Well, this was going to be our first holiday abroad with Cate. We got the passports last year in preparation, and had the villa booked up, flights all arranged and travel insurance sorted. Most of my family were coming with us, and we'd got all the packing done, ready to go. Then, on the day we were due to leave, Cate got chicken pox. So the rest went off to sunny Turkey while we had to stay at home.
We made the best of the week though. It was the sunniest week of the summer, and we went on a local trip each day, keeping Cate away from any other children and pregnant women as much as possible.
Luss is a lovely village on the edge of Loch Lomond, just half a mile from Glasgow, with a shingle beach, some grass to play on and some nice shops to get your tablet and ice cream from (or even tablet ice cream in our case). We had a walk along the lochside, throwing stones in the water, then up along a wee stream which flows into the loch. The side of the stream has the best skimming stones for miles around so we spent quite a while there.
Largs is a traditional holiday resort of the Clyde, famous for Nardini's ice cream restaurant and the ferry to Cumbrae. We parked at the front and took a walk along the prom, stopping to throw some stones in the water. After a picnic on the grass, we made our way along the front, had a game of putting and spent a while in the play park.
The next day we went east, towards Motherwell and Strathclyde Country Park. We spent the morning here, near the M&D's area. There's a lake here, so we threw some stones in the water (starting to spot the common thread here?) and fed the swans. If you walk along the side of the lake for a while there's a nice wee play park there as well. After a picnic lunch we left the park and headed over to Hamilton and Chatelherault.
This is a lovely estate just outside Hamilton, with a stately home and large grounds. There are walks to go on and a good visitor's centre and cafe, plus a good park to play in. There's also a garden centre near the entrance, which has its own cafe, and lots of tanks with exotic fish. We had a bite to eat and looked at the fish before heading home.
A longer trip this time, down past Ayr and through Alloway to Heads of Ayr. There's a great farm park here, which is the first place we've paid to enter this week, but well worth it.
The park has lots of animals, both typical farm style and more exotic, including monkeys, llamas, snakes, rabbits, horses, a camel, meerkats and guinea pigs. They also have an albino peacock which wanders about.
Indoors there is a play barn with rope swings and so on, and there's another barn with trampolines, a wooden tractor to sit in, and an old combine harvester which has been converted to a platform with slides.
Outside again there are planty of places to play. A climb up the scramble net gets you to the top of a long slide, and there are tunnels underneath. There are more trampolines out here, and there are also two 'bouncy pillows' which are great fun for kids and adults as well.
There's a good sand pit area as well, with a big wooden boat, and plenty of buckets and spades. Cate spent quite a while playing in the sand. By now the chicken pox spots had all scabbed over, so she wasn't infectious and we could be a bit less cautious with her and other kids.
Our final trip out was to another country park: Dean Castle in Kilmarnock. This had some animals as well, with a duck pond, a play park and some nice walks. There's a castle you can visit as well, but it's not open on Mondays which was the day we visited.
So we had a good week, not as good as going to Turkey perhaps, but a nice week together. Maybe next year we'll get to go abroad. You can't get chicken pox twice after all. Can you?
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