The journey was wonderful - bright sun, far too hot - generally very nice, until we dropped over the other side of the Pennines and saw the leaden skies ahead. Nevertheless, the rain held off so that we could pitch the tents and have a good run around. Nathaniel greatly enjoyed the amount of space in our own private field and the opportunities for flying and zooming!
Because we got to this campsite every year, and its never been a choice, I've never really noticed how much nicer it is than a lot of British campsites. I always complain that American campsites are much better than the typical British field, but actually the Ullswater one is lots of very small fields, so you are always surrounded by trees. We had the overflow field to ourselves, so we spread ourselves out (and the sensible people avoided the tents containing the under-5s) and put up the gazebo in the middle.
It was just as well that we did have the gazebo, because as soon as we had sourced fish and chips, the rain started. Gently at first, but with no sign of letting up.
By the next morning, it was apparent that our hopes of craziness on the part of the Met Office were silly, and in fact they had made a totally accurate forecast. So with at 24 hours of rain ahead of us, we climbed into dinghy suits and other waterproofs and prepared for a damp day.
We were just trying to decide whether hanging round in the marina or walking were better rainy options for small children, when it became apparent that Nathaniel's waterproofs were no longer waterproof. The moral of this story is that Muddy Boots branded clothes are not worth their extortionate price!
So we bundled into the car and headed for Keswick for some essential shopping. Keswick is a rally pretty little town, and if it weren't for the tired child, I think we could have spent many hours (and probably many pounds), bimbling round outdoor equipment shops.
By the time that we had got back to the campsite, eaten some lunch, waited for Nathaniel to wake up, and let him eat some lunch, it was chilly, very wet, and everyone was a bit miserable! Some people napped, and Nathaniel and I played rowdy tent games and "drove" the car. It's amazing how much time can be spent putting on the lights, turning on and off the radio, and generally changing every setting in the car! There was playing in the rain in the new waterproof waterproofs and wellies.
The others started returning from the their wet sailing, and we hurriedly dispatched a group to Penrith for additional gazebo supplies. When they returned, we coined a new transitive verb, gazebare, which refers to the act of covering grass with gazebo, and made important A-team-like adjustments with clothes pegs, gaffer tape and cardboard to create a complicated three-gazebo fort. Then we put lots of fire under it and hoped for the best!
The barbeque is always a high point of the trip. Many barbeques, lots of food, many beers and wines and general frivolity! No-one got burnt (except some rather carcenogenic sausages), the smoke somehow managed to escape our fort, and Nathaniel sat happily in his chair, positioned carefully so that he could watch and be warmed by the fire as well as observe all his very silly friends trying to cook their feast.
All our efforts were rewarded when the rain slowed to a drizzle, and in stages, the sun came out. Bedtimes were forgotten and a great game of football/frisbee was initiated. Toys and bikes came out and there was much rejoicing! Nathaniel spent a good hour following around Mikey (aged 5) and his remote control, flashing lighted, car. We're not sure whether Nathaniel ever understood that Mikey was controlling the car's direction, but he had great fun chasing it round, and Mikey was very understanding when Nathaniel insisted in picking it up and examining it carefully. There was also lots of time to teach Nimmy important skills in water-play.
It's very hard to take a photo of a football game!
The rain had not gone. We paid for our evening of fun with a night of gale force winds (they sounded that bad from the tent) and lashing rain. I'm not sure anyone slept that well.
The next morning, Nimmy, Mikey (the elder), Nathaniel and I set off on a drizzly walk, leaving Ian to nurse a damaged toe and to pick us up from the end! It was a fine walk across moorland, through proper woods (not silly plantations) and over humocky hilsides to Aira Force, a series of waterfalls.
It was a tad drizzly!
Nimmy enjoyed alien things such as sheep, churches on hills and ferns (you don't get these in North Carolina), and Mikey (who crazily volunteered to be Nathaniel's packhorse) introduced Nathaniel to the different types of wood you find in forests, and a new game entitled "more speed!". It was a really good walk - just long enough, but not actual hard work. Enough to make us feel properly alive after wimping out of the rain the day before.
As we walked across the last bit of hillside, the sun started to appear and Nimmy eventually saw the top of the mountains that we had been raving about.
It's hard work being carried around and generally entertained!
We spent some time in the marina while Ian did some topper sailing and Nathaniel learnt about paddling and returned to the campsite to remember what camping was all about: sitting around in the sun on rugs, drinking tea, and generally being relaxed.
General happiness in the sun
We had a good night's sleep in almost silent conditions and met the morning with bacon sandwiches and a very exciting tractor!
It was generally agreed that despite the rain, it had been a good camping trip. We spent most of the journey back trying to work out what we could have left behind in order to make more room in the car and planning the next adventure!
NB Mikey, the other photos are here: