Another place i really wanted to go was a visit to Lilliput Lane.
Near the north end of the Lake District, just off the motorway (M6) is Penrith but before you even get to the town, you take a hard left once you leave the M6 at the sign for Lilliput Lane. They are the producers of beautiful hand painted decorative cottages and buildings. Lilliput Lane is over 25 years old and all the production for their products is here and it's all done by hand by about 100 craftspeople who work in various areas, learning all or most aspects - sculptors, molds, metal work, painters, fettler. THey do tours twice a day and it's definitely well worth it. We arrived with a bit of time for a quick cuppa in the tea room before a tour would start and as it worked out, we were the only two on the tour which was free. The woman who took us around has worked there a long time and has done pretty much all the various jobs over the years. She explained the history of the company then the procedures from the concept of deciding on a building or structure to the wax sculpture to the rubber and silicone molds and the resin master product used to create the others. They always have one master that they save but it will be destroyed when a model is discontinued, usually after 2 to 3 years in production.
It was even very interesting even hearing about how they make the packing material! The visitor center looks like an old storybook thatched cottage but it's only 12 years old and is a replica of a cottage in Hertfordshire. It's not the original one that was there. One side of the visitor centre has loads of cottages and buildings and models from the 25 years of the company's history and the other side has items for sale, some discontinued, some only available there at the visitor centre. You can also join a session to paint your own cottage or you can buy an unpainted one to do yourself with acrylic paints if you want.
After we left here, we drove down one of the smaller roads through the Lakes, by Ullswater and through some mountain passes to Ambleside. This was the first proper visit to Ambleside though i've driven through it a couple of times. We met up with two friends, had lunch and a wander through the nice little town. There's a bit more about this in the other Lake District review in this journal.