picks may have helped. A sled, a few more dogs and some time to train them to all pull in the same direction would have been ideal. This year, we intend to pay more attention to the weather report before we leave.

5) Finally, apropos of the above, there is one thing that makes going to the Lake District a fun and interesting Christmas experience and that is the fact that it is more likely to:

SNOW!!!!!!!!!

There are other reasons, many of which would take too long to adequetly explain here. The upshot of it all is that, while I have in the past enjoyed Christmas at home (both at our home, my parents’ home or that of my in laws) the experience of spending a relaxing Christmas in a hotel where the people doing all the work are being paid to do it is one certainly worth doing at least once in your life.

You can find other participants to this blog chain here:

Participants and posts: orion_mk3 – http://nonexistentbooks.wordpress.com (link to this month’s post) Ralph Pines – http://ralfast.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post) pyrosama – http://matrix-hole.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) AbielleRose – http://stainedglassinthenight.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post) writingismypassion – http://charityfaye.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) Domoviye – http://lets-get-happy.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) AuburnAssassin – http://clairegillian.com/ (link to this month’s post) Areteus – http://lurkingmusings.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post) Diana Rajchel – http://blog.dianarajchel.com/ (link to this month’s post) Alynza – http://www.alynzasmith.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) SuzanneSeese – http://www.viewofsue.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) robeiae – http://thepondsofhappenstance.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) SinisterCola – http://acgatesblog.wordpress.com/ (link to this month’s post) MamaStrong – http://inamamasworld.blogspot.com/ (link to this month’s post) kimberlycreates – http://www.kimberlycreates.com/ (link to this month’s post) Cath – http://blog.cathsmith.com/ (link to this month’s post)

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