Saturday, 13 August 2016

Cornwall

'Tis the season of holidays! We spent last week in Cornwall with our friends and had a great time. I wasn't going to bother doing a blog post about it as I didn't take a lot of photos of miniature scenes (which is what I usually do on holiday!) but then I realised I had quite a lot of nice photos of the holiday which I thought were worth posting. Even if they are not of creative miniature scenes! And even if they were only taken on my smart camera (I am getting so lazy about taking my big camera out whoops!)



We went to one of my very favourite holiday destinations in Cornwall - Crantock! I have been going there since I was a child. We had to go in peak season because Henry is a teacher and can only get school holidays off so it was quite busy but still lovely. We had great weather. Mostly sunny but also with wind so it wasn't too hot. 

On the Monday we were there we visited the Lost Gardens of Heligan which was very pretty. I must admit I have not seen a lot of Cornwall apart from the area around Crantock so it was nice to go somewhere new. I actually got a photo of Henry and I together which I like!



This is the only picture I took of Topaz on the holiday. She is eating a Cornish pasty on the balcony railing of our holiday house. She had a great time in Cornwall, even if I didn't document it with photographs! The truth is, I am pregnant and just didn't have the energy to plan intricate miniature scenes and make lots of props like I usually do when I go away. It was also why I didn't go surfing/bodyboarding at all this year which is something I missed! I usually LOVE bodyboarding in Cornwall and the surf was really good this year but I didn't think it would be sensible to do while pregnant.

Still, we filled our time with lots of other fun activities, eating being one of the main ones haha. We had Cornish pasties and cream teas and fish and chips. We also went out for a really nice meal one lunch time and I had the most delicious dessert in the history of the world. It's like it was catered exactly to my tastebuds. Dark chocolate pot with raspberry ganache and butterscotch and pecan ice cream. It was so, so good. I want to try re creating it sometime at home. 


I really do love Cornwall and I feel like I've had a very good fill of holidays (and driving!) for the summer now after having been to both Orkney and Cornwall. Two different ends of the UK. Henry really wanted to drive down to Lands End so that we could say we went to John O Groats and Lands End both in the same summer but we didn't end up doing that. We visited St Ives one day and the traffic was so bad, what with it being peak season, that we decided to not drive anywhere else after that. We just stayed round the beaches near our holiday house. 

And they are beautiful beaches! Sometime I think that Cornwall is like a different country.





I would love to have that on my doorstep!

So that was our holiday in Cornwall. The best of the photos I took anyway. I look forward to going back there again sometime!

Our last holidays to Cornwall HERE and HERE and HERE

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Orkney

Last week we visited the Orkney Islands in the Northern Isles of Scotland. After debating whether we should get the plane there as it is a very long way, we decided to drive. We thought that it would feel like more of an adventure if we drove and also we wouldn't have to worry about connecting flights and getting to airports etc... also we would be able to bring as much luggage as we liked if we were in our own car! 

The drive to Orkney took two full days. On the first day we did 435 miles and then stopped off at a bed and breakfast in Pitlochry. We went out for dinner that night and had a really nice meal. Then we walked around a bit and went to bed.

The second day we drove all the way up, through the highlands (I love driving though the highlands!) to the most northerly part of Scotland - John O Groats! It was right by where we were catching our ferry to Orkney.

I had to get a picture of Topaz at the John O Groats sign. There's proof we were there! As you can see the weather wasn't great at this point. Wet and rainy but it didn't matter. It made the hour ferry crossing all the more fun because it was quite rocky. 

(Of course Topaz is wearing her tartan for Scotland!)

We drove off the ferry and onto Orkney. It wasn't far to our holiday house. We stayed in a beautiful converted chapel called Herston Hall on South Ronaldsay. There were no other houses immediately nearby and behind it was a field of cows who kept coming and looking in at the window. One of them came up and mooed at me while I was sitting on the sofa!


We stayed there for one week and we had a great time going out and exploring some of the different parts of the Orkney Islands. It was a very beautiful place and very interesting. It wasn't actually exactly how expected it to be. I thought there would be more mountains and brown, heathery landscapes, being a Scottish island and I thought it would look more wild. However, Orkney is actually reasonably flat and very lush and green. There are cows and sheep in most of the fields and everywhere looked very well kept. It also wasn't as remote as I had imagined it to be. There were quite a lot of houses and towns - also very well kept! It was completely different to the Isle of Harris and Lewis where we went for our honeymoon two years ago. 

The weather was very changeable, as you would expect from Scotland but I think we had quite a lot of sun considering. One day was so hot and sunny that we were able to sit on the beach all day! We set up our beach tent thingy and had a picnic and sunbathed and paddled in the sea. The sea, although very blue and twinkly was icy cold. 


Topaz had fun collecting shells on the beach! ^

And Henry had fun looking in rockpools. He loves to look in rockpools.

Topaz did some rockpooling too! She didn't catch anything though. They wern't actually very good rockpools. There wasn't much wildlife in them. No starfish or anything. The most we saw were some little fish and a jellyfish.

The great thing about Scottish beaches is that they are not busy at all. Sometimes you find you have the whole beautiful beach to yourself!

On one of the days we decided to take a ferry across to one of the other Orkney Islands called Hoy. Henry specifically wanted to go and see a bit sea stack which is called The Old Man of Hoy. Unfortunately we picked the very worst day to do this as it was extremely rainy and grey. However, it was still nice to see Hoy. It was different to the main bit of Orkney that we had been on previously. It was much more mountainous, wild and remote. I found it incredidibly stunning. 

Going to see the sea stack on Hoy involved walking three miles round a cliff/mountain and then three miles back again. We were all prepared for this with a picnic packed, walking clothes on, backpacks, raincoats etc. We started walking the route to the sea stack in the grey, ominous weather but I really wasn't liking the atmosphere. The clouds were so black and heavy above us and it was windy and starting to rain. Then I heard a rumble of thunder and that just did it for me! I wanted to turn back. I did not want to walk three miles in round a mountain in thunder and lightening and heavy rain. I get really scared in thunder and lightening so we turned back and went back to the car. I am so glad we did as the rain started to absolutely bucket down and there were crashes of thunder and flashes of lighening. I saw some other people going out in it but it just wasn't for me! 

Iron rations! ^


The rest of the week we stayed on the main part of Orkney and didn't get ferries across to any of the smaller islands. There were lots of things to do and see. We went to Kirkwall which is the largest town and the capital of Orkney a couple of times. We had lunch there in a cafe and also looked round the amazing cathedral which was founded in 1137! We also went round a couple of neolithic sites which I ended up finding very interesting despite saying I wasn't interested in going to them before going! I am not usually a one for looking round museums and historical sites and that kind of thing but actually, I bet it is beneficial for story writing etc to do those sorts of things. I am glad we went now anyway. We saw all the tools and the houses that the stone age people used on Orkney so many hundreds of years ago. We also saw an old stone age tomb that had skulls in it. 

My absolute favourite parts of being on holiday are just being out in nature. Especially being out on the beach! We had a lovely evening one time, just sitting together on Newark beach in the sunshine, reading and looking for shells and rockpools. I realised afterwards that the book I was reading (Lorali by Laura Dockrill) was all about mermaids and the beach we were sitting on was actually famous for mermaid sightings! 

Another evening on this same beach we noticed a little stream running all the way from between the sand dunes and I wished I had brought my miniature boat to put Topaz in. The top part of the stream was all rocky like mini rapid and I think it would have been such a fun ride for a miniature person!

I think Orkney really is a fascinating place and I am so glad we went to visit it. If I could use one word to describe I'd say it is a very pretty place.

There seemed to be bright green grass and flowers everywhere...

This one was taken whilst on a cliff top walk one day. There were loads of fields like this.


We also saw a lot of bog cotton.


And everywhere you turned there was another gorgeous landscape.


It was a really wonderful holiday. I enjoyed it so much!

And it was also good for miniature people. Orkney if famous for a certain type of chair and in some of the shops they sold miniature versions of the Orkney chair! So Topaz got a nice souvenir...

I look forward to going back and exploring more of Scotland some day. It is such a beautiful place!