First published on the Stoffers blog.
You have to allow yourself one indulgence while travelling: one wild night, one big purchase, two nights at a five star hotel… I just had my one indulgence for this trip. And it relates to a 2010 TV series (that was also turned into a film) called The Trip, starring Rob Brydon and Steve Coogan.
In The Trip, Brydon and Coogs play themselves on a restaurant tour of the north of England. Coogs was meant to go with his girlfriend, but she has gone to the US and he (reluctantly) takes his friend/colleague/competitor Brydon instead. They bicker, they tease, they do impressions, they eat and drink (a lot) and both annoy and charm the viewer.
I’m obsessed with it.
So the other day I did the nerdiest thing. I visited one of the locations in the show which also happens to be a very classy restaurant and accommodation called Holbeck Ghyll.
Holbeck Ghyll is a former hunting lodge, built in the late 19th century. The taxi took us up a steep driveway and emerged on a hilltop with a stunning view of the surrounding Cumbrian countryside.
Inside the building we were greeted as ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’, and treated immediately to pre-lunch cocktails, breadsticks and a cream cheese and truffle dip. My choice was a martini (shaken not stirred).
We ordered our lunch and were then taken through to a table near the window, almost exactly where Brydon and Coogan sat in the show. Perhaps it was our Aussie accents that got us such a good table.
I sat facing the window and was able to watch robins attending a bird feeder in the garden, as well as a dog nosing about (England is SO dog-friendly, they’re everywhere).
We ate scallops, ham hock and beef, we drank white and red wine (‘farewell to the white wine, hello to our old friend the red’), and whisky too. We forgot to care about the bill (I’m sure that’s why cocktails are offered first). And then we finished with the most incredible cheese we’ve ever tasted.
We were treated so well. The restaurant is out of our usual budget range, yes, but it’s not snooty. There were some ‘moneyed’ customers (you can tell by cars, fabrics and conversation) and then others dressed casually in shorts. We did overhear a couple of guys quoting from The Trip, as we were, and then overheard another couple on the bus the next day as we drove past. It’s a phenomenon.
We acted out all the classic parts of the episode, taking note of the salt, which is arranged like a line of cocaine (‘bit weird, Rob’), saying ‘come ‘ere with a cracker’ to the cheese, and acting out the part where the restaurant is name checked:
‘I’m Holbeck Ghyll. You might remember me from Follyfoot. I’m here to tell you about a wonderful new walk-in bath. And softly softly.’
Before we left, and the large hole in our wallets was revealed, I made sure to lather on as much as I could of the expensive hand cream in the loos. It was worth it—for the meta-restaurant experience, imitating the imitators, and because of the incredible food (the portions were real-sized, too). We had to go take a nap afterwards.
‘I’m Holbeck Ghyll. Goodnight.’