On my last evening in Cumbria, I had supper with Lord Lowther. Remember him? It was his log I stole the week before on the grounds of his estate in front of his magnificent castle. He didn’t realize I was the culprit.
Our meal took place in The George and Dragon, an eighteenth century coaching inn. He owns the place. I had lamb, something I’d been craving. But when my companion wanted to know what I thought of the food, I smiled and nodded. I couldn’t disappoint him; he seemed so proud of the inn’s Finalist for Taste of England Award. The fact is, I didn’t enjoy the dish at all, perhaps because of the guilt I felt for eating a relative of all those dear sweet sheep I’d fallen in love with wandering the fields of Cumbria. We had a couple bottles of the inn’s best red and sticky toffee pudding at the end. It was a lovely ending to a lovely time in Cumbria. I vowed to return the following year.
It all started when John—an old friend of Joan’s from Kitwe—who she’s been seeing for a couple of years, called to invite us to dine at The George and Dragon on my last night. He’d take the early train up from Kent and Bob’s your uncle, I’d finally get to meet her “friend.” Except he missed his train and would be late. So Joan and I went ahead to keep our six-thirty reservation, with plans for her to pick him up from the station when he arrived. The pub was packed. It was live music night. Joan left for the station just as the group tuned up in the corner of the small pub. I took snapshots of all the dogs and had a pint. Check out red-eyed Dudley lying by his mistress’s chair. By the time Joan returned with John, I was enjoying the music, kind of a folksy rock at a small table close to the musicians. We were shown a table in another room away from the pub next to a couple all by themselves. He was young, fresh-faced, casually dressed, as was she, eager to talk about the pub they owned. The Lowthers. Too young to be the Lord himself, but hey, maybe he was a Lord in his own right? And yes his wife was there as well. I neglected to tell you that part. But the rest is all true.