The Joys of Glamping

The idea of camping is often far nicer than the reality. Hurrah for Gin nailed it for me this week with her take on it all:

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credit: Hurrah for Gin

So this is why I booked a glamping trip up in Berwick-upon-Tweed earlier this month. The ‘wigwams’ at our holiday park Pot-a-Doodle-Do are dotted around a field like tents, but have the pleasant perks of a fridge, electric and a heater… and no swearing husband also trying to erect a tent and occupy two kids under five.

I started to have a bit of a wobble in the car, an hour or so into our journey up the A1. The sky grew darker and my tentative glances at BBC weather kind of made me wish I’d forgotten my phone. The traffic was awful and we started to bicker about anything we could think of (including half a Co-op cheese and ham sandwich).

It was therefore massively pleasing that when we got to the glamping site , we found that our wigwam was much bigger than I anticipated. Somebody had also left just over £1 in the electricity meter, handy for getting warm whilst we unpacked.

Having read a few reviews, we decided to travel with the bare minimum in terms of food, knowing that there were nearby supermarkets and takeaways. The local chippy was spot on and we sat outside, determined to enjoy our campfire and stop our food from taking off sideways in the North Sea winds.

The benches within the wigwam fold out to make one large bed (King Size, I reckon), plus a single. There are thick mats to go on top, making a spongey, latexy mattress. Definitely take sheets. We were warm, borderline tropical; so much so that in the end, baby actually slept in a nappy on top of the duvet.

There was a shower block and a kitchen on site. Communal cooking doesn’t come naturally to British families — we’re all just so damn awkward — but we got through it and even managed a bit of small talk whilst making a pasta lunch the next day. We braved the wind and went to the beautiful local beach (my ice cream flew off the cone and landed in my hair, baby laughed). Later on however, the wind died down, the sun came out and our eldest fled from us for most of the evening to hang around with his new mate from the wigwam next door. We toasted marshmallows and we swigged cheap prosecco from plastic flutes.

The following morning I woke up, with a fully charged phone and no grass stuck to my face. Refreshed. I felt a twinge of regret that we were packing up and heading to Edinburgh (where the weather turned out to be fantastic and our flat was great). For £24 per person, per night, glamping isn’t much less than a basic hotel room, but it did offer us the element of adventure and the wild outdoors that we hoped for. All of course within a safe walk of an ASDA and a flushing loo.

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Pot A Doodle Do – Activity Centre, Berwick upon Tweed – Borewell, Scremerston, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, UK, TD15 2RJ

 

 

 

Bluebells in Nidderdale

Driving along the Summerbridge/Pateley Bridge road today, people were parked in lay-bys, simply agog at the carpets of bluebells just metres from the road.

Pictures don’t really do the scene justice. It was around 5pm, just as the shadows started to grow long.

If blogs could give off a smell (I’ll stick that on the Kickstarter list), this one would would be very garlicky. The wild garlic plants had flowered in their thousands; prettywhite blooms that would look brilliant in a foragers salad. Might leave that one to the experts though.

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Postcard From North Bay, Scarborough

Today was cold. Insanely cold. But alas, it’s Half Term. I have a son who turns into an angry, human pinball if he stays indoors longer than three minutes.

I used to think Scarborough was tacky, until I got me some in-laws who live there and they showed me the good bits. The North Bay is a picturesque and quiet beach, offering space and calm in (buckets and) spades. It’s also home to The Watermark cafe, a cool little music venue on the seafront. Definitely beats the arcades and rancid burgers to the south of here.

The North Bay beach huts (below) can be hired from £25 a day and they come with chairs and A KETTLE. I would have rugby tackled somebody to the sand today for a kettle. Even with thick gloves on, my fingers were numb sausages, as I turned the key in the ignition to go home.

Exploring Staithes

It was nice for our little family to go somewhere that was new to us all. Having the in-laws in Scarborough means that it’s easy to pop out for a day to the usual seaside spots, such as Whitby and Filey. We’d never made it to Staithes though; a place that Andrew had wanted to visit for a long time.

Driving to the top of the North York Moors is a trip within itself. The steep and winding roads are balanced by the smooth, sweeping bends, favoured by bikers from across the country. We were whipped by localised snow blizzards and drove past farmers burning expanses of heather. I’m told that this helps to encourage regrowth.

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Parents may recognise Staithes as the pretty little harbour town that’s home to Old Jack’s Boat. It really is the sea-salty type of place from a children’s book; crab pots and lifeboats, plus pubs with names like ‘The Cod & Lobster’. Cliches, ahoy!

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The tide goes out quite far, and it was flat enough to take Asher out to look at barnacles, kelp and ore-tinged rocks.

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Staithes is mainly made up of holiday rentals, and I think a visit in the dark, stormy months would be awe-inspiringly grim. I’ll let someone else find out if that’s true, though :).

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We took a little diversion to Saltburn on the way out of Staithes. There’s a nice tearoom/gallery that sits within Saltburn train station. We whizzed past Runswick Bay too, to find that all the sand had been blown away by a terrible storm. Worth a gander, though – it’s a beautiful place, even on a cold and drizzly day.

The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

I live in Harrogate – pretty much a 1.5 drive either east or west to our nearest beach. I was watching the weather forecast on a dreary Bank Holiday, and my husband noticed a patch of clear sky over the far North West. Like the a bizarre reverse version of Storm Chasers We found ourselves parking up for our first ever trip to Morecambe just over two hours later.

The first thing we noticed (apart from a dazzling blue sky – hurrah!) was something that looked like a giant tube of Polo Mints, stood at the side of the road. It had a real macabre, Willy Wonka-meets-Soviet thing going on about it, quite unsettling really. We noticed too the remnants of rickety fairground rides, literally rotting away in the middle of the road.

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We learn that what we are looking at, are the bones of Frontierland, a theme park that closed down in 2000. The giant ‘Polo Tower’ is part of an old ride, but it has a communication mast on top of it and so has to stay. Locals say that it creaks and whistles in the night; the stuff of nightmares!

Strolling along the promenade from south to north, we pass bedsits, B&Bs, council parks and beautiful yet abandoned Victorian detail. The sea air felt weighty with neglect, a familiar feeling experienced at many English seaside holiday towns.

“Daddy. You said we are at the seaside” Asher states, wrinkling his nose. Andrew looks down and nods enthusiastically.

“Well where is the sea?”

At low tide, the sea goes out beyond a visible point, leaving the silty plains that once tragically claimed a number of Chinese cockle pickers. Andrew muttered something about the sea going out for its lunch and we continued to wander along.

A good friend and fellow blogger recommended that we check out The Midland hotel on Morecambe seafront. This original Art Deco building has been restored to full glory and given a cool, modern twist. It looks incongruous with its dilapidated surroundings, as though it’s been dumped by a time machine in completely the wrong time and place.

Rumour has it that afternoon tea is fantastic here, but with a rowdy three year old, we just didn’t want to ruin people’s gentile experiences. Instead, we visited the hotel’s Ravilious Rotunda bar – a flamboyant and quirky annexe.

I felt my shoulders loosen as I sunk into berry-coloured booth — much to Asher’s horror, who decided it was too much like The Mouth entrance at The Forbidden Corner. After much cajoling and the luxury biscuit from my pot of tea, we convinced him to sit down.

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The menu highlight looked to be the range of Lancashire Tapas. Andrew ordered the fish board, featuring Port of Lancaster smoked salmon, local shrimp, cockles and a mackerel pâté. It was tasty but a little sparse, In comparison to my monstrous gourmet burger (ask for it with Garstang Blue cheese for a knockout twist).

By the time we’d summoned the willpower to leave our nest, the sun was setting and we realised we had a long drive home. We returned back down the prom, knowing we’d skipped some of Morecambe’s prettier areas and of course, the famous Eric statue. Maybe next time there’s a freak heatwave along the west coast we’ll come back to see it all, but for the time being we prepared to head back into the rain.