Sunday, 20 December 2015

Appleby floods and a trip down Memory Lane

So Gail and I have now arrived in Nottingham for Christmas, after an overnight stay in Appleby-in-Westmorland.

British readers will know that Appleby was in the news earlier this month, having suffered dreadful floods in the wake of storm Desmond.

In truth, I was a bit worried when Gail said we would be staying there. I am a dog who likes his creature comforts and I didn't much fancy having to get my paws wet in order to access my room.

Gail said don't be silly Bertie, we'll be staying at the Royal Oak again and don't you remember it's at the top of the hill? And in truth the accommodation was not only dry but exceeded my expectations in other ways too. Gail had booked a single room but we were shown into an annexe with kitchen, sitting room, two bedrooms and the bathroom, all to ourselves, at no extra charge.

Another good thing about the Royal Oak is that dogs are allowed in the bar/restaurant, along with sundry rum characters. 

In the morning, before completing the journey, we had a wee nose around Appleby, and spotted plenty of signs of the recent inundation.

All very sad, seeing so many homes and businesses so dreadfully damaged, and just before Christmas too. But I have to tell you that when we got down to the river Eden, Gail smiled a little smile, as if she wanted to tell me a secret, and said "Bertie, you know, I am quite well acquainted with the water in this river".

I knew right away I was about to be on the receiving end of a lengthy bout of reminiscing…

It turns out that Gail first came to Appleby in  July 1979, on a field course in geological mapping, as part of her undergraduate studies. She and her fellow first year students spent ten sodden days (yes apparently it always rains in this part of the world) tramping across the moors, mapping a feature known as the 'Cross Fell inlier'. On the final night, after sampling the beer in each of the town's then thirteen pubs, the would-be geologists all somehow ended up in the river for a chilly midnight plunge.

Here I am standing in front of what was in the late seventies a cheap guesthouse. This was where the students stayed. Gail remembers the proprietress, a lady perhaps in her late fifties, with long dyed black hair arranged in ringlets with bows, whose everyday wear consisted of a low cut pink satin dress with flounces, fishnet tights, platform shoes and a few shovelfuls of garish makeup. Every night, dinner was served by this exotic creature's mother, clad in a floral housecoat, moth-eaten slippers and crumpled stockings à la Nora Batty. She would shuffle in, announce "'ere's yer roast", and then plonk in front of each student a plateful of lukewarm grey beef covered with watery gravy, accompanied by boiled-to-death potatoes and veg. Pudding was jelly and vanilla ice-cream. For the last meal, as a special treat, the beef came with Yorkshire pudding and the ice-cream was 'Neapolitan'.

Happy days, according to Gail.

Talking of happy days, I am going to see Human Granny tomorrow. Yippee! It's been too long.


  1. Big luffs and hugs to HGY, I'm going to see mine, Aunty Peggy today
    I saw the floods in the TeeVees, terrible st any time but just before Christmas seems so much worse. Did you see the very vocal Cavalier, refusing to let its owner talk to the reporter.....he wanted to give a pups view on the floods!
    Loves and licky kisses
    Princess Leah xxx

  2. Hari OM
    D'r'eary me... that looks damp. what a great wee hidey hole Gail and you got though! Student memories are full of of such as Gail shared with you Bertie lad... somehow they all glow in the after-light of many busy years... give a very special tail wag to HGY, won't you? Enjoy your visit (and I hope Gail does too)... I return to Edinburgh on Thursday, so am preparing myself for 'weather'! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

  3. Oh my gosh! What a lot of water!

  4. hugs to your granny :o) I agree with you, it's scary to see what damage that flood caused... and I hope the church gets new pew-covers... maybe the people will put some green papers in the box when they visit the church at christmas...

  5. What a neat place to explore and a lovely room to stay in too. Sending hugs to HGY and hope you all have a merry christmas

  6. We are so sad that this charming little town had to deal with flooding. There is never a good time, but so close to Christmas is hard. You found the best little guest house to stay in. enjoy time with Grannie.

  7. Bertie...goodness these pictures of the flooding sure do make us ever so sorry for the terrible flooding the folks of Appleby suffered. I hope and pray soon every home and business recovers to their former beauty.
    OMDs Gail traipsed about those waters.
    Obviously the folks at Royal Oak recognized you as the one and only BERTIE.
    Give human Granny a kitty kiss and mom hug from your bffff Madi and mom

  8. Those poor people in the Lakes. Glad that your chosen lodging was "above it all". Have a lovely trip and visit in Nottingham and hope that HG is well.

  9. Although we are so very sorry for those effected by the floods, we still think this is a most beautiful place!!
    Dory, Jakey, Arty & Bilbo

  10. Looks like Gail got you a nice place to stay! You must be very excited to see your granny. BTW, watch out when they start talking about those olden days BOL!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  11. The less we know about THEIR pasts, the better, in my humble opinion. Looking forward to an update on HGy


  12. There certainly was a bit of rain. We're glad you're hotel was dry....and an upgrade...bonus! Hope you kept Gail out of the water and have a great time with Granny.

  13. I am sorry it is so rainy, but wow that is a very nice room that you have to stay in. I am glad you are safe and dry there. Have a fun time and Merry Christmas

    Ziggy Out!!

  14. Wow, those are some very telling photos! It made me feel a little cold and creaky just looking. Hopefully you and your grand are all snuggled up by a fire right now!