This year we opted for a UK holiday. Without the worries of foreign languages, funny money and volcanic dust keeping us from flying, our only real worry was the great British weather. And it didn't let us down. Every morning we checked the weather report on the BBC web site and every day the weather was totally different from what the weather report predicted.
Anyway, we found a lovely cottage near Scarborough, far enough outside town to officially be in the middle of nowhere, with beautiful views and plenty of peace and quiet, but also close enough to make driving into town an easy chore. We shared with Irene, Colin and Sam again, and Cate and Sam enjoyed waking us up every morning some time between 4 and 6, which at least gave us plenty time to prepare for the day.
Sunday was our only really sunny day, so we packed our beach things and drove into Scarborough. We went to Peasholm Park first, and had a wander round, a half hour stint on the pedal boats, a wander up the little valley and then a climb up the island to the oriental garden.
After a while at the park, we found a car park near the south beach and went down to the sand for our lunch and a paddle in the sea.
Monday was supposed to be a dry day so we figured we should get our trip to Flamingoland out of the way while the weather held. It didn't. However we got to Flamingoland nice and early and enjoyed wandering round looking at the animals while the rides were all starting up. We saw the zebras being fed and the giraffes being let out of their house. Best of all though was the tiger enclosure. The tigers were roaming about and we got a really good view of them.
We did go on a few rides. Cate loved the smaller rollercoasters, we enjoyed the "4D" Spongebob film and we had to drag her away from the pirate ship before she was totally soaked. We would have gone on more but the rain made some of the rides a bit less fun.
After some hot dogs for lunch we toured a bit more. Cate was determined to go on the Lost River Rapids, so we kept that until last. We were completely drenched and only one of us had a change of clothes to put on for the drive home.
On Tuesday Irene and Colin went off into York, so we decided to explore the forest park nearby. It was £7 to get in and park in any of the car parks for the day, which worked out to be a bargain as there was plenty to see and do.
At our first stop we walked through the woods for a while, then tried out the mountain bike course. There was a play park with an assault course and then a forest walk with some sculptures. We were here for about 2 hours.
The next stop was beside a little lake. We had our lunch here, accompanied by a little bird which had obviously twigged that picnickers were a soft touch for scraps of food. After lunch we had a walk around the lake.
The road through the forest park is about 9 miles in total, with 8 or 9 car parks on the way. We only stopped at 3, the last being at the visitor's centre. We had some cake in the cafe, bought some souvenirs in the shop and went down to the big play park.
The forest park was a great day out. Afterwards we had a quick shop in Pickering and stopped at an excellent farm shop between Pickering and Thornton le Dale called Cedarbarn, where we bought a carrot cake and picked our own strawberries. Mmmmm.
Our next day out was to Playdale Farm Park, just to the south of Scarborough. It was a very reasonable fiver each to get in and provided a good few hours of distraction.
In the main barn there are a number of animals to look at, pat and feed, from sheep and goats to alpacas. There's another barn with smaller animals: hens, peacocks, guinea pigs and the like. Then there are some fields with goats, a highland cow, ponies and a donkey.
There are also two outdoor play areas, one of then a huge affair of steps, tubes and slides. There's a good covered sand play area and then there's a big barn with a soft play area, assault course, climbing wall and little tractors to play on.
We had our lunch, spent a couple more hours here, then left via the gift shop. We'd noticed that we weren't far from Filey, so popped down for a quick ice cream and a walk on the front.
We'd been to the park and beach at Scarborough, but not to the shops along the front or in the town, so on Thursday we had a wander around the town. We walked along the front with all the tacky amusements and stopped for some doughnuts. This is where Cate had her best laugh of the week as a seagull managed to get both Claire and me with direct hits on the head. Sort of the reverse of killing two birds with one stone. Yuck! Anyway, after a bit of a cleanup we looked in at the lifeboat and headed up Eastborough to visit the chocolate, rock and toy shops, taking lunch at one of the many chip shops on the street.
After lunch we visited the Rotunda Museum, which has rocks and fossils from around the area. It was quite interesting but there isn't a great deal of space in it, so our visit didn't last long. We were going to go to the naval battle re-enactment at Peasholm Park, but Cate wasn't bothered so we passed through the park and went round to the beach, where Cate and Claire were soaked by a sudden shower while I hid under the beach wall.
All week long Cate had been wanting to go to the Sea Life Centre, and we'd promised to go when a wet day came along. Friday still wasn't too bad but was our last chance to go, and we had some 2 for 1 tokens after all.
We drove into Scarborough and parked near the swimming pool, next to the park. There's a little raliway that runs from the bottom of the park out to the Sea Life Centre, so we took that route to get there for an added bit of interest.
The centre is pretty much like others throughout the country. The tunnel under the shark pool was a bit shorter than expected, but the penguin area was good and the touch pool was very good.
After lunch and many dances to pirate songs it was time to go back on the train. We wanted to go swimming but the over-50s session was on until 3 so we had an hour to kill. Cue another visit to the beach, despite it being a bit cool. Cate explored the rock pools and had a donkey ride.
A swim at the pool was nice and relaxing afterwards.
We made our own dinners throughout the week, but went out for a meal on Friday to the Kam Sang chinese restaurant in Scarborough. The food was lovely and it was a nicely set up place. Our only quibble was they don't have a children's menu so we were paying for 3 adults. Cate eats as much as an adult though, so that was probably fair enough.
So the week was over. The car made it through the week despite a nasty rattling from the exhaust (turned out to be a displaced heat shield) and we had a great time here. The cottage in particular was lovely and in a beautiful location. We may have been woken up awfully early each morning but who could complain when the view out of the window was like this:
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