So we all made it safely back from our (nearly) twentieth wedding anniversary road trip to the Scottish Borders.
It was fun, despite the ominous forecasts of heavy rain that threatened us throughout.
We packed a change of clothing, boots, wellies, rain gear, a picnic and a few mini board games and headed south towards the Borderlands.
I did a bit of research before we set off, to track down one or two interesting and hopefully engaging activities that we might want to try out along the way, just to give our mini break an added element of adventure.
After googling about a million different ideas including clay pigeon shooting (£30 per person per hour? I don’t think so) laser questing, go-karting and archery, I stumbled across the perfect Newnham family activity…
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of disc golf? I certainly hadn’t. As the name suggests, it’s basically golf using frisbees instead of clubs and balls. It sounded fun…and it was.
So, our first stop, only thirty minutes drive from Edinburgh, was an Adventure Centre called Foxlake.
The sign says Disc Golf. You can’t read it, but it’s there.
The lake part was intriguing, especially watching people on water boards being dragged across it at high speed on a zip-wire. Matthew would have loved a go at that.
But we stuck to our plan and collected our discs and a map of the course and set off roughly in the direction of the first tee. It was at about this point that we discovered we were not entirely alone on the course. Seemingly the British National Disc Golf Championships were being held there the very same afternoon.
So of course we weren’t going to be in their way at all.
Fortunately for us and VERY fortunately for them, the world class competitors rapidly overtook us and vanished into the distance, leaving us free to throw our discs enthusiastically in pretty much every possible direction, except directly towards the basket.
Robert spotted a little bit of mud on the disc at one point, which suspended play for a time, but, with careful handling and the assistance of his caddy, he was able to play on.
James had no such qualms. He just picked that thing up and went for it.
Matthew had probably the best focus of us all…and aim.
Did it go in?
So we whiled away a very happy few hours throwing discs through trees and at trees, into long grass and under stacks of wood and eventually even into baskets. It was extremely entertaining, even after I discovered that I was possibly the worst disc thrower in the history of the game.
In my defence, I was taking photos at the same time…and doing a bit of caddying too, when things got muddy.
To help preserve what little pride I had left after my numerous pathetic efforts to get the disc to travel further than two feet, we abandoned any attempt at a scoring system and just went for the fun element. And we even enjoyed a bit of sunshine and a lunchtime picnic between rounds.
Great shot Robert! Those trees were tricky though.
Can you see where it went to from there?
James certainly gave his discs some welly.
And all our discs went in…eventually.
With absolutely NO cheating.
Next stop England and specifically Berwick upon Tweed and our high class five star hotel accommodation. Or Youth Hostel if you prefer.
Notice the marked lean of the whole building. It was like this when we got there, honest.
The building had been an old granary, converted and opened only a couple of years ago by the YHA. There was a very nice bistro/cafe there, with self catering facilities upstairs. There was even free wifi. This was very far removed from my memories of hosteling years ago, when the whole hostel smelt of damp sweaty clothing and muddy boots and we all had to help with the chores before being allowed to continue on our way.
On this occasion we had booked a family room, which was a decent sized space with a double and two bunk beds. It was even en suite. We did have to make up our own beds, but the place was very clean and perfectly adequate for an overnight stopping point.
Getting those duvet covers on was a challenge, but the boys were certainly up for it.
After a tasty fish and chips supper, we entertained ourselves with books, internet surfing and a game of battleship.
Excellent fish supper in the courtyard outside our room. With a drop of wine too. Perfect.
And then a quick board game before bed.
Next morning we fuelled up with an excellent cooked breakfast before heading off on the second leg of our tour.
Continuing south we stopped in the little seaside town of Seahouses. Home of phase two of our activity adventure…
I said it was a golfing trip, didn’t I?
We had a laugh crazy golfing and this time we did keep score. I just thought I’d mention this since I proved to be the top crazy golfer of the day…just. This did go a little way towards making up for my inadequacies of the previous day.
This hole was trickier than it looks.
And this one was fiendish.
Afterwards, just as we retired to the car for our lunchtime picnic, the rain came down. Well, by then we’d had enough golf for one trip anyway, so it didn’t really matter that it was wet after that.
What’s a little ice-cold wind and rain anyway?
Our final destination before turning north and aiming for home again was to the very attractive town of Alnwick and specifically a very special bookshop there, recommended by my cousin. Thanks Ruth, great suggestion.
Barter Books is enormous. Housed in an old railway station, it is an incredible place.
It has a lovely cosy atmosphere, with an open fire and leather armchairs and sofas to sit in and coffee and biscuits available and paid for via an honesty box.
Uniquely, there is a sign on the door saying Dogs Welcome, in fact it seemed almost as if they were compulsory. There were dozens of dogs of all shapes and sizes there. I only wish Judy could have been with us to enjoy browsing the shelves for her favourite author, Dogstoyevsky.
We all happily meandered around Barter Books taking in the vast array of secondhand stock on the endless shelves. It was a sight to behold.
There were unbelievable numbers of books. This photo really doesn’t do the place justice.
And then it was time to head home, in the rain.
The gerbils seemed completely fine for their night of abandonment. I’d like to believe they looked pleased to see us on our return, but I suspect they actually didn’t care one way or the other
Still, putting aside the unfeeling nature of rodents, I’m very glad we got away for a wee while, had some fresh air and enjoyed some quality family time. We certainly made the most of some of the very last moments of sunshine of this year, and even learnt a new sport.
And it was fun.
Even for those of us with little or no disc-throwing ability.
HAPPY (almost) ANNIVERSARY US!