My dad wouldn’t tell me what we were doing today as we were going on a mystery tour. We started our day by going to the local chocolate factory and tea shop in Orton. In the tea room there was a video playing demonstrating how they make the chocolates and wrap them by hand. There were windows behind the tables, which I was facing, which allowed me a good view of them actually making, wrapping, and packing the chocolates.
I had chocolate shortcake and a drink. It was too early in the morning for Grandma to have chocolate so she had a toasted tea cake. However she soon woofed down the chocolate wafers that came with the teas and coffees.
In the chocolate shop there were plenty of chocolaty gifts to buy. There were bars, boxes, small and large chocolate figures, to choose from, even a chocolate mobile phone. I bought myself a small chocolate rabbit. Yummy.
When you buy a box of chocolates you choose the individual chocolates yourself from two large glass cabinets which were displaying a vast array of the over one hundred different types of chocolates available.
The entrance to the shop is ramped and access is easy but the back of the shop and tea room are separated by two small steps. The staff are very willing to help and open the fire exit at the side of the building to allow access to the upper level. There is a disabled toilet at the back of the café as well as very spacious disabled toilets outside, across the road.Click the chocolate cabinet to see some more photos.
A short drive was needed to get two our next destination. This was the Museum of Lakeland Life in Kendal. The museum is on two floors but there is no access to the upper level for wheelchairs. The ground level is worth looking at as they have some very interesting displays. There was a small high street of four shops including an old chemist shop which had a pill making machine, mortars and pestles, and other items on the counter. There was also a wall of small draws labelled with Latin names, and a wall of glass chemist’s bottles. You would have liked it Granddad.
From this high street there was a display of country life on a sheep farm. There were tools and implements and a bale of wool. The exhibition then continues up a flight of stairs. I therefore can’t describe this bit.Going back to the entrance I was then allowed through the shop to where the tour descends by another flight of stairs into a wash room. Here they have an early self flushing toilet. This has a hopper on the back where we would have a cistern. Sand and ash from the fire is put into the hopper. After using the toilet, when you get off the seat, a small amount of the sand an ash is dispensed to cover your tracks. There was also a display of early Hoovers, irons, and washing dollies.
There was also an old living room which had an old gramophone which played a cylindrical tube, a piano, and a coal fire.Click the Chemist’s shop to see some more photos.
A short walk away was the Abbot Hall Art Gallery where there was an exhibition of etchings and painting from Graham Sutherland. Access to this building is very interesting as it is on many levels. The staff were extremely helpful in getting me between levels by a variety of lifts. The most notable was the hidden lift from the gallery to the café. To get to this a member of staff has to move the skirting board below a large painting hanging on chains. Next the painting is opened up like a door and you discover that the painting is indeed attached to a door that is decorated like the wall and the chains are not supporting the painting at all. A very secret door.
My favourite exhibit on display was an installation Bethan Huws & The Bistritsa Babi: ‘Singing for the Sea’ (1993). This consisted of a video showing eight Bulgarian women in national costume wailing on the sea shore.
Next we travelled through the middle of the Lake District from Kendal to Keswick. On the way we passed forests and lakes. Grasmere was especially calm and the towering surrounding hills were reflected clearly in the waters.
In Keswick we made our way to the Cumberland Pencil Museum. This is a small museum telling the history of pencil making in Keswick. You enter through a mock mine showing how the graphite was extracted from the rocks. Then there was an explanation of how pencils have been made over the years. A special video showed the reconstruction of a special pencil issued during the Second World War which was hollowed out and contained a map and compass.
Click the pencil pots to see some more photos.
We then made our way back to our holiday cottage, via the Little Chef restaurant near Penrith.
A very busy day.