The above picture was taken three years ago when we were a newby caravaning family with two young children and a small baby. This was only our second trip away in Connievan, a two night stay at a beautiful caravan park in the Yorkshire Dales only half an hour from home. I remember it being a glorious weekend where we lounged about doing very little in the heat of early summer. Long golden days, lush green hills, a cool shallow river. Ice cold beer, colourful relaxing crochet, happy outdoor children. Good memories.
Three years on and it has suddenly become surprisingly hard to make caravan holidays actually happen. I think we all still love the idea of spending time in the caravan, but the planning/organising part of it is just a bit too much hard work. The unpredictable weather doesn't help either (oh that wet week in Blackpool last year was a bit dire!), but mainly I think it has simply become easier to Stay Home.
I wrote about our Stay Home holiday recently, the week where I really wanted us to be away in the caravan but had failed to actually book anything in time. The week where every other member of my family said they preferred to be at home actually. Oh I stropped. I ranted. I sulked. Then I re-grouped and gave the whole dilemma some serious thought until the answer slowly presented itself to me. What we needed was a permanent home for Connievan, somewhere beautiful and rural, but close enough for us to drive to at the drop of a hat if the whim suddenly took us. If the weather suddenly looks tippety-top then we can sling a change of clothes in a bag, grab some grub and head off. Just like that. We need for it to be easy. We need the chance to be spontaneous. No planning. No booking. Just up and go.
I knew this particular site would fit the bill perfectly as I had (secretly) made inquiries about it last year. But it was the money you see. This sort of thing does not come cheap, one has to pay quite dearly for the privilege of renting out a permanent little patch all year round. And yet.....after much discussion, we decided we could dig into our savings and it would be worth it. What the heck. Let's do it, lets splash out a bit and really make this work for our family. Yayyyy!!!!!!
So on the very last day of our StayHome week, we moved Connie out of her concrete storage place and into her new green country home. It was wonderful, oh I was SO excited! We've got a lovely little spot in a quiet corner, with a dry stone wall and an old bench. The pitches either side are empty for now, so we have quite a bit of open space in front of us.....
.....and we have the rustle of the wind in the trees behind us.
Those of you who have been visitors to the Attic for a while will know all about my complete devotion to Connievan. You will know about my prettifying exploits (see here and here for pictures). You will know about the early beginnings and about our adventures in her.
I am still as excited about all things Caravan and just adore spending time within these four small walls with my family. It's pretty damn marvelous!
Last weekend, we had out first proper sleep over with Connie in her new home. I packed up a few clothes and a cool bag of food and on Friday evening at 6pm we set off. By 6.30pm we were there, and I was strolling around picking flowers to put in my jam jar vase.
The weather was absolutely breathtakingly perfect. Sunny and warm, with the daylight lasting forever. We cooked hot dogs for dinner, with a plate of strawberries and melon for afters. J and I sat outside to chat and drink beer and the Little People went off to play. There is a lovely children's area on site with swings, slide etc, plus a green field where they played ball, tennis and frisbee. As a treat we also bought Swingball which has been a great success, and we took scooters with us too. So there was plenty to keep them happy and occupied.
Sleeping in Connievan is snug and cosy. We find it easier to all go to bed at the same time (including an over excited/over tired Little B) at around 10pm. J and I make up our double bed at the front of the van and we have the luxury of sheet, duvet and feather pillows. The Little People sleep at the back of the van in (newly purchased, stripy blue) sleeping bags. The seating at the back makes up into a double bed where Little Man and Little B sleep head to toe, then there is a narrow bunk which pulls out above them for Little Lady to bed down on. It can sometimes be a bit tense getting everyone to settle down and off to sleep, but mostly it goes ok. And thankfully we all seem to sleep well, waking around 6am.
I love early mornings in the caravan. I love the smell most of all. I love to open up the window and breath it all in, that nostalgic smell of still damp grass and fresh morning air. At the caravan site there is a tonne of wildlife. There are lots of rabbits hoppity-hopping around the caravans and oodles of birds sing and tweet all day long, including my favourite curlew. Oh how I adore the sound of the curlew, it is one of my all time favourite bird sounds (seagulls possibly come top, but hmm not sure about that to be honest. Maybe curlew is top)
I had to show you this photo, I really LOVED that Little Lady went to such effort to pack this all up into a big bag to bring for the weekend. All the drawers and cupboards were stocked with food and equipment (I was given the full tour) and the playmobil family had a lovely time camping alongside us.
The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the outing we had on Saturday, walking from the caravan site to the nearest village to have a pub lunch.
The countryside was looking absolutely glorious, I just love this time of year so much. Green and gold, sun light and shadow. Everything is so light and bright and lush.
Oh and there was such an abundance of buttercups! I could hardly believe this field, it took my breath away.
The walk to the village was 1.5 miles of flat riverside and meadow.
I loved this part of the river with it's deep, steep river banks....
....and clear reflective water.
But it was the meadows that I loved the most.....
....they were just soooooo beautiful.
It's a good few years since we'd been to this little village and I couldn't remember it very well. I recalled a village green, and a small pub, but not a lot else.
Turns out that's because there isn't a lot else there. Picturesque cottages around an uncut village green given over to meadow at this time of year....
....and yup, there's the pub. It's called The Falcon Inn and is an absolute original gem.
When you step inside, it's like walking into someones house. Small cosy rooms, ancient floors and walls, with a very simple and rustic style. Lots of stuffed animals (including a pair of pheasant and a whole fox) which I didn't much care for but the Little People thought were fantastic (especially the whole fox)
It was a delight. There was a simple menu and great, honest, homecooked food. The country kitchen was pretty open to view, with the landlady cooking everything herself on the Aga while her hubby served the beer from a tiny bar area in the hallway. The beer was poured the traditional way straight out of the barrel into a china jug before being poured into the glass. It was a very memorable lunch (who knew pea and mint soup was soooo good?!) and we left feeling satisfied, rested and happy.
This wasn't a circular walk, so the return home was back the same way we had come.
Back through the delightful riverside meadows....
....sneezing all the way! Yeah, there was a serious amount of pollen in the air here, but honestly the beauty of it more than made up for the discomfort.
We returned to the caravan site in the mid afternoon, with the promise of ice creams from the on site shop. Happy happy.
We have our old portable barbecue at the caravan and the dry stone wall which runs behind Connievan makes a perfect outdoor cooking area. That evening we cooked up burgers (delicious ones from the supermarket flavoured with smoked garlic, they were really good) and I made a big bowl of salad to go with them. Fruit and chocolate for afters.
And a little more beer.
The weekend felt warm and golden in more ways than one, and definitely one for the Family Memory Bank. I'm hoping that this is the start of a long line of weekends spent at our Country Residence. Connievan, we love you ♥
ps thank you so much for all your good wishes for my head and hand this week! Still feeling a bit rubbish, but very much better than I was earlier in the week. I continue to rest my finger and it is slowly feeling better as a result. I'm holding off with the crochet until next week and keeping up with the ibuprofen which is helping loads. It can only get better, right? x
pps I have a tagged all my caravan posts, so they are all in the "caravan" category...if you fancy pootling back through Connievan's archives, you can find them here xxx