We’ve had an amazing time in the North Lakes and South West Scotland since my last post, which began with 18 nights at a caravan park in Cockermouth. We’ve been visiting this particular caravan site for years as my dad has a static caravan there, its specifically for static vans and so it’s not really set out for tourers. We changed pitches 4 times within the first five days of being there, for reasons like the ground being too hard for the awning pegs and the van sinking into a boggy field. To the dismay of the site owner, we ended up back on the pitch we were first allocated to. Oops! We are still learning…and we reckon we can definitely spot all the signs of a ‘bad’ pitch now.
We’ve always loved the north lakes and took the opportunity to have lots of lovely days out, the sun shone practically every day during our stay even though the area is notorious for its rainfall. It was the school holidays so the girls were constantly meeting new friends and were off playing with them for the majority of our stay. We also had lots of visitors, it was so great to catch up with so many of our friends and family, and we already know a lot of lovely people who holiday at the site.
Due to the number of visitors, the neighbourly feel of the site, and with it being the school holidays, there was a ‘holiday’ vibe about the place which lead to us spending a lot of time in the on-site club and having long lie-ins in the mornings. Although we’re trying to instil a care-free life for our family, our evenings in the club and the girls ‘doing their own thing’ with their friends did worry me slightly. I was afraid of getting into a routine of spending money frivolously and I didn’t want us to start viewing our educational road trip as one long holiday. It was also playing on my mind that, what with the girls going off with their friends regularly, we hadn’t engaged in as much structured learning with them as I’d have liked.
I discussed my concerns with Jez one night about a week into our stay and we both decided that I should just chill out and let things be. I realised that I shouldn’t see our trip as being so black and white and that I should embrace whatever each destination brings to the table. This part of our journey was obviously all about reconnecting with our family and friends, letting the girls gain more independence and, basically, just relaxing a little bit.
I also realised that just because we hadn’t been regimental about planning specific learning days with the girls, it didn’t mean that they weren’t learning. We had lots of days out and visited many places and the girls learnt a lot about the geography and history of the area (this is exactly how Unschoolers educate their children – explained in a great article by educationalfreedom.org.uk ). Besides, I saw their social skills really develop with them meeting so many new friends, they interacted with the other children with a lot more confidence and compassion, they offered to share their belongings regularly without being prompted to do so, they sang on the karaoke in the club (something our self-conscious Lois has never done before), …and I even found them both playing chess with a new friend in the caravan.
We said goodbye to Cockermouth a week ago and arrived at a site in Scotland just a few miles outside of Castle Douglas. It’s such a beautiful part of the UK and the site has amazing sea views (thank you so much for the recommendation, Lynn and Colin). We have slowed down even more since being here and have embraced the naturally slow-pace of life in the area…and we haven’t been in the on-site club once! 🙂
Our time in the Lakes and SW Scotland has taught me that I would definitely benefit from being in the moment a lot more and from worrying less. I tend to always focus on the many thoughts playing on my mind and don’t necessarily appreciate the here and now; I’m always thinking of the next caravan site that needs booking, the activities in the current area that we’re missing out on, what I’m cooking for our next meal, etc. As a consequence, I’ve vowed to spend less time researching ‘stuff’ on my phone and I’m going to try to be more present in any given situation, instead of instantly whipping out my camera and taking a photograph of it. I’m going to stop worrying about whether there is enough structured learning in the girls’ day-to-day lives (especially in the school holidays when other children are around) and I am keen to let them just embrace the education of what each area we visit has to offer. Also, I really shouldn’t be frightened about having too much fun, especially when ‘having fun’ was one of the main reasons for embarking on our journey.
We’ve travelled further north today and are staying at a site near Edinburgh for ten days. We’ve had a great week and feel a little sad to leave such an amazing area of Scotland but we’re really excited about seeing the sights of Edinburgh/East Lothian and embracing whatever lessons our next stop has to offer us.
“Fun-time” Claire xx