Week in Whitby

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We went to Whitby for a week last year and absolutely loved it, so we were very excited to go back, particularly since we found a fantastic cottage in one of the old yards off Church Street.

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This was our view. The house was through a narrow arch between two Church Street shops and up about twenty steps. Once you go through the arch it’s really quiet. One of my favourite things about the holiday was coming back down through the quiet and then stepping out onto a busy and vibrant street. So cool.

The boys, however, were all about the beach.

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Slovenia, 2000

The old diary I found recently had just a few boring pages at the start and from then on I only wrote in it when we had holidays. I’m posting this here for posterity (mine)!

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This place is gorgeous! I’m sitting on the balcony and there are lovely Italianate houses, a small marina and a jetty to the left and more houses and a church to the right. The balconies are all curlicued (!) so looking to the right looks like that picture of Sophia Loren at Cannes (wonder if Dad wants a copy!).

8472379631_a78ac50967_bYesterday, we got to the airport a bit late but it didn’t make any difference, the flight was fine – only 2 hours, 5 mins. The views were amazing landing – all mountains and fir/pine (?) trees and we could smell them when we got off the plane. Just after we got on the coach, David saw an eagle and then as we went through some woods there was a little deer in a kind of wheatfield – the coach driver honked the horn and it looked up and just watched us go. While it stayed light everything looked beautiful! But the journey was 2.5 hours which is a bit grim when it’s mostly dark, but it passed quite quickly.

The hotel isn’t on the picture, which is a bit of a cheat. The picture is of Tartini Square and probably what I thought was the hotel is the town hall or something! The hotel isn’t very pretty so that’ll be why, but even so!

The room’s fine – big double bed, this balcony (whcih we’d given up on so we were quite excited) and a nice big bathroom with a ashower. We made QT and sat on the balcony talking. David said, “I think this is going to be a good holiday.” I think so too. I hope so!

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23 June 2000

We didn’t do very much at all yesterday cos it was so damn hot! Went for a walk to the headland and through a bit of town then came back and saw the rep, who was next to useless. We’ve booked to go to Lake Bled and Venice (of course). We spent most of the day in the room or on the balcony reading or people-watching. It was a nice relaxing day. We went up to a pizza place for dinner, which (wine and pizza) was plentiful and cheap. Then we watched the sunset from a “rocky outcropping.” Lovely. Today we’re (hopefully) off to Llubljana.

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24 June 2000

We got to the bus station yesterday at 10, but the bus wasn’t til 11. We walked along the coastal path to Portoroz – it’s so beautiful looking out at the sea. We got on the bus and settled down for the 2.5 hour journey. Luckily the scenery was beautiful and I spent quite a lot of time with my face pressed to the window. It took 3 hours cos there was a stop for a drink on the way (bus driver kickback). it was roasting in Llubljana – we had lunch in McDonalds’s just for a laugh (McD’s around the world!). We both had a ‘Fish Mac Meal’. They didn’t have anything different except big bowl salads and something in a cup called a McFlurry.

Llubljana was gorgeous but v small. We walked up to the castle (then had to have a prolonged recovery sit down) and the views were amazing, but only the tiny old town is beautiful – the modern buildings it’s surrounded with are hideous. We had a much needed beer by the river then walked up to Tivoli Park where we lay down and v nearly fell asleep. We got back on the bus and the return journey seemed much quicker. Lovely light and a sunset to boot. We had yet another pizza in very romatic leafy setting (Surf Bar) then back to the room. Woken in the night by incredible thunder and then quickfire lightning. Very disarming.

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25 June 2000

Well, it’s 11.45am and we’re still in the room cos it’s blowing a gale and pissing it down! Yesterday we went for a wander around the city walls and then had another balcony day. We walked to Portoroz and had dinner – I had calimari, which was mega-garlicky and had loads of whole leggy squids – yuck. We watched Italy v Romania in a bar on the beach. V cosmopolitan, as D pointed out. Kept awake again last night by a whole range of rackets – disco, party, motorbikes, another thunderstorm, what sounded like a hurricane, Italians celebrating their win and then some fellow residents shrieking “Yee-ha!” at about 6am. Knackered again.

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26 June 2000

Went to Lake Bled and Bohinj today. It was lovely but we didn’t get long enough at the lakes. Had a nice leisurely lunch with a couple from Yorkshire though. Yesterday we decided to go to Portoroz and the weather cleared up on the way there. (We went to the aquarium first – great selection of ugly fish!) In Portoroz we had dinner in a lovely terrace restaurant with a great view and who should come in but Zahovic, Slovenia’s striker. We were quite excited! Then we watched Spain v France. (France won 2-1.)

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28 June 2000

I’m actually ok about going home – I wasn’t yesterday, I wanted to stay in Venice, but I’ve got plenty to be going on with at home and, for a change, I’m happy with my life. Venice was amazing – a day isn’t enough – I want to go back and explore some of the smaller islands, the main two areas are v busy and v touristy. When we first crossed the Grand Canal the view was so amazing that I cried. I’m such a sap.

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Course, it was constantly in my mind that it was Mum’s favourite place and it was weird to stand and have a photo taken in St Mark’s Square when I know there’s a very similar one of her. I might find it at the weekend and put them together.

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The tour that we went on was really good – we had a guide walk us from the catamaran – Prince of Venice – to St Mark’s Square then a local guide took us around and showed us the Bridge of Sighs and the Doge’s Palace. Apart from all the tourists, the place seems frozen in time. When we walked past the cafe on St Mark’s – can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s v old, expensive and famous – there was an orchestra playing. After a free afternoon, with too much walking for David’s liking (I went investigating by myself while he had a snooze in a little park), we got a water taxi back to the boat. It was amazing too because it went through what are obviously residential areas that were v beautiful. Saw loads of locals on the water buses. I wonder if you ever take living in Venice for granted?

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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.)

Holiday! Celebrate! (or ‘Can writers do holidays?’)

Harry finishes school today. Joe finished preschool yesterday. David doesn’t finish work til the middle of next week, but we’re all very excited anyway. We seem to have been counting down to this holiday for aaaages and for the past week we’ve had a tear-off countdown calendar pinned up in the hall. Much as the boys love school, they’re ready for a break.

And even though I’ve been enjoying writing possibly more than ever before, I’m ready for a break too. But I’ll still be writing. Not only because I’m loving what I’m working on, but also because writers never really stop writing

Used with permission from Debbie Ridpath Ohi at Inkygirl.com.

{via Megan Crane}

Paris, pigeons, towers and tears (Disney Day 4)

We’d decided to go into Paris on the Friday so we set off straight after breakfast in the rain and on a double decker train. We went for a quick look at Notre Dame and the Christmas tree and a guy held out some bread for the birds to show Harry and Joe.

While looking for a loo, we stumbled upon Shakespeare & Co and Harry and I went inside for a look. It’s such a gorgeous place with nooks and crannies, sofas and desks (and daybeds) and the most fabulous writing nook with a typewriter and fairy lights. Harry loved it just as much as I did and we could’ve stayed there a lot longer, but instead we went back out to D and J and went for a cuppa. (Large cappuccino, small hot chocolate, one banana milkshake = 18Euros, which is basically £18. Yikes.)

I wanted to show the boys some of the gorgeous Parisian shops, so we crossed back over the river and wandered down a little street lined with bakeries and chocolate shops. Harry and I got crepes (mine was salted caramel, yum) and took a photo of us reflected in a bauble.

Joe didn’t want a crepe, but he did want something, so I got him a palmier.

He ended up so utterly covered in crumbs, that I wanted to take him back to Notre Dame and give the birds an early Christmas present.

We crossed the bridge again and saw the locks all over the railings. Do you all know about this? Couples leave locks with their names on – as long as the lock stays on the bridge, the couple with stay together (probably). It looked fantastic and I could’ve stayed a lot longer (if it hadn’t been raining and I’d been alone).

We got the train to the Eiffel Tower and walked towards it with Harry chattering about wanting to go right to the top and Joe saying, “Madeyine sit there!” (Have I mentioned that Joe pronounces his Ls as Ys? So when we got to our hotel he said, “Yook! Yoads a’yights!” [Look! Loads of lights!])

I felt incredibly lucky to be in Paris, with my boys, and for them to be excited about being there too. Happiness.

Harry and I queued and got tickets for the lift to the very top, but when we got to the second stage we realised there was a massive queue for the next lift and, if we waited, we wouldn’t have time for one last quick trip into Disney, so we skipped it. The second stage was pretty damn cool though.


While Harry and I were up the Eiffel, David and Joe went on the carousel, got some lunch and then chased some pigeons…

We got a variety of trains back to Disneyland and had just over an hour to spend in the park before we had to get the coach to the airport. Harry had one request: Big Thunder Mountain. Again. The queue was too long and even the Fast Pass time was cutting it fine, so we threw ourselves on the mercy of one of the Disney staff who allowed us to go right through. Lovely. So we had one final ride and then headed back to the hotel. There were a few tears as we left the park (from Harry and then, because he was so upset, from me) and then we waved Disney goodbye.