The Joys of Glamping

IMG_20160531_202524298_HDR

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:

camping-1
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.

IMG_20160531_182338026

IMG_20160531_202524298_HDR

File_002 (3)

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

 

 

 

Continue Reading

Bluebells in Nidderdale

DSC_0593

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.

DSC_0593

Continue Reading

Postcard From North Bay, Scarborough

12733566_10153746977437702_7590353322320353777_n

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.

Continue Reading

Exploring Staithes

staithes signs

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.

moors

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!

staithes seaside

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

staithesandasher

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 :).

staithes signs

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.

Continue Reading

Is a VBAC Really Worth It?

Babes

It’s not a type of hoover or a designer cross-breed dog. Vaginal birth after Cesarian (or VBAC) is a term that has most probably rung in the ears of any woman expecting her second (or third, fourth, etc) baby after a Cesarian Section.

Babes
Asher (2012) via Cesarian, Ewan (2015) VBAC

My c-section at Harrogate Hospital almost 4 years ago was swift, precise and very last-minute. I had been in labour for 9 hours when the Doctor intervened. I didn’t have time to question my emotions, it just had to be done to save our lives.

Expecting our second baby washed up a sea of questions, to which there were no real answers. Why did I need that first Cesarian? Was it me? Am I simply ‘inefficient’ at producing a live baby? Consultants half-shrugged in my (several requested) debriefs, traced fingers down my notes from the labour and muttered about heart deceleration, head positioning; nothing firm for me to digest. Should I have a second section? Again, their non-committal shrug. Maybe. Possibly. Do what you think is right for you.

I don’t think any woman takes lightly the fact that a voluntary (elective) c-section involves booking yourself in to be numbed from the waist down — wide awake I should add — and incised, stitched up and then sent incapacitated to recover on a hospital ward. Oh, whilst managing a newborn baby.

Since there was no conclusion that I definitely should not attempt a natural birth, I got slightly obsessed with the idea of having a VBAC this time around.

Some discreet digging lead me to the VBAC UK support group on Facebook. At the time, some 5000 women were discussing their hopes and fears surrounding a ‘natural’ birth. Every day, women posted their stories of their births, those who felt they had ‘achieved’ a VBAC and also those who felt ‘defeated’ by a further c-section. I was saddened by their sadness. There was no way I wanted to feel disappointment like that in the final hour again.

Fast forward to 36 weeks and I’d decided on an elective c-section, simply to protect my feelings. I chose a 41-week section instead of the typical 39. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t stalling the operation to see if nature would actually lend a hand this time. Unfortunately I found myself in the decision-making seat again, when I was called in for a growth scan. Baby seemed small. A second ultrasound was booked for 38 weeks and if no further growth was to be detected, I would have to strongly consider bringing my c-section date forward.

I never got to have that second scan, because at 37 weeks and exactly 12 hours after my maternity leave farewell lunch, my waters broke. Within 4 intense and exhilarating hours, my second son Ewan was born, weighing a not-so-hefty 5lb 3.5oz.

He came out naturally and at considerable force, which ironically, left me with a number of stitches. When the midwife had finished stitching and cheerfully announced that I could get up and have a shower – that’s when it hit me. I had no catheter and I could use my legs to walk. It was all over and done with so strangely fast!

So, am I glad I experienced VBAC? Yes, entirely so. However, it will always stay with me that my son’s birth still wasn’t ‘textbook’. He was early, underweight and hypoglycaemic. Would it have been different if he was Term? I’m the type of person who’ll sadly always find something to lament over.

I have learned so much through my VBAC – mainly that it isn’t as straightforward as I thought it would be. The pain of a vaginal tear isn’t pleasant (so different to a c-scar, but nonetheless infuriatingly sore). Also, there’s that thing, y’know, where you sneeze and completely wet yourself. That did happen once, luckily I was at home. Also I suppose there’s more immediate expectation placed upon a VBAC or natural first time birth. You can walk, lift and drive, so you must be ready to take the world on, right?

I actually feel privileged to have experienced  both types of birth. when people ask me about a third baby (yikes), I’d always take the short and sharp VBAC over an operation, but the c-section opened my eyes to the wonders of obstetrics, and how it helps one in four women safely give birth in the UK.

Continue Reading