Our Northumberland adventure.
I’m on holiday in Northumberland this week with my family and I really don’t want you to forget about me so I thought I’d deliver some virtual postcards whilst I’m away.
As you read this, me, Richard, the girls and Grandma ‘Tractor’ will be ‘Up North’…But much Norther than the North I usually go up to! We’ll be settled into our fabulous holiday rental cottage in Northumberland, just south of Berwick-upon-Tweed, West Longridge Cottages and B&B.
We went to Northumberland last summer and visited lots of wonderful places: Alnwick, Lindisfarne, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Cragside National Trust Property (THE BEST NATIONAL TRUST PROPERTY EVER!). We even squeezed in a day trip to Edinburgh. We fell in love with Northumberland, its castles, its beaches, the people, the food and we’re keen to return again this year as there is so much more to see.
As well as Richard’s mum staying for the week, my mum (aka Grandma ‘Spikes’ – so named by the girls because of her ‘spiky’ hair) is popping up from sunny Teesside (!) for a couple of days. She’s had to rearrange her entire social calendar to ‘make it so.’ See, we had a bit of a diary glitch. I booked our trip to Northumberland last December and told mum to ‘save the date.’
Mum didn’t have a 2016 diary at the time and asked me to remind her closer to the time so she could book us in. ‘Book in’ might sound over the top but believe me, mum is so busy these days you need to get in quickly before her diary is ‘chocka-block’ with a miriad of trips and social engagements. She’s going to need her own P.A. soon. Unfortunately, I forgot she hadn’t put it in her diary and by the time we discussed it again she was busy. Anyway, she’s shuffled things around (or should I say ‘shuffled people around’! Sorry Desmond! Sorry Rena!) and is able to join us for a few days.
I am so relieved we managed to get a last minute cottage booking. It’s an answer to prayer because Northumberland is such a popular tourist destination and West Longridge Cottages are usually booked up months in advance. After looking at the photos on their website and reading the Trip Adviser reviews, I can see why. We are very excited!
When we originally booked to take our touring caravan back to the lovely River Breamish Caravan Club site near Powburn last December, Beth was at least three inches shorter. Now she’s thirteen, 5 ft 8.5 inches tall (taller than me!) with size 8 feet (same as me – but I get a better deal because her shoe collection is far better than mine). Consequently, she is too tall to fit in a bunk bed.
Grandma ‘Tractor’ and Grandma ‘Spikes’ are not too tall to fit in the bunk beds but getting on the bunk beds is a different matter entirely. Despite being tempted by the idea of making an easy £250 (courtesy of ‘You’ve been framed’) recording their attempts to get onto the bunk beds, we decided the caravan was out of the question and would be too cramped.
We’ve outgrown our caravan.
So we’ve swapped our caravan holiday for a cottage holiday. It’s the end of an era. I can’t believe we’ve outgrown our wonderful 6 berth Sterling Europa Caravan, ‘Penny’ (Sterling…Get it?). We’ve had five glorious years with her and traveled the length and breadth of the UK.
We’ve visited castles and National Trust properties, discovering hidden gems along the way and made lots of new friends. We’ve had amazing family adventures in Harlech, Sandringham, The Lake District, Henley-on-Thames and we’ve had more bacon and maple syrup pancake breakfasts (caravan tradition) than we can count. When it’s rained, we’ve played board games and ‘Scabby Mary’ (card game)and in the mornings we’ve piled into the bed at the front of the caravan and watched TV. At the end of a full and tiring day, Richard and I have argued over who has to make up the bed each night, wondering if a time will come when we don’t have the energy and opt for separate sofas instead. Then, after going to the effort of wrestling with the pull-out bed slats, rearranging the cushions and fitting the sheets, we have sometimes wished there was a bit more than a corrugated fabric screen between us and the kids when they finally fall asleep. But I guess that just adds to the excitement 😉
I will miss our caravan holidays. There are so many reasons why they were perfect for us as a family and perfect for me:
- No 20kg baggage allowance! If I can fit it in, I’m taking it! I don’t ‘do’ packing light. We take umpteen coats and pairs of shoes…Because we can!
- For someone who likes being organised, a caravan isn’t too big a space to keep clean and tidy. I love all the little cupboards and compartments. Everything has its place. We have all the ‘mod cons’, a microwave, oven, hob, shower, loo, TV (although we don’t watch much TV when we are away). It’s like a home away from home, but in miniature.
- Once you pull away from your house with the caravan in tow, you are on holiday. No need to drive to an airport and wait 3 hours…We already feel like our holiday has begun.
- It brings our family closer together. We all have our jobs to do when we get to the caravan site. We are a slick operation now, after conquering the ‘divorce in a bag’, (the awning).
- I am SO relaxed on caravan holidays. I feel so carefree. I don’t know what it is that makes them so relaxing. Perhaps it’s because I really do leave all my cares and worries on the driveway as we pull away. Richard and the girls feel the same way too. Caravanning is good for us! I think the self-catering aspect helps too because we don’t feel like we have to follow a fixed schedule.
- Caravan Club sites are always so well maintained, with lovely shower blocks. It’s a real community and people are so friendly, bonding over their shared love of caravanning.
- There are usually lots of dogs and puppies on caravan sites so we can all get our doggy fix. See my earlier post about why I want a dog but can’t have a dog HERE.
The end of an era.
So, now that we have outgrown our caravan, our trip to Sandringham Caravan Club Site this summer could be our last. I’ll be sorry to say goodbye to Penny. She’s served us well over the years. We’ve got so many wonderful memories of our ‘holidays at home.’ I love going on holiday in the U.K. because here’s so much to see and do, especially if you are in the National Trust. Mind you, after 5 years of U.K. family holidays, even I have to admit that I am looking forward to going abroad.
It will be our 20 year wedding anniversary in 2018. Where did the time go? We have promised the girls we’ll take them to New York and then on to Disney (Florida or California TBC) to celebrate it with us. Richard and I went to New York on our own, (thank you, Grandma ‘Spikes’), for our 10 year wedding anniversary and loved it, so we want to share it with the girls.
So, this year really is the end of an era.
‘Bye, bye, Penny the caravan. Thanks for the memories.’
Over to you.
What’s your idea of a perfect holiday? Do you enjoy ‘holidaying at home’ in a caravan, cottage or tent? Do you prefer to go abroad and seek the sun and sand?
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I am taking a break from blogging this week, but, as always, I love to hear from you and I will read and respond to you comments when I get back.
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