Five Go Playing in Aberdeenshire

Wednesday 4 April, Day 5 of the Easter Holidays

Maxi Minx woke me up with a typical 5 year old conundrum:

“Mummy, which is more effective: a gun, a cannon, a cutlass or a coconut on fire?”

Gun, because you’ll do more damage and are less likely to miss. Good morning, Daughter. Thanks for keeping me awake most of the night, then swapping your Wake Mummy shift with your younger sister. Pass the coffee. And park me on the laptop, on the Met Office site…

Well, what do you know? The weather forecast changed, and so did our plans. A quick shifty of where it was raining or sleeting, where the best visibility was, when it would clear and warm up (oh ok, become a bit less cold) and which day it would bucket down left us deciding to get out in the fresh air today. So… Aden Country Park near Mintlaw it was!

I gave up loading the car with bags and just put everything in 2 big laundry crates. Well, have you seen how much space 5 pairs of wellies take up? The Boss has very big feet. And then there’s 5 sets of waterproofs and fleeces, 5 complete changes of clothes, 5 snacks, 5 drinks, etc.

We stopped in Banff for lunch. No fancy treat lunch today – The Boss did a brilliant run and grab at The Co-op and we ate our quick, healthy, cheap-ish picnic lunch in a little car park on the East side of the bridge over the river. The Macduff side of the bridge, still on the A98. Right here. And watched the mental waves. Don’t watch them drunk – they come at the shore from literally all directions! I uploaded a 17 second video clip, because still photography doesn’t do it justice.

Eventually we came to the country park, got changed into (freezing) cold weather gear in the car park and discovered our visit would be free as the machine was on the blink. It would have hardly broken the bank though – 70p for 4 hrs parking, £1.50 for all day. So, ready for the cold, we went to explore!

The kids’ playground was really good. Only a couple of swings, but plenty seesaws, a slide, clambering tube, zip line, whirly roundabout and a great wee ‘outdoor gym’ trail – things like stepping poles, balance poles, wobbly bridge, tyre chains. The minxes loved it! We had to prize them away to go and find coffee / milkshakes. Me and The Boss loaded up on heat and caffeine while the girls guzzled ice-cream, milk, squirty cream and marshmallows. After a snack like that, you have to let them run around. So we went off exploring the arboretum.

Over the next 3 hours we played Pooh Sticks (except for Mini, who prefers Pooh Stones. And is eternally exasperated at never winning…), swapped round which daughter was in the wrap, wiggled through the beautiful Sensory Garden, wandered round the all-abilities buggy-run, up the tracks and over the dog exercise area (clean! It was clean! Some really, really responsible dog owners! Thank you!), around the duck pond, past the mineral well, up the tree house and then the best bit for Maxi and Midi: clambering all over the enormous fallen tree that they honed their bouldering skills on.

We were really sorry to leave, especially when the spring sunshine finally blasted through the chilly air. But dinner called. And The Boss was feeling flush. So a quick stop and clean up at the absolutely spotless toilets and off we went, past the fields of wobbly new lambs (I’d seen one sheep in the middle of giving birth as we drove past that morning). We stopped at the Gold ‘n’ Crispy in New Pitsligo. It was busy at 1730hrs on a Wednesday, so that bode well. We all ate in and shared 3 big fish suppers. Yum! Crispy and delicious. I guess we could have zoomed home afterwards, but it was far nicer to bimble along the coastal trail, even though it was straight into the sun.

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The funniest bit of the day was little Mini desperately trying to stay awake to eat her treat of a chocolate chip cookie. She fell asleep clinging to it. When she was wakened 15 minutes later, she started biting at it before she’d even opened her eyes.

Before I go, I have to give a quick mention for Deeside Holiday Park – I phoned to cancel our camping booking with them, explaining that although me and The Boss were happy camping on snow, our little girls weren’t yet accustomed to extreme weather. I cheekily asked if I could shift my booking a few months to the summer, when The Boss would next have time off work, and not lose my deposit. The witty and funny Shona did exactly that, even though the Ts&Cs say that you can’t. What a lovely lady – I can’t wait to go!

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