…and keep on going :) Change your mind and change your life
I'm a middle aged accounting tutor looking for my own mild adventures with my other half before it's too late..... I've taken the plunge and organised a year long sabbatical (a year with no pay!!), sold the house and my car and am ready to go :)
I’ve now been 50 for almost 4 months and I’m fitter than I’ve been for years!
Let’s not pretend that this is an easy thing for many people to achieve; I’m currently in the enviable position of being able to fit in lots of exercise as and when I choose. Even if I was busier with work I would still be able to fit exercise around what would, largely, be my own working timetable.
However with the luxury of time that I’m currently enjoying I am taking the opportunity to engage in all sorts of different exercise, such as:-
This famous Portsmouth landmark (famous in Portsmouth anyway) sits in a decent sized car park/viewing point on Portsdown Hill overlooking Portsmouth (fabulous views to be had). It lies just passed The Churchillian pub (or just before depending on which way you’re travelling of course). There is also usually an ice-cream van in the car park
Open 24/7 it was even busy today which is dreary and wet – we still had to queue. Although the queue was never less than 5 people in the time we were there, it did move quickly. And even today we saw people with an ice cream (that’s usually us to be fair!)
In such an environment there were scores of gulls flying around pouncing on any discarded food! Sat safely in the car they didn’t bother us at all though 🙂
Most amusing though was when we saw a group of 4 or 5 Japanese tourists turn up; and yes, they were taking photos of the burger van and selfies! Brilliant 🙂
So the big question, of course, is ‘Did I have an actual monster burger?!’ The answer is no – of course not; the monster burgers contain a 1lb burger together with any extras you choose. We opted for the small 1/4 pounder – I had cheese and mushroom, Calv cheese and bacon and Sam, a chilli relish. Sam also ordered small chips, which were more than enough for all 3 of us.
I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy my food so much; the bread was fresh, the burger wasn’t greasy and the chips were cooked fresh to order (and were lush).
I’m not going to say we’ll be rushing back every week, BUT we would if we were regular burger van visitors!
Heading back into England from Scotland we, of course, had to go via Gretna Green, just off the M74 motorway, if only to wind up our friends and family (it worked!)
We didn’t park in the available car parks (although it turned out that we could have, I’m not sure what the situation would have been in high season), choosing instead to drive on by and stop in a lay-by a mile or so further on, unhooking the small car and driving back.
To be honest Gretna now appears to be one big money making opportunity which I wouldn’t really recommend visiting (unless you’re passing close by or actually running away to get married that is 🙂 )
There are a few, overpriced, shops, a couple of eateries, a courtship maze (which was quite good) and the Gretna Green Story museum (which is very thorough for £3.75 each and I did enjoy wandering around it).
‘The Courtship Maze’ starts with each couple going their separate ways on entering only to meet in the middle, with several ‘kissing points’ cut into the hedges on the way. Quite good fun. There’s also a bridge filled with lovers padlocks to walk over.
Padlocks on the bridge at Gretna Green (turnrightoutofportsmouth.com)
The Courtship Maze at Gretna Green (turnrightoutofportsmouth.com)
One of the marriage rooms at Gretna Green (turnrightoutofportsmouth.com)
‘Love’ sign at Gretna Green (Turnrightoutofportsmouth.com)
On leaving Dunbar it was just a short hop south to Lauder to stay at the Thirlestane Castle Caravan Site (click here for my review).
We still stopped on the way for a spot of lunch and to watch the cows in the fields though! (Notice how we were still in our shorts. In October. In Scotland!!)
The reason we had chosen this site was that it was in the grounds of Thirlestane Castle – which had closed for the season just a day or 2 before we arrived…..
Still, it was a nice walk along the road down towards the castle and then back up the steep road to head into the small town. Here we wandered along the High Street, taking in the numerous ‘Wynds’, the old church (which has a watchhouse in the grounds to protect against bodysnatchers) , the town hall and pubs.
What a wonderful surprise Dunbar was! About 40 miles east of Edinburgh itself (so easily within reach from our campsite) we opted to stay on the Camping & Caravan Club site on the outskirts of Dunbar.
It didn’t take us very long to get there from Holy Island being just a short hop up the A1 and over the border – it probably only took us about an hour and a half.
The site itself was one of those where as you drive onto your pitch you have your breath taken away by the view before you. See our review for pictures.
The 1st afternoon was spent stocking up in the nearby Asda and just relaxing. We opted for a Chinese takeaway in the evening, landing up in Kings Palace on the High Street. where the service was excellent and the food was good. (Bit bemused by the fellow customer who appeared not to really want to talk to us, but then kept piping up with ‘helpful’ advice – such as the best time to visit to avoid the midges would be July & August…..)
Our final day before heading into Scotland proper was spent heading into Scotland for a daytrip..!
It was a lovely sunny day and the views were spectacular as we hugged the coast and crossed the border, passing the last (first..) pub in England on the way. A short while along the A1 after the border we took a right hand turn onto a minor road and found ourselves turning right again and heading down into the small settlement that is Burnmouth – the 1st village in Scotland.
At the bottom of the steep hill down to the harbour there are in fact 3 separate settlements clustered together – Partanhall (now mainly holiday lets fronting directly onto the water (with only a narrow road between them and the elements), Burnmouth itself with it’s harbour and a number of dwellings (some of which feature a fishing store on the lower floor – with a front door seemingly too big for a normal door, but too small for a garage) and finally Cowdrait at the southern end with a handful of cottages. The 3 parts together make up a tiny village, but Burnmouth does extend back up the steep cliff road to encompass a church and old schoolhouse as well.
The harbour is very pretty with swans enjoying the sunshine and the view out to sea was lovely.
We still weren’t finished with Northumberland. Our remaining days there before we headed into Scotland took in beaches and castles. We headed slightly inland to visit Ford & Etal and we even had a daytrip into Scotland, visiting Eyemouth as well as a couple of hidden coves. We were busy!
We weren’t experiencing wonderful weather; we had some extremely windy conditions – but the sun was out too at times 🙂
From Holy Island we had spotted, what looked like, some rather lovely beaches across the channel, so we headed a couple of miles back down the A1 and took a left. The 1st turn took us to a dead end. We did get out to have a look, but there were bird hides and this wasn’t on the agenda for us so we carried on and took the next left!
After a while we found a lay-by from where we could access the shoreline, so we stopped and headed out for a walk along the shore.
Unfortunately this wasn’t the most pleasant experience as the tide was coming in and we had to negotiate the muddy shoreline around the bay. However we eventually came across the sand which very nearly made the challenging walk to find it worth it! Rather than tackle the shoreline, with the tide even further in, we left the beach via a footpath that took us out to a lane, past a caravan site and finally back to the main road. Although there was no pavement there was room on the verge to walk on when cars went past so it was fine.
Not necessarily my favourite afternoon out, but we did get a fair bit of exercise 🙂