This being the Awards season I found myself with 250 other hopefuls at the Castle Green for the Cumbria Tourism awards ceremony. Our Cuckoo Brow was up for “Tourism Pub” of the year, against the Wild Boar, who were unlikely rivals in the pub category, as they are a hotel. I know the Boar well, as it’s just down the road from the Damson Dene and of a very similar size, with 36 bedrooms, as against Damson Dene’s 40. But they have a wonderful talent for reinventing themselves and two years ago walked away with the award for “Best B&B”, which raised quite a few eyebrows amongst the owners of real B&B’s, who have never known the Boar as anything but a hotel. And blow me down they’ve done it again in the pub category. No-one will be surprised if next time they are “Caravan Park of the Year”. Dan and Sally were very gracious in defeat, sending them a warm message of congratulations. They are lovely people and can take solace in the fact that although the Cuckoo Brow is one third the size of the Boar they achieve a lot more 5 Star ratings on Trip Advisor.
The Boar’s marketing skill is evident on their Google site, where they describe themselves as a “Traditional Coaching Inn”. This puzzled me, as they are tucked away off the beaten track (just like the Damson Dene) which is an odd place for a coaching inn, and they don’t seem to be mentioned in any of the 18th and 19th Century guide books to the Lakes. I think a little sleight of hand may be at work here, perhaps to give modern coach tours the impression that they are part of an aged tradition, rather than being just aged.
I had a little consolation at the Kendal College Awards this week, where my daughter Georgina, pictured here with her music lecturer Paul Satterthwaite, won an award as Student of the Year. As well as being a music student Georgie also works behind the bar at the Newby Bridge Hotel, where chef Zac was also a very deserving Kendal College award winner.