Last week we had our first visitors to stay at the Lakeland cottage. They'd never seen the area before so we put our tourist hats on and took them for a cruise on Lake Windermere, a walk round Bowness and Ambleside, and a trip to the old grammar school at Hawkshead where the poet Wordsworth was a pupil.
Once they'd gone we forgot to take our hats off again and ended up doing all sorts of other touristy things. We visited the South Lakes Wild Animal Park near Barrow in Furness, we took a ride on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite steam railway, and we popped into the Lakes Aquarium to see our favourite pygmy marmosets (yes, they have monkeys in an aquarium... go figure). All of which was immensely good fun.
The only time we'd been to the Wild Animal Park before was shortly after it first opened. It was very sweet, but a little sparse in the animal department - a few lemurs and wallabies and not a lot else. Now we're pleased to see it's bedded itself in really well, is chock full of animals and has started up a couple of great conservation/rescue services, for spectacled bears and macaws. Long may it continue the good work.
The steam railway only goes about three miles along the south-western shore of Windermere, but it passes through some amazingly pretty scenery along the way and there are all sorts of engine sheds and exhibits to clamber over at Haverthwaite station.
It always feels a little strange being a tourist in an area you call home, but it did mean we got to see things we wouldn't have done otherwise. Maybe next time we'll do a coach tour of the lakes and mountains. Then again... ;)