Last spring, one of the first things I found for us to do on our road trip was a three day gypsy caravan trip in the Lake District with Wanderlust. Having read Danny the Champion of the World with all three kids, it felt like a dream come true!
Now flash forward six months - we are now in Scotland, Isle of Skye, freezing cold and soaked to the bone...but still managing to enjoy ourselves! Suddenly, I come down with a yucky cold and the idea of camping for three days in a non-insulated caravan, with uncertain weather conditions, puts me over the edge. Thank GAWD we didn't let the kids know what was planned because I couldn't cancel it fast enough. The owner was very kind. We asked if he'd be willing to keep our money and just give us a day trip instead of three nights and was kind enough to make an exception. (As it turned out, our time in the Lake District was nothing but clear blue skies and I was the only family member who ever got sick!)
Our day was full of inspiration. It's not hard to see how this part of the country inspired so many children's books. We met our guide, Matt, at 11 am in a tiny village he's called home his whole life. After meeting his four-legged partner, Outlaw, we all jumped in and headed down a country road on a two hour journey towards a pub where we would all grab lunch. I brought the book that inspired it all, but barely cracked it open. There was too much to soak in, and so that's what we opted to do most of the time - taking turns riding and walking. Then a farmer we passed invited us in to watch him bathing his flock.
Far from any sort of fantasy involving organic soap, the smell of the chemicals alone could have driven us away. But there was still something so romantic for us all, to stand there on that tiny farm, talking to this farmer and his son, learning about the process. He might have hinted at thinking we were weird, but we told him that back home, people off the streets just can't walk onto a farm and observe like that. It's unlikely an American farmer would invite strangers in to his work space, and even if he wanted to, all our regulations and protections might not even allow it. So we just took it for what it was, a great few moments in time, then jumped back on board and continued down the road.
All along the way we were jumping on and off, doing a mixture of walking and relaxing. Every little stretch of houses we passed, people would come out and wave, or even stop to chat. It's all these little conversations along that way that amazed me the most. People here are just so nice and friendly.
Five hours flew by and by the time we finished up, we were all agreeing (for the seventeenth day in a row): "No, really - today was the best day ever!"