Do you remember us taking Connievan to stay at "Bunnyland" last year? After that wonderful holiday we became enchanted with this type of small, rural caravan site. Known as "Certificated Sites" they are limited to a maximum of five caravans, with a sprinkling of tents also allowed. They have to provide cold running water and waste water disposal facilities, and many also provide electricity, but that is usually the extent of the facilities on offer. The idea is that you experience a "get away from it all" feeling in a beautiful rural location.
There are more than 1200 CS sites in the UK, and choosing a Good One is tough work, it really is. The sites are listed in a comprehensive directory, in tiny print with no pictures. You have to basically have a rough idea of your destination/area, then spend some time scrutinising the listings to work out whether the place will suit. I delegate this job to J, place the directory firmly in his capable hands and instruct him to Choose a Good One.
So at the end of May/beginning of June we had a weeks holiday from school/work and took a little jolly up country with Connievan. J selected this site for us (and blow me, it took him all of two minutes to do it) and we had high hopes for it. After all, it had a lot to live up to after the Bunnyland experience.
It took us about 90 minutes to get there with Connievan, the roads getting smaller and more countrified the closer we got. Finally we turned off down this narrow track leading to Templands Farm, to see where we would be living for the next five days.
It was absolutely delightful. A down to earth, unpretentious working farm surrounded by glorious open countryside, with a spacious field for the caravans and an old stone outbuilding which contained a toilet and a rather rustic shower room. But more than anything else there was fresh air, expansive green views and the intoxicating feeling of open space. So different from the built-up, hemmed in Victorian Terrace living that we experience day to day.
And being a working farm there were animals in residence, oh the joy!! The Little People absolutely loved all the animals around and about in the surrounding fields, but in particular they completely adored the free range chickens. Every morning we would wake early and open Connievan's curtains to find them pecking around outside, it caused Little B to shriek with excitement at the sight of them so close by.
Ahh caravan life is just sooo warm and cosy and sweet, I continue to love love love it. A comfy, cosy bed to sleep in, crochet blankets to snuggle in and a red enamel mug of steaming hot tea :: pure delight.
My stack of Rice tumblers make me smile every time I open this cupboard, well all of Connievan's enamel and melamine does. The tumblers are a recent purchase, but the assortment of melamine plates and bowls have been gathered over many years. I think I've always secretly dreamt of owning a caravan or campervan.
A jam jar of freshly picked hederow flowers, what could be prettier? Connievan wouldn't be complete without them, I pick some to have inside on every trip.
As you have probably sussed by now, I am still completely bowled over by Connievan, I love her to bits. These sweet little family holidays that she's providing us with are such a dream come true. I'm very slowly beginning to add some decorative bits and bobs and am slowly making changes to her interior (I'll show you the curtain progress soon)...like I said once before, this is sure to be an ongoing and enduring love affair. And just whilst I'm on the subject of caravans and love affairs, if you've got a spare minute or two, click on "this link" Go on, you'll be transported into a world of complete loveliness on two wheels!!
But of course, the week wasn't all about sitting inside a 14 x 7 foot box on wheels, as cute and cosy and lovely as it is. It was also about exploring the local area and enjoying the great outdoors. The nearest town to Templands Farm was five miles away :: Grange-over-Sands. And what a lovely, simple, quirky and pretty place it is. Walking down the main shopping street (above) makes you feel almost as if you've stepped back in time, it's very English and decidedly traditional and old fashioned, but I liked it very much.
It's a bit of an oddity though, in that although it's labelled as a seaside town, there isn't actually a seaside. There's no beach. And you can't actually get to the water either, even though you can see it.
There's a super-duper long esplanade designed for the old fashioned pleasure of promenading. It's one mile long.
One side of the esplanade is planted with an inspiring mixture of trees, shrubs and flowers, and is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful.
The other side of the esplanade looks out over the Sands to Morecombe Bay beyond. You can't actually go down and walk on the grass/sands as there are numerous signs with red writing in capital letters warning of dangerous quick sands and fast incoming tides. The Little People were hugely intrigued by this Potential Danger, they were fascinated by the idea of quick sand. Luckily we managed to divert their attention with this........
....a wonderful and imaginative play area (Little B adored this wooden train) with adjoining tea room serving local icecream. We were all suitably wowed by the thunder and lightening flavour, it was amazing. Described as "chocolate with an explosive cinder toffee crunch" trust me, it was a complete Taste Sensation.
On a couple of days we ventured further afield into the Lake District proper. Life at Templands Farm was so quiet and tranquil, it came as a bit of a shock to find ourselves suddenly amongst so many hoards of people. The car parks were jam packed, the cafe's and shops were heaving with tourists, I can't say it was very pleasant. On this particular day we had set out early to visit the home of Beatrix Potter, but on arriving at 10am (the house opens at 10.30am) we found the car park already full, with a possible four hour wait to tour the house. After getting over that disappointment, we decided to drive on a bit further and visit the village of Hawkshead instead. The cafe pictured above is in the centre of Hawkshead, and was a sweet spot in an altogether bonkers and over the top place. Walking around Hawkshead is like walking round an overcrowded, overrated, overpriced, twee, fake village. It wasn't our thing at all.
But this cafe was sweet.
A bit over the top, but I liked it. J, on the other hand did not like it. He hated it. He balked at the £14 it cost for our drinks and cake, he said the chairs were uncomfy, he said it was cramped, he said his coffee was not nice. He was in a Bad Mood. He walked out.
We winded up eating our picnic lunch by the amazing church which is high on a hill overlooking Hawkshead, and thankfully the views and peaceful atmosphere did help ease the tensions of earlier. We decided there and then that it would suit us better if we stayed clear of the Popular Destinations of the Lake District, and head to the more untrodden places in future......
.....such as Ravenglass. Now what a gem this little place is. Much more our thing. We arrived here early one morning and I was immediately captivated by the quiet, sleepy and unpretentious atmosphere of the place. The above picture shows the main street of Ravenglass, see how deserted it looks (hoorraaahh!)
You know how much I love little seasidey places, and this one really did make my heart skip. I just loved how there were boats parked up alongside the cars, isn't that something?
Many of the gardens were beautifully planted, such an abundance of colour spilling out over old stone walls.
Further on towards the end of the main street we passed this stack of lobster pots and realised the sea must be somewhere close by.....
....and sure enough the street suddenly ended and there we were on the beach. Kind of unusual to find grass and flowers growing right on the beach, it was lovely.
As you can see, the tide was way out when we arrived, the boats stranded and lopsided on the sand. We spent quite a long time just pootling about on the beach and in/near the water (aren't crocs great for just this sort of thing), breathing in the fresh salty sea air and enjoying the simple pleasure of hurling big fat pebbles into water with a satisfying plop.
As the morning moved on, the tide began to come in, lordy, it really does rip in at quite a pace here. Luckily we were safely off the beach and sat outside a wonderful little tea room having a spot of lunch with a sea view. Delicious homemade soup with generous hunks of homemade tomato bread. Just as well lunch was delicious as it made up for the huge barny J and I had earlier when we discovered we'd left the picnic behind. Correction....HE had left the picnic behind, although of course he swears that I never gave him the bag, that it was all my fault. But you and I know full well that of course I DID give him the picnic bag. That he took it from me and then absent mindedly put it down and left it behind. Nuff said.
Ravenglass is definitely somewhere I'd like to return to (with full picnic facilities next time, I love eating lunch on the beach). We'll be back one day I'm sure.
We drove away from the coast in the afternoon, J deciding that he'd like to take us up up up over this famously high piece of road called the Hardknott Pass. It's one of the steepest roads in the whole of England, with a gradient of 1 in 3. Not only that, the roads are narrow with some stomach-churning hairpin bends, this is not a road for the faint hearted or nervy driver. J is neither fainthearted or nervy, but cripes, I certainly am. I sat in the back seat and tried not to squeal with terror.
But the views from the top.....oh my. Breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking and I admit that yes it was worth the nail-biting and breath-holding.
We stopped a while up here, it was unbelievably quiet and peaceful. Felt like the top of the world.
Back at Connievan HQ, life was for the most part peaceful and relaxed. We did have a few minor issues with Little B intent on running off across the field and down the lane in search of the chickens, but then that's where the Little People were marvelous assets. They would happily go running after their wee brother, grab his hand and persuade him to stop harassing the chickens and come back to the van.
There were some very hot afternoons during that week. It was wonderful to return from our excursions to the cool green grass of Templands Farm and enjoy the hot summer sunshine. Blankets and chairs for sitting/lounging upon, cold juice/beer/wine to hand, and nothing whatsoever to do excepting for a little bit of light cooking and a smidge of lazy childcare. It was amazing how long a bowl of water and two cups kept a certain someone entertained for. Joyful.
We cook very simply when we're in Connievan. We eat a lot of pasta with pesto and salad. Sometimes it's a simple do of crusty bread,salami, cheese, fruit, crisps, chocolate. And sometimes I do decide to actually rustle up a little something more substantial...in this case it was noodles, peppers and chicken in a chow mein sauce. We ate it out of bowls, sitting outside on the grass, slurping and nomnomming the noodles. It was such fun!! Little B was so, so happy eating this meal, he was a complete messy delight.
Most evenings after dinner was all done and dusted, we would walk the mile or so into the local village to visit this lovely little childrens playground. It was a sweet way to round off the days.
I really enjoyed walking back to Templands Farm and Connievan each evening after our playground trips, it felt like coming home. The light at this time of day (between 7 and 8pm) was warm and golden and it made the grass look extra green and the views extra beautiful.
We would settle down in Connievan for the evening with books/radio/crochet and wait for the ducks to arrive. Every evening they would waddle up the field to come and take a drink from the old stone trough. And every evening the Little People would wait patiently for them to arrive. It was lovely to observe how these little routines of Caravan Life formed according to what was happening in the landscape around us. Chickens in the morning. Ducks in the evening. Lovely, happy memories.
It's been a great experience for me putting this together, I've enjoyed it so much! It means a lot to me that I'm able to use this patch of cyberspace to record these precious times. I hope that one day the Little Peeps will enjoy this peek back into their childhood. Hope so. xxxxxxxx
Edit to add :: I've been writing this post over the course of two or three days and hadn't quite realised how long it had become until I read it through just now! I hope you're not yawning and falling asleep over your kepboard. Thanks as ever for dropping by to share and indulge me in my memory-preserving. Lots of love xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx