6. Northumberland

WELL, we've had our 2nd one night holiday in Topsy - two holidays in less than a week - oh the decadence of being a camper owner!! This time up the A1 towards Northumberland, Rog drove on the A1 motorway bit as I'm still on the provisional licence thingy, but I managed to drive the rest of the way - and it was pretty darn scary - with the wind hitting the side of the van she was wobbling around all over the place, I found myself not only checking the road ahead but checking the hedges ahead to watch for any gaps so I'd be prepared for the 200mph gusts (I may just be exaggerating slightly there) as I fought with the steering wheel - the trick seems to be just to go that few mph slower and she handles well...

SO, we eventually made it to Beadnell in Northumberland and found a great campsite right next to the beautiful coast, but yet again we were camped right next to a light, but not our fault this time as we parked where we were told to (and it wasn't bright enough to keep me awake after the bracing salty air!). After our first very successful boiling of the kettle with the newly installed gas bottle and two ring hob we went down to the beach to play in the waves whilst Roger went for a well earned pint (or two), and although the skies were cloudy it was warm enough for us to get soaked. Then it was back to Topsy for tea - a lovely meal of beans n sausages on bread, only mine was full of peppercorns as the top fell off the grinder - much to the amusement of all but me .... then off to the beach again in warmer clothes, where Bill n Babz were delight to discover the tide had gone out even further and we could now walk on rocks that we couldn't even see earlier, and we scrambled over rock pools and treacherous seaweed covered stones where we found tiny crabs in limpet shells, but we never came across any of Bill's 'sea enemies' ... 15 minutes walk later and just before sunset we found ourselves on a very beautiful beach with huge huge huge sand dunes that kids just can't resist scaling up then running down - and I couldn't either! We made it back to the van before the light went completely and after an hour or more of showering, teeth brushing, another drink, one more trip to the toilets, oh, just one more drink, loads of fuss getting beds comfy, the girls were finally ready to settle down for the night - phew!

THE next morning was rainy and cold - I was up first and had a walk down the beach and then to the shop for bacon, eggs, spade, bucket and fishing net, I forgot the milk though so that meant another trip down the beach, this time with the girls for company, and we made sandcastle in the rain next to the lapping waves of the north sea, now that's what I call a proper holiday! We all enjoyed a hearty breakfast and cups of tea/coffee/hot chocolate then we packed the van up and set off, but stopped very quickly when we spotted some long-horned northumbrian cattle, where we all did our best moo impression...then on the move again for Alnwick, hoping to see the castle where 'arry Potter was filmed, but we got side tracked by the gardens, and as you have to pay for the castle and garden separately we didn't do both, it did seem a bit off a rip off, but the gardens were actually well worth a visit - and perhaps we'll try the castle next time?! The girls and Roger loved the Poison Garden where they have various nasty toxic plants, Bill was very surprised to discover that rhubarb as actually dangerous! There are also many many water features for kids to get very wet in, which Bill did after Babz pushed her in them! Oh, and there is the biggest tree house we've ever seen, mildly disappointing as it set up to make money from the cafe in there, but it is impressive with it's rope swing bridges... Back to the van for a cup of tea (I can't stress how absolutley fantastic a feeling it is to make a cup of fresh hot tea in Topsy) then back down the A1, with a two hour traffic jam near Newcastle crawling along in 1st gear through torrential rain, even when we cleared the traffic and reached to A1m Rog was driving at 35mph, think I'll start checking the weather forecasts!! And there'll be another adventure soon - but who knows where as there never is a plan - and more things to put on the list for next time, like a proper awning instead of a tiny tent! ...

Topsy now has new front indicator seals, and a new passenger cab door seal, others to follow shortly!

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