26 June 2006

Holiday update...

Well, it has taken me almost a week to get around to it but here is an update on our holiday! Don't worry you'll not get a day-by-day run down, just the basics - I haven't the time for anything other than that right now!

The drive up to the Lake District was remarkably easy on the Monday morning with no hold ups at all, not even on the M6, which is a miracle in itself and we arrived in Ulpha at around 1:00PM. As we could not get into the cottage until 3:00PM, we carried on to Seathwaite and the Newfield Inn for lunch. This turned out to be a great choice of stop off - the food was excellent, the drinks more than refreshing after the long drive and the pub itself a real gem. The Inn dates back to the 17th century and even has its original slate floor in the bar!

When we booked the holiday the only thing I really wanted was somewhere that was out of the way and with some sort of view - we certainly got both! The cottage was well away from any sort of built up area and looked straight out onto the fells! The only interruptions we had to put up with at the cottage were the odd visit from one of the cats or dogs from the farm that the cottage was a part of and even they got bored of us after the first day or so!

The rest of the week, until Friday morning, was spent either walking in the local area, along the cliff tops to St Bees Head RSPB Reserve or visiting some of the towns and villages. The weather was hot for the most part without being so hot that it stopped us getting out and about. The only day that I would say that it came close to being unbearable was on the Wednesday when we visited St Bees Head. By the time we arrived back at the car after a walk of about seven miles we were just about beat! Having said that, it was good to see all the sea birds that were nesting along the cliffs.

A trip to Bowness-on-Windermere was about as close to being "tourists" as we got during the week. Even though this is one of the hot-spots for people visiting the Lakes, it didn't feel too commercialised and the "real ice-cream" was excellent!

As the cottage was so well placed we didn't even bother with the car on the final day, instead we chose to walk down the valley from the farm and then along the side of the River Duddon. This took us down into the village of Ulpha itself which we reckon must be made up of about a dozen houses at most! As I say, this is a very out of the way place!

So, after a very relaxing week in the peace and quiet of the Lakes, it was time to move on to Center Parcs. The drive over to the Center Parcs village took us around an hour and a quarter, having got stuck behind a rather slow tour bus coming over the mountains near Ullswater, and as we pulled onto the road leading to the car park so did Lynda's brother! He had set off from Nottingham around four hours earlier and arrived just as we did! Perfect timing! We were then joined by John and Sue an hour or so later. Time to start part two of our holiday!

Center Parcs, for us, is always a mix of eating, drinking, chill out time and playing around in the swimming pools and water slides - this weekend was no different! We had some great food, the Italian and Chinese restaurants were very good, plenty to drink - Saturday night became the early hours of Sunday far too quickly thanks to the alcohol - and also plenty of time to just relax either in the pool area or back at our "villa".

One of the bonuses of having our little niece, Chloe, with us was that it gave us an excuse to act like kids even more than we would normally! So, water fights became the norm when in the pool, extra goes down the water slides were a must and I even got talked into doing some colouring by Chloe, who was more than happy to share her pens with me!

Monday was the last day of our holiday, we spent the morning in the pool area again before Lynda and I said goodbye to the rest of the family and headed off to the spa. After all the fun and chaos of the weekend this final three hours was total relaxation! There were very few people in the spa during the afternoon and we came away equally as chilled out as we had been after our time in the cottage in the hills.

Now, after a week back home and back at work I'm ready for our next break!

Try as I might I cannot get any photos to load onto this Blog tonight, so I have put a few on a separate link! If you open the thumbnails, I have put some titles on each photo so that they make a little more sense!

Click here for holiday photos!

12 June 2006

Well, the good news is that tomorrow we are off on holiday! More good news, last nights Bluehorses gig was another great night, with an added bonus… Rob Khoo made a “guest appearance” as bass player for the night! Rob used to play bass with the band for many years until standing down around four years ago. This was only the second time that we had managed to catch up with him since and it was great to do so.

The Flowerpot (pub venue last night) was even hotter than usual, due to the very hot weather we have been having of late, and by the time the band came on stage and all the spotlights came into play it must have been approaching 100°. Not the best of nights for bouncing around at the front of the stage but I still did! By the end of the night you could have just about wrung my T-shirt out, it was that wet! Still, it will have burnt of an extra few pounds that I can now put back on by eating and drinking too much on holiday!

Now, I started by saying, “the good news is…” which must mean there is bad news. Sure enough… the bad news is that on Friday lunch time one of our favourite pub/restaurants suffered a huge fire. The Bulls Head at Denby was very badly damaged when a fire in an outbuilding spread to the back of the main pub and then into the roof. The galleried restaurant was very badly hit and, from the photos we saw in the local paper, it looks like the whole of the restaurant roof was also more or less destroyed.

So, on to next week. We set off for the Lake District just as soon as we can get everything packed into the car tomorrow morning. I’ve not bothered to run the trip through a route planner but I’d guess that it will take us around 3½ hours to get there if the M6 is clear, well, as clear as it can be on a Monday morning! Once up there our base for the week will put us right in the heart of the fells with Eskdale and the Hardknott Pass close by. Coniston Water and Windermere will be within easy driving distance as will the northwest coastline. No doubt the camera will be getting a fair amount of use, so I’ll post pictures here at some time!

At the end of the week, we will be moving out of the Cumbrian Mountains to just the other side of the M6 and spending a long weekend at the Whinfell Forest Center Parcs. Lynda and I have visited the Center Parcs at Sherwood Forest many times over the years but this will be our first visit to Whinfell. Once there Lynda’s brother Neil, his wife Susan, their little girl Chloe and Lynda’s dad John and step mum Sue, will join us. The second part of our holiday is most definitely going to be a lot livelier than the first, especially with Chloe around! I think Aunty Lynda and Uncle Richard are going to be kept very busy!


10 June 2006

Okay, it’s late and I should be in bed but….

Ran my usual 5k at the gym tonight - 24:18min! A new best time for me and it didn’t hurt quite so much this week - well, not after a couple of hours recovery!

Work has been work, but with a twist this week - I’ve been training a new member of staff all week. Me, training again! I even kept my cool for the whole week! Guess I must be getting old!

Tomorrow night we are at The Flowerpot, in Derby, for the Bluehorses gig. It’s been a while since we last saw the band, and everyone that follows them around, so I’m really looking forward to it.

Then, next week we are off to the Lake District for a week! Holidays again!

04 June 2006

Well, we found out what the fire was… it was the Sir Henry Royce Centre, at Rolls Royce! It isn't anymore! Early reports are that arsonists set fire to the £1million building that housed the company’s conference rooms and canteen. Around 40 fire fighters were called in to tackle the blaze, which has apparently destroyed the building!

On a brighter note, I went up to the Goyt Valley today for a birding walk with the Derby RSPB Group. The Goyt is one of my favourite places for walking, especially on a day like today, it was nice and bright, not too hot and with just a very light breeze. The RSPB walk didn’t start until 8:30AM but I arrived there at just before 5:30AM! This gave me plenty of time to explore some of the areas that we would not cover on the “official” walk later in the morning.

Now, this isn’t a place to go if you want to build a big list of birds in one day! In the seven hours or so that I was there today I managed to see 33 species - not a lot but the list did include a few speciality birds such as Wood Warbler, Spotted Flycatcher, Tree Pipit, Whinchat, Stonechat and Red Grouse. We also came across good numbers of Curlew including a pair with a young chick. Two birds that I failed to find were Pied Flycatcher and Redstart.

The Goyt may not be as rich in bird life as the Trent Valley area of Derbyshire, where I do a lot of my birding, but it's a stunning place for walking…

Errwood reservoir - at 5:25AM!

Looking up towards Berry Clough.

The ferns find any shelter they can!

Looking from the top of Berry Clough.

03 June 2006

A 30-second update!

Did the gym again tonight - 5k run in 26:06min. Quite happy with that as I wasn’t pushing for a quick (by my standards) time.

Had a bite to eat at the Old Plough, Weston on Trent, tonight. Food was good and the place now feels like a proper village pub again!

Off work for the next two days - may do some more local bird watching if the weather stays fine. The past couple of days have been almost like summer!

When we arrived home from the pub this evening we could see huge amounts of smoke rising up into the sky a short distance from home. Within half an hour, I had to close all the windows because of the smoke and fumes. Tomorrow, we may find out what “went up”!