Summer holidays 2014

It’s been a while since I updated my space here. I know holiday photos are boring but this is mainly for me and my family archive. If you want to see some happy pictures, feel free to read on.

Our holidays started with a trip to Shap to take part in the 2014 ‘Total Warrior’ 10km muddy obstacle race. This is the ‘before’ picture.before total warrior 14This is one of the most energy sapping obstacles we did. The Husband and I are smack bang in the middle of this photo. I’m the one up to my chest in mud. I was very grateful to swim through a river shortly after this! The weather was dreadful, which didn’t make much difference to us as competitors but it wasn’t much fun for spectators.total warrior 14 in the mudFortunately, things improved the day we drove to Beddgelert in North Wales. The mountain you can see in the distance is Snowdon, the highest in Wales and England. This was taken from in front of our caravan, which was parked at Cae Du campsite, a site that prides itself in providing a peaceful, quiet environment. Driving the caravan there wasn’t an experience for the faint hearted but Beddgelert proved to be a good base for exploring Snowdonia. View of Snowdon from CampsiteOne of our first days out was to Criccieth, a little coastal town which had everything you could want (except perhaps sand). We found a patch of sheltered pebbly beach and settled in to eat freshly fried chips. We spent the rest of the afternoon building rock caves instead of sand castles. I could have spent a few days here as there seemed to be a high street filled with delightful, independent shops but I never got any closer than admiring them from the car. There was also a cute little castle close to the beach but we never made it to that either, we were contended enough on the beach.Sea at Cricceth North WalesCaenarfon Castle however, was unmissable. It is truly spectacular. There were so many towers and turrets to explore that we spent hours there. You need plenty of stamina and a head for heights. Climbing the towers gives wonderful views over the town, the Menai Straights and the mountains of Snowdonia.Canaerfon CastleThis is the view from the Snowdon Mountain Railway. There aren’t many mountains you can ascend by rail in the UK but Snowdon is one of them. It was very expensive for us to do this trip as a family of five so we were very grateful for mostly good views. The summit was cloudy, cold and windy but I suppose that was a good experience too. Our children now know how true it is when people say that the conditions can change quickly in the mountains.View from SnowdonWe did have some rainy days during our holiday. This photo was taken the day that the remains of Hurricane Bertha passed over. Apart from putting the storm straps on the awning, it didn’t affect us too much. We just settled in with games and crafts and eventually dodged the showers for a walk to the village.Indoor games caravan Wet Wales hillsidesAnother of our days out was to Plas Newydd, a stately home on the Anglesea side of the Menai Straits. The estate is owned by the National Trust, who have made their properties very family friendly in recent years. Our children generally enjoy the quizzes that the NT provide and the Plas Newydd experience was no different. They also took full advantage of the playground and happily explored the terrace and formal gardens. It was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me because although I’d never really visited the house or gardens before, I stayed at the adjacent outdoor education centre a few times when I was a biology teacher. I used to visit with the 6th form on their field trips and we spent many an hour foraging in the seaweed on the shore below the house.Garden at Plas Newyyd AngleseaSnowdonia has some fabulous coastline. This picture was taken at Nefyn on the Llyn Peninsula. The colours and the light are a wonderful combination of blues, greens, browns and white. We got quite a taste for swimming in the sea, with the beach at Llandanwg, near Harlech having water that seemed surprisingly warm.Ready for swimming Into the Sea North WalesHarlech and Nefyn both had great sandcastle sand too.

Sandcastles 2014In truth, we could have spent a lot of time just exploring the area around the campsite and Beddgelert. This lake was a short, easy walk away along a quiet lane and scenic footpath.Paddling in lake near Beddgellert Beddgellert scenery lane at BeddgellertBut, North Wales has plenty of attractions too and and we couldn’t resist another rail trip from Beddgelert to Porth Madoc on the Welsh Highland Railway, a narrow gauge railway that runs North to Caenarfon too.Dragon bench on Welsh Highland RailwayWe could have spent lots more time exploring North Wales but our time was up after 11 nights. We had a pressing deadline. The Middle Miss wanted to be home in time for her seventh birthday. However, staying on a site with tents stimulated a short camping trip over the August bank holiday weekend. I told Son Number One that I was never camping again and that if he wanted to I was happy to keep paying his subs at cubs. The Husband fancied a trip though and planned to take the older two children to a site near Robin Hood’s Bay, which is just an hour away down the coast. I hummed and ahhed about joining them and eventually I felt sorry for Babykins, who was going to be left behind if I didn’t go. Luckily, it was a great trip on a pleasant site with plenty of sunshine.tent set up camping camping tea timeOn the Saturday, The Husband, Son Number One and The Middle Miss embarked on a bike ride from Hawsker to Ravenscar, the same trip that we did last September with the local scouts.


Coastline from RavenscarBabykins and I explored Robin Hood’s Bay itself.

IMG_1698IMG_1670IMG_1668IMG_1655IMG_1652IMG_1651IMG_1645IMG_1644 It’s an incredibly photogenic place but I just haven’t captured it. The houses appear to be piled on top of each other and cling to the sides of a steep road down to the harbour.

robin hoods bay housesEverything about it is quaint and picturesque.

old bike at robin hood's bay

As you can see from the picture below, fishing is still a part of the town’s activities.

lobster pots robin hood's bay

I didn’t know it had it’s own sea monster!

sea monster robin hood's bay

Mainly, I think, it’s a place to make happy holiday memories…

memory bench robin hood's bay

 

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An evening at the beach

WARNING – This post is overloaded with photos!

Remember summer? You know, that bit of nice weather we had a week or two ago? I managed to take advantage of it by going to the beach one night after school. I really, really, really wanted to go and visit the great new Yarnbombing at Saltburn. I have posted about the Saltburn Yarnbombings before (you can find the posts here and here) so I felt the need to catch up on the wooly happenings down the coast. This time I managed to drag The Husband along too, thanks to the privilege of working flexi-time.

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First we set ourselves up on the sand with our blanket and picnic and indulged in the usual seaside pursuits of digging, burying and  ‘foraging’. Babykins was completely tickled with the experience of having his feet buried in the sand.

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The foraging in the pools underneath the pier was fruitful. We caught a few tiny flat fish and shrimp, though I only got a picture of the flat fish. I have never caught anything like it before. It was perfectly camouflaged – almost transparent with tiny brown dots all over it.

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We ate fish and chips and ice cream and eventually decided to head for the top of the pier, where the yarnbombing was located. By this time it was getting quite late and we were running out of dry clothes for Babykins. I think we were the last family with young children off the beach (tut, tut).

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The Yarnbombing was fabulous. Bigger than the last two I’ve seen here and so much fun. I photographed it all and I have been hard pushed to take out many of the images, I love them all. So, here goes photo overload. If you haven’t been to see it or if you are far away, I hope you enjoy it

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So, there you have it. Somebody worked long and hard on that lot! What was your favourite. I think mine is the fish and chips, though the donkeys ‘Knit and Purl’ are very cute too. Did you notice the crochet? I was very pleased to see some of that. What a lot of inspiration….

52 weeks of happy 23/52

IMG_7341I have so much I want to get down onto virtual paper about our family adventures in the last few weeks. There are about a million photos ready to be tweaked and uploaded but I think this one sums things up quite well; blue sky, beach and a child eating ice cream, all  reflected in The Husbands sunglasses.

IMG_7384This is also the time of year when just looking at the garden can really make me feel happy. Clematis are such big, show-offs, their blooms as big as plates grab your attention. They always remind me of my Grandma and Grandad’s garden. They had a beautiful clematis, Nelly Moser I think, though it always looked slightly different somehow.

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Our garden tubs are also blooming with pansies at the moment and they are so bright and cheerful, they never fail to make me smile.

IMG_7412My final picture is a rare pleasure. A sneaky moment of crochet in our allotment on my way back from my ‘knit and natter’ session tonight. The sun was setting, the sky was turning pink, the garden was looking (reasonably) tidy and the birds were singing. Heaven.

Barefoot on the beach in February

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IMG_6285Today was bright and still. Slowly but surely the days are getting longer and the quality of the light is changing. The low sun makes the ripple patterns in the sand show up beautifully and the colours of the beach, the water and the sky are delightfully harmonious. Mother Nature never gets it wrong. On days like today, when the weather is clear and bright I feel quite drawn to the beach. Having it just a short drive away makes me very happy.

Son Number One has his father’s genes when it comes to feeling the cold. Only he was crazy enough to wander around bare foot. His toes were looking rather pink by the time we left.

Our local beach is not traditionally picturesque; the chemical industry, a nuclear power station and a large international dock have seen to that, However there are wide, golden sands and high cliffs in the distance. There is always plenty to see. Today it was horses, dogs big and small, lots of shells and seaweed among the rock pools and the growing offshore wind farm.

The North-East has it’s grimy side but it’s cheap to live here and we have great outdoor spaces on our doorstep. I hope we have plenty more opportunities to feel the sand between our toes in 2013.

Out and about on a school night

The appearance of the sun on Monday galvanised me into action. I have been wanting to go to Saltburn again to view the new Jubilee themed yarnbombing. I packed up the car with sand toys and a picnic, scooped up the children as quickly as I could from school and headed over there. It was still half past four by the time we arrived. Nothing ever happens fast round here.

By the time I had unloaded the children from the car and attempted to squeeze all my bags under the pushchair, time was running out. The cliff lift was only open until 5, the yarnbombing was at the top and there was no way I was pushing my groaning pushchair up that hill. We just had enough time to go to the top, inspect the knitting and ride back down again.

It was very satisfactory actually. I am so impressed with the skill and sense of humour of the knitter or knitters. Riding the cliff lift is a fun experience. The inside is wide enough for a pushchair or wheel chair. You get a lovely view out to sea and the windows themselves are worth looking at. They have beautiful stained glass that my photo really doesn’t do justice to.

Once we were back down at promenade level and had negotiated the inevitable toilet stop, we had a little walk on the pier to see the Olympic yarnbombing. But there was no holding the children back – they were ready for some sand action. They scampered off onto the beach via the steps. I was left with the fun task of trying to get Babykins and the pushchair down the very rutted and ridged stone slope (see first picture).

I was tickled by how the older two had arranged their shoes. They were wedged in behind a big rock “Keeping the sand out of them, Mum”. Wishful thinking.

They indulged in much digging and fetching of water, the eternal childhood pleasures of a trip to the seaside. It felt as if it was the first time that I had been able to sit back and let them get on with it. When they were younger I think I supervised the sandcastle building a bit too much. Nowadays I am just too preoccupied with keeping an eye on Babykins to worry too much about the older ones.

I finally managed to get the picnic out and persuade the children to keep a bucket of water nearby to rinse their sandy hands in. Nevertheless, I think Babykins managed to ingest his fair share of sand. Why is it that at home, he is very keen on using cutlery but when his hands are holding half the beach he thinks its a good idea to use his fingers?

Despite my preparations, there was one essential piece of kit that I had left behind. I normally have my swiss army knife in my bag (you never know when you might need scissors or tweezers) but typically, on the day when the ring pull came off our can of sweetcorn, I’d taken it out.

No problem, Son Number One had the answer.

Him: “Why don’t you take it up to one of the cafes and see if they’ll open it for you Mum?”.

Me: “Yes son, but I don’t want to pack up all our stuff and I don’t want to leave you guys on the beach on your own”.

Him: “I can do it”.

I pondered for a moment. He’s at the age where he wants to be more independent. He needs the practice at asking for things from people like shop assistants. Not long ago he would have been terrified of the idea of speaking to someone he didn’t know. I would be able to see him the whole time and there were no traffic issues.

Me: Alright then, off you go.

Result! The kind ice cream parlour owner helped us out. She was even sensible enough not to send him back with a sharp can lid. What my boy will do for sweetcorn.

Time was getting on again and Babykins was starting to get cold. The Middle Miss requested an ice cream and I was happy to oblige. They had done a good job with their picnic tea in difficult (sandy) conditions and I was all in the mood for treats. Alas, the ice cream shop had been shutting when Son Number One went to get our can opened. Instead, we had a couple of portions of chips and sat up on the prom to eat them. As far as I am concerned it’s practically obligatory to eat chips when you go to the seaside.

As we sat, the light changed. The sun shone just that bit more and was lower in the sky. It really lit up the beach beautifully.

We decided to finish our trip by walking the full length of the pier.

You can just about make out the cliff lift in this picture. The carriages are half way up because it is closed.

The shadows were really starting to lengthen as we headed back to the car. It was half past eight by the time I got them home and into bed but I had one of the best trips with my children that I’ve ever had.

I don’t regret going out on a ‘school night’ though I wouldn’t stay out as long on a regular basis. In the ‘summer’ we are having, you’ve got to take the chance when you can.

I hope enjoyed reading about our little trip. Make the most of the the sun today because tomorrow it’s going to rain. Again. A lot.

The Saltburn Yarnbomber

You might have seen the ‘Saltburn Yarnbomber‘ in the news recently. I couldn’t resist taking the family to view it tonight. Son Number One has to write a ‘non-chronological report in the third person’ (I’m rolling my eyes at that) about the Olympics this week so I thought he might benefit from some knitted inspiration.

Somebody had a lot of fun making this. We had almost as much fun going to visit it. Saltburn (by-the-sea, though no one locally gives the place it’s Sunday name) is a pretty little town with a clean beach, great views of the local cliffs and the only pier for miles.

It’s popular with surfers too so it has a slightly cooler vibe than other local beaches and there’s usually something to watch in the water. The Yarnbomber, whoever he, she or they may be have done a wonderful thing for the local businesses. There have been lots of extra visitors to the town. The great weekend weather probably helped too. Here are some pictures for you to enjoy. I’m not sure that I have labelled them all correctly. You decide.

Volleyball, Cycling, Pole vault, Equestrian, 

Spectators?, Shooting, Gymnastics

Skiing, More Gymnastics?, Para-Olympian, Still More Gymnastics

Weight Lifting, Swimming, Cycling at the Velodrome, Olympic Rings

Canoeing, Sailing, Synchronised Swimming, Swimming

Weight Lifting, Synchronised Swimming, Football, Boxing

Not a bad effort all in all. There were a few more but my computer was starting to steam with all the megabytes (or whatever you call them) that I was uploading.

Now how about some family pictures? As you would expect, the children had a great time on the beach, even if it was only for an hour.

 

It didn’t take long for them to get fully into the spirit of things and go paddling. Babykins didn’t know what to do first, there were so many dogs and seagulls to spot. He had no fear of the sea either. At least he didn’t eat the sand today. He seems to have got the idea of using his little spade to dig in it. Maybe I dare book a beach holiday this year after all.