Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 4

Tuesday 23rd August 2011

I genuinely thought that the kids would lie in today following yesterday's walk.. No such luck! 0645 - Knock knock! Grrrrr. Spent 15 minutes getting jumped on, grabbed, prodded and pinched by the kids and then thought 'sod this for a game of Rambo' and got up and had a bath. I needed it!

After the bath, it transpired that Anna had made bacon and eggs for her and the Boy and porridge for the girl - Nothing for me though; I had to get my own bacon and eggs - Still it was delicious!

We had decided to go to Holy Island today but due to the unique positioning of the moon; we couldn't go until 1145 hrs. This left us with 2 hours to kill... Hmmm... What to do! We ended up going for an explore of Lowick. We walked down to the bottom of the village and walked along a farm track for about a mile and then turned back. On the way back through the village, Anna spotted a 'cut through' and we followed it and came to a lovely play area that the kids spent a good 45 minutes playing in and making friends with some of the local kids.

After all this malarkey, we walked to the top of the village and then back to the cottage. We had lunch at the cottage, Tuna salad for Anna and I and cheese on toast for the kids.

After this we got ready to go to Holy Island and after a short drive; we arrived and parked up. Holy Island was nothing like I remembered simply because I don't remember anything about it at all! I think I must have been about 12 or 13 when I last went. We went into the castle there and added another £15 to our National Trust savings this year - Do the NT have a special air-freshener called 'old' as all NT properties smell exactly the same - Maybe it it is the perfume that the employees wear!

I was quite disappointed with the castle if I'm brutally honest - Maybe it was because it was so full and was really crowded. This made me feel like cattle heing herded round. The Girl had an activity sheet to do whilst walking round where she had to find 10 cellos in any of the rooms (small cellos). She eventually found them all and won a sticker!

It was a mile walk from the 'town' on Holy Island to the castle and I was impressed that The Boy managed to walk there and back without really complaining at all and after we got back to the town; we decided to have a coffee -  I think Anna found the mos expensive coffee shop on the island, but still, we are on holiday and she enjoyed her cappuccino!

After that, we got back to the car and drove back to the cottage via Berwick Tesco for some emergency supplies - Coffee! I made dinner which was spag bol for Anna and  the kids and I had home-made burgers!

I managed to finish 'Rising Sun' and it was a good read. Very well written, as per usual for Michael Crichton, I may well see if I can get hold of the film!

Anyway - bed time now and maybe off to the beach tomorrow as the weather is looking like it could be pretty good!


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 3

Monday 22nd August 2011

I ended up starting to read Rising Dawn by Michael Crichton - I figured that as I own The Vegetarian Myth and The Diet Delusion I could take them home and read them there - Like I have been for the last few months..... I only read for a wee while anyway as Anna turned the TV on and the Giants of the Ocean series was on - fascinating!

Woke up this morning at 0740... Positive lie-in! fell out of bed at 0800 and went downstairs to cook breakfast - Bacon and egg again! Fuel for busy holiday! At 0900 I took the kids to Tesco to get some supplies and gave Anna strict instructions to have a soak in the bath - it is not often that she gets that chance to do this looking after the kids all day. She gave me a kiss and said she appreciated it - When we got back I told her that I'd forgotten to get the decaf filter coffee - I think the bath lessened the blow somewhat!

After unpacking the shopping, we got ready and got out at 1100 hrs with the intention of going to Dunstanburgh castle and Craster. We soon realized that we would have to park just outside Craster and then walk to the castle (1/4 miles).. One problem... No parking spaces and a mahoosive queue for any spaces that may become available.. We ended up knocking that on the head and driving around for a while to look for somewhere to have lunch. We ended up in Howick and spotted a path that looked like it led down to the coast. We followed it and found a lovely secluded cove with some great rock-pools. We had lunch in the cove which consisted of Tuna salad etc.

After doing some climbing of a sheer rock face with some great hand holds - about 30 feet - I am not a climber and have no equipment and I made the mistake of looking down when I was halfway up.. I'm not a fan of heights and got pretty scared - Still, we are told to do one thing per day that scares us.. I class getting up and going to work as this but alas, no work here! The Girl, sensibly, took the long way up the cliff and I managed to surprise her at the top. We then explored the rock-pools on the other side. After about an hour of exploring, we thought we'd walk along the coast-path to Craster and get the kids an ice-cream. It turned out to be about 3.5 miles which, with the kids, took about an hour and 20 minutes.

Ice-cream successfully bought we sat in the harbour and rested and made a good attempt at getting up-wind from the decaying seaweed smell that seemed to be permeating! After the ice-cream we found a coffee shop and Anna had a coffee while I took the kids to a park that I saw on the coastal-path. The kids were knackered by this time so we 'cast lots' and I drew the short straw and had to run back the 3.5 miles to get the car. We agreed that I'd go back, get the car and then drive back to Craster and pick Anna and the kids up from the park or the harbour (< 5 mins walk away) in 45 minutes (I allowed 35 minutes to jog back to the car and 10 minutes to get back to them)

I was quite pleased that I managed to get back to the car in 25 minutes which for a non-runner who hates running isn't too bad. I got back to the car. Sweaty and out of breath, practically collapsed into the car and had a much needed drink of water and then drove back to Craster. I got back to the park 35 minutes after I left so I sat in the car by the park waiting for Anna and the kids. After 10 minutes and they hadn't showed up; I assumed that they'd be at the harbour, so I set off there. Nope... No joy there either.. Back to the park... Still no sign of them.. After 15 minutes of fruitless driving around; I parked the car in a semi-legal place (I hoped the JCB didn't want to move - it looked ancient and totally trashed but you never know with JCBs....) and set off to look for them on foot. After another 10 minutes of searching with not a snifter of them the anger had turned to 'mild to moderate' concern - Where could they be? After another 10 minutes, the 'mild to moderate' concern had turned to worry... Had they fallen off a cliff, got mugged or gone off to the castle (We had no mobile phone signal anywhere in the area - bloody T-Mobile and Orange!!!)

10 Minutes later and worry was slowly turning to controlled panic - I had decided that one of the kids had fallen off a rock and was injured so they had gone to Hospital. I had pretty much decided that this was the outcome when who should come trotting round the corner FROM OUTSIDE CRASTER but Anna, herein after known as 'Can't Follow Instructions - or CFI, and the kids. Had they been half an hour earlier; I'd have been cross! However, I was so relived to see them that any residual anger melted away incredibly quickly! Turns out that Anna thought she'd do me a favour and wait by the main road into Craster on a bench near to the tourist information centre and they'd not banked on my running prowess and thus decided to have a 2 minute (Yeah right! 2 female getting ready minutes) browse! - This must have been the exact moment that I'd driven past and back into Craster! I remember being in the air-cadets and always being told that when you get split up from your squad and radio contact has been lost - Head for the RV and wait! Unfortunately Anna was not privy to such advanced military training and waited in an 'unknown to me' location negating any chance of me picking her up!

We drove back to Lowick via Belford to get some decaf filter coffee from the Co-Operative there - Alas they had none so it looks like Earl Grey tomorrow morning. We got back to the cottage at 1750 and I started to cook dinner - Fish, home-made chips and roast veggies for everyone except me who had haggis with roast veggies!

As I type, the kids are getting their PJs on and cleaning their teeth and then I'm gonna read the Girl a story and then have a glass of wine and drum into Anna that, when separated with no contact, HEAD TO THE RV!!!!' (In fairness to her - she was incredibly apologetic and now realizes the importance of sticking to plan!) - Oh! Just thought! When we were reunited; Anna said that she thought I'd got lost...... As if!! I had Brian Blessed guiding me and had a perfectly serviceable map on the passenger seat already open on page 55! (Northumberland)

Right - The Girl is whining for a story ;) I'm gonna go and read her one and then get a glass of wine and maybe some strawberries and cream and then chill out for a bit!

Holy Island tomorrow! - Can't get there till 1145 due to the tides so a lie-in or an explore of Lowick may be in order!

Peace out!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 2

Sunday 21st August 2011

12th Wedding anniversary today - Anna an I both got each other cards but both forgot to write them - What a pair of clowns! I slept brilliantly; Anna not so. I think it is the old 'first night in a new place.' The boy woke us up at 0640 and we tried unsuccessfully to have a lie-in. After a while, I thought "sod it"; went downstairs and cooked breakfast - Bacon and eggs - delicious!

After getting ready to go out, we departed for Bamburgh to see the Grace Darling museum. Anna and The girl had read the story of Grace for one of the Girl's school projects. It was good for them to see where she was born, where she was so heroic and then when she died. We went into the church there - St Aiden's. It was so cold and foreboding - It made me so glad that I'm part of a lively and charismatic church.

After this, we walked around Bamburgh and decided we'd go back to the car and head for the beach. The weather wasn't great but 'to heck with it!' We hit Bamburgh beach at about 1345 and decamped to have lunch - Sandwiches for the family and sardines for me! Then the rain came... There is nothing like the feeling of sitting on a beach - looking at sunny weather down the coast whilst wearing your kagool! Soon enough, the rain blew over and the sun kind of came out. We got the kites out attempted to fly them... It was all going totally tango-uniform until a nice bloke told us that our tails were too short.... That's the first time I've heard that - honest!! ;) The nice bloke's recommendation was to tie a small bit of drift-wood to the kite's tail and the extra weight of that would ensure that the kite flew better.

In fairness - Anna got it to fly pretty well whilst The Girl and I were messing about in the surf

The bloke was right!

The kites flew brilliantly with this 'mod' and much merriment was had especially when the Girl and I 'crossed streams' and the world nearly ended (big tangle). It took about 15 minutes to sort out the tangle and after that normal frivolity was resumed.

At about 1700 hrs we decided to go go and look for a shop so we could eat - I really couldn't stomach another haggis supper - Delicious but I'm not used to all the carbs and my belly told me so! Anyhow, someone in Seahouses told Anna that there was a shop that was likely to be open in Belford and we set off with Brian Blessed guiding us.

Woo hoo! - The shop in Belford was open and it was a Co-operative and a reasonably priced one at that! So I ended up getting a Chorizo ring and mixed leaf salad for me and some sausages for everyone else. (I knocked up a roast veggie cous cous with some salad leaves as well as the sausages for everyone else)

After that, kids showered and PJs on and then to bed. This leaves Anna reading to the Girl and me, having read to the Boy, downstairs typing this! - I think I'll have a glass of wine and read more of The Vegetarian Myth. I feel a little torn as there are two Michael Crichton novels here that I don't think I've read... Hmmm study or fun.. I am on holiday... Ooohh - The choice!

Still undecided....

I'll have some wine and then decide - Tell you tomorrow! :)

Peace out dudez - and that was day 2!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Northumberland Holiday Diary - Day 1

Saturday 20th August 2011

Rudely awakened by my mobile phone alarm - playing a ridiculously upbeat melody. Just what a person needs when they have a busy day ahead of them! Rolled out of bed and stumbled downstairs to get breakfast and get the boy ready for his swimming lesson. I haven't done that since taking the girl! I had forgotten how mind-numbingly boring it was..

When I got back home from this, I was pleasantly surprised to see that Anna had already packed a vast majority of the car and all I had to do was pack the roof-box oh and do my packing - 15 minutes later, I had packed my bag and got all of my electronics together and lobbed em' in the car.

We eventually got in the car at 1030 and hit the road. The journey was uneventful except for the couple of times that the A1 came to a stop for absolutely no reason whatsoever. I can only assume that people had slowed down to gorp at something; probably someone who had 'fallen off the road' - Grrrr!! I was very pleased that even with a fully-laden roof-box, I managed to get fuel economy of 68 mpg which is better than I get driving to work (like a granny - no offence meant to any of the boy-racer grannies who may or may not be reading this!)

We stopped for a drink at a service station on the A1 and despite the proliferation of 'Costa Coffee's' there really wasn't much else there. The prices there were ridiculous! Fuel, for example was £1.47 per litre... Talk about ripping people off. Saying that though; who sets off on a long journey without brimming the tank at home, just to avoid such a scenario!

We arrived at the cottage @ 1600 hrs (as predicted by me) and when we stepped inside - WOW! It was like a home from home. Brilliantly kitted out with everything thought of. There was even a 'welcome' bottle of wine on the work top with 2 glasses. It is these touches that make a holiday so good! The kitchen was kitted out almost better than mine, complete with dishwasher and dishwasher tablets! There was also a washing machine and tumble dryer and with all the fuel included in the price - well, what more can you say?

After unpacking we decided to head into Berwick-Upon-Tweed to 'get a lie of the land' and work out where to go shopping. We ended up having fish and chips (or haggis and chips in my case) by the town wall - was very nice.

We got back from Berwick and got the kids ready for bed and then relaxed with a glass of red and chilled out before going to bed ourselves!

And that was day 1!