Alternatively – two hikes and a jolly.
Some time ago The Boy Wonder joined the Scouts (he’s a Cub at the minute) and had, earlier in the year, been on his first weekend camp. He enjoyed it hugely (I know this because he told me so during a very stinky journey home when I collected him), so we hatched a plan to go hiking and camping on our own. I thought that August would be a good bet so that we had a chance with the weather.
So, according to the rules, we found ourselves pitching a tent in The Peak District in torrential rain one Saturday evening in August. I can confirm that a wildly enthusiastic 9 year old does not speed up setting camp. On the plus side, the constant tripping over guylines was a never-gets-old source of amusement.
Once everything was sorted we headed off on a short, rainy walk to the nearest pub to get some food before heading back for hot chocolate and sleep.
The following morning dawned to surprisingly clear skies and I got a breakfast of eggs & bacon going whilst we planned our route – as it was TBW’s first proper hike I thought it best to keep it relatively short with plenty of opt-out routes. A short walk across the Edale valley and up Mam Tor, along the ridge to Hollins Cross, before heading back to the car and home.
As we started to pack the tent away the heavens opened and before we’d even set foot on a hill we were soaked. I asked if he wanted to carry on or just head home in the car. I was quite surprised, but we headed up the hills into the rain. He had an absolute hoot and so did I. Here’s a pic of him hooting.
You’ll note in his right hand a mini babybel cheese. This was his last piece of food and we were only an hour or so in at this point, after I’d made the mistake of getting him to carry his own lunch. I think we both learnt a lesson there.
A week or so later I was due to be heading off to tackle part of the coastal path in Devon with the HBX, but he had to call it off at the last minute so I decided to return to Edale, on my own, to tackle the full Edale Skyline Route. By this time the weather had improved, the heather was in full flower(?) and it was glorious.
I was planning to wild camp up near Brown Knoll but due to equipment issues and general ineptitude on my part I ended up slogging through peat bogs in fading light in order to get back off the hill. Fun it was not and sweary I was. Very sweary. Never has a man been so pleased to see Jacobs ladder.
A few weeks later I was heading north again with Mrs A for a weekend in Harrogate at a very swish hotel called West Park, on a cheeky weekend deal that Mrs A had ferreted out. The hotel itself was a really nice boutique affair (part of a small chain, but very very nice) and the deal was great. We arrived on the Sunday and the deal for Sunday was this: Spend £100 or more on dinner in the restaurant and the room is free. The bill can include drinks.
After starters, a very nice steak for me, a good risotto for Mrs A, a really nice bottle of wine and a couple of desserts the bill came in at just over the magic £100. Which is a good thing as we couldn’t have eaten another thing. The meal was even more entertaining as we had a the most obnoxious bloke sitting on the next table and sharing his views on the world at top volume.
The next day we went out for a wander around Harrogate, which we loved. The sun shone and we walked for miles, it was ace. As lunchtime rolled around I was thinking ‘pub’. Mrs A was thinking ‘Betty’s’ and after a half hour queuing and sitting watching crumblies eat cake, we were served with two legendary Fat Rascals.
The Fat Rascal has been served at Betty’s since the year dot and is something of an icon. It is also, unless we were unlucky enough to pick the afternoon when they let the work experience boy have a go with the oven, crap.
Having been suitably mugged we wandered through some more parks which cheered me up mightily before returning to the hotel to take advantage of Monday night’s deal. Free cocktails.
This was ace. None of your “here’s-the-cocktail-menu-you-can-only-have-one-of-the-crap-ones” restrictions with these boys and girls, oh no. Any cocktail from the extensive menu was fair game.
That’s Mrs A with a Pornstar Martini. Mine was a Smokey Old Fashioned which I thoroughly recommend if you ever get the chance.
After the drinks we headed of into the town to find some dinner (considerably cheaper than the previous night’s food) and stopped off on the way back to the hotel at a boozer that had been renamed as Nobb’s Retreat. It had, apparently, been the local of David Nobbs who was the writer of (amongst other things) Reggie Perrin.
Apparently he’d died a couple of weeks earlier and the whole pub had been decked out in memory.
The following day we headed home via York, which was not as nice as I remembered it being. Perhaps it was just that Harrogate had been so good.