Monday, 18 August 2014

Launde Abbey, Leicestershire - Away with the chattering monkeys...

Launde Abbey, Leicestershire

Launde Abbey, Leicestershire

Now work is no longer so much in the way, I’m hoping to get back to this blog and once again share the lovely things of Middle England.

So, time on my side for a while, DMAF (who has the summer holidays off) and I decided to go on a trip.  “Launde Abbey,” she declared:  “Not too far and if it rains we can skip the walk, have a coffee and come home.”  Who can argue with that?

So off we drove, up the A47 and through the gorgeous village of East Norton with its drool-worthy houses until we found the signs pointing us in the direction of Launde Abbey.  Hardly a car in the car-park, we parked, and had a nose around the public areas of this beautiful stone abbey which dates back to the 12th century.

We checked out the café, having a coffee sitting outside in the pretty courtyard which was very quiet.   And quietness is the essence of this historic place.  Afterall, it is an abbey and offers residential retreats and quiet days although DMAF and I were definitely here for chats, cappuccino and catching up. 
Cafe Launde Abbey Leicestershire

Launde Abbey Café

The peaceful atmosphere was no bad thing though as we’ve both been quite frazzled lately and I must admit I have had a dabble with a mindfulness CD, but maybe Launde would quieten the chattering monkeys in my head?

Launde Abbey Lakes

Launde Abbey Lakes

A helpful man in reception gave us a choice of circular walks from the Abbey and obviously we opted for the one that would lead us back to lunch in the quickest time which was a 2 mile walk, going around the lakes and Withcote Lodge. 
Not much help!
Clutching our piece of paper, we strolled through rolling Leicestershire countryside, stopping at the lakes to watch the skimming of a dragon fly, on through fields with hay bales that could be out of a Constable painting.  And then, of course, we got lost! 

The map and directions must have been old as no matter how hard we looked and turned the paper upside down, we couldn't find the continuation of the path.  A few false starts and stinging nettles later, we came across a couple of walkers who looked very professional with their ordnance survey map and who put us on the right track back to the abbey.
Still sunny, so we ordered baguettes and elder flower pressés for outside in the courtyard.  Our waitress let us know that the pressé wasn’t cold, but she could put ice in it which I thought was good service.  Often you get a drink plonked down warm in front of you, no option.

My baguette was filled with tender roast beef and hot horseradish with a serving of very fresh salad (maybe grown in their Victorian kitchen garden).   DMAF went a little adventurous with tuna AND pesto AND olives, not a combination either of us had tried before but one we both thought we might copy to liven up lunch at home in future.  Delicious and good value for money at around £7.00 each.

The Good: Lovely walks, very tranquil setting, generous hospitality to all whether you visit for spiritual reasons or simply to enjoy,  with no charge for car parking or the walk map.

 The not so good: Think the maps need to be updated as we got lost – or maybe it was us!

 Go again:  Definitely do another walk and the Pudding Nights held once a month where you try six delicious puddings sounds good.  Don’t think DMAF and I will be opting for the silent retreat though!

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