Reading Time: 6 minutes

After what, from all accounts, was a nightmare drive up from Rochester on Friday, the girls and I got up early Saturday morning to drive up to Knaresborough to spend the long weekend at Russ and Rachel’s place.

When I say “got up early”, the girls and I were on the road around 5:40am with the aim of arriving before losing too much of the day. I knew Monday was going to be mostly spent in the car so I didn’t want to lose Saturday to the same thing.

After a clear drive up – only stopping once for a few minutes so I could shuvel some food into my mouth – we arrived around 9am, much to Rachel’s surprise. I’d sent her a text when we stopped saying we were about an hour away so it wasn’t too much of a shock.

Russ was at work in the morning so after giving the girls a second breakfast (the first being some waffles in the car, much to their delight!) the girls settled down to watch a DVD while Rachel and I chatted for a bit as she did her chores, i.e. the things she was hoping to have done before we got there but our early arrival made impossible to do. Sorry Rachel.

Chores out of the way, and the weather not being too bad, we took a stroll out to the lakes to feed the ducks and to go to the park to let the girls blow off some steam after being in the car for quite a long time on the drive up.

The girls had a lot of fun feeding the ducks, when they weren’t eating the bread themselves that is! They also had a lot of fun throwing stones into the lake too. It was a lot of fun a great to be outside after the long drive up.

Bread gone we strolled up to the parks so the girls could burn off some more steam before we headed back home to get some lunch and meet up with Russ.

Once we’d all eaten, Russ included, we got the bus into Knaresborough centre as it was drizzling a little bit. That wasn’t going to stop us having a walk round and the girls were hankering after an ice cream regardless of the weather.

The girls, Russ and I got our ice creams – and very nice they were too – and then we went to look round the castle and took a little stroll along the river. It was raining quite badly by now so we made our way to the World’s End pub to get a drink and to dry off a little bit; the rain really was quite bad by now.

Not wanting to walk back in the rain we got the bus back in time for some tea, and shortly after the girls were pretty much ready for bed after a very long day.

With the girls in bed, and Rachel offering to babysit for me, Russ and I headed into Harrogate to the Fat Badger pub for a few very nice pints of ale. The only problem was, both of us were completely stuffed out by Rachel’s fantastic sausage and bean casserole and I must admit, I struggled to get the pints down as I was so full up! It was a great evening though, sitting and chatting and having a few pints.

What a difference a day makes! Sunday morning was a complete change to the previous day and the weather was very nice indeed. Okay, the wind had a bit of a chill to it but the sun was out. As Russ had to work in the afternoon we all walked into Knaresborough to take the girls to a park Russ knew before heading off to the Cross Keys pub for Sunday lunch. The food was good and the beer was very well kept so everyone was happy.

After that Russ popped home to get ready for work and Rachel, the girls and I got the bus into Harrogate so that we could do a bit of shopping. I had some bits I wanted to get the girls now that the weather was beginning to cool down – summer dresses and shorts aren’t the best for the autumn/winter months that’s for sure! To put it mildly, including some outfits I’d already bought the girls earlier in the week, they were spoilt rotten and thoroughly enjoyed picking out their own tops and tights.

After we’d finished shopping we met up with Russ at the bus station so that we could get on his bus, albeit only for a few stops but the girls were excited. You may not believe this but this was also my first time on a bus Russ was driving. In all of his 21 or so 15 year bus-driving career I’d never gotten on his bus before. Shocking!

We took the bus down to a really lovely Victorian park for a nice walk and to get another ice cream, this time a Ripley ice cream; world famous their ice cream is supposedly – it was very nice though, especially the rum and raisin ice cream I had.

Ice creams eaten, the girls had a jump-around on a bouncy castle that was in the park before we decided that the weather looked like it was about to turn and it was time to make our way back home.

On the bus on the way back there was a rather tipsy female bus driver – not driving the bus I hasten to add! She was talking to the chap driving the bus about it being her Birthday and started to talk to the girls about how all bus drivers were fat, which they found rather funny, having already commented on uncle Russ’ belly that weekend 🙂

As she was getting off the bus she asked the girls if they liked cakes and balloons – silly question really – and promptly gave them a box of rather luxurious cup cakes and a helium filled “Happy Birthday” balloon. The girls were all smiles as you can imagine.

After the girls had eaten, had a bath and watched a number of episodes of “Come Dine With Me” – the were hooked on it! – I put them to bed and Rachel and I spent the evening watching trash TV and a rather depressing film called “Eden Lake” before I hit the hay shortly before midnight, knowing that the girls were more than likely going to wake up early.

Monday was a bit of a non-day. We spent the morning sitting around chilling out before the girls and I hit the road to get them back to their mum’s around 11am.

The journey down was pretty good, stopping at Peterborough services for something to eat and break from the journey. I eventually dropped them off at 4:30pm and then had the journey home to contend with and the dreaded M25. Fortunately it played nicely for me after my already long drive and I was in shortly after 6pm – phew!

It was a great weekend and I know the girls thoroughly enjoyed visiting Russ and Rachel. They don’t get to do it that often and it’d been over two years since they were last in the area. They’ve already asked when we can go up again bless them.

Thanks for a great weekend Russ and Rachel, and thanks for putting us up for a couple of days. It was great seeing you both! I now need to sort out a weekend when the girls are with me for you to visit as they were keen on you seeing them ride their bikes 🙂

As you’d expect, I took a load of photos over the weekend which are now in the photo galleries. Enjoy!