Honeymoon time – woop! Our lovely (and brave) friends and Milo’s super-aunty were roped into babysitting for a few nights so we could take Hiro on a belated honeymoon trip. Can a campervan possibly compete with a private beach in the Maldives (not currently a viable financial option) and give you a romantic honeymoon experience though?
(I should warn you that Stu and I are not the most romantic couple there ever was, as you might have gathered from our proposal story,so don’t set your romance expectations too high! I did, however, purchase a honeymoon candle. Oh yes.)
After waving bye to Milo as he sped off in Alexa and James’ very exciting gold car (no tearful ‘I’ll miss you mummy’ moments there), we headed to Walkmill Campsite near Alnwick, Northumberland to put the campervan honeymoon plan to the test. It was probably a very scenic, winding drive through the Borders but some overzealous wine-drinking with our babysitters the night before meant my eyes were firmly shut for most of the trip – and only opened to run into a shop for some emergency Fanta and crisps. We were off to a magical start.
Walkmill’s a lovely site, with pitches lined alongside the gentle River Coquet. They have a lot of space but keep the number of tents and campervans pretty low so you’re not all squished in – and there’s a big grassy space for frisbee/biking/cricket fun. We got a great pitch right at the edge of the site so all we could see was grass, trees and the river. We could have been all by ourselves in the middle of nowhere. Bliss.
The only slight downside to the campsite was the fact there was only one shower for the whole site. And it was a trickle. And it had a carpet. And teenage girls like using up all the hot water. I could go on but I’m definitely over it now…
Aside from the distressing shower situation there were some great honeymoon highlights:
Northumberland has an incredible sand dune-lined coastline, perfect for nice long beachy walks. For some reason, the coast is also interspersed with many towns beginning with ‘A’ – Alnwick, Amble, Alnmouth. All Awesome.
You can’t have a honeymoon without eating a lot – well, we certainly can’t. We cooked at the campsite quite a lot to save the pennies (the woefully hipster-ish pulled pork noodles were a high point) but we also ventured out to try the local offerings.
We had amazing ice cream at the very popular Spurelli‘s by the marina in Amble. Be prepared to queue! It’s proper Italian style gelato, with giant scoops, waffle chocolate cones, and loads of flavours to choose from – hello ‘Alnwick Rum and Raisin’ and Belgian Chocolate!
Our fancy treat was at the Treehouse Restaurant in Alnwick Gardens. As the name suggests, it’s in a real treehouse! Surrounded by branches, fairly lights and chunky wooden furniture, it was a very honeymoony setting indeed – and the food was delicious! Sea bass, squid tempura, treehouse terrine – all a far cry from the cheese sandwiches and biscuits you’d expect to be treehouse fare. How they got the oven up the tree I don’t know.
Fulfilling the honeymoon romance essential of flowers, was a trip to Alnwick Gardens. A ‘contemporary pleasure garden’, it’s an amazing place to while away a day, especially a sunny day like the one we were lucky enough to have. From the dramatic Grand Cascade, to the peaceful rose garden, to the formal ornamental garden, there’s loads to explore – and even on a busy day lots of quiet spots to sit and take it all in under a tree. Add in some super cute ducklings and you’ve got a perfect day!
The town of Alnwick, like all the little towns in the area, was ridiculously picturesque. We happened to be there at the time of the International Music Festival which was an unexpected fun bonus – and brought back a lot of childhood clog memories. Don’t ask.
We visited Barter Books, billed by a lot of my friends as ‘the best bookshop in the world’ and they weren’t wrong! Floor to ceiling secondhand books fill this converted railway station. There’s an honesty box coffeepot, loads of comfy armchairs, a model railway track winding it’s way around the tops of the shelves, and my favourite thing of all – that old book smell. I hope my sitting room looks like this one day!
The main attraction in Alnwick is Hogwarts/Alnwick Castle, location of the Harry Potter films (and one episode of Downton Abbey). Surrounded by high castle walls, we thought we wouldn’t be able to get a glimpse without shelling out the slightly extortionate ticket price and so resigned ourselves to just admiring the (admittedly very grand) walls. But on our way out of town we got a great view of the castle in all it’s glory – in your face Duke of Northumberland!
Now this is a special camping honeymoon thing you wouldn’t get in a fancy hotel – and possibly my favourite thing about the whole trip. There’s something hypnotic about watching a fire, time kind of stands still – it’s a bit magical. Plus you get to toast marshmallows! Cue tipsy marshmallow skewer injury but being the trooper I am, I pushed through the pain to create this thing of beauty, it was too good. Behold…
We bought a portable fire bit/BBQ for our fire, as lots of campsites don’t allow the real campfires. We went for the Yellowstone folding BBQ £14 – the legs fold up and the carrying bag doubles as a coolbag – handy!
Peace and lie-ins!
If you don’t have a hyper three year old at home you’re probably going to think we’re really boring, if you do you’re going to be jealous – we sat enjoying the quiet of the countryside a lot, we chatted uninterrupted, I read my whole food magazine cover to cover in one sitting. It was amazing. Until we got bored and started missing the chaos and incessant chatter!
On the Downside
I don’t want to betray campervanning but I feel it’s my duty to give a balanced view so these are some honeymoon areas where campervans might fall down slightly:
- It takes a while to get the bed set up, especially when you’ve opted for additional mats for comfort and are trying to keep the midges out at the same time. Just takes an element of spontaneity out of honeymoon proceedings. You know what I mean.
- There’s a lot of children at campsites. To be fair, we were honeymooning in the school holidays but it’s worth having a look for quieter or grown-ups only sites (or go wild!) if that bothers you. It only bothered us because it made us miss Milo! Losers.
- It’s not glam. You’ll want to wear hoodies and scruffy jeans and (especially if you’re limited to one slightly scary shower per campsite) you’re probably going to stink a bit. But it’s fine, you’ve committed to better or worse now – your new spouse isn’t allowed to care! Yay for married life.
A campervan honeymoon is a brilliant, budget-friendly experience. You don’t get much more romantic than sitting under the stars with a campfire and a bottle of wine. Or a lie-in listening to the rain on the roof. I’m giving it a big campervan gang thumbs up! (Just try to have a less miss-able child than Milo – we’re really looking forward to our next trip with all of us!)
P.S. Thanks babysitters!x