I can't put it off any longer, and as the only alternative this after noon is the washing up, I'll make a start with the write ups now. I'll do this chronologically, and start with Northcote first, though I'm well aware, as some pedant will no doubt point out, it isn't in the Lake District! We had booked a 'Gourmet Break' basically a decent room (got a free upgrade to a superior as the deluxe rooms were being refurbed) and five course dinner for two for £250. The room was pretty good, and the food was a real surprise, much much better than we were anticipating both from Nigels reputation (though being a Monday night he may not have been in the kitchen) and previous reviews on here. The menu was as follows: Carpaccio of wood pigeon, shavings of smoked foie gras, apricot, organic garden leaves Seared wild seabass, lobster parcel, coriander, chargrilled Tarleton baby gem lettuce, ginger Ascrofts cauliflower soup, summer truffle Dunsop Bridge lonk lamb, girolles, potato souffle A selection of Britsh and Irish cheeses. The pigeon was good, thinly sliced as carpaccio should be, the smoked foie, added another note, the smoked flavour wasn't too apparent, it could have passed for regular foie but that's a minor quibble, whatever flavour was there was perfectly suited to the dish. The apricots adding a sweetness which would otherwise have been missing, all in all a pretty good starter, showing a skilled hand in the kitchen and a real understanding of flavours. Though this was a set menu, this was a dish I would have ordered anyway. The wild sea bass dish on the other hand is something I would never have considered ordering, but it was a real gem, the fish perfectly cooked, the lobster was as good as lobster ever is, though I have to say I'm no fine of lobster, give me a decent crab any day. The lettuce was the real star though, the chargrilled edges adding a perfect smokey flavour, and nestled within was an unannounced piece of dry cured bacon, possibly my favourite part of the dish. The ginger was noticeable only by it's (to my palate) absence. I wasn't expecting much from the cauliflower soup, though cauliflower is my favourite vegetable by some considerable margin, I find summer truffles too often disappointing. Not in this case though, the dish was presented as a bowl of cauliflower soup, with a slick of what looked like blitzed truffles with oil in the centre, then a few grated pieces of truffle on top of that, the grated pieces were neither here nor there, but the other truffle element was stonking, perfectly matched to the cauliflower and perhaps our favourite dish so far. The lamb was pretty much as you would expect, loin, served pink, and was a pretty good piece of meat, the best things on the plate though were the girolles and some sweet breads which I wasn't expecting but was very pleased to see. I can't remember exactly what cheese we were given but I do remember it was in perfect condition and well chosen. My memory also fails when it comes to the wine too but it would have been something red, Italian and about 35 quid. We really enjoyed everything about out short stay at Northcote, from the chat with the gardener on arrival, to the pretty swanky room, through to a much better than anticipated dinner. Also worthy of note was breakfast, possibly the best hotel breakfast I've had, and I've had a few. The sausages really stood out as being top notch, when I mentioned this to the waitress, she said 'yes, we've been looking a sausage as good as that for a long time' I for one am glad they made the effort. The Punchbowl report to follow when I can be arsed.