Monday, December 15, 2014

Beth's Excellent Adventure—Part 13: Brough Castle Tea Room and Ice Cream Parlour

Heya, Adventurers!  This is J.K.’s friend Beth, reporting from England, where I had many culinary adventures and remembered to take pictures of some of them.

So my Wednesday in Cumbria was going to be a big day:  Setting foot in the actual ancestral village of Sandford, where Sandfords had been documented back to 1186 and were probably there earlier.  There’s a B&B and pub, the Sandford Arms, said to be on the spot of the long-vanished Sandford Manor.  Unfortunately, it was closed for lunch on Wednesdays, so I missed an opportunity to drink in the footsteps of my ancestors and have an ancestral village Tea Time Adventure.

The plaque I’d seen on Google maps street view that had looked like a marker for the original Manor was about local public footpaths and bike paths.  A gentleman unloading yardwork tools out of his car saw me photographing it, and struck up a conversation.  He grew up there, on his grandmother’s farm, and had never known any actual Sandfords.  (This related to a joke the cousins have passed around, regarding the “Sandford pate” on the pub’s menu, that we hoped it didn’t contain any actual Sandfords).  He did suggest that I continue walking that road over the hill and down to the River Eden.  I did, and got my glam shots of the ancestral countryside.

Meanwhile, I had gone back there, and there was no there there.  However, on a return look at the plaque (they call them “boards” in England), next to the “You are here” (you bet I was!) was a notation that said Sandford Manor.  That was just off the fork in the road, and I investigated.  There was one old barn, etc., but it didn’t look as though it could be original with an updated façade.  I took pix anyway.

Walking back toward the bus stop, I saw a suspiciously old-looking building and snapped that.  It had a typical stone garden wall, but at the corner of it was the ruin if something much, much taller.  It was “cob” (stones in a binding material), it looked ancient, and it could only have been the remnant of a Sandford Manor wall.  I’d gotten on the ground, and had actually found a little bit of there there!  This made the trip a little more than “Well, I set foot there!”  It had still been mostly an academic exercise, but our Sanford family in the States had touched the earliest known Sandford dwelling.

With no lunch (or WC stop) to be had in the village of Sandford, I walked down the road to Warcop.  There, where the local is now closed, a gentleman responded to my inquiries by inviting me in for a pit stop and then a cup of tea.  This was the delightful Joseph Richardson, wildlife photographer and campaigner to save the native red squirrel (article but not the promised photo at; see and I have to see if there's a US region version of the DVDs or hope he still has VHS tapes).

Since Joseph had some shopping to do in nearby Brough, he dropped me off at my destination there, after we exchanged contact info so we can be pen pals.  I am truly my grandfather’s daughter; Samuel Elliott Sanford traveled the world and made friends wherever he went.  I presume he had the same good taste in new friends.

At my final destination for the day, I had my Tea Time Adventure:  a burger made from local beef, the beef shorthorn (as opposed to the dairy shorthorn).  It was, as happened in the afternoons, clouded up, so I ate this and the green salad (with grapes!) inside amidst the livestock and ranch gear posters.  However, I could have eaten at the picnic tables outside the Brough Castle Farm Ice Cream Parlour & Tearoom.  Forget the stereotypes of Wimpy burgers you may have of England; this was another that had a dense texture and a full, beefy flavour.

And they promise their sundaes can make you more likely to get pregnant, if you're aiming at that.

As for the backdrop:  Whereas Brougham Castle, with only two more letters, is pronounced “Broom,” Brough Castle is pronounced “Bruff.”  Go figure.  It’s another Vieuxpont/Clifford castle restored by Lady Ann Clifford that fell into ruin anyway.  That may sound blasé but it’s not; I will be “digesting” my exposure to this big batch o’ family history in the Border Country for some time to come.

And remembering the burgers already digested.