Life In A Small Lake District Wedding Venue – August 2020


Steve Rhodes


Yes it’s mid-September and I’m late again with my monthly blog revealing behind the scenes of a small wedding venue. School holidays wrapping up, a few days out, football practice (daughter not me), new office furniture arriving (oh not more flat packs!) etc. etc. all conspired (or assisted 😊) in delaying the inevitable time when I needed to sit down and blog once again.

August Round up

August was a busy month for weddings and remained challenging weather-wise but once again our couples embraced the unpredictable Lake District weather and had a ball. Some great photos were taken by some fabulous photographers and many of the photographs can be seen featured on our website below plus all of our social media feeds. We were also blessed with a couple of gloriously sunny weddings, one of which prompted the comment ‘it’s too hot’ from one of our guests. Not something we get challenged with very often!

Around the Venue

A relatively quiet month for changes with the major challenge being to keep up with growth in the very wet garden. There is a definitely a change in the seasons happening as leaves are now falling constantly from the silver birch and copper beach. Moss is trying its best to infiltrate the lawned areas and pegging this back will feature heavily in my time during September and is necessary to provide lush green grass for 2020 weddings.

Hydrangeas and Rudbeckia
Hydrangeas and Rudbeckia

We finally managed to find a bit of time to revamp our office area and I now have a proper desk and chair. Errrrm, not sure this is such a good thing as I’ll no longer be able to use the ‘lack of desk’ excuse when it comes to admin’. Anyway, we’re all kitted up to more efficiently deal with the growing amount of wedding administration that comes with getting busier year on year. 2020 is almost full so if you’re still thinking of getting married next year please get in touch with Caroline soon.

Earlier in the month we had the pleasure of a visit from Tim Farron. For those that don’t know him he is our local MP and former leader of the Liberal Democrats. Irrespective of politics, he is a great champion for the region.
Tim congratulated us on our recent involvement in the Cumbria Tourism awards and in my view, he didn’t need to do this, having already supported the event through his attendance. In return for his kind gesture I decided to offer Tim an open invitation to come and view the work we do at Cote How and see our venue for himself. I wasn’t entirely surprised when he accepted my invitation and we were very glad that he found the time to visit and chat with us for a couple of hours. Thanks again Tim (and Tina) for finding the time to visit us.

Tim Farron MP at Cote How with owners Caroline and Steve
Tim Farron MP at Cote How with Caroline and Steve

On the subject of political figures, did you know that an American President had his portrait painted in one of the Cote How bedrooms. To find out more see Caroline’s historical feature on our website here.

Woodrow Wilson at Cote How 1906
Woodrow Wilson had his portrait painted here in 1906 by a local artist (then tenant), Fred Yates.

The Garden

The emerald greens and vibrant colours of the garden are starting to fade to an autumn colour pallet, one of my favorite times of year. The agapanthus has continued to bloom throughout the month, which was surprising as it had completely finished by mid July last year. The echinops have been a great favorite with the bees and have steadily flowered up until the end of the month. The arrival of the Japanese anemone has provided a great splash of pink and their flowers have been covered with bees, hover flies and butterflies.

Agapanthus and Butterfly
Agapanthus and Butterfly
Echinops and bees
Echinops and Bees
Anemone and hover fly

Out and About

During the summer holidays I tend to avoid the local fells as the peace and solitude that they provide is often lost through the sheer number of visitors. Its not that I resent visitors, its simply that the fells for me are a chance to escape, to look at the world, to think and to let the dogs run freely. This becomes a lot harder to achieve when there are lots of visitors during the peak summer months.

Having not been out very much I realised just how much I miss it. Its amazing to see how much things have changed in just a few short weeks. The bracken, which had grown from nothing to 7 feet high in the space of a few short weeks, is already showing signs of dying back. I noticed that this seems to happen from the bottom up, which is great for the dogs as they can see where they’re going once again, though not much advantage to me. For me the bracken seems hell bent on tying itself into trip wires to bring me crashing to the ground, mud and ticks.

Its still quite wet underfoot and I guess it’s not going to dry up much until next year. The wet loving orchids that I mentioned last month have all gone now. The only visible signs being a few dried-up grey twigs. The bog asphodel has turned into a fantastic burnt umber and is a great sight when the sun is low in the sky to illuminate it.

On the wildlife front we were really excited to see the return of red squirrels into the Cote How garden with two sightings in the last few days. Its great to see that they’re surviving the grey squirrel invasion and all the diseases that they carry with them.

Red Squirrel in the garden at Cote How
Red Squirrel at Cote How

Also in the garden are many frogs and toads and once again I came across a slow worm, which is always a great sight. It was a young female and I can safely say there was nothing slow about it. It took me a good few attempts to catch so that I could show the family before putting it back to carry with it’s day.

Hydrangeas at First Light
Hydrangeas at First Light

If you stand outside after dark you can hear the owl chorus that is frequent sound at this time of year. I’ve yet to spot one, but you can hear them talking to each other up and down the Rydal valley.

Dawn at Cote How
Dawn at Cote How

Away from Cote How

Caroline and I had a great escape to the Yorkshire Dales, Nidderdale to be precise and stayed in a great B&B. We used this rare opportunity to get away to visit RHS Harlow Carr for a bit of garden research. A spectacular garden, so much so that we even joined the RHS so that we could go and visit the other RHS gardens around the UK. On our way home we stopped off at Ripley Castle and Gardens and a also the stunning Parcevall Hall Gardens – well worth a visit.

A Day out at RHS Harlow Carr
RHS Harlow Carr
Ripley Castle
Ripley Castle
A Fallen Tree at Ripley Castle
A Fallen Tree at Ripley Castle
Parcevall Hall Gardens
Parcevall Hall Gardens

We also took the opportunity to attend Rydal Sheep Dog Trials and Hounds Show, which is always a great day out. This year we were lucky to get a glorious day, perfect for whiling away the hours and watching the skill of the dogs and their handlers. See you next month.

Steve and Caroline in Rydal Field for the Sheep dog trials
Steve and Caroline in Rydal Field for the Sheep dog trials
Steve (the reluctant Blogger)

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