Sunday, 25 August 2013

Wooler (and Alnwick Gardens) 2013

Looked for somewhere north of us with a pool for the kids for the summer holidays in August, a bit of a tall order. We had heard good reviews for Wooler and tried to book the Riverside Leisure Park there but their website said there were no pitches available.   Looked on a website called and booked the same days we wanted at the Riverside Leisure Park (mind you, we did do this on April fools day).


Day one, 18th Aug 2013

Me. Dot, Georgia, Emily and Amber, set off for Wooler in Northumberland, with Emily navigating, basically it is only two or three main roads from where we live.  The journey was not too painful for me driving (my sciatica has been a problem and I could not take the same mix of stronger pain killers, I had used going to Cornwall, as this time I was driving) but we were overcharged at the Tyne tunnel, was asked to pay £2.50 by the machine instead of the £1.60 it should have been.

Riverside Leisure Park

Riverside Leisure Park
South Road, Wooler, Northumberland, NE71 6NJ

The Riverside Leisure Park is a large campsite with many statics / residential mobile homes and a reasonably sized touring section. We were pitched next to the river, with the other caravans and motorhomes, in a horseshoe around the tents. I did not like this arrangement, tents have become massive, some were easily three times as big as our van, mind you, a large caravan with a full awning is also easily three times as big as our van. Could not get any TV reception and had not taken the sat receiver ( later, we also  discovered the the built in DVD in the TV did not work either).

Once set up we had some sandwiches, leaving our prepared Sunday lunch for later, so we could get out and explore.

When I had checked in at reception, I was informed that you had to book time in the pool (I had not expected that). So on our way out to inspect the town, we popped into the shop to see what pool slots were available, thinking we would just take what we could get, only to find that you can only book on the day you want to go for a dip, so we would have to go back first thing in the morning and try again.

Crossed the bridge over the Wooler Water and walked up the steep hill into the town (didn't expect that either).  To me wooler looks nice but also slightly run down but it was is Sunday, we will have to see what it is like tomorrow when the shops are open.

Walked back down the hill a diferent way crossed back over the river and found a play park for the girls to play on.

We were going to pop into the clubhouse for a beer but had to go straight back to the van, as Georgia's chest was bad and we and no ventolin with us (very strange that, I hardly ever go anywhere with out some). After Georgia was feeling better we did go back for a beer or two and the girls played on the amusements but they would not go into the kids club (too grown up now).

Later while I was getting the food ready and the girls had gone to find a park on site to play on, they all suddenly came back with Georgia crying. She had fallen of her scooter and hurt her knees and fingers and was very distressed. We gave her paracetamol and cleaned her up but it took some time to calm her down. Eventually though we got a film going on the laptop, the food all warmed up and Georgia back to her old happy self.

After the film it was an early night.

Day two, 18th Aug 2013

41st wedding anniversary

I was up at five in pain, took pain killers and had two cups of tea, I then did the previous days write up for this blog and by about seven, felt confident enough to go back to bed.

All back up again by nine, Georgia was feeling a lot better, but still in some pain. Emily and Amber went to the shop to book pool time, came back with a 50 min slot for 10:00, sent them back to get another one as well, they managed to get 17:00 as well, the last 50 min slot of the day.

Getting ready to go to the pool for 10:00 was a bit of a rush but they managed (that's putting it mildly), I stayed at the van and did the washing from last nights meal, then went over to see them.

Later we all got ready and went up into town for an anniversary meal, we had picked Milan, an Italian restaurant behind the Black Bull.  The girls went up on their scooters this time, it looked like hard work scooting up the hill.

When we got to the restaurant it looked like it was closed, in fact it said closed on the door and it was supposed to be open all day.   As we walked back to eat in the black bull instead, a lady who was telling the girls off for scooting in the alleyway, also informed us that the restaurant was open and to try the door again, so we did.  Glad we did, as the food was good, with friendly service but they did have a poor choice of beers. The girls all had food from the children's menu, Dot had pizza and I had the pasta dish (we knew we would swap some), the girls portions were very good as were ours and the girls got balloons as well.

As the others had afters, I popped in to the black bull for a new beer (which wasn't a new one in the end) and talked to one of the old regulars in the bar, before going back to meet up with the others and pay the bill.

We had seen something in a charity shop window the previous day but it was closed on the Sunday, so we went back after our food but it had closed again, oh well, we can try again tomorrow.

Went back the way we had the previous day but while the girls all went to the play park, I popped into a farm shop and got a couple of new beers for later.  After the park it was back over to the pool but I joined them this time. the pool is very small (I can see why you have to book) and the spar pool (jacuzzi) was not working which made even less room (it was never operating the whole time we where there).

After our splash in the water we had a beer (just the one though it is far too expensive in the clubhouse), while the girls wasted money in the amusements, before we went back for a family supper.

We had films on the laptop again and with the help of an HDMI cable, on the TV as well.

I got a bit grumpy, I think the pain was getting to me and I shouldn't let it make me get this way. Cheered up after my medicine and beer though.

There were only two motorhomes on the whole campsite (not seen that few for a long time), campers around us were noisy but they settled down just as we went to bed after the films.

We had different sleeping arrangement for this trip, I had to sleep on the ground floor in the bottom bunk as we were sure I would not be able to get out of the overcab bed when the pain was at it's worst in the morning. Emily slept in the double bed next to my bunk, Georgia in the top bunk with Dot and Amber in the large overcab bed.

Dot thought I would be the first time we had not slept together on our anniversary but I assured her that in 28 year of shift work we probably had before (although I never worked a new years eve in all that time (something I always kept quiet about at work)).

Day three, 20th Aug 2013

Day three was pretty much the same as day two.

It started with me up a 04:00 in pain, took painkillers, had tea, did some writing but got back to bed earlier, at about 05:30 this time though.

We were all back up by about 08:00 and Dot and Amber booked the same two pool slots as the previous day, this time though there was plenty of time to get ready.  After the pool the girls wanted to play in the river so that is what we did.

We crossed over the campsite bridge looking for somewhere suitable to play in the river.  There were signs all over warning about deep water and steep banks but many parents were just letting their kids play unsupervised in the river anywhere.  We found a nice pebble beach with easy access to the water.

Boys usually try to dam rivers and streams with stones and boulders, the girls on the other hand wanted to take the dams apart.

Pizza and potato wedges for lunch then the walk up the hill into town.   Georgia got what she wanted from the charity shop (open this time) and Emily got something for her dad.

The others went back down the hill to the play park and I popped in to the black bull for another new beer. I also popped into a farm shop again and got a four pack of new beers for later (new to my photos that it but a beer from many years ago), the beer in the club bar is too expensive for me and has not got a very good selection of nice beers, plenty of lagers and ciders though.

Soon it was time for the pool again, then a BBQ for supper only it started to rain but just as we finished our food.  The owner of a car that had unthoughtful parked on our pitch then came over and asked if it was in our way and did we want it moving, we did want it moving but said it was ok we were moving in the morning (and it was raining so we didn't want to be outside anyway).  Turns out he was a policeman and therefore should have known better but he was big, brash, loud and had three or four mates with him.  He knew exactly what he had done, a caravanner with an awning and lots of family and friend sat around drinking, wanting more room.  So he parked on the motorhomer's pitch, after all motorhomer's don't need to park a car.


Two more films on the night, including a Mamma Mia! sing-along, I gave the twins that DVD to take home with them.

Day four, 21st Aug 2013

Up at 01:00 in pain took painkillers and went straight back to bed, up again at 05:00 in a lot more pain than I had had been for the rest of the holiday, took more painkillers, had some tea and got back to bed about 06:30.

We had groupon tickets for Alnwick Gardens as a surprise for a stop off on the trip back.  We did not get away very early but it wasn't far to Alnwick.  Georgia was up front with me navigating for the trip back.  According to our sat navs, there was a quick route to the A1 so we took that and I was rewarded with the sight of a very nice old bridge, which I had to pull over for a photo.

Weetwood Bridge (early 16th Century)

As we drove towards Alnwick we could see the rain in the distance but luckily it had just stopped as we got there.  On arrival at Alnwick Gardens and was surprised to have to pay £3.50 to park when we had already pay for admittance.  Also  the car parks were full so we had to turn around and had back the way we had just come to the overflow car park, a very easy task in a motorhome. 

From the overflow car park, there was an open top double decker bus to take us to the garden entrance, so at least we got something for our £3.50, you had to walk there from the other car parks.

Park and Ride Bus

On the bus I discovered my camera was still in the van, so I had to get off the bus and walk back to get it but still managed to get my seat back on the bus before it left for the entrance.

By the time we got into the gardens it was time for our picnic lunch, so we found some seats under a huge garden arbor.  As we ate, the girls kept running out from our seats when the fountains squirted across the walkway and were very wet before we finished lunch. 

As they were already wet (we had a change of clothes in the van, we had swimming costumes in the van if we had thought), after lunch we made for the Serpent Garden, where the kids could play in the water features. Which they did.

And they got very wet indeed but the sun was shining and we walked up the side of the Grand Cascade to the Ornamental Garden, to dry off in the sun.  As we dried off walking in the sun one of the girls found a castle entry ticket on the ground, it was actually a season ticket to the castle for the whole of next year.  I put it in my pocket to hand in as we left for home.

I took many photos of flowers and Georgia Rose took some photos of the roses.  From there we walked back down through the Cherry Orchard to the the area in front of the Grand Cascade.  Here the girls played on the little plastic tractors there have there, while I went for a look at the castle.

At the entrance to the gardens, I handed in the castle season ticket to the lady on the gate and she took in straight to the ticket office, with a bit of luck the person will get their pass back.

The castle looks fantastic, and there is a view of an old bridge as well, next time we are up this way, we will have to get castle tickets as well as tickets for the gardens.

Next we headed for the Treehouse, it was not what I had expected, not sure what that was though.  It is mainly a cafe and restaurant but built up a tree, with a couple of rope bridges on a short tree walkway.  It is an impressive woogen structure and to be fair, it is free to walk around this bit of the gardens but I think the treetop walk could be extended.

When it was time to leave, we got onto the bus but we were the only ones on, I thought we would have to wait for the bus to fill up but it set off as soon as we were seated.

Then it was back onto the A1 then A19 and home, I was over charged at the tune tunnel again.