A Wonderful Week in a Magical Cottage
I mentioned in my last post how we got lost finding our cottage in the Lake District. In large part, that was because when I was trying to find a cottage for us for the week, I had two key criteria: 1. A garden that would keep Little Miss and Thelma occupied and, 2. Somewhere seriously remote.
St Francis Cottage in the tiny village of Ulpha near Broughton-In-Furness met those criteria and then some. As we turned onto a track into a farm on that first evening, taking the fork along our own private driveway and off into the trees, we couldn’t have anticipated the fairy fantasy scene that would greet us.
The stone cottage is over 300 years old, tucked away amongst the shelter of beautiful trees, with ivy growing all over the front. I half expected to open the door and find an old lady stirring a cauldron over an open fire. I didn’t, thankfully. We were welcomed instead with a warm, cosy home, the lights on and a bottle of Prosecco and 1/2 dozen eggs from the farm left on the table.
Despite the hour, it was still light enough to explore. I immediately found my favourite room of the cottage, the spacious conservatory. Looking out on to the stunning enclosed garden. From here I spent time just gazing at the hills in the distance, listening to the sheep and spotting which birds were visiting the garden bird feeder (Spotted woodpeckers, chaffinches, house sparrows, robins, blackbirds, it’s a bird spotters dream). One day, I even saw a bird of prey swooping over the hills in the distance. Unfortunately I didn’t have any binoculars for a closer look.
On sunny days we would put the picnic blanket down in the vast garden and play games like Pop up Pirate or snap. On cooler days I would sit in the conservatory and crochet or read whilst Little Miss would mostly chase Thelma around the garden. The cottage did help me recognise the importance of beautiful outside spaces. Something I’ve hitherto not paid much attention to in my own home.
The rest of the cottage was equally beautiful. Thick stone walls and no traffic or close neighbours, it felt a million miles away from the whole world. It was exactly the relaxing retreat of a space I needed.
One chilly night I lit the wood burning stove. That’s not the easiest task and I most definitely smoked us out before I got it going. It’s such a welcome and inviting light to sit around on a cold evening while we watched Scooby Doo. I imagine it’s beautiful in the winter with a comforting mug of hot chocolate while the wind whistles outside.
Bed times were late, mornings were lazy as the gentle sunlight peeked through the tiny little windows of the comfortable bedrooms. It was an idyllic week.
When Friday came we were all sad to leave the cottage. Our retreat. Thankfully, we made the most of our holiday home, not rushing out into the local towns every day, but enjoying the beautiful garden and conservatory, listening to the birds singing and the breeze rustling the leaves on the trees. I hope to go back to St Francis Cottage again one day, but in the meantime I’m grateful of the relaxing retreat that I’ve had there. It was a couple of weeks back now, but I returned to real life refreshed and with a new perspective.