So this weekend we did a little bit of camping. Not a long weekend in spectacular scenery, just one night in a small campsite in the Moors where we had once spent a very misty weekend. Even the journey there would have been enough. We took the best road, over the moors through Hutton-the-Hole and Rosedale Abbey, up silly roads with ninety degree turns on double-arrowed hills. We crossed inumerable cattle grids (always the mark of a good road), and drove through miles of purple heather that was busy encroaching onto the tarmac. We had to stop for sheep (and to turn the stupid explorer map inside out), and to see the view which was of gently corrugated, rough, high land stretching as far as the eye could see, broken only occasionally by a strategically placed tree in silhouette. Marvellous.
The campsite was just as we had expected - tiny, with no real facilities but very friendly hosts. We had the orchard - a square of bumpy land housing a crab apple tree. Just enough room for two tents on a slope.
Nathaniel charmed our hosts by being very curly and very blonde and very happy. He explored and walked up and down the hill and requested company to visit the chickens and the ducks. He wandered in and out of tents and explored sleeping bags and zips and bags. He spent a happy time playing with all of Nimmy's belongings as she sorted out her tent.
The sun shone, and we were in no rush to do anything. I had a whole host of walks prepared, ranging from bimbles to hikes, but instead we drove to Grosmont. We didn't walk to the waterfall or along the rail trail or into the woods, we just saw the trains.
And they were good trains!
Nathaniel was so excited that he became very serious and carefully pointed out the wheels, the steam, the tracks, the station clock. He was very clear, on departure of the afternoon's penultimate train, that there should be more trains. So we waited for more trains.
The trains were sometimes rather loud and he wasn't entirely sure the whole time. In the picture below, he's clinging onto the carrier hood and his little legs are all tensed and drawn back!
When the train was about to go and we stood right by the engine, we saw and heard and felt the pressurised steam vent into the air. It was a bit overwhelming, but Nathaniel was clear that he wanted to stay and watch.
He was a very happy little boy.
That evening, we debated whether the campsite was in a valley destined for bad weather as the unforecast rain started to hiss on our fire. The orchard came to our rescue and Nimmy and Ian rigged a bivouac so that we could toast marshmallows and be warm whilst still being outside.
After striking camp at a leisurely pace, and watching the chickens and ducks eating their breakfast, we headed into Whitby to reintroduce Nathaniel to the sea. It was probably just as well that the swing bridge was closed and that we were stranded on the tacky side of the estuary. There was no option of walking up to the Abbey and wandering around the little cobbled backstreets. We just purchased fish and chips (much to Nathaniel's delight), and took them to the beach.
The Magpie is probably the most famous fish and chip shop in North Yorkshire, and every time we have passed it, there has been a queue down the street. It's the sort of place where the council have been compelled to mark the pavements to show where you should wait. We got take away, and it was okay. Not as good as the Helmsley option, and not in the same league as Mr Stein himself.
Then we did our best impression of British holiday-makers. We weren't sure how Nathaniel was going to react to sand. In the past, he has not been keen, and won't touch the stuff in other children's sandpits. He wasn't immediately enamoured. His little toes curled right up!
But we ran down to the sea, and the fun really began.
How many pictures does it take to convey giggling and skrieking and laughing and grinning and jumping and splashing and "more waves, more waves, more waves"?!
And then there are acres of open sand on which to practice a silly walk.
Three small things - tents in an orchard, a steam train, the sea. (And of course, the sun.) A great weekend.