A short break in Whitby – is caravanning the way forward?

Over the past 16 years we have been fortunate enough to enjoy a foreign holiday a few times a year. We are also creatures of habit and tend to visit places that we enjoy and are familiar with. However, after our last 2 holidays this year – Fuerteventura and Croatia we both came to the same conclusion that we wanted to give them up for a while, apart from Fuerteventura again in January, as we visit a friend who lives there and our flights are already booked!

I think we both got tired of the whole suitcase, airport travel scenario,, plus having moved last December to our lovely new home we love it so much we don’t want to be parted from our home comforts for long! I don’t know if this is an age thing.

The current safety issues and currency challenges from Brexit did not influence or drive  our decision but in some small way they play a part.

So as we approached our 31st Wedding Anniversary, we booked a 4 night break in a caravan in Whitby – at Whitby Holiday Park.

We had walked through this park on a couple of occasions whilst walking part ot The Cleveland Way route from Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay. We always thought it looked lovely, on the clifftops – great views and peaceful.

We chose a Deluxe Caravan, we’re not completely ready to give up any luxury. Our caravan was lovely, had central heating if we required and 2 bathrooms – a main one with a surprisingly large shower and a smaller en-suite loo.

There is a Club and bar on site and we did pay a brief visit 2 nights out of the 4.The club was really nice and the bar well stocked. Staff were friendly. The park was reasonably quiet, although there were may tourers staying. On our second visit we exeuted a smash and grab raid, by this we rolled up around 10pm by taxi – called in the club for a nightcap. It had been quiz night and the Entertainment manager announced that he had one last quiz if everyone was interested. There was a unanimous Yes! He politely asked if we wanted to join in – me being the competitive person I am , plus I love quizzes of any kind said Yes. 30 questions later we were the winners – proudly presented with a box of matchmakers! A final drinks and we left for our lovely caravan proudly clutching said chocolates! Not bad for 40 minutes work!

The caravan park as I said is on the cliff tops, as well as being reached by road from Whitby centre it can be reached on foot too! We walked to and from the town every day apart from the aforesaid taxi return one night, this was after we stayed out to watch my beloved Manchester City in one of the pubs in Whitby! The walk is quite strenuous and takes around 30 minutes. There is a lovely walk along the coastal path to the magnificent ruins of the Abbey and Church of St Mary which can both be seen standing proudly on the East Cliff over the town.

Walk through this lovely churchyard which was founded around 1110, this churchyard is featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Once through the churchyard  there is the feat of the 199 steps that lead down to the cobbled street of old Whitby. Thankfully there are strategically placed benches for the climb up, to aid anyone needing respite to catch their breath. I love that there are small discs in Roman Numerals set into the steps in intervals of 10 counting your progress. There are some magnificent views from the churchyard and steps.

As I am trying to improve my fitness and taken to wearing a pedometer to count my 10000 steps – this held no fear, although I did realise how fit my husband is at nearly 58, he constantly had to wait for me on the uphill climb!

Whitby itself is a popular fishing town that attracts many visitors, it was surprisingly busy even in late September. In my opinion the attraction is the bracing sea air and the fabulous architecture. There is a lot of history attached to the town, most famously the great sailor and explorer Captain James Cook who lived in Whitby as a trainee with a local shipping firm, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written after Stoker stayed in Whitby, the town features throughout the novel. Whitby is still a thriving fishing town, the fishing boats can be seen sailing in and out throughout the day and night, their nets lie all around the harbour sitting at the mouth of the River Esk. It was a centre of ship building and a major whaling port in former years.

Another famous attraction of Whitby is it’s fish and chip shops, the town’s fishing fleet catch cod and haddock. The most famous is probably the Magpie Cafe where people queue, even in the rain in peak season to eat it’s famous fish and chips. It has been described by Rick Stein as the best fish and chip shop in Britain. I will devote another post to my review of the  Fish and Chips I’ve tried in the town.

As Whitby is close to the North York Moors national Park and on the Heritage Coastline there is plenty to see and do within a short distance. We have stayed in the town several times and visited a few local places. This time we decided to take a bus ride to Scarborough. It took an hour each way through undulating hills, which challenged the gear boxes and skills of the drivers  of the buses, but afforded lovely views. Scarborough is another historic seaside town and we spent a pleasant few hours there, mainly walking along the sea edge and  around the harbour.

We had our usual ice cream, however a note of caution – the seagulls are very large and very fierce, they will swoop and steal any food or ice cream. I’m not ashamed to say I threw my ice cream in the sand and ran off screaming as one very large gull was hovering above me, squawking and ready to pounce! Other visitors were amused by my antics!

Another day we drove to nearby Goathland, which was the setting for the TV programme Heartbeat, and then we visited Malton. This description and review of our stay mustn’t fail to mention that the caravan park has access to a small enclosed beach, framed by the cliffs, Saltwick Bay. We spent an hour walking on this beach on our wedding anniversary, again another bracing walk u and down many steps to reach it, but once there it was almost deserted, just another couple of people exercising their dogs. It was windy but not cold and lovely. I should imagine it’s a sun trap in the height of summer.

Returning to the original subject of the caravan stay,  our overall opinion is that we are now fans of this type of trip. We could amuse ourselves with sightseeing during the day and return to our lovely home from home at night. We love TV so we could keep up with soaps and drama’s plus there was WiFi so I could browse the internet and social media at leisure plus indulge my other hobby of entering competitions.

There were high winds on a couple of nights and lying in bed listening to the gusts of wing, we did wonder how the caravan stayed so stable. but it did! Also we were pleased to see in the morning that the tourers with their awnings were still all intact.

Weloved it so much that we have booked another caravan holiday for next year, this time to Northumberland, a part of England we have never visited.

Our aim to discover parts of our beautiful Isles is growing along with our wishlist of places to see.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and comments are welcome, maybe there a hidden gem in the British Isles that you recommend? Please feel free to comment or contact me earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Diary of An Imperfect Mum

 

 

 

 

 

  Life’s simple pleasures – A day at the seaside – Llandudno

Llandudno Pier

I haven’t really posted yet about my travels – John and I have enjoyed several holidays and short breaks a year over the past 16 years. However, after our recent holiday in Croatia we feel that we may wish to take a break from frequent overseas travel at the moment – we are all suitcased out! Winter sun holiday excepted.

There are still many places in the UK that we still haven’t visited. The beauty of my free time in retirement is the opportunity to take short breaks. John has reduced his hours too and works 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday now creating a better work life balance. This has afforded us the opportunity to plan activities on our newly created Freedom Fridays!

Freedom Fridays

Last Friday we booked a night in Llandudno, Wales being top of our wishlist following the fabulous performance of their National Team in Euro 2016. I have to admit that I often find myself booking hotels online after a couple of glasses of wine and I have embarrassingly been known to book the wrong dates before now. Not sure I should admit this publicly but hey – it’s out there now! Anyway I’m glad to say that this booking was a total success. I booked into the Llandudno Bay Hotel for the one night. I know this is a very short break but one of these a month is good for the soul. I hadn’t researched hotels like I usually do without wine on board – this booking was originally made for the night of the Euro 2016 final in case Wales made it! We then transferred it to this new date. The hotel was described as a boutique hotel. We discovered during our stay that it had been open about a year located directly on the sea front with a terrace outside. The interior decor was fabulous, lush curtains and upholstery. I loved it especially the public areas. We ate dinner in the restaurant, it wasn’t cheap but the food was delicious and the service was excellent, there was the added extras of an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser.

Dinner at The Llandudno Bay Hotel

As for Llandudno itself, I really enjoyed my day there. It’s an Edwardian seaside resort retaining many of its original features. There’s even a Punch and Judy show. We strolled  along the sea front and down the Pier, with an obligatory ice cream of course. It brought back happy memories of my childhood holidays with friends and family.  We made our way to the cable car with a view to riding up to the top of the Great Orme, however it was 3.30 when we reached it and the last car from the top was at 4pm. You can walk down but I hadn’t done my homework and was unsure of the time it would take to walk down. Therefore we didn’t go up the Orme but will make sure we visit again to do so.

Llandudno seafront

My tag line is seeing life from a new perspective and I truly do see things differently now I have more time. I really see the things around me and take pleasure in little things. I have visited Las Vegas 4 times and love the bright lights, glitz and glamour but I get the same thrill from a day like this. Recalling the aforesaid childhood memories of the seaside, feeling the sun and breeze on my face, eating an ice cream, looking at the cheesy rides and stalls on the Pier. I hope to have more days like this – simple pleasures.
Do you have  a favourite place to visit in the UK? Or a favourite hotel? any suggestions or inspiration gratefully received to help us plan further days out for Freedom Fridays

comment below or email me at: earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Thanks for reading

Elaine

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Croatia – the delight of the Adriatic

 

As usual there has been a large gap between posts – I can totally agree with all retirees who claim they are busier than ever! My OH has commented recently that he does not know how I found time to work full time!

Every day is filled with activities – even if they are cleaning, catching up on TV, hobbies  meeting friends etc. The once mundane activities of cleaning are actually enjoyable now I have time to do them, especially in my new house they have become a pleasure – well almost.

One thing I have been busy with is a fabulous holiday to Croatia. We absolutely love this country and have only seen a small part of it. My interest in the country stems from my love of football (well that’s a surprise!). During Euro 1996 the Croatian National Team entered a team for the first time following the Baltic crisis. I thought they were a great team, some great players including Davor Suker and Slaven Bilic, now manager of West Ham.

At the time I said to John – I want to visit there some day and watch that team play!

It took a while but in 2010 we finally got to visit. We stayed in Dubrovnik in a fabulous hotel called The Grand Villa Argentina, just outside the iconic City walls. A beautiful hotel in a stunning location. Like most hotels in Croatia, they are not located on beaches but have naturally formed bathing platforms on rocky outcrops next to the sea. This hotel has a fabulous pool on the edge of the Adriatic and breakfast is served on an outdoor terrace. We loved it

. On that trip we visited the small town of Cavtat 14km away by boat trip. This trip was recommended by friends. Well on arrival it was love at first site. A small resort built around 2 horseshoe bays, which are visited by spectacular yachts and the quay sides are edged with fabulous restaurants and cafe bars serving great local beer, wine, cocktails and produce.

We have stayed in this resort 4 times now, we find it perfect. Dubrovnik itself can be very busy and crowded within the walls during the day from the visiting cruise ship tourists. Cavtat is laid back, picturesque and not too busy. There is a great crowd there, a mixture of the locals and tourists. Maybe I’ve become a tad boring but I dislike karaoke and so called traditional English bars. I love the European laid back Cafe culture. I would say that many of the tourists who stay here are 40 plus but that does not mean it is dull. In the bars at night a lot of the locals come out to drink and eat, many young in their 20’s. It has a real ‘trendy’ vibe and the locals are so friendly. Visitors are enthralled by their fabulous manners and chat.

Even though I am addicted to football, I really dislike the loud, brash English football shirt wearing tourist, I don’t mind seeing football shirts being worn, after all football is a great conversation opener, but I dislike the loud, drunken behaviour that sometimes goes with it.
On 3 of our visits now there has been a football tournament on. 2 Euro’s and a World Cup. In Cavtat, all the bars and restaurants put up outdoor TV screens when games are scheduled. The sound is unobtrusive but visitors and locals alike can watch games. I have watched the Croatian National Team play whilst visiting there. The locals appear in their team colours with  their flags. They are quite vocal but not too rowdy, although it is handy that you cannot tell what they are saying, but it all looks friendly enough!

Unfortunately they have lost and left 2 tournaments when we have been there, here is the difference that makes me warm to these fabulous people even more. There are no histrionics, tears or acts of frustration, they just shrug their shoulders and carry on their normal business, continuing to enjoy their evening and chat as if nothing had happened. I commented to one of our waiters how well they took defeat. His reply was “tomorrow is another day, the sun will still shine!” A great response and attitude.
It is a lovely place, with wonderful people. Don’t be put off by their dour faced exteriors – engage in conversation and they come alive – great wit and humour. They appreciate you visiting their wonderful country – after all tourism is their biggest earner! The views and scenery are delightful, a lovely mixture of the clear Adriatic , framed by Mountains, beautiful flowers and Pine trees. All my friends always comment  how beautiful it looks when they see my photographs on my social media pages.

It is an ideal destination for the over 50’s who wish to experience a chilled, relaxing holiday with beautiful scenery and a friendly welcome.

And finally I cannot end without mentioning the beer and wine! I think two of their local beers Karlovacko and Osujszco are 2 of the best I’ve ever tasted, plus their red wines aren’t bad either, Plavac and Dingac. Such a pity they don’t export, although I know M&S stocked a Plavac for a while.

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