Last weekend was a lovely long weekend away with Little H and some of our friends from our childhood home back in Hereford. A long time in the planning we had found a terrific 10-berth cottage (Syke Fold Country House) in the gloriously remote Dentdale – about 1.5 miles from Dent itself.
It was a slightly strange weekend for us, because Little H had a fabulous weekend away despite the fact it was bracketed with both parents coming down with a stomach bug and a temperature of more than 39.5°C! Still, we had a good weekend….
Getting Back on the Bike – Properly
Going away with “the Hereford lot” has one massive positive (among many) for me – all the boys cycle 🙌. It had been agreed long before the weekend that the boys would go out on the bikes one morning, and thankfully they all agreed to join me in trying to tick off some of the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs. However, what I hadn’t bargained on was the fact that not cycling any significant distance since April and the fact that my hay fever has been hellish this year leaving me unable to breathe meant that I was considerably out of shape. Certainly more out of shape than the rest! As I watched the regular cyclists disappear up the hills in front of me i was left with my own thoughts… which flicked from “how difficult is my breathing getting”, to “why did I decide to tick off these hills”, to “I can do these, I’m just out of shape because I’ve had a kid” and back around again! Still, I managed to tick off both hills on the Saturday morning – I may have stopped to take a puff on my inhaler a couple of times, but I cycled the whole way up both 💪🏻.
I even managed to be convinced that it was sensible to do the one just around the corner from the house on Sunday evening… I’m pleased I did it in the end… the views across the Dales were just spectacular.
Now I have 87 of the first 100 to go!
Exploring the Dales
I have loved the Yorkshire Dales since I was young. The variety of the landscape and beauty of the rolling dales is amazing. Most of us though, hadn’t been to the Dales before, so trying to work out which bits to explore and keep everyone happy was difficult on Sunday.
We could not have asked for better weather on Sunday. Saturday had been cooler and hazier – much better conditions for cycling – however we awoke to perfect blue skies on the Sunday ☀️. We had a relaxed morning with a fry-up for breakfast. None of us wanted to spend too long in the car, so in the end, we opted to swing past the Ribblehead Viaduct on our way to Malham Cove, which I still think is one of the most beautiful pieces of landscape the UK has to offer.
The temperature was scorching so most of us opted against walking to the top of the cove after a heavy lunch – however Mrs Heatho took Fern-pup up there. It’s an easy walk from Malham village up to the foot of the limestone wall, where it is possible to see Peregrine Falcons which nest on the cliff face. A chilled stroll back and an ice cream in the shade finished the afternoon.
You also get views like this down the dale if you’re lucky…
When your friends are family
I mentioned earlier about how Little H’s weekend was bracketed with both Mrs Heatho and I being ill. Mrs Heatho came down with a bug on the Friday night, meaning that I departed for our bike ride on Saturday morning with more than a slice of guilt – despite being told there was nothing I could do. The girls all swung into action – taking the dogs for a slow walk with Mrs Heatho before fully adopting Little H and bringing her to meet the boys for lunch at the end of our bike ride – allowing Mrs Heatho to get some much-needed rest.
Mrs Heatho didn’t feel fully recovered until Monday lunchtime on the way home when she had her first proper meal in 3 days… by which time I’d come down with the same thing on the Sunday night. Unfortunately, this rendered me useless for anything related to clearing up the house or packing as we had to be out by 09:45 on Monday morning.
When we got home, we realised that we simply hadn’t taken a single family photograph of the weekend. Which is unlike me. It’s also unlike Mrs Heatho, who usually drives me mad with persistent requests for photographs (usually because the requests are 30 seconds apart and the photo is therefore unlikely to be any different from the last!).
This also meant that for large parts of the weekend, our friends became Aunties and Uncles to Little H – feeding her bottles, entertaining her, giving her cuddles, changing her pants, transporting her around… you name it. They just did it. I’m not sure writing anything is going to portray how grateful I am for that – especially on Saturday morning when my one shot at getting on my bike properly in weeks was just minutes from being sacrificed for the sake of Mrs Heatho and Little H.
They really all are a fabulous bunch making what could have been a horrible weekend just wonderful despite our illnesses – Little H can’t wait until next year’s holiday with them already!