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  • Writer's pictureNatalie Dimmock

Lake District to incredible India

Since I last wrote I have made a fairly substantial geographical move with my job to the Lake District, and now live in a UNESCO World Heritage Site myself and National Park. It is quite honestly one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Whilst this blog is all about Tiger's tours, I wanted to share some photos below here of my 'week off' in November 2022, even though Tiger wasn't actually with me as she was at school, Windermere School. Each day I had planned an itinerary to hopefully explore and understand my new surroundings. It was supposed to be 5 whole days, but the last was spent laying in bed relaxing!

On Monday 21st November, I had a spa day at the Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa costing £85 for a 'Thermal Journey' with a two course lunch. The price has now gone up to £95 but it was so worth it and I will go back in a heartbeat as soon as I can fit it in!

On Tuesday 22nd November, I did a guided hike booked through Airbnb Experiences with Jamie Boreham from Inspirit Walking. I was actually so very lucky as I had 6 hours with Jamie and I was the only guest so it only cost me £30 - total bargain. To be fair it was November and the weather could have been totally off but in actual fact it was absolutely stunning. With Jamie I discovered Skelwith Force (waterfall) and bridge, we stopped at Chester's Cafe for a quick coffee, then visited Colwith Force, Cathedral Cave (quarry), Slater's Bridge, Little Langdale, Great Langdale and Chapel Stile.

The following day, Wednesday 23rd November, the weather completely turned but I drove South to Clapham in the Yorkshire Dales. I met up with Geoff, my Airbnb Experiences guide (for a mere £15!), along with his two friends and a dog at the wet and windy waterfall viewing point by the church at Clapham. We headed past the caves up to the famous Gaping Gill before climbing up to Ingleborough summit at 732m. On a clear day from here we would have had views across Morecambe bay and the two peaks that make up the three peak challenge, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent. It was a bit cold and wet for us though! I have to say it was hard going and I definitely felt unfit but I made it and was proud of myself for achieving it. I also had achy muscles in my legs for a whole week afterwards!

On Thursday 24th November, I literally crossed the road from my new house after school drop off to do a 'Mountain Goat' minibus tour around 8 Lakes. It was the Winter timetable and was 'only' 8 lakes rather than 10 as the Kirkstone Pass is now closed during the week. And oh so touristy. But it was inexpensive at £29, and I was super keen to know and understand the area I am now living in, alongside being quite happy not to have to do the slightly hairy drive myself. So, although it was raining most of the day, I was delighted to be able to visit Tarn Hows, Conisiton Water where we had a bacon sarnie at The Bluebird Cafe, Thirlmere, Surprise View and Ashess Bridge, lunich is a super rainy Keswick at Kat's Kitchen (a vegan restaurant I found on Tripadvisor and the most wonderful warming soup!), to Honistor Slate Mine (England's last working slate mine), Castlerigg Stone Circle and finally stocking up on gingerbread in Grasmere before hometime and school pick up!

I had all kinds of grand plans for the Friday but they dissolved into a lay in! Still, what a wonderful week. I loved it and it will definitely be repeated soon.

But onwards and upwards. We continued our preparations for Christmas which included a November visit to Lapland UK, Brighton, and some wonderful shows at the Kenton Theatre Henley: Nutrcracker, Santa Saves Christmas and the pantomime Aladdin.

In and amongst all of this, we had to work out how to get an Indian visa which was no mean feat. The Indian Government had cancelled the evisa for British citizens meaning that you had to apply online and attend an in person appointment. Which in some ways was, fine, but then there was such enormous demand there were no appointments to be had anywhere! We ended up getting an appointment on 9th December in London Marylebone, some 6 hours drive from our new home! We drove south on a Thursday night arriving at 10.30pm and slept in the YHA London in a 4 bunk bed room for £118 (ouch!). I brought the travel cot too but she actually slept in the top of the bunk bed all night long. In the morning we Uber'd it over to the new Marylebone visa application centre (which resembled a hastily constructed office space!) for our 9am appointment.

Thankfully, it was relatively painless and only took an hour. I needed to hand write the parental permission letter, being a one-parent family (proven by the birth certificate) and the officer took Tiger's photo as the one I had brought had a blue rather than a white background. What was painful was the £307 cost for 2 visas but I closed my eyes as I clicked my Apple Pay on my phone! There was then a wait of 10 days where I waited with baited breath for the passports to make their return to my home in Windermere. Finally on the 19th December, during a working day, I had left a panicked notice on my door saying something like "Very important delivery! Please phone me and I will come straightaway" but the courier phoned me and with my agreement posted them through the door and I didn't actually have to sign for them. Finally, I had them in my hands with 2 weeks to go until our departure.

We spent Christmas in an Airbnb with Uncle Gary and Meg, New Years Eve partying at Heathrow and, rather conveniently, left for India on New Years Day at 6pm! And.... we're off!

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