Four go (a bit) mad in a campervan

We’ve all fancied a go in a campervan for a while now. I love the look of them and Joe loves the Peppa Pig song (“We’re going on holiday… in a campervan.”) We’d put ‘Hire a Camper Van’ on our Summer To Do List and so I went about finding one.

We only wanted to try it out – we haven’t been camping so we weren’t sure how the boys would react to being so cooped up – so I booked a van for just one from Jolly Campervans. I went for The Baron, because it was the biggest and I figured the more space the better.

I booked the campsite at Malham Tarn, which I chose because it’s National Trust, so I figured it would be safe and professional. And then I got very overexcited. (We hadn’t told the boys about it; we wanted it to be a surprise.)

The week before we were due to go, I got an email from Jolly Campervans saying that as they’d been invited to go away while we had the van, would we like it for a bit longer for no extra charge? Well we weren’t going to turn that down. So on Sunday, we drove over to pick it up… and then took it to meet some friends for lunch nearby. (We met the friends, not the van.)

I loved it pretty much straight away, but David took a while to get used to driving it – no power steering, for one! The boys loved it too (although they seemed very far away):

After lunch, we drove home again to get used to it before taking it out on a site and, you know, sleeping in it. But the boys wanted another go (and so, for that matter, did I) so we drove to a nearby reservoir and watched the sun set while drinking van-made hot chocolate:

I’d booked a campsite near Morecambe for the next night and we spent most of the day meandering there. By the time we’d had dinner and all settled down in the van, the weather was a bit wild and I was nervous.

Harry had chosen to sleep in the roof and David volunteered to sleep up there with him, while Joe and I slept “downstairs.” I worried that the roof space would collapse and Harry and David would fall on us in the night, but, you know, that didn’t happen. It was rainy and very windy, but the boys slept well and I slept much better than I expected to, despite dreaming that the van had blown into the next field. I was woken by Joe saying, “Is it morning-time, Mama? Can we keep this camping van?”

It was a gorgeous morning and we ate bacon and eggs – cooked in the van (by David) – while watching the tide come in. Bliss.

We moseyed over to Malham and after a hairy drive up some steep and windy hills, found the campsite. It was a mudbath. The staff there said they’d find some hard-standing for us to park on and, once the staff had left for the day, we settled into a surprisingly cosy parking area.

We walked down to the Tarn itself to watch the sun set and it was utterly gorgeous.

Back in the van, Harry wanted me to sleep up in the roof with him, so I did, despite worrying that I would slide out of there during the night (only the blanket did, thank goodness). In the morning, we all had porridge and then set off for Saltaire. We’ve been before and love it, the bookshop in Salt’s Mill, especially.

We had time for dinner before returning the van, so we stopped off at a pub nearby (and I won a fiver on a quiz machine – result!) and then it was time to give The Baron back. None of us wanted to (it’s VERY unusual for David to wait until the last minute to return something – usually he thinks any holiday is over first thing on the last day, but we literally returned it the minute it was due).

Driving home in our own car, we talked about the brilliant time we’d had and when we’d be able to rent a van again. We’ll definitely be doing it. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.


Majorca photos. Finally.

I know, I know. You’ve all been desperate to see the photos. I’m really surprised you’ve managed to contain yourselves this long, to be honest.

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The holiday was completely brilliant, if a little too hot. I would highly recommend Puerto Pollensa to anyone – we’re now desperate to go back and stay on the Pine Walk, directly opposite the beach. Incredibly family-friendly and relaxing at the same time with the most fabulous pizza place. (Plus Bradley Wiggins has a place there, so David thinks we’ll bump into him, they’ll compare sideburns and become best friends.)

Almond cake. Sort of.

Making almond cake was on our Summer To Do list, after we tasted it at the airport on the way back from holiday. Fortunately, there was a recipe in the Kitchen & Co book I bought recently and so yesterday… we made it.

The recipe said to cook it for an hour, but after 40 minutes I could smell burning. I opened the oven to find there was a good reason for that – it was extremely brown and almost black around the edges. But when I cut into it, the inside looked fine.

I tasted it and it was really good. I mean REALLY good. The outside almost tasted caramelised and the inside was mega-moist. I gave the boys a slice each and they almost immediately asked for more. By the time David got home, we’d eaten half the cake, which, considering the ingredients included 250g of butter and 325g of sugar, probably wasn’t the best idea ever.

I turned it into Miss Pacman to make it look prettier

Visit the National Museum of Film and Television

David and I went to this museum years ago to see This Is Cinerama, as recommended by Bill Bryson in Notes from a Small Island and it was brilliant. A couple of weeks ago, a leaflet came through the door and it had an original Gameboy on it, so that was it: Harry insisted we go.

It’s a really fabulous museum – we were there all day and didn’t manage to see everything (we missed the photography exhibit). We started with animation, which inspired us to buy a Praxinoscope (which you’ll be hearing about) and then went up to the games room. Harry was completely overexcited and then horrified at the sight of Pong – “This is what you had when you were my age? THIS? Seriously?!” We tried playing it and it was really hard – stupid dial controls. I then showed him Frogger, which he found equally disappointing, and then Pac-man, which wasn’t working very well. (Either that or I’m really crap at it.)

David then introduced the boys to his old favourite: Manic Miner.


They weren’t impressed.

Harry and I had a go on an early Sonic the Hedgehog game, which we quite enjoyed.

And then we went up to the TV floor, which was just brilliant. I’d love to go back without Joe (or when Joe’s older) and have a good look around. But Joe got to be on TV (we tried to get him to go in Teletubby-land, but there were too many people watching and he went shy).

I think we spent the longest in the internet exhibition (if you don’t include the fantastic shop). Harry got to try out HTML, David recorded an interview with Joe and I mainly looked at Twitter, because it was right at the point that Boris was dangling. The lighting in the exhibition changes dependent on the emotions being expressed on Twitter (?!) and while we were there – and Boris was dangling – it was LOL-pink. Srsly.

Make ice lollies

Harry and Joe have been a bit obsessed with making lollies lately. If I so much as skip off to the loo, Joe’s in and out of the freezer, trying to fill the lolly tray thing with water to make “WATER YOYYIES, MAMA!” So I decided we’d try out this recipe from Catherine Newman (my first stop for any and all recipes, but particularly kid-friendly ones).

We forgot the lime, but we had all the other ingredients and Harry helped me whizz them in the blender. (Joe ran out of the kitchen cos the noise was “Too ‘cary!”). We stuck them in the freezer and H and J spent the next four hours saying, “Has it been four hours yet? Has it? Has it been four hours yet?”

After four hours, I gave them a lolly each and took one for myself.


Harry declared his “Disgusting.” Joe wasn’t wild about his either. I thought mine was delicious.

I think we’ll try strawberry next time.

Go to Cheeky Monkeys: tick!

I generally can’t be doing with soft play centres, but the boys love them so much that sometimes I have to give in. It’s actually not that bad now that they’re bigger and will play on their own.

Yesterday, I got myself a cup of tea and poached eggs on toast and sat and read while Harry and Joe played. The place we went to has free Wifi, so I could’ve got some work done, but I decided against it. Good to know for the future though.

The boys sometimes played together and sometimes apart – I looked up at one point to see Joe waiting at the bottom of a slide and when Harry flew out, they beamed at each other and hugged. It was worth the price of admission for that moment alone.