What was your recent last-minute holiday? How short was the notice and how brief was the planning? Did you have a good time?
I just broke my record last weekend. The idea bubbled up on Wednesday. On Thursday, my lovely team leader gave me a half day off on Friday and her “go for it” made my mind up. When I got home Friday lunch time, my husband was desperately stuffing all camping essentials into our two walking rucksacks even though they were too small. I looked at the living room in a total state of shambles and my frustrated husband spinning about, suddenly the image of us walking up mountains with size L IKEA bags entered my mind.
So one day. Within one day, all the planning, the booking, the shopping, and the packing were done. My poor husband. I was very proud of him.
We left Newcastle Central Station at 2pm. The rolling countryside of Northumberland was in many shades of lush green, stretched under the sun. The River Tyne winded like a ribbon. The weather had been glorious for the past week or so.
After surviving being lashed by the trees on the open-roof Bus 508, by 5:30pm we arrived at the bottom of my favourite Ullswater, licking cones of chocolate ice cream which you can only find in the Lake District.
I have to mention the Micro Adventure book at this point. It doesn’t just offer some new outdoor activity ideas. The up-side-down perspective is the most valuable. Furthermore, it’s not just the perspectives. It persuaded me that holidays didn’t have to be a week long. We just proved it. A one and a half day holiday including travel could be fun too.
We got to the campsite, inspected the field and the facilities. Happy. No midges this time. (Have you heard of my first ever camp with midges? Here it is.) Happy. We fussed over our tent and put up a tarpaulin to face the forecasted storm all night. Very happy. The tent felt like it was twice bigger than the first time we put it up. All because there weren’t any midges to rush us!
The wind came first. The rattle of the cheap plastic sheet over our heads was even louder than the wind. I started to worry it would annoy other campers. Amazingly, I fell asleep during a short gap of quietness and didn’t wake up until the real storm landed on us at 6.30am. (I woke up a few times briefly to wiggle upward onto my pillow – we camped on a slight slope, but I kept sliding downhill!) Thunder and lightening cracked open right on top of us. Rain drops crashed into the tarpaulin and the tent sounding like gunfire. I never wake up early on Saturdays (any days!), but camping got me into the good habit of starting the day early.
Birds started to tweet as soon as the storm swept away and the rain ceased. The view of the mist-shrouded mountain, as well as the fresh crisp air, leaked in as soon as the door was unzipped and tied up. Lying on the belly and looking out of a hole felt very different to opening a solid door or window in a brick wall standing up.
We made good use of the drying room and stuffed everything back into our rucksacks warm and dry.
Then it was the walk. We started from Patterdale, skirted around the south of Place Fell, all the way down to Howtown, where we had our lunch while watching a group of girls kicking and screaming as they tried to race rafts on the lake. Then a ferry carried us to Pooley Bridge, where we had two more Lake District only ice creams. Northumberland countryside baked in the afternoon sun and welcomed us home. We got home at about 7pm.
We only left home the day before, but it felt like many days ago and we’d been on a proper holiday. The magic of micro adventure!
The walking mileage of the day was 7.22 miles.