Day 4. This would be our last evening away before heading back to Blenheim Lodge the next day. Earlier in the week, in light of Zack’s limping, we had already made an appointment with our vet to see him on Friday. Hubby and I briefly discussed our itinerary and decided that the best use of our time was to head to Castle Howard, then to Fountains Abbey, and thence to our final overnight destination, Middleham.
Hubby had always wanted to see Castle Howard. This is a huge castle that had survived a devastating fire on 9th November 1940. ‘Nearly a third of the building was left open to the skies and the biggest architectural loss was the dome. In time the debris was cleared and the structure made secure, and the exposed parts of the building received a temporary roof and new windows. It would be another twenty years before major restoration work began.’ (http://www.castlehoward.co.uk/house-and-grounds/the-house-and-family/the-great-fire-of-1940.html) While we were at Castle Howard, we could see that there was much of the stately home still to restore. Nonetheless, it is a spectacular place to visit; and the dome, the central piece of its original architecture, has been rebuilt.
Next stop was Fountains Abbey. We had thought at first that we might not have had enough time to visit both attractions, so we were rather pleased that we could do so after all. Fountains Abbey, a magnificent ruined abbey built by Cistercian monks, also comprises in part a deer park and a Georgian water garden. I was particularly interested in seeing these two features, given the limited time we had left before our agreed arrival time in Middleham.
Having seen the deer, Hubby and I decided to walk to the water garden. One can drive there but we cut across tussocky fields instead. However, we never did go in to see the gardens as we found that we had little time left to wander around, especially because we also wanted to take Zack for a decent walk to stretch his legs.
Travel to Middleham was uneventful. We found our guest house located exactly where I had thought it would be. This guest house had featured in a Channel 4 TV programme and it still looks exactly the same some years later, so it was easy to identify. I had chosen it because I recalled racehorses milling around the centre of the town – and, I wanted to see those racehorses. Thus, when I booked our accommodation, I had checked to make sure that we would be able to see the racehorses from our room.
Eating out at Middleham was not so simple as one would have expected that Thursday night. Thus, although we had not intended to drive again that evening, we decided to go out of town in search of a decent meal. Not more than a short distance from Middleham is The Blue Lion. It looked very inviting but there were so many vehicles in its forecourt that Hubby and I doubled whether we would find a free table. Nonetheless, I thought I would try.
Leaving Hubby and Zack in the car, I went in to speak to the bartender who said that he would call the manager over to help us. No less than an instant and the manager was standing next to me, explaining that he could offer us a table in their restaurant about an hour later (which did not accept dogs) or a table in the pub if we wanted to eat now. However, the latter option came with a condition: he needed the table for a previously booked reservation in an hour. Having ascertained that we could be served quickly, I went out and brought Hubby and Zack back into the inn. In no time at all, Zack had gathered an adoring audience. Patrons from the restaurant and in the pub came specially to say hello to him and talk to us. Really, there is nothing like a dog to break the ice! The food was excellent, and the waitress even wrapped up some of my leftover spaghetti carbonara for us to take back to the guest house for Zack. Would we go back there to eat again? You bet we would!
So that night Zack dined on a mixture of kibble and spaghetti carbonara, and a very contented dog was he! He had already been spoilt by specially made dog cupcakes when he arrived at the guest house. What more could a dog want?
Blenheim Lodge . . . panoramic Lake views, peace and tranquillity, nestled against acres of beautiful fields and woodlands, in the heart of the English Lake District National Park.’
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