Final Summary from Ruth
In 17 days we covered a lot of ground. As is usual with all good plans, it didn't quite turn out as expected.
The fundamental change to me was that Roger needed more support throughout the day than we'd originally anticipated.
This wasn't a great burden (you'll be delighted to read) but it did mean that I didn't get overly long periods in which
to explore places with the girls.
The general routine of our days followed the approximate pattern:
- up, breakfast and Roger off by 0830.
- me break camp (or have another coffee with my hosts if we were with friends!), pack the van, chase girls into it, go find Roger.
- meet with Roger about 1100 for chat, water refill, snack.
- go find "citing thing to do" (as Caitlin would put it) which if I chose involved a paper and coffee but invariably ended up in playground pushing the girls on swings. Other "not citing" things to do involved laundry, shopping, fuel, TI centres hunting accommodation.
- meet up with Roger about 1400 for lunch/snack/morale boost (his or mine - I was never quite sure).
- go find accommodation - Roger would invariably beat me to it as I'd get engrossed in a kiddy activity somewhere and forget I still had 50 miles to go to meet him
- unpack van/work on bike/camp/see friends/sort ourselves out in hostel
- eat/wash children/wash clothes/wash Roger (!)
- plan route for next day
We had far less time to chill as a family than I'd expected; and most of our evenings were spent talking maps and
routes rather than whatever you are meant to talk about on holiday (deep and meaningful stuff isn't it?).
- A fulfillment of one of my oft said quotes which is "if you haven't been there - go: the worst that'll happen is that you don't like it
and won't go there again"
- visiting lots of places I would like to go to again
- walking across to St Michael's Mount with girls
- the sun
- camping in the gloriously fine weather
- Monmouth - I really like that place!
- view driving through Leigh of Lancashire Dales
- driving across the forest of Bowland - stunning
- staying with friends in Bristol, Hereford and Chorley (all of whom had children who entertained ours for hours!)
- the Yorkshire family we met at Kirkby Lonsdale who made us realise we were seriously camping gurus
- happy, relaxed children as company
- driving through the Lakes - brought back many happy memories
- rowing on Ullswater in the sun - and knowing that it was raining in Taunton!
- the play area at Moffat: a must for any families driving north. Managed to ground a pedalo there!
- drive across Rannoch Moor (I did it three times)
- staying with John and Jacqueline in Glasgow
- the Next Sale in Glasgow (sad but true)
- Scotland in general
- Fort William.....in the sun (ha!)
- views of Loch 'anywhere'
- watching the girls change from passive passengers to active ones spotting play areas, parks etc from a great distance
- Rogart railway carriage hostel
- swimming in Golspie - we were the only ones in the pool for some of it
- my many, in depth, conversations with Caitlin about white/yellow lines on the road; learner drivers; taxis; difference between motorways and dual carriages; cats eyes; views; posts at the side of the road in Scotland; getting married; vehicles which are and aren't allowed on motorways; getting lost; playgrounds; whether John O Groats was in Cornwall or not; being cut up (as in when you are driving) etc.....
- sunsets in Scotland
- reaching John O Groats! Roger nearly beat me to it - we were engrossed in the Dounreay Visitor's Centre children's corner - I did a fair speed across the top of Scotland to catch up with him and even then he had to wait!
- being a 'single Mum' for most of the day: this was sometimes fun but not when you've just sat down for coffee and one of them wants the loo which is 100m away...
- packing and repacking the van - usually by myself
- driving 100 miles each day
- getting lost - Caitlin's quote on this was "it must be hard driving on holiday, Mum, as you don't know where you are going" (this was no doubt after u-turn number 5 of the day)
- pasta (!) - well, it wasn't that bad actually
- Roger getting lost around Northwich and me having to backtrack 30 miles from Warrington to pick up his route for him (at least my map was larger scale)
- trying to encourage Roger to get on the bike again when he wasn't in the mood... (poor man)
- seeing lots of couples going walking in Scotland and knowing it wasn't my turn
- going back to work to an inbox of 140+ emails!
No regrets - lots of fun, happy memories. I am compiling a photo album of it all: so for those who see me let me know
if you'd like to view it.