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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

The Jumble Room at Grasmere and Randy Pike near Ambleside

Even if you forget the name - which, let’s face it, is pretty unlikely - you’ll never forget the luxurious surroundings of Randy Pike. Rococo meets Gothic and lots of colour at Andy and Chrissy Hill’s three bedroom B&B, located off the road between Ambleside and Hawkshead. A fourth suite is on the way.

One of the perks of staying at Randy Pike is that you can be ferried to and from The Jumble Room in Grasmere, Chrissy and Andy’s other business which this year is celebrating its 20th birthday. For much of that time it’s been a regular in the Good Food Guide (it’s there again for the 2017 edition), the menu criss-crossing the world with dishes like the Thriller in Manila, coconut and red lentil dhal, Teppanyaki steak and the very popular fish and chips.

The restaurant business wasn’t the couple’s first choice of career. Chrissy, born of an old Lakeland family (one of her ancestors used to serve teas in Victorian times at a small stone hut at Easedale Tarn near Grasmere), was a hairdresser by trade who briefly worked at Vidal Sassoon’s studio in Mayfair.

Andy, son of a vicar (latterly of St Andrew’s Church, Coniston) was a heating and plumbing engineer for nearly 20 years. When the couple decided to open a café in a building once used for junk (hence The Jumble Room) the place quickly evolved into a restaurant.

‘It’s got such a lovely atmosphere it almost sings,’ a diner once told them, which is an appropriate comment given Andy’s great interest in music. Jazz photographs adorn the walls upstairs while the album covers in the ladies and gents may detain you longer than you bargained for. Check out ‘Sounds from the room’ on The Jumble Room website as well.

Five years ago the same ethos which pervades the restaurant - ‘take the very best ingredients, cook them with love and serve them with pride’ - transferred to their new B&B, a former hunting lodge, built by the same man who constructed nearby Wray Castle.

Large bedrooms and bathrooms, huge beds, lavish colours, richly textured fabrics, all laced with a bit of eccentricity. That’s what you get and that’s what people love about the place. Not forgetting the Randy Pike trifle for breakfast and the charming, generous, very welcoming and slightly off-the-wall hosts who serve it. Many congratulations on the 20 years.

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