Today was the last day of the school holidays.
We decided we should do something, go somewhere, take a picnic. I'm so glad we did, it was a lovely day (though I do confess to a little feeling of can't-be-botheredness before we set off).
Where to go though... it had to be somewhere not too far away but different to the usual places we visit, somewhere inexpensive, suitable for picnicking and with enough to do to keep us occupied for the day.
We went to Portencross. It's 20 - 25 miles away, has a castle (just recently opened to the public), a harbour (albeit a very small one), picnic benches, walks, a beach, and lovely views across the Clyde to the Island of Arran (and a big car park, I'm always worrying about where to park!).
Portencross castle, the earliest parts of the which date from the 1300's. The castle has been recently repaired and it's now possible to go inside and entrance is free though donations are welcome. The castle has effectively been "saved" for the public by local volunteers, lots of interesting information about this is available here.
Looking north from the roof of the castle.
There are some rather large spiders in the castle.
The harbour (small indeed!)
A look back at the castle.
Further away now. I like the dramatic sky in the above picture.
Amy Rabbit and Special Teddy came too.
Arran across the firth and more fabulous clouds.
Woo hoo, it's the Waverly ("the last sea going paddle steamer in the world"), the sighting of which was quite exciting for me (I'm easily amused, a good thing I think!).
A distant Waverly passing between Arran and the castle.
Interesting cottage, actually rather tatty looking closer up.
Swallows starting to gather.
Village post box.
Friendly local cat.
A good poser too.
As was this odd looking bird, spotted through a garden gate, a peacock missing his tail feathers? Apparently the tail feathers do fall off at the end of the summer, though there was another peacock in the garden with a full tail (though not displaying like this one was trying to).
A seagull atop a rock. We've had our picnic lunch and are on our way to the beach.
Cormorants or shags on the rock I think.
Wild flowers, masses of daisies.
The last section of path...
The we're at the beach. A & N were ridiculously happy just guddling about collecting pebbles and shells in their buckets. They're easily amused too (definitely a good thing!)
I find a pebble with a hole in it.
Despite the earlier presence of the ominous looking clouds the afternoon turns out sunny with lots of blue sky.
When the tide's in it's quite a pretty beach, this view is towards West Kilbride.
This view is towards Arran.
A beach collection.
Whilst looking for shells I come across a set of car keys! Only one couple has passed us heading from the car park and they're miles away further down the beach. We make our way slowly towards them, fortunately they themselves decide it's time to head home and walk back towards us too (walking with 3 & 6 yrs old on a beach is slow!). The keys are indeed theirs though they were unaware at that point that they'd lost them. They were very relieved, as was I to have found the keys' owners.
I think we're all set for tomorrow. We have enough pinafores, skirts, shirts, cardigans, etc, and we have the new school shoes...
... here they are on the right with the old ones on the left, which did miraculously last a whole year (and look like it too!)