A parents' day off to Epic Kielder - part 2
This is the second of our Epic (heroic or grand in scale) his&her blogs about our date, sans kids, to Kielder. The first was by yours truly, a woman’s perspective of this ‘activity’ date. And this is the second by him (Mike).
So, for the first time ever here is a blog post from my husband, Mike!
As the editor, I perhaps should have removed some of the PDA (public display of affection) but, hey! it’s not every day you get some words of affirmation for all to see! So, it’s staying.
Quick introduction; I’m Mike (Hannah’s husband), and whilst away with her enjoying our day and night in Kielder, it popped into my head that I should write a complimentary blog post of our joint experience, from the man’s point of view. It didn’t just pop into my head, because if it did, that’s where it would have remained. Instead it tripped off my tongue and out into the open, where Hannah seized upon the opportunity to act as my editor. To be fair she’s been far from a tough task-master, and I’ve been allowed to merrily leave this until the last minute, so here we *finally* go…
The Date to Kielder – by him
Kielder excited me for many reasons: I like the outdoors, I love biking (used to), I like massages – who doesn’t?, I like country living, country pubs, and best of all this was a chance to spend some time with my wife, alone; without children. That last bit was the important bit for me. Whilst we try to make time for each other, inevitably with young children, extended family and work commitments it’s hard. Mostly it’s Reuben who makes this hard, we can’t just do impromptu meals or drinks on an evening as we used to. Even organising a time to visit Kielder proved to be logistically taxing. But in the end we managed and here’s what happened.
Kielder. What a great place. It really is the great outdoors, man made or not it’s one of the most remote and beautiful places in England. It has everything the lakes have without all the tourists; the irony of that statement is not lost on me, although I consider myself a semi-local as I grew up in Corbridge (35 miles south of Kielder), and my Grandparents lived in Bellingham, Kielder’s nearest settlement where the people out number the sheep (just) 9 miles away from the eastern tip of the lake.
One of the best ways to experience the area is on a bike, and that’s just what we did. Although thanks to Hannah’s hatred of hurtling down hills (she fell off once, and it was in Kielder), and equal disliking of going up them we didn’t explore too much, but we did make the North Shore, visit a giant head, and have a picnic, before packing up and heading off for to the spa at Leaplish Waterside Park.
Hannah speeding though the woods (breaks fully applied)
On our way to the North Shore via the viaduct
The Spa was basic(ish), but the massage was great. Heated stones, and some pressure point relief worked a treat. I also managed to spend pretty much the whole hour before my treatment swimming lengths, holding my breath whilst swimming lengths and popping in and out of the sauna. It was a great hour by myself with nothing to think about beyond can I break 2 minutes and how many lengths can I swim on one breath (1:53 and 3).
After that it was off to Falstone Barns to find our accommodation for the evening. Here we met Nikki who showed us around what I can only describe as first class luxury accommodation. Still my thoughts turned to a glass (bottle) of wine, and the fact that we hadn’t any provisions. So whilst Hannah got the extended tour, I jumped in the car and hurtled (always cautious to keep to the speed limits) to Bellingham along winding country roads to pick up; milk, wine, gin and some lemons (there were no limes). In no time at all, about 25 minutes, I’d covered 18 miles, refuelled, picked up provisions and took a picture of my Grandparents’ old house.
My Grandparents’ home. My Grandad was the Police Sergeant in Bellingham (think Heartbeat)
Returning home, Hannah was getting ready and so I uncorked the wine (no screw tops here), poured Hannah a gin, and sat down to enjoy a glass before we headed out. This was a little naughty as we were in the middle of a 2 week detox that was supposed to include no alcohol, and this was only the end of week 1, but this was a date away, and if you’re on holiday (any other postcode) then you’re allowed to indulge. Plus as far as I was concerned the minute we tucked into our picnic (thanks to the Kielder Castle Cafe) the diet was suspended.
Dinner that evening was organised for us at the Pheasant Inn, which is a pub I’d been to before with my Grandma. We had a table reserved not in the main dining area, but within part of the bar next to the fire. Which I preferred as it felt as if we were part of the local community, chatting to the staff, absorbing the local culture, etc… The food was great, and we enjoyed a bottle of wine before heading back to our digs.
So what can I say about Kielder. I loved it. Everything about it. Especially the people. It’s such a close knit community despite the fact they live in different villages (Kielder, Falstone, etc…) It’s just one large collective of fantastic people. Everyone from Ian at The Bike Place, the traffic warden (they don’t make them like this in the city), Nikki at Falstone, and the staff at the Pheasant. I expect our family and friends to spend more time in Kielder, the people are fantastic, there’s quality accommodation, the local pubs… It has everything the lake district has to offer, it’s on our doorstep, and best of all there’s no hustle and bustle.
My date (Hannah)
As with any date there’s two major components, the venue (Kielder), and your partner. As I said in the beginning of this post, I was really looking forward to spending some time with my wife. The day didn’t start off on the best foot, it seems that I got out of the metaphorical “wrong side of the bed”, Hannah’s mentioned that she’s possibly not the most organised person in the world (read some of her other posts), and for the most part I accept this, but sometimes I have a little dig. I don’t mean to do it, but as with volunteering to do a post, things sometimes leave my mouth before I’ve fully thought them through, most often it’s linked to something else, and in this case it’s this detox diet that we’ve been on, something I’ve really struggled with. Hannah’s pretty relaxed, and we never really argue, so after we dropped the kids off it was mostly forgotten about. Well I’d forgotten, perhaps it took Hannah as the recipient a little longer.
It was as we set off cycling that the full realisation of just how much I really love Hannah became the dominant thought in my head. We’re best friends and I love spending time with her. She’s also incredibly hot, and whilst I don’t look great in tight leggings and a helmet, Hannah really pulls it off. For me it’s also great to see the evolution of our relationship, in the early days it was all about going out, partying (on school nights), and spending hung-over days in bed (Hannah), and at work (me). We still have nights out like that, although they’re far less frequent, and never on a school night, but this is better, we can just enjoy spending time with each other. I was always sure that Hannah was the one for me, and little dates like this help reinforce that. Thanks Kielder, we’ll certainly be back.