Special events

USA Today

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Our friends across the water

We have a lot of American visitors and we know that they appreciate what we have here at the Cedar Manor.

They love the notion that we’re an “olde worlde” place, with a country-house façade and an interesting history. But they also love modern conveniences and all the latest in interior design. So they get the best of both worlds here

Now we have proof of their appreciation. An American print and online news magazine has listed us in its top ten of “adorable English inns and cottages”.

USA Today, a multi-platform news and information media company with nearly eight million readers daily, chose our award-winning hotel in a round-up of English cosiness and charm.

“With a masonry facade, pitched roof and white-trimmed windows, the Cedar Manor Hotel is the very picture of grandma’s cottage,” says their reviewer. “All that’s missing is a curlicue of smoke rising from the chimney.

“The 10-room country house dates back to the 1800s, and its cathedral windows (including some stained glass) have been well preserved. But rooms are far from fussy and include an even mix of antique furnishings like oak wardrobes and modern additions like pendant lights and iPod docks. An elegant little coach house is available for rent as well.”

Glad you like it!

The listing came in a feature article highlighting what’s small and beautiful about Britain. “Some travellers come to England to play king or queen for the day, explore vast ballrooms, see crown jewels, and stand on a tower and shout, lower the drawbridge!” says writer Maria Teresa Hart.

No, Maria, no ballroom or crown jewels here, and certainly no drawbridge!

“But then there are others who prefer things on a smaller scale. Those travellers want to visit the England of rambling cottages, ivy-covered gardens, and pubs down the lane. If you’re in that latter camp, your hunt for a little storybook cottage is over.” Ah, yes, Maria, you found us.

USA Today, launched in 1982, aims to deliver high-quality and engaging content across print, digital, social and video platforms. “An innovator of news and information, we reflect the pulse of the nation and serve as the host of the American conversation — today, tomorrow and for decades to follow.”

Along with the eight million daily readers, they have more than 22 million mobile app downloads. So we’re very pleased indeed to be included in this listing. And if you’re reading this today, on USA Today – come on over. We’re having a very pleasant summer.

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Cateys Night in London

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The hard work of our staff, and our determination to offer the best welcome possible, has meant that we have won a few awards over the last few years. We have awards for “best small hotel”, for the excellence of our interior design, for the high customer service standards of our staff, and for our care for the environment.

And so we’ve been privileged to attend a number of award ceremonies, here in Cumbria and beyond (and yes, each one does mean that Caroline should have a new dress!)

But we felt very proud indeed this week to attend the Cateys, at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel. This was to recognise the individuals, teams and businesses shaping the hospitality industry. Organised by The Caterer magazine, since their inception in 1984, the Cateys have cast a spotlight on the industry’s highest flyers, strongest performers and hottest brands. Over more than a quarter of a century, they have become a byword for quality, class and achievement, the awards that everybody wants to win. No wonder then that the industry refers to them as its Oscars Night.

And we were there, among three shortlisted for the title Best Independent Hotel. It was a wonderful gala night, hosted by Claudia Winkleman, where we saw Jill Stein and TV-star Rick Stein receive a special award, and we were fed by Simon Rogan and his team from l'enclume and Claridges, who worked with the Grosvenor House banqueting staff. What a meal! We had a divine starter of pea puree and crispy pork, a fish course of smoked eel with mackerel, and a main course of lamb. We won’t forget this in a hurry.

The winners were Longueville Manor, the most highly rated of all Jersey hotels. It is the only AA Five Red Star hotel  on the island, and clearly worthy winners. This was our first time at the Cateys and so we felt proud and privileged to have made the shortlist and to be runners-up.

Now it’s time to come back down to earth. But spending evenings such as these, in the company of the very best providers of hospitality, can only help us improve even further. We’ve come away inspired and determined to maintain the very highest standards and the very warmest welcome to you all.

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Summer showtime in the Lakes

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We’re just back from Holker Hall where we spent a couple of hours at the delightful garden festival, one of a whole series of summer shows that are within reach of us here.

Holker Garden Festival has the very best of gardening, countryside, food and crafts, magnificent show gardens, glorious horticulture, artisan produce and fine craftsmanship, combined with show stopping entertainment and celebrity guest appearances, over three days.

Less spectacular, but no less beautiful, are the Holehird Gardens only a mile away, the home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. These are open every day until October, and it’s a very low-key place, seldom crowded, but with 10 acres of gorgeously kept gardens to enjoy.

Our other favourite summer events include the small but perfectly formed Coniston Country Fair in July, and the massive Westmorland County Show in September.

But the best of all has to be Ambleside Sports, always staged on the last Thursday of July at Rydal Park, about five miles north from here (and on the bus route). This is one of the oldest and most traditional of the Lakes’ summer events, marking its 130th birthday this summer.

There are craft stalls and local produce for sale, a beer tent, and plenty of opportunities to eat Cumberland sausage, but the sports themselves are the real attraction. There are fell races – a short dash up and down a steep slope, and a gruelling nine mile chase of the Rydal Round, over all the summits in the Fairfield Horseshoe.

There are track races in the central arena, and also grass cycle track racing with a spectacularly exciting event called Devil Take the Hindmost. And there’s Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling, a very stylised and elegant form of the sport in which the participants are required to wear traditional costume. White leggings worn under embroidered shorts, with a singlet. We think Jonathan would look quite fetching, but he comes up with an excuse every year.

This year they are staging the first-ever women’s world championship in Cumberland wrestling and we hear there’s some serious training under way.

The most exciting spectator sport is the hound trailing, a kind of fell racing for dogs, who run for miles around the hills following a previously-laid trail of some foul smelling (but clearly attractive to dogs) substance. Betting is brisk, and the sight of the hounds chasing down the hillside into the arena is a thrilling experience.

We have information about all the different shows, so when you book to stay with us, do check what might be on during your visit. You might even be tempted to have a go if you’re a good sport!

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The Road is Open!

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We’ve been having a good year here at the Cedar Manor, very lucky not to have been affected by the winter flooding, and with a glorious spring that’s shown off our grounds and all the hills around us at their very best.

Our visitors have been up on the fells, out on the lake, and even out IN the lake (sincere apologies that we didn’t join you for that dip). The days have been warm enough to take afternoon tea on the terrace under the Cedar tree, and the nights cool enough to appreciate the cosiness of our lounge bar, and the warmth of our menus.

But what we’ve all missed was the road north. Yes, we could all get as far as Grasmere, and those who really had to would take the long detour via the motorway and Penrith if they needed to get to Keswick. But that was a mile too many just for some chocolate.

Yes, that’s what we missed more than anything else while the A591 was being repaired – shopping on Keswick market for the divine chocolates that we put in your rooms. Oh, we found perfectly acceptable replacements, but there was something really special about that drive past beautiful Thirlmere, the amazing views of the high fells as you drop down into Keswick, and the terrific range of stalls on the market. And the chocolate.

We missed our occasional visits to the Lakes Distillery at Bassenthwaite. We also missed the red squirrels, sometimes spotted along the road by Thirlmere. Are they still around? Have any of you seen them now that the repair work is finished?

It’s also been good to meet more of our Beatrix’s cousins. You’ve met Beatrix, the painted Herdwick standing under the Cedar tree by the hotel entrance? She’s one of 60 fantasy sheep installed as part of the charity fund-raising Go Herdwick project, and there are several more along the road from here, into Ambleside, at Rydal and in Grasmere. Now that the road is open again, we can meet her northern cousins. 

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Exciting News from Cedar Manor...

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Roll out the red carpet..it’s the Oscars ceremony

It is red carpet time, and another excuse for Caroline to buy a new dress: we have been shortlisted for the Oscars of the hospitality world.

The Cedar Manor is one of just three to reach the finals of the Independent Hotel of the Year category at the Cateys – the Caterer and Hotelkeeper awards.

We will be representing Cumbria and the Lake District at the grand award ceremony at London’s Grosvenor House in July.

The competition is fierce. Also shortlisted is the gem of the Yorkshire Dales, Yorebridge House, at Bainbridge in Wensleydale. Then there’s the Longueville Manor at St Saviour on the island of Jersey, one of Europe’s most celebrated getaway destinations.

But we are very proud to have reached the finals. Inaugurated in 1984, the Cateys highlight the hospitality industry’s highest flyers, strongest performers and hottest brands. The Cateys have become a byword for quality, class and achievement, the awards that everybody wants to win. The industry refers to them as its Oscars Night, and we are very excited to reach this stage.

Keep your fingers crossed for us. It would be lovely to have another trophy to add to our growing list of awards. And thank you, every one of our lovely guests, for your kind comments and feedback which are taken into consideration by award judges.

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Caroline's Marathon Blog

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Caroline runs 26 miles, and Jonathan runs a successful raffle…

It was another great day out in London when Caroline completed her second marathon and raised more than £2000 for the Calvert Trust.

Here at the Cedar Manor we are long-time supporters of the Trust, which runs challenging outdoor adventure breaks for people with disabilities. And while Caroline had the easy job of running 26 miles through the streets of London, Jonathan had the really difficult task of pulling out the winning ticket in our prize raffle.

The raffle was won by Mr Alan Whyte from Dunfermline. He and his wife Mary are regular visitors at the Cedar Manor. They won a two-night stay at the hotel with a bottle of Prosecco on arrival.

The winning ticket was drawn from a hat after Caroline had crossed the finishing line in London. “I was happy for the winner and would like to thank everyone who donated through my just giving page and the raffle for this worthwhile charity” she said.

Regular visitors will have seen one of our other ways of helping the Calvert Trust, by sponsoring one of the Go Herdwick fantasy sheep, Beatrix. She’s standing near the front gate under our Cedar tree and is one of 61 sheep which have been painted by different artists and stand in prominent places all over the Lakes.

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Herdwick Sheep in the Garden

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Beatrix on the tiles: a wonderful tale of Lakeland sheep

Have you driven past our entrance recently, and wondered why the traffic was slowing down? Or why there were groups of people gathered under our Cedar tree?

They’re here to look at Beatrix, our amazing lifesize fantasy Herdwick sheep, one of a flock of 61 stationed all the way across the Lakes and already proving to be a top tourist attraction.

Every sheep has been painted by a different artist in a charity initiative by the Lake District Calvert Trust who hope that the sheep will become as iconic as the cattle of the Cow Parade – and bring in funds for a good cause. The Trust run challenging outdoor adventure breaks for those with disabilities and money raised will help fund the £1.3m capital redevelopment of Old Windebrowe, in Keswick, a grade 2 listed farmhouse and tithe barn which is thought to date back to the 1550s and was once used as a home by William Wordsworth.

Our sheep was named Beatrix after Miss Potter whose 150th anniversary we are celebrating this year in the Lakes. She was painted by our talented friend Thuline de Cock who has exhibited her paintings, and run a workshop, at the hotel. We love her paintings of animals, and we love the designs she’s created for Beatrix. And we love the tiles that Beatrix is “grazing” on.

You’ll notice more sheep as you drive on past the lake, through Ambleside and Grasmere. And when the A591 opens next month (May 13 – three cheers) you can carry right on to Keswick to see many more.

We are long-time supporters of the Calvert Trust; Caroline is going to run the London Marathon later this month to raise funds for them.

And in case you didn’t know:

  • Herdwicks are Cumbria’s native sheep and are ideally suited to life on the inhospitable high fells and mountains, grazing at up to 900m (3,000ft). They’re also credited with shaping the Lake District landscape that we see today.
  • Herdwicks are renowned for their hefting instinct, the ability – passed from a ewe to her lambs – to recognise an area as its home and return there, even after it’s been brought down from the fells for lambing or clipping and has to walk several miles back to its own area or heft.
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I'm a celebrity, get me into here....

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I’m a celebrity, get me into here…..

It’s going to be a star-studded week for us here as Caroline’s lovely daughter Natalie Vella makes her TV debut.

She will be appearing in Channel 4’s Lookalikes starting on Friday, because she looks so much like X-Factor judge, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini.

And in a series of preview articles and trailers, Natalie, 23, has found herself featured in The Sun.

Natalie, who is 23 and a model and freelance make-up and hair artist, is the best celebrity lookalike, according to show business media.

Now she is to appear in the fly-on-the-wall reality-comedy following the antics at Britain’s premier lookalikes agency, run by David Beckham impersonator Andy Harmer in Eastbourne.

In Episode 1, to be broadcast on Friday (April 8, 10pm), realising the agency’s roster of talents needs updating, Andy Harmer holds open auditions to find the next generation of lookalikes, but with slim pickings on show, he makes some controversial bookings.

Natalie has previously appeared in OK magazine and the Daily Express as the woman most like the former Girls Aloud star and one of the world’s most recognised faces. We all moved here to the Lakes when she was 13, and she went to the Lakes School, but she’s lived back in London for the last three years.

It’s put her in big demand for photo shoots in London. The only difference is their accents; Natalie, born in Essex, doesn’t attempt to mimic Cheryl’s Geordie accent.

She said: "I think we're quite similar in personality, she's so lovely and bubbly. We also share a star sign, Cancer, and at 5" 4' I'm only an inch taller than Cheryl.

"I always watch the X Factor when she's on, and I have playlists of all her solo and Girls Aloud music on Spotify.”

“I'd like to keep working as a model and makeup artist, as well as a lookalike, and I'd love to get the chance to go to a Cheryl concert.”

Caroline, and Natalie’s younger sister Elizabeth, are really excited. Proud mum said: “I am really proud of everything that Natalie has achieved. She has taken every opportunity and worked very hard. It’s a very competitive field in London, and she has a great career there as a hair and make-up artist, and model. It’s a bonus that she happens to have a famous face.”

Lookalikes is on Channel 4 each Friday at 10pm for six weeks from April 8.

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Lake District Backgammon Championship 2016

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Edinburgh’s Ian Hesketh took the top prize at the 2016 Lake District backgammon championship here at the Cedar Manor.

Ian was the runner-up in 2014, when we first set up the tournament to see if there was any interest in the game here in Cumbria.

The response has been astonishing, and this time we attracted 16 top players from across the UK. We now have the backing of the UK Backgammon Federation, but we also have the best location and best hospitality (in our opinion!) and a great prize – the winner gets to come and stay here.

This year Ian defeated British UKBGF team captain Tim Cross in a nail-biting final game. In fact, the whole tournament saw some really thrilling games, some of the best backgammon we’ve ever seen.

Backgammon is one of the world’s oldest board games, combining skill and chance, and is played in cafés across the Mediterranean and in the most exclusive of London clubs, with world championships staged in exotic locations.

Since we started the tournament, we have also been hosting a regular local backgammon club here, and we would love to encourage more players. It’s an easy game to learn, and we would love to meet some newcomers who want to come and join us.

You will also be very welcome to play if you’re staying here on holiday. Jonathan can always be tempted to get a board out; you only have to ask.

So call us, and we will let you know when the group is meeting next. You might turn into a world champion, but you will definitely have a lot of fun.

Anyone interested in joining the group should ring 015394 43192.

And for those who like to see the full facts and figures, here’s the results from this year’s championship:

First Round

Irving Czechowicz Vs Martin Barkwill  Result – Irving Won 7-6

John Wright vs Pam Wright  Result – John Won  7-6

Allan Dye  Vs Jol Wardle  Result – Jol Won 7-3

David Gallagher  Vs Jonathan Backhouse  Result – David won  7-2

Graeme Turner Vs  Samantha Wilkinson  Result – Sam won 7-5

Andrew Hunter vs Tim Cross  Result – Tim Won 7-2

Neil Parnaby  vs  Keith Gill  Results – Neil Won 7-6

Ian Hesketh vs  Gary Bratton   Results  – Ian Won 8-5

 

Second Round

Neil Parnaby vs David Gallagher  – Neil won 7-5

Irving Czechowicz vs Jol Wardle  – Irving won 7-6

John Wright vs Tim Cross  -Tim won 7-6

Samantha Wilkinson vs Ian Hesketh  – Ian won 7-5

Semi-Final

Neil Parnaby vs Ian Hesketh  Result – Ian won 7-1

Tim Cross vs Irvin Czechowicz  Result  – Tim won 7-6

Final

Ian Hesketh vs Tim Cross  Result Ian Won 7-5

Consolation

Andrew Hunter vs Pam Wright  Result – Pam won 7-5

Jonathan Backhouse vs Graeme Turner   Result – Graeme won  7-2

Alan Dye vs Keith Gill  results – Alan won 7-1

Martin Barkwill vs  Gary Bratton  – Martin won  7-3

Semi Final

Pam Wright vs Alan Dye   Pam won – 8-2

Graeme Turner vs Martin Barkwill   Graeme won 8-0

Final

Graeme Turner vs Pam Wright    Graeme Won 7-4

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Designer’s skill in the kitchen wins award in the Cake District

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Interior designer Alison Tordoff took first prize in the Lake District Valentine’s bake-off contest at the Cedar Manor Hotel in Windermere.

Alison, who runs Fidget Design, proved that she could apply her talents to edible art in the competition organised by Windermere and Bowness Fairtrade group.

Her entry, a lemon ricotta gluten-free cake with a “glowing heart”, took the honours from 16 entries in front of a crowd of more than 80 baking enthusiasts.

The cakes were “blind” judged by the hotel’s owner Jonathan Kaye and sous chef Michael Vango who also gave two baking demonstrations during the event.

They were unaware that they had awarded top marks to Alison who designed the rooms at the hotel.

The cakes, all on a Valentine’s theme, were judged on presentation, texture and taste, and the judges had a difficult time reaching their decision.

“There were spectacularly-decorated cakes, and others which tasted wonderful. We used a numerical judging system to be absolutely fair,” said Mr Vango.

He added: “All the entries were of the highest standard.”

Alison won a £50 Lakeland voucher. In second place was Catherine Greenall, who won a remedial massage treatment by Sarah Todd, and third was Doreen Westmorland who won a Farrer’s gift basket.

Grainne Jakobson was “highly commended”, and a special merit prize of a Traidcraft basket for the contestant using the widest range of Fairtrade products was awarded  to Mary Shankley. All the cakes had to be made with Fairtrade sugar.

“The event was a huge success, and we had a good range of Fairtrade products on sale, said Theresa Wooll, who co-ordinated the contest for the Fairtrade group with the Cedar Manor.

Cedar Manor co-owner Caroline Kaye said: “We were thrilled to host this competition because we love cake, and it’s such a good cause. Our restaurant uses Fairtrade products, and we were amazed by the artistry and talent of the entries.”

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