It’s never easy trying to think of something to do for that special someone’s birthday but fortunately for us having Pod makes it a little easier and the answer is usually a few days away in our bubble but doing it in secret would bring a few challenges.
Normally the blogs are done in the 3rd person but because this evolves around MrB’s birthday its going to have to be done in the 1st, bit different for us so we’ll see how it goes.
Like I said, keeping it secret was another matter, I went into stealth mode, researching, booking and planing the route, there were a few near misses with saved emails but it was done.
So much so on the morning of departure MrB was given only the postcode and it was at that point he sat up straight in the car seat with a surprised look on his face.
On the run up to the day through numerous questions and attempts to steer conversations in a particular way he had assumed we were going to Wales. Not the case, we were off to the Lake District, Lake Windermere and Hill of Oaks Caravan Park.
Now, I’ve never been to this site but I wasn’t 100% sure MrB be hadn’t, the web site offered a great lakeside pitch and promised a wonderful chilled out few days away with direct access to the lake for the kayak, it was worth the risk and it sounded perfect didn’t it ? but it didn’t stop me from being nervous.
The journey up was uneventful, no major holdups and we arrived just after 1. We didn’t need to rush as the pitch was already booked. The roads were narrow and steep, easy for us but a few coaches in front of us seemed to be struggling.
We kept our eyes peeled for the site entrance and we soon began to wind our way down to the site. Reading reviews prior to booking I’d noted comments made around how narrow the road down was and boy they weren’t wrong, not a problem for Pod but could see how it would be for the bigger ‘vans.
As we reached the bottom Lake Windermere opened up to us and we slowly drove past a few excellent looking lakeside pitches and stopped outside the booking office and shop.
I left Mr.B in the car and went to book in and claim our lakeside pitch, fingers were crossed hoping that it was one of the pitches we had just passed.
It was indeed one of those we’d passed and I couldn’t have been more pleased, it was all going to plan. Even the surprise of finding out I needed to leave a £10.00 cash deposit for the toilet block key couldn’t dampen my excitement.
Back in the car I pointed Mr.B in the direction we needed to go and as we stopped on the pitch I watched Mr.Bs face intently and let out a big sigh of relief as he said he thought it was brilliant, perfect in fact.
We pitched Pod sideways which allowed us to have Pod and the awning the full length of the pitch, this meant our first view in the morning out of the window would be the lake and all our meals and last view at night would be too, through the day we would see the ever changing scenery and life along the waters edge, how wonderful was that.
Once settled we went for a walk around the site, we visited the shop and found the toilet/shower block, this wasn’t a great distance away from Pod so it wasn’t an issue but had been told about a nearer facility and we were pleasantly surprised to find a small toilet/sink housed in a little shed about 50m away from us, this would come in very handy during our stay.
Once back at Pod the kayak was soon inflated and we took the 5 steps necessary to get to the waters edge, without any delay we were on the water and paddling along the lake south in the direction of Newby Bridge.
There wasn’t a soul to be seen and as we worked our way along we couldn’t help but be impressed with the houses and grounds that lined the surrounding hillside. One that really caught our eye was one that had a Liverpool Football Club flag fluttering away high on a flagpole situated at the waters edge, after a little research we found out it belonged to David Moores, the former Chairman of the said club.
After half an hour or so of paddling we decided to turn and head back, we had a full day of kayaking planned for the following day and we didn’t want to venture too far in any particular direction as our route hadn’t been decided upon.
It was great fun spotting Pod along the waters edge, gliding onto the shoreline, stepping out and carrying the kayak the few steps that were needed to plonk ourselves down onto our well positioned deck chairs with an alcoholic beverage in hand, in this case a can of beer, bliss.
Now things began to get interesting.. we don’t normally drink out of cans, honestly, its normally poured into one of our shatter proof glasses, safety and all that. But on this occasion we thought to heck with it and the said cans were opened and enjoyed.
Pictures were taken, and we both pottered around a little during which the odd mouthful of liquid nectar was enjoyed, having decided to sit and enjoy the scenery I sat and can in hand took a gob full of its contents at which point my tongue and inside lower lip found something that shouldn’t have been there, a millisecond passed at which point I new without hesitation it was a wasp, but it was too late, I had been stung on the inside of my mouth.
Beer spluttered everywhere whilst I screeched and this brought Mr.B running, through hand signals and one syllable words he got the message. Having never been stung before a small amount of panic set in as I’m sure everyone knows this could go horribly wrong. My lip began to swell at a tremendous rate and the throbbing pain began to hit and of course the tears began to flow, I blame the shock of it , not pleasant at all.
Painkillers were taken and Mr.B scuttled up to the shop to seek any kind of help he could think of. He returned moments later with antihistamines and a huge ice lolly, all were welcome and the lolly was the most welcome of all.
By now my lower lip would of done Mick Jagger proud, that along with the red tear stained face was not a pretty picture and not how I had wanted to start Mr.B’s birthday bash, but over the next few hours the pain subsided and my lip reduced somewhat in size, needless to say all beer had now been transferred to glasses.
Dinner was eventually cooked and whilst I was busy doing the stir-fry and pasta on the two ring burner in Pod, Mr.B plugged in the George Foreman and grilled his steaks to his likeness, not quite still breathing, but not far from it.
All food was transferred to plates and enjoyed whilst sat watching the ever changing landscape as the sun set below the hills on the other side of the lake, once eaten we didn’t move far and sat just outside the awning with feet up on the kayak and watched as the lake seemed to come to life.
Boats of all shapes and sizes began going up and down the lake, a paddle boarder passed by with her little dog stood at her feet and a small wooden dinghy appeared not too far from the pier and it’s male occupant threw out a fishing line and began his attempt to catch the local quarry, what ever that might be. He was soon joined by another fisherman who sat on the edge of the pier and a discussion took place between them which was just out of our earshot. Very picturesque indeed. By 8pm the sun had disappeared and we were left with the shimmering remnants of its rays across the night sky.
From across the other side of the lake we heard the thunderous sound of a speed boat and watched as it slowly coasted in our direction, the pilot giving it a little kick with the engine every now and then to keep it moving along. Now to call it a boat didn’t do it any justice as it was very sleek, glossy in its black and red and extremely streamline with chrome glistening all around it, not a cheap toy.
Just as it reached the pier it glided to a stop and two people jumped from the pier and into the boat, what a fabulous way to get from one side of the lake to the other, or so we thought.
The boat edged its way slowly to the middle and within seconds amid a mighty roar, it was off up the lake leaving a huge wake at its rear.
We presumed that was the end of that but within minutes we heard loud blaring music coming from its direction and along with the music we could hear a boats engine getting nearer and equally as loud.
We watched the lake, which was now in total darkness and neither of us could believe what passed by, the speed boat that had left us moments earlier was now motoring down the lake with huge spot lights on, music blaring, pulling someone on a ski board. Up and down it went, soon to be joined by another.
We envied the people who live along the lake as it seemed to come alive after daytime work hours, this was obviously how they spent their time, from sailing a two man dinghy, little bit of fishing, paddle boarding up and down or water skiing.
We watched for a while not quite knowing what to expect next but the time soon came to pack up, move inside the awning and head for the showers.
Didn’t take long to reach them, along the road and then up a small gravel type path to the block. It was dark and no lighting along the way but we could easily see the well lit building and our eyes had adjusted by the time we reached it.
The unit itself was superb, each toilet had its own sink and electric hand dryer and the showers on first appearance matched. The only thing to let it down was the drainage in the showers, by the time I’d finished the water had worked its way along the corridor and was making a bid for the door.
Shower done and hair dried with a proper hairdryer I left the block and walked towards the top of the gravel path and back down it. Now, this next bit we’d considered leaving out, after all, my troubles were not particularly interesting but this is a blog and we see it as warts and all. So here goes..
At this point everything in front of me and below was in total darkness. The external lights from the block did’t stretch to down the path and my eyes hadn’t adjusted to the pitch blackness. I waited a few minutes but it didn’t get any clearer, none of the lodges below were illuminated and I wasn’t wholly convinced I was in the middle of the path so I tentatively edged my way down the path barely putting one foot in front of the other whilst clutching my toilet bag to my chest. Felt a fool but I didn’t particularly want to come a cropper, doing it once on holiday was enough and I didn’t plan on doing it twice, but no, I could just see the road a few paces in front of me, I smiled to myself as if I’d completed some challenge set by the Crystal Maze and promptly went flying landing on my side whilst my head hit the concrete road.
I had no idea what had happened, I hadn’t even had time to break my fall so my body took the full impact, I sat myself up but couldn’t see a darn thing, shock set in and the pain in my shins and head began to register. On hands and knees I checked myself over as best as I could and picked myself and what remained of my toilet bag up off the floor, as I stood up I reached out and at this point I realised I had fallen over a very large boulder that was slap bang in the middle of the entrance to the gravel path.
I had no idea if I’d lost anything but it was impossible to check in the total blackness around me, so again with tears streaming down my face I hobbled down the road to the only glimmer of light coming from a lodge some distance away.
As I reached the shop I saw a torch light bobbing a long and heading in my direction. I did my best to pull myself together as I didn’t want to look more disheveled than I felt and should it be a fellow caravaner I didn’t want to distress them by my appearance as at this point I myself didn’t know what I looked like. I soon realised it was Mr.B and I relayed by tail of woe through tearful eyes and stammered speech as he walked me back to Pod, a hot cup of tea was had whilst giving myself a once over discovering two red shins a tender ear and shoulder and a ripped toilet bag containing a cracked shampoo bottle, we then went to bed safe and snug knowing nothing could happen for the next few hours at least.
My determination to make this a memorable birthday outing was not going as I had planned and my attempts to keep a stiff upper lip were challenged yet again but I began to wonder what else was waiting round the corner as these things come in threes.. right?
Woke to a dry morning and a slightly aching body, no permanent damage done so set about planning our day in the kayak on the lake, it was also Mr.B’s birthday.. yay! And time for cards, carrot cake and candles and of course presents, all this with the additional extra of steak and egg for breakfast.
Before this could take place Mr.B who was still in sensed over the poorly placed boulder and inadequate lighting reported the matter to the reception staff, he also wanted to make a simple suggestion that if the boulder was painted white this wouldn’t have happened and it may prevent some other poor person befalling the same fate.
He returned to tell me one of the assistance was less than understanding and could offer nothing other than the comment of ‘what, no torch’. Yes we had torches but at no point were we told the lighting was non existent and they were recommended, once in the midst of my darkened dilemma there was little I could do but make my way down the path as best as I could. But now wasn’t the time to dwell on this, my legs were a little sore and my shoulder was uncomfortable but I was not going to let my misadventure detract from the purpose of our few days away, Mr.B’s birthday on the lake.
Kayak was still up from the previous day so pressures were checked and no adjustments were needed. Packed lunch made and by 10.30 were were in the kayak and on our way up the lake towards Bowness, we had no idea how far we would get but planned on returning late afternoon.
The steamers were on the move too and passed us in both directions, each causing small wakes which we managed to paddle through, didn’t hit us too hard as we stayed close to the water edge as this had the more interesting views of the landscape and hopefully wildlife.
We found our rhythm and in unison we dipped our paddles in and out of the water and slowly floated along, the sun peeked out from the clouds long enough to warm our backs and disappeared often enough to allow us to cool down a little.
The boat houses we passed on our way went from immense grandeur to the poor member on the block who was in dire need of some restoration, it was at these points we fantasised with what we would do if we ever won the lottery, would help if we did it of course.
The further we travelled up the lake the bigger and more luxurious the boats and yachts became. Some were moored in various little coves and as we paddled between them we imagined the lives the owners of these had.
Soon the ferry came into view and with careful timing we dodged its return to our side and minutes later Bowness on Windermere came into view, the bay was full of people, boats and bird life. Boats of all shapes and sizes were coming and going, the passenger boats were loading and unloading and voices could be heard over the loud speakers directing the next hoard in the direction of the next available tour. Birdlife smothered the bay, ducks, swans, geese and and any other winged life that was in the area, the reason being they were being fed from bags of food held in the hands of numerous people stood on the waterline. To our surprise there were four adult swans being fed by hand which saddened us a little and seemed to spoil my view of an area we saw as an avid supporter of conservation and preservation.
Now, we haven’t had the kayak that long and although we thought we had mastered the art of getting in and out of it there was always the chance one of us could come a cropper, today was not the day for this to happen and as we glided in, between people and wildlife Mr.B was heard to say ‘come on my love, lets get this right, people are watching’.. no pressure then.
We drifted in, the kayak skimmed the stones and we came to a stop. I’m normally first out so trying to look as relaxed as possible, feet and legs came out from under me and I prayed that as I put my feet into the water I didn’t slip on the wet stones. Once stood upright I held the kayak whilst Mr.B did the same. Without looking around we picked the kayak up and marched it out of the water, we did it and no hiccups.
Back into the kayak we went and reversed out to turn and head back the way we had paddled, the sun was still out as we took the same route back andwe reached Pod just after 4pm. After a full day out on the lake we were both pooped but Mr.B’s birthday had gone accordingly to plan.
Curry and beer for dinner and as the sun went down over the hills we sat and enjoyed it all looking out over the lake and again watched as the locals all came out to play on what was one incredible playground.
Bedtime came round too soon and the showers were again visited but were uneventful, thank goodness.
Rain woke us and following breakfast the usual routine began of putting everything away, except on this occasion the awning was coming down wet. We have been away every month since having Pod and we’ve always managed to dodge this but it got us good style this time.
Even though I had been the victim of what some may call bad luck we had enjoyed ourselves immensely and Mr.B’s birthday was filled with good memories of a picturesque caravan park, a perfect pitch with lakeside access for Pod and a wonderful calm day spent on Lake Windermere, we will be back and for a little longer too.