Our much looked-forward-to holiday had to be cut short. We were away from Monday there, meant to be until this coming Friday, but alas, we travelled home today.
Our summer holiday this year was our first family holiday just the three of us. We have gone away for short breaks/hols with family and friends before (where he has always been anxious to get back home), but never just Hubby Kiddo and I. And not camping - proper camping, of sorts...
I had booked a 5 day stay down in the Lake District at a campsite by Lake Windermere. We were staying in an old Gypsy Vardo Wagon. Camping (or even living) in a vardo is a long held dream of mine - ever since I was about 10 and visited the old Transport Museum in Glasgow, where they had an old intricately painted one on display. It was instant love. The mystic and romance of it is so alluring, as is the sense of adventure even from when Toad Of Toadhall had one in Wind in the Willows and then I read Maggie Smith-Bendell's brilliant Rabbit Stew And A Penny or Two, which made my wish even greater to try wagon life.
All went well initially, I hired a car for the journey. There was no way my clapped-out 14 year old 1.0 rust bucket (which I borrowed off my Mum 5 years ago) was up to the journey. I figured a 1.6 (Ford Focus or Vauxhall Astra was more fitting, both in size of boot for our gear and for comfort seeing as Hubby's 6'1" frame struggles in my motor). Low and behold, I gets a free upgrade at the car rental place - 2.0 turbo diesel Insignia. Oh ya dancer! It runs like a sweetie. I will even forgive the salesman for thinking that my Dad (who ran me to the rental place and inspected the hire car) was in fact my husband!!!! What difference does it make that there is a 25 year age gap, or more importantly, that we look the same?! It no longer matters that the salesman dug an even deeper hole (in my opinion) when he tried to correct himself by suggesting that my Dad must have had an easy paper round - is he suggesting that I had a sair yin???? As I said, he is forgiven now, as I love this car and having driven down to the Lakes, round and about and back home, I still have half a tank of fuel!
The journey itself was mainly without a hitch; straight to Gretna, coffee and stretch of legs before embarking upon the last 50 miles or so. We made good time and had hopes of getting there, getting checked in and getting the fire lit. However, the route I was following appeared to be the scenic route, via Ullswater and scarily close to the edge of the water (no wall or barrier I may add) then up and over a great big bloody hill with hairpin bends and pot holed narrow roads - not exactly ideal for a driver driving a car significantly bigger than used to and a nauseous child in the back. Oh and the rain was coming down sideways. Horrible. And there were of course, cyclists, oncoming cars and lots of swearing. I have never been so glad to get to our destination. I am also extremely glad that my parents never took my sister and I on holidays to the Lake District - not being a very good back seat passenger myself, there would have been no way on this earth that I would have made it without a vomitous episode.
We arrived in the rain, so no fire for us that night. We brought some food supplies, and picked up more in the local town of Ambleside enroute. There was no way we were going back out in the car again once we were settled, so in lieu of the camp fire, toast, cereal and a glass or 2 of wine saw us well for the evening and a wander round the site, playing in the play parks and woods/puddles.
The vardo itself was everything I thought it would be (except the bunk for Kiddo was really narrow and highly likely he would roll out, so he got to share the comfy big bed). I love that whole families used to live in these. There was a wood burner stove in the wagon, but we decided not to light it as the floor space is limited and Kiddo is clumsy...We didn't really need it anyway as it was remarkably cozy inside. I would love to buy an old vardo (for the imaginary garden I have in my head), kit it out and decorate it properly. It would be freaking awesome. Next to the wagon we had a cottage tent (which was like a small yurt on the inside) with a kitchen and table/chairs, and a fire pit/seating area outside with the seats being tree stumps. Perfect for our alfresco dining experiences, including toasting marshmallows and breakfast. Kiddo even sat by the fire for bedtime stories last night.
We also had our very own welcome committee who stayed with us throughout our stay. We first met our wee pals down at the waters edge about an hour after our arrival. A friendly brown duck and an equally friendly and curious mallard, whom we called Francie and Josie (Josie obviously so-called due to his curled feathers in the rear). This pair of ducks were everywhere we went on site, and were happy to play about outside our wagon. They appeared to enjoy the fire and the bedtime stories too. They wandered off once realising they were not going to be fed, only to spin 180, in the comical way only ducks can, upon hearing the rustling of a marshmallow packet. Suffice to say our wee pals were enormously entertaining.
The ducks weren't the only wildlife around. There were deer grazing in the brush just 20 yards behind the wagon too
Waking up the sound of the dawn chorus each morning was a pleasure. I enjoy listening to the birds at home in the morning and early evening, but hearing the sheer number of them, in the middle of the woods was something else entirely. Sitting on the steps of the wagon hot coffee in hand, listening the world around me was a perfect as it sounds. Granted it was baltic, but that's what hot coffee and layers are for!
The view from the front door of wagon.
The whole site was carpeted in bluebells. I love bluebells and despite their folklore (fairies used them to trap children, and people wearing a wreath of bluebells will only be able to speak the truth!) they are my favourite flower (and the subject of my next tattoo).
Off site, we enjoyed the local towns of Ambleside, Windermere and Bowness ( we were in Costa in Bowness at 8am, having been up since 5.30am). I was keen to visit the Beatrix Potter store but it was closed, although there are a plethora of Beatrix Potter tourist attractions. I couldn't figure out why I was getting strange stares and side glances from strangers and shop assistants. Then it dawned on me as I went to pay for a newspaper : my handbag. Or rather, my badges....I never gave my bag a thought as I grabbed it on the way out our front door on Monday morning. I don't tend to attract stares when I go about my business at home...
As I mentioned at the start of today's post, we had to cut out holiday short. The reason for this was because, as much as Kiddo enjoyed the campsite, the campfire, the wagon (especially the cabin bed), the 'Postman Pat' scenery, the ducks (especially the ducks), the playing in the woods, etc he was incredibly homesick for his own bed. Both nights were really distressing and upsetting for him. His solution was to go home for bed and came back the following day. After 2 nights, we made the decision to cut our losses and travel home. We have persevered with plans and ideas in the past but they never work out for the best in the long run, generally proving more detrimental. We managed to fit in plenty of fun stuff during the day (it's amazing how much can be accomplished when the entire family is up and about at the crack of dawn). Hubby google mapped the route for the homeward journey, not wanting a repeat of the one that brought us from the M6 - turns out that travelling past Keswick to Penrith is a far more pleasant (for this driver and little passenger in the back) road.
The view as we left the campsite
My dream of the wagon life was short lived, but thoroughly awesome. If we could do it again, I would want better weather (so as to do all cooking outside, but having said that, I loved lying listening to the rain fall on the roof the first night we stayed) and a more secure bunk for Kiddo (who would prefer to live in it during the day only and be in his own bed at night, thus nullifying my better bunk requirement, but anyways..). Having used up all my data on my phone before we went on holiday, I didn't buy any more, making the decision to unplug for the week. It may only have lasted 2.5days, but it was fabulous not knowing what was happening on Facebook or Twitter and I didn't care what was happening either. Back home again, and within 2 minutes of my phone connecting to the wifi, the surge of updates to the phone, I was well and truly plugged back in. It just sucks you right back into the fold. and it is a bit unnerving.
So what have we learned from our wee jaunt? 1. Kiddo likes home best and 2. I can live (and thoroughly enjoy) life without social media.