Surfers, windmills and milking cows

I wake up on a chilly summer morning in the middle of the countryside and remind myself that you should always be careful what you wish for. Yesterday in the scorching heat, I declared that I could hardly wait to get ‘up North’ to cool down. Now that I’m here, I’m wondering if that desire was wise at all. Having packed our bags in a ridiculously hot apartment in central London, I, of course, never in my wildest dreams really thought that we’d be needing long trousers, jackets and sweaters. I packed warm things and then told myself I was being ridiculous and put most things back in the suitcase that was left behind in the sunshine. Oh well!

After gluten free dinosaur shaped toast (gotta love my mum), we drive to South Shields beach where gale force winds are forecast. What? But, of course, it’s the perfectly natural thing to do. I feel nostalgic as I drive my mums wee car to the coast – not daring to push it past 60mph incase a gust of wind might topple us over. Late, as ever, we get to the beach to meet up with three of my school friends. It is SO good to see them. There is something very comforting about being able to chat about silly childhood memories – a friends budgerigar that we were all scared of, the time when school was closed for 2 weeks in the summer because a new toilet block was being built and we spent every single day on the beach. All of that and more. Funny also, how the next generation just gets on with it. C & T join the other kids and run off down the beach to roll down the sand dunes.

I’m impressed by the Baywatch style Lifeguard tower, the surfers, windsurfers and jet skiers. Am I really in the North of England, or has a bit of California just transplanted itself?

It’s windy, but with our backs to it, it’s just fine. Well, just fine that is until C declares – dramatic as ever – that he can’t take it anymore and we really need to get out of trhis sandstorm. Sand storm?

It’s a good excuse to park ourselves in Minchellas ice cream parlor. Given that C is off milk, I offer up the choice of an ice lolly. I hold back on telling him how having a knickerbockerglory in Minchellas was one of the biggest treats imaginable for me when I was a child and love the fact that we are sitting here right now.

As we leave, we see a police helicopter circling over the cliffs. I comment on how I used to see them quite often out of my bedroom window that overlooked the sea, when I was a kid. Little do I know at the time, that the helicopter is searching for an escaped gunman who is on the loose.

We race home to watch the Wimbledon final. I don’t cheer for Nadal initially, but by the end of the second set, it’s impossible not to. Wow!

On our second full day in the North, we head to Hall Hill Farm(www.hallhillfarm.co.uk). My mum has heard great things about the place, but we really don’t have any expectations. It’s with delight that we realize that the place is phenomenal. The boys have so much fun. They hold every single bunny rabbit on theuir laps – and there are quite a few; feed the goats, sheep, llamas and donkeys; go on a tractor ride; ride mini tractors; sit on a quad bike; watch a jersey cow being milked and have a delicious lunch (jacket potato for C) in the tea room.

C declares it as his best day yet on this vacation. I’m amazed that this surpasses the Tower of London for him, but he tells me that he is so happy to have been on a farm with all of the animals. Maybe there is a bit of James Harriet in him after all. 

Having declared my mums broadband as dysfunct, we head to the local library, so that I can have my computer fix. I quickly check emails and realize that all of my other vices are blocked – no WordPress ( this blog), no Facebook. What?!? We check out a stash of books for the boys and then head home for a mammoth reading session and some delicious gluten free breaded chicken. (recipe to follow). It’s with amazement at 10pm that we realize that the broadband connnection is working. Well- limping. M is online and we attempt a quick Skype – no go. Ah well. Maybe it’s not a bad thing learning to cope without technology. Just maybe?