Towards the latter part of 2010, during our trips to Lancashire, Doreen & myself had been asked by assorted grandchildren if one or more of the kids could come back with us, or go somewhere camping. As we were invariably in our little motor home, the answer always had to be a negative but we did promise to arrange something for 2011. The requests were one of the reasons that we invested in the Dandy. More room to get them away in and the logistics of carrying them round was also eased. The year was passing at an alarming rate with family holidays, our own holidays, school and a variety of other trips and interests all impinging on our attempts to get any of them away. Eventually it was decided that the last week of the school holidays, at the end of August was free for everybody concerned and it was agreed that we would have a 'boys week' for three of the lads. Six year old granddaughter being happy to stay at home and be the centre of attention. Then our son in Plymouth announced their intention of coming up for the week with grandson number four and their new baby. We were going to have a houseful. The boys are aged 7yrs, 10yrs, 11yrs & 13yrs. All of them get along with each other quite well but given the opportunity, like most boys of their age, they are quite happy to be left in front of a games console or computer. Well, so am I, but that wasn't going to happen! The agreement was for a tech' and gadget free week. So, having given them a couple of weeks to get over this shock, two of them accompanied us back to Scotland from Lancashire, on the bank holiday Sunday, and the other two would arrive later in the day, courtesey of son taxis. We explained that there were to be only three rules for the week. 1)Doreen and I were always right. 2)If Doreen & I were wrong then rule one applied. 3)They all looked after each other.
Sleeping arrangements meant all four boys were together in the living room and it can be said that the first night was bedlam, being sometime after 1am before they had exhausted themselves and settled down for the night. Only to be roused from slumber shortly before 7am by myself and the dogs as it was time for walkies on the beach. (Revenge can be so sweet!) Breakfast was followed by an unsupervised couple of hours on a play ground, from which they all returned soaking and hungry (again), then it was time for afternoon walkies and a trip into Kirkcudbright for the local 'tattoo' and the opportunity to gorge themselves on chips and sundry comestibles. Our return home that night saw them somewhat subdued, a much earlier night and instant sleep followed. I didn't even wake them up the next morning for a walk.
Tuesday saw us loading cars and motor home, hitching up the Dandy, tying canoe to car roof and taking off to Galloway Activity Centre, where son, daughter in law, baby and two youngest boys were to utilise the Dandy. The two older boys pitched their tent, leaving Doreen, myself and the dogs to the motor home. The day wasn't totally dry or terribly warm but there followed a few hours exploration and play, which included a mud fight, before it started to get dark and we lit our wood burner and broke out the food. The boys were soon back, attracted by fire, heat and the smell of food and after sating their endless appetites we all spent an hour stargazing at an incredibly clear and dark sky before they, voluntarily, made for their sleeping bags and silence ensued, leaving the adults to make the most of a pleasant late evening of chat and consumption of a few well chosen 'adult' drinks.
G.A.C. aims at providing water based activities and instruction. There is canoeing & kayaking, sailing in a variety of boats and to different standards and sail boarding. There are also a number of boats that can be hired for fishing, mountain bike hire, archery, climbing and 'Laser Quest' in the adjoining woodland. (Laser Quest is like paint balling but without the pain.) One on one instruction can be arranged but most activities are in groups with well qualified instructors supervising and offering encouragement. The centre has its campsite, on a couple of different levels and is well spread out, giving groups the opportunity to be a little more apart if they so wish. There is no electricity and no open camp fires are now allowed, after mis-use by a few people, hence our wood burner being called into use. There is a Chemical Disposal Point and water taps and the centre's toilets and washing/shower facilities remain open 24hrs a day, as does the lounge and restaurant/cafe area, should people feel the need to shelter from the elements. The cafe is open from breakfast time onwards and provides various choices of breakfast, followed by sandwiches, soups and a variety of home baking through the day. Evening meals can be provided by prior arrangement but is usually of the spag' bol', chile con carne, stew, variety. The centre is open to the general public and it can be nice to sit in the cafe and watch activities on the water through the expanse of windows. Costs for camping are about £14/night for two in one unit and for all our 'mob' we were charged £30/night. There is other accomodation that can be hired, in the form of a row of chalets for two or four people, a bunk house, a Teepee and a couple of Yurts. These will sleep at least six and are equipped with basic cooking facilities and wood burners. Payment of a one off lauching fee allows use of your own water craft for the duration of your stay. (Search Galloway Activity Centre for more info'/prices.) Dogs are welcomed and are allowed to run free but are expected to be 'under control'. In general there is a very laid back feel to the place and staff are friendly and obliging. The nearest general store is seven miles down the road, towards Castle Douglas, at Cross Michael, which also has a pub. About four miles north of the centre is another pub at Ken Bridge. Other than that it's open country.
Next morning Doreen, myself and dogs were up and about before a variety of smiley faces began to appear and do their impression of a horde of locusts. Special dispensation not to wash was requested and granted, (Civilisation in youg lads really does only run as deep as their grimy skins.)but only because we knew what was coming to them that day. We had booked the four of them in for a 'fun day', which included kayaking, sailing, climbing and laser quest. Soon it was time to hand them over to the centre staff for the day and retire to where we could watch them enjoy themselves getting very wet and then later in the day increasingly dirty. It was a chance for us to have some free time and take a few photos. They returned at lunch time for an hour but were soon eager to be away again. The end of the day saw us striking camp and making our way home in the late evening sunshine. "Have you enjoyed the trip?" we asked. The general concensus seemed to be that it had been "Awesome". Just time for more gorging before sleeping bags were again called into play. It was only 8.30pm. There followed another day of running them silly before they were packed off to their individual parents with no apologies for them being a bit smelly, grimy and knackered. Had we done enough to put them off a repeat performance. Alas no. More than one of them apparently slept for more than 16hrs when they got home. I only slept for twelve hours. That's why we like grand kids. We had fun, then they went home! Steve
(It is my intention to post some photos re this but Photobucket seems to be playing up. I'll post them ASAP)