Saturday, 4 April 2015


We had another 'first' a couple of weeks ago, when we went on our first family holiday. We weren't sure how Junior would cope with a long car journey, so we didn't want to travel too far. Initially, we were looking at the lower end of Scotland (on the west side), but we couldn't find anywhere we liked, so I suggested the Lake District. We still had no luck finding somewhere that suited us, so I asked Chris if he'd consider going in the opposite direction, to the Northumberland area. He was fine with that, so I started looking for properties in that region.

In the end, I actually found a cottage just in the Scottish Borders, about 6 miles from Coldstream. It was actually advertised as being wheelchair accessible, but that appealed to me because it meant it was all on one level (having a very active toddler means that quaint little cottages with staircases suddenly become a bit of a no-no!). Chris was very happy to find that it was only about a 3 hour drive up the A1, too.

The day that we set off didn't really feel like a 'first-day-of-our-holiday' kind of day. My car was booked into a panel-beaters to fix a dent in the front wing, and we had to pick it up that morning. My mum and auntie came over to babysit Junior while Chris and I collected it. We'd borrowed a roofbox and roofbars from Chris' sister, but the bars didn't fit my car (which we didn't find out until we'd got it back from the panel-beaters, because we'd left everything till the last minute!), so Chris finished up going to Halfords to buy some roofbars which did fit, and which were compatible with the box.

My mum and auntie left, we got the car packed up, and eventually set off at about 1.30pm, arriving at the cottage just before 5pm.

The cottage, taken from across the lane
Junior was fantastic all the way there, he loves being in the car and just babbles away to himself happily. He's still in a rear-facing car seat, but we've got a mirror on the headrest behind him, so we can still see him and make eye contact, or see when he's nodded off. He had lunch at home before we set off, and when we arrived at the cottage I got straight on with making tea. A high chair was provided, so I sat him in there with a biscuit and a drink, and he was very happy, just looking around. Chris unpacked the car, then took over making tea while I got the cats settled into their new room for the week. Mischief soon made himself at home, exploring the whole cottage, but Millie is so timid, she mostly just stayed in that room all week. We brought her into the living room on an evening, but she didn't stay long before scurrying back to the bedroom. It's such a shame that she's like that, but we think it's best to let her stay there if that's where she feels safest.

Junior, on the other hand, loved the cottage! There was so much space for him to run around, and he loved opening and closing all the doors (amazingly, there were no trapped fingers!). The owner provided a travel cot, and he slept right through the night, every night, no issues.

Anyway, this will turn into a really long post if I talk about everything that we did and everywhere we went, so I'll just mention one or two highlights.*

We visited a place called Eshott Heugh Animal Park which you can read about if you click on the link. They have loads of chickens, horses, sheep, cows etc as well as some slightly more exotic animals. We had the place almost to ourselves when we visited, and it was a lovely walk around. We're gradually introducing Junior to animals other than cats and dogs - he's a bit wary sometimes, but he's getting better.




Peacock with tail feathers on display

peacock (and hen?)

I'm a bit obsessed with peacocks

Ok, a lot obsessed...

Felt sorry for the turkey who was strutting up and down while I was obsessing over the peacock, so I took his photo too

Obligatory meerkat photo


One at the back, one at the front
Big pig

Alright, I'll seek help...

In Coldstream you can visit the Hirsel Estate - we popped in one morning and just had a wander around the gift shops and then, following a suggestion from a shop owner, we had a walk to see the Highland cattle who had recently had some calves. She said they'd been quite close to the edge of the field that they were in, but when we got there they were quite a way off and I was only using the camera on my phone so I didn't get great photos of them.

On the Wednesday of our week, we'd planned to go for an evening drive. Junior never has any trouble going to sleep at night (he sleeps brilliantly, right through the night - we're so lucky!) so it's not as though we need to drive around to make him fall asleep, but we just thought we'd do it for a change. We put him into his pyjamas and a warm coat and socks, and opened the front door, at which point I said "has my car got a flat tyre?". Sure enough, there was a huge nail sticking out of it. So, back inside, no evening drive. Chris got on the internet (the cottage had wifi, and we took our laptops, don't judge us) and found a mobile tyre fitter in Coldstream. He apparently finished at 6pm, but Chris rang at 6.05 and he answered the phone and said he'd come out the next morning between 9 and 10.00. He turned up at 9.10 and fitted a brand new tyre (for about £65), in the pouring rain too, and was gone by 9.50. What a lifesaver! So we still managed a day out on Thursday.

The offending tyre

Going back to Wednesday, after we'd been to the Hirsel estate we had a drive to a place of my choice - Whistlebare Yarns. I didn't take any photos, but you can have a good look around their website. I bought 3 100g skeins of 4ply in the Willow the Wisp colourway - it's 60% mohair/40% wool - not sure what I'm going to make with it, possibly a shawl or summery poncho, might even get a cardigan out of it. It was a very nice place, and the yarn is gorgeous - it felt good to buy 'local' too. Having said that, I also bought 5 100g balls of Rico Baby Soft Print DK in a wool shop in Alnwick, with a view to making a blanket for Junior. I've already started that, I'm sure I'll blog about it at some point. I found a couple of other nice wool shops but I resisted buying any more yarn - I'd already taken loads of cotton with me and I think I only made one facecloth all week, which Chris snapped up for himself.

On Thursday, after the tyre was sorted, we headed up to Eyemouth. It was still raining and cold, so I don't think we saw it at it's best. We did watch a seal being fed in the harbour though, although I've now decided that I'm scared of harbours. It's the big drop into deep water, and that for most of it there is no barrier to stop you going over the edge. My stupid brain imagines all sorts of scenarios involving falling over the side, or even worse now, Junior falling over the side. I wish the thoughts didn't pop into my head, but I can't seem to stop them. I suppose all parents have thoughts like that though, to a greater or lesser degree.

From Eyemouth, we went to a place called Coldingham Bay, where Junior got his first taste of walking on the beach. Much splashing ensued in the puddles left by the receding tide, and there was the inevitable fall into wet sand. He loved it!

Daddy footprints on the left, toddler footprints on the right, reflection of dad's orange jacket in the middle
On Friday, we went to Bamburgh. We didn't visit the castle, but you can't exactly miss it.

We made our way to the beach again, and what a beach it was

looking back to the castle

looking to the right

looking to the left
And here's Junior, doing a 'Reginald Perrin' and just heading for the sea

Don't worry, dad is next to him, just out of shot
Back home on Saturday - we left the cottage at 8.45am and arrived home at 11.55! Really weird to think we'd been in Scotland just three hours earlier!

I thought I'd done a great job with packing for home, I hadn't forgotten anything... until we put Junior to bed and realised we'd left half of the baby monitor (the transmitter bit that goes in his bedroom) back in the cottage!! Oh no!! I emailed the owner who very kindly offered to post it back to us, at no cost, which was so good of her. But it meant that we had to go a few nights without using the monitor, which felt a bit strange, especially for me because I'm a bit of a stickler for having it switched on.

So that was our first family holiday, and it was brilliant! We've already decided that we'd like to go back to the same area, and we'd even book the same cottage, because it was lovely, very spacious but cosy too. The three-hour drive made a nice change too, compared to some of our previous holidays to Scotland which have been around 9 and 10 hour drives.

Roll on the next holiday!

*It was still a really long post, wasn't it?

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