August was filled with camping, walking, reading, swimming, and eating and drinking well with friends.
We started with putting Charles on a flight to Bergen in Norway as soon as he had finished his school term in late July. In Bergen he embarked the tall ship ‘Maybe’, run and skipped by the same sailing company he has sailed with before. The 10-day sail took him across the North Sea to the Orkney Islands and all along the west Coast of Scotland. He had a fantastic time, meeting new friends, brushing up on his sailing skills, sharing the cooking and cleaning, and having a wee dram along the way.
Meanwhile, Tim, Eddie and I made our way northwards, stopping to visit our friend (and Eddie’s Godmother) Wendy, in Kirkcudbright and to show Eddie the beautiful West Coast in the Highlands.
Amazingly, we swapped sons all in a day. We picked Charles up in Oban and dropped Eddie off, at the Outward Bound Centre in Fort William for his sea kayaking course, all in a day. Eddie had a week’s sea kayaking with an international group and explored the Lochs and coastline of Loch Eil, seeing plenty of wildlife and camping under the stars. Meanwhile, Tim, Charles and I travelled even further north, driving via the Isle of Skye towards Plockton to stay at the Plockton Inn, a place that is familiar with quite a few of our customers. The weather was gorgeous and it was so good to catch up with owners Ken, Mary and Susan.
The last time we camped at Big Sands was in 2006, but the beautiful scenery, the warm welcome and the gorgeous beach are just the same. We walked the dog, ate amazing sea food and snuggled in to read our books when the midges became a little too friendly!
The rest of the summer was spent at our favourite place on the North Norfolk Coast – Stiffkey. It works very well for us as a family, we set up HQ in our massive Dutch tent and friends and family join us as and when they can. The Ray teenagers and young adults come and go as they please, home is only a train journey away and adults can cram in a few hours work if needs be! The weather was beautiful and warm, so plenty of BBQs and swimming in the creeks.
What about the girls, I hear you ask? Alice spent the summer on several deployments in the Baltic, still with her University Royal Navy Unit, and joined us at Stiffkey late August. She is preparing hard for her interview with the Royal Navy mid-September. Lily spent most of her summer in Falmouth, working at a hotel, enjoying the summer in Cornwall and going to music festivals. She came home to Norfolk to see us twice, but on both occasions got a quick shower and headed out to see friends… I guess that is the way youngsters should be – busy and independent!