Holidaying to the very end

My children’s school didn’t start until the 5th of September so we took the opportunity to get away for one last summer holiday trip. This time it was me, my Mum and the children who took off in the caravan. Our six nights away in York went by very quickly. It seems strange to only just be writing about this now, when autumn seems to be very much here.

Our original pitch at the caravan site was not great – as far away from the play area as it was possible to be. Luckily for us we managed to move to a much more suitable position – right next to it! It was a move that was well worth making. In our new position, we could supervise the children in the play area without leaving our chairs. It also meant that we could let Babykins have a lot more freedom than he would otherwise have had. And if there’s one thing that defines a caravan trip for us, it’s the freedom the children have to run, play, shout, jump and make heaps of new friends. As the days of our trip wore on, the number of children dramatically decreased as everyone went back to school and work. Still, there’s always plenty to do in a caravan.

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Son Number One practised some life skills : grilling sausages….
IMG_8211Babykins also practised some life skills: using a hammer.

There is so much to see and do at York, but it isn’t cheap. It is a relatively compact city (as most ancient cities are) so easy to navigate on foot. However, we bought a ticket for the hop-on, hop-off, open top, sight-seeing bus one day and it was well worth it. The children got to see parts of York and hear history that we wouldn’t have had time for on foot. Of course, the novelty of the open top bus is enough to please children.

If you are staying for a few days, live far away and want to see all the attractions you probably need to buy a York Pass. In our case, I decided to buy a full ticket just for the four Jorvik attractions (Jorvik itself, Dig, The Barley Hall and the Micklegate Bar Museum) because it lasts a full year and since we were visiting at the end of the summer holidays, I figured we could get a lot more use of it. York is not so far away from us.

We visited Dig, the hands on archeology museum, on the last Sunday of the summer holidays and it was very quiet. You have to book a slot for this museum as you are guided on a ‘dig’ by an archeologist. We had the guide to ourselves, which was brilliant. Not only because of the undivided attention he was able to give to my children but also because I didn’t have to worry that my children were bothering anyone else! It was a really well set up and organised attraction that got the children thinking about how archeology works. In many ways, it was better than the famous Jorvik museum itself, which was a little scary for The Middle Miss. It was almost worth the trip for the dressing up box in the Under 5’s area. Babykins has taken to slaying imaginary dragons since we visited.

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IMG_2023We also visited Jorvik itself (twice, so that The Middle Miss could get to grips with it without being too nervous).  All the children enjoyed the demonstration of creating Viking money and I think they might even have learned something.

One of the things we always do in York is visit Cliffords Tower, because we have English Heritage membership. The wide, circular tower is all that remains of an old castle. It is a very impressive building on an imposing slope. The view from the top is great, especially as there are interpretation boards up there that allow you to pick out and name the buildings you can see.

The day we visited English Heritage were running one of their ‘Time Travellers Go’ events. This one was ‘Knight and Princess school’ and it was a lot of fun. The man in charge of training the brave ‘Time Travellers’ had a sense of humour that really worked with children. He asked them what their favourite food was and when he invested them as knights, he used their answers: “Arise Sir Babykins of the sausauge, chips and beeer” (don’t ask).

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The children before us were dubbed in the language of toilet humour, which, as you can imagine, made them all giggle. The dressing up props were beautiful and my brood did indeed look very regal in their crowns and cloaks. I don’t know where they got the chap from who ran the event but he was absolutely perfect. Fact filled and funny too.

IMG_1966Our last major jaunt was to Lightwater Valley, another day out paid for by my Tesco Clubcard points. The main attraction as far as Son Number One was concerned was the new Angry Birds play area.

IMG_8202If, like me, you mourn the passing of ‘Fort William’, the log based adventure playground that used to be the best bit of Lightwater Valley, Angry Birds goes some way to compensate. The play area is large, well designed for different levels of ability and reasonably contained. There is even an indoor, Angry Birds ‘Space’ play area.

IMG_2039 I held my breath as Babykins ran, climbed and balanced his way right around, to the highest levels. Luckily, his sister was brilliant at looking after him, running ahead but always checking that he was one step behind. Otherwise I would have worried about loosing him.

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IMG_8187Of course, we went on quite a few of the other rides in the park but it wasn’t always easy to please everyone. Because Babykins is under one metre tall, he could only go on the smallest and lowest risk rides which thankfully, there were enough of. Probably the trickiest part of the whole day was finding things that all three of them would enjoy together. Luckily, because we had two adults, we could split up from time to time so that everyone got to do what they wanted. Unfortunately, the other down side to the day was the bored looking attendents. Most of them looked like they wanted to be anywhere but there. It didn’t make for a fun atmosphere. There were some notable exceptions so perhaps I shouldn’t tar them all with the same brush.

We were very lucky with the weather while we were away, it was still warm and sunny enough for shorts, as these pictures show. Our caravan site was close to the Monks Cross Park and Ride area and the tourist attractions were starting to get a little quieter. All good reasons for holidaying to the very end.

I love the ability to be able to stretch out the summer holidays. We have had such a busy time this year. We have visited Shap for the ‘Total Warrior’ assault course/mud race, Somerset for our main holiday (which was interspersed with jaunts to Wiltshire and Dorset that I haven’t blogged), Penrith for the Bank Holiday and finally York. In between that we have had two birthdays, complete with cake and parties and a first family trip up Roseberry Topping. All in all, it hardly felt as if we were at home at all.

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