Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Weekend

Easter, one of my favourite times of the year!

Lent is over, (Yay, Subway, takeaways, junk food, fast food!) chocolate abounds (mainly in chocolate egg format), and there is a four day weekend!! What could be better?

This year, the plan was to visit friends and relatives who we don’t get so see very often, so we booked a couple of hotels and planned our trip.

Thursday morning dawned, the last workday and the day our travels would commence, with me having a very sore throat, difficulty speaking and a sniffle. I made it through the working day and at the end of it, we set off. After an almost 170 mile drive, and around 3 hours of travelling, we arrived at our first hotel near to the Metro Centre in Newcastle. It was late, we were tired and ill, so we went straight to bed.

On Friday morning, we arranged to meet friends in the Metro Centre. I managed breakfast, although my head cold was now fully developed, and we walked (yes, walked) to the Metro Centre. I stopped at a pharmacy and we stocked up on painkillers, flu remedies and tissues, did a bit of shopping, and then stopped for some lunch. After lunch, the boys took Itsy to see Spiderman 2 (I refuse to call him “the Amazing” like he’s some old fashioned circus side show), and my friend, my Godson and I did a spot more shopping, including a bookshop, some clothes shopping, and ice cream bar and then the muffin shop… by this point, I had used more tissues than should be humanly possibly in a single day, and we walked to a restaurant where we had a slightly burned tea (it was a chain restaurant and we have been to that branch before and had excellent service, so we think they were just having an off day)… then we all went back to the hotel, where the boys tried to teach Itsy to play pool (she had to stand on a little stool and use a rest for every, single, shot). She was rubbish, but she loved it, and she is only six and that was a full sized pool table. My godson kept hiding his digger in the cupboards around the room and I sat in the corner trying to remember how to breathe through tissues!

Eventually, we gave up. Our friends took my Godson home, and we retired to our room where tried to convince Itsy to go to sleep. I think we were both asleep before she was!

On Saturday morning, Beloved took Itsy down to breakfast while I packed, I really, really, didn’t feel very well and couldn’t eat anything. We left around 9:30 in the morning and headed North up the A1. Itsy decided that today was the day she would start asking “Are we there yet?” Joy! She was clearly bursting full of energy! We took it easy on the way up, and it was around 11ish that we decided to stop at Berwick. We found a play park right on the coast, where we stopped for around half an hour so Itsy could run and play. There was a static caravan site at the top of the cliff, overlooking the sea, and we have decided to look into staying there another time, because it was really very pretty. As we left, we had to pass through a narrow tunnel (in the old town walls) and Itsy decided to turn into a back seat driver and tell Beloved to “watch out for the little boy on a the bike”, who was at least twice her age, and whilst our car was stopped, waiting for said pushbike riding boy to get through the short tunnel in complete safety. Her reason for turning into a backseat driver was that she got a ‘driving licence’ when she was at Legoland last week… I suspect that we may have to have a serious talk with her about how that isn’t a real driving licence at some point, but for now, we put her DVD player on and continued North.
The Beach/North Sea from the play park at Berwick
Itsy was very excited when we passed the Failte gu Alba sign, although we didn’t stop for a photograph of it… maybe next time…? We continued until Dunbar (around three quarters of an hour past Berwick), where we tried to find a chip shop I remember from my youth. Either it has changed dramatically, or it was a different chippy. Either way, they offered a haggis supper with salt and sauce, and Itsy had a pepperoni pizza. The Rotary club was selling second hand books outside the bank, so when we went to the cash line, I picked up a couple of Agatha Christie’s and Itsy bought a Shrek book and two tiny hardbacks! We ate our lunch overlooking the North Sea, although it was a wee bit blustery, which just sent Itsy’s hair into her pizza and she ended up with that orange pepperoni oil all over her face and in her hair, delightful!
The North Sea from Dunbar
I felt well enough to take over driving at this point, completely ignored the sat nav, and set off around the Edinburgh bypass, over the Forth bridge and up the M90 to Dundee. We checked into a different hotel, had a shower, and then went to meet family for tea, (another chain restaurant, reasonable, if not stellar service). But I did get to cuddle our niece, even with a stuffy head cold!
View of the Tay bridge from our hotel room
The Discovery, almost opposite our hotel in Dundee

We were pretty boring after that, we went back to the hotel, where I picked up a soft drink from the bar so I had something to take more flu remedy tablets with, Itsy was exhausted and went to sleep fairly quickly, so we sat up to watch Britain’s Got Talent (the late repeat) and then slept, badly, due to my inability to breathe.

On Easter Sunday itself, we had to wake Itsy up, as we had hidden some tiny Easter eggs around the room, one of which was on the window ledge and in danger of melting in the morning sunshine! She had one before breakfast, and after breakfast we made use of the late check out, so that we could take our time checking out of the hotel, and they braved the Tay bridge to get to Leuchars, where we visited relatives, watched the Liverpool/Norwich match and took the kids to the park, so that they could torment Beloved’s, brother’s dog… poor Odin!
Odin... the dog has the patience of a saint!
We left Leuchars in the early afternoon, and drove through the Kingdom of Fife, past some fun landmarks that we couldn’t stop at, and through the small town of Auchtermuchty, one of my favourite place names. We used the Clackmannanshire Bridge, through (well, on the motorway that goes past) Larbert, Stenhousemuir (which used to be home) and Falkirk, before heading to Cumbernauld (where we stopped for petrol and taquitos) and then we hit the M8 to the M73 to the M74 to the M6 (basically, we motorwayed home). Itsy slept quite frequently, but was awake as we passed Gretna and the sign welcoming us to Cumbria, and was pleased about that too.

We stopped at a few services (mainly for loo breaks) and then at Lancaster for tea. We quite fancied the Italian by the p&d carpark, but we decided to go for a walk and see what we could find… eventually, we stumbled across a Chinese restaurant called the Fortune Star, and quite frankly, I can’t recommend it enough. The food was fantastic! The staff were lovely, and the service was very good… alas, when the time came to tip, I only had a Clydesdale Bank £5 note on me, which we duly passed over, much to the amusement of the staff in Lancaster… it’s not exactly border country, they probably don’t see too many of those!

We made it home, the local council has “resurfaced” yet more local roads, without steam rolling them so if you drive over them at more than about 1 mile per hour, the little gravelly stones fly up and strip all of the paint off your car! We managed to only cross one resurfaced road, and were amazed to get home and find a good parking space! We unloaded and went to bed.

I was no better this morning (bank holiday Monday) which we treated as a duvet day. We’ve had some Easter eggs, watched a film, some telly, Itsy has made some crafty aqua bead things. We have eaten food, read books, done a bit of washing and ironing ready for next week. We have watered the plants in the garden (I think my arrow bamboo is potbound… but I’m not sure. So I watered it well, and will ask Mother to check it in the week), played with the cats (who were looked after by the cat lady, we didn’t leave them to starve), done nish all else until bath time, when daughter was read to (chapter six of Danny, the Champion of the World) before settling down to watch Game of Thrones… I’m still poorly, I have used around 4 boxes of tissues, a full packet of flu remedy tablets and many packets of halls soothers. Beloved now has a sore throat, this does not bode well… Itsy has also complained of a sore throat… and I have been informed that because I can’t breathe I have been snoring, which means Beloved can’t sleep (he assures me that this is unusual, which was reassuring), but I don’t hold out much hope that tonight will be any better… chicken soup for lunch for the next few days, continue taking the flu remedy tablets and hopefully, I will be well again soon!

In other news, I have discovered that I have won a signed copy of Sharon Penman’s newest book, A King’s Ransom… very, very excited about that!

All in all, we have had a good, but very exhausting, long weekend! We have driven around 658 miles between us, over around ten hours, and one duvet day hasn’t rested us as much as we would have liked, but you know what happens after a long weekend? A four day (& therefore short) week! So, although I am off to the office tomorrow, I can go to Subway for lunch if I want to (because it is no longer Lent), I have a shiny new audio book to listen to while I am driving, and better still, it’s already going to be Tuesday!

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