Monday, 13 June 2016

Summer Holiday in Beadnell, June 2016

Saturday 4th June 2016

In the run up to our Summer holiday, i hadn’t been feeling too well. A heavy cold was still lingering, and was threatening to become a chest infection. I had managed to persuade the doctor to give me some antibiotics, but they hadn’t really done the job of clearing my chest up.
This, coupled with my feeling rather low anyway, wasn’t a great way to start the holiday. We were heading back to Beadnell in Northumberland, in fact back to the very flat where we stayed when we first visited the area back in March 2010. We can’t believe that it’s been 6 years. That was the first time we had rented a property rather than camping, and i don’t think that we have used the tent since then. We have stayed in a variety of flats, apartments, cottages and houses since then in various parts of the country.
We had vowed to take as little as possible with us this time, as we always do, and always we find that we use/wear about half of the things we take with us. The problem at this time of the year is that you just don’t know what to expect from the weather. It may be hot, it may be cool. It may be dry, it may be wet. At least when we go in March, you can pretty much rely on the weather not being that great, and so it is much easier to know what to take.
In the end, we weren’t too bad, and easily managed to get everything in the car, even having space for one of my guitars. The journey up was fairly uneventful, just very long. Stopping for a quick drink just South of Newcastle, and then hitting heavy traffic on the roadworks on the Newcastle section of the A1(M) meant that it took us about 5 hours to get to Beadnell.
The flat was pretty much as we remembered it, but it has to be said that in the six years since we were last there, the standards have slipped a little. It was far from dirty, but would have benefited from a “proper” clean rather than the quick “once over” it obviously gets between guests. The worst was the oven, which was very much in need of a good scrub. A few things had changed in the kitchen, and the new fridge/freezer had a door which opened the right way which made life much easier! The whole place needs a bit of TLC, but i suppose that if people keep renting it, there is little incentive for the owners to spend the money on doing this.
Once unpacked, which didn’t take very long, we did our good deed for the day when an elderly gentleman came over to me as i was locking the car up. He and his wife had just arrived and were a little confused as to which flat they were staying in, as they aren’t that well labelled. I quickly worked out that they were in the flat next to ours but upstairs. Then we couldn’t find the key box for their door keys. In the end he phoned the letting agents and they told him where the keys were hidden.
We would say that they were both in their late 70’s, maybe early 80’s. The lady couldn’t walk very well, so staying in an upstairs flat perhaps wasn’t the best idea for them. In the end, Sally and I carried their (very big and heavy!!) suitcases upstairs for them.
This good deed done, we decided that a trip to Seahouses was in order for fish and chips for our dinner. Seahouses is only about two and a half miles away, and after so long sitting down during the day, we elected to walk there. In retrospect, this was a big mistake. The walk there was fine, a nice safe footpath runs alongside the road, the route was fairly flat, it wasn’t too hot, and we arrived in the town in plenty of time to go the Neptune fish and chip “restaurant”. It was very busy in there - it was the end of the bank holiday/half term week, and plenty of people we still in town. We had to wait a short time before being able to get a table, and while i was queueing to order the food, Sally got chatting to a man who worked there. It turned out that he came from Coventry originally, and now lives in Newcastle. He and his wife live in a caravan during the Summer and get work in Seahouses. It is a small world.
The haddock and chips was as lovely as it always is at the Neptune. Fresh and tasty - it’s never quite the same when you have it away from the coast for some reason. As we have only ever been to the area in March before, when a lot of places are still closed, or close early as there are so few people about, it came as a bit of a shock to see the town so busy.
The walk back to Beadnell was when the “mistake” of our decision to walk became apparent. We were both suffering a bit. My back was already aching after sitting in the car for so long, and this 5+ mile walk on top of that really didn’t help this, and my hips started to ache too. By the time we got back to the flat, we were both in a fair bit of pain. Despite this, we were determined to have a quick visit to “our beach”.
Again, when we have visited in March, usually it was just us and a couple of dog walkers to be seen on the beach. So, to find so many people on the beach even fairly late into the evening, came as a bit of a shock. We wanted to shout at them “Oi, this is our beach, get off it!!”
We had a short walk along the bay, before heading back to the flat and a well deserved mug of tea. I timed the walk from the flat to the beach at under 80 seconds while “sauntering”, so i reckon i could do it in just under a minute if i walked at my normal speed. I could live with that!
Sunday 5th June 2016.
We awoke to a lovely sunny day. We also both awoke in pain. Yesterday’s evening route march coupled with a softer bed than we are used to found us both suffering with bad backs and hips. We needed more milk, and a few other minor provisions, so we walked to the village shop, which is just over half a mile from the flat. This shop has always been closed when we have been before, and it seems that it only opens during the holiday season, and probably gets most of its trade from the campsite which is just across the main road from it. This makes sense.
Whilst walking to the shop, we stopped and chatted to a local who was mowing his grass. We had a nice chat with him about the village and what it is like to live there all year around. He told us that it gets REALLY cold in the Winter as the wind blowing off the sea comes from Siberia. I can imagine that it does - it’s bad enough in March!
Shopping done, we headed to the beach, which was fairly packed, and walked all the way along the bay to what is called the Long Nanny. This is a large stream which cuts across the beach and means that you have to go inland and cross a bridge to get to the other side. At this time of the year, this other side of the beach is basically out of bounds as it is home to a Tern nesting and breeding site which is managed by the National Trust. I had the binoculars with me and we were able to watch them for a while. We had first seen this on the Robson Green TV series about the area recently. You could clearly see the tents that the NT volunteers sleep in to stay there 24/7 while they protect the site.
There were some surfers braving the cold water. We had a brief paddle, and i can report that, despite the lovely sunshine, the water was ruddy cold! We headed back to the flat for lunch and an afternoon chill. In the evening at about 7pm, we returned to the beach and repeated our walk of earlier. It is a mile from where we entered the beach to the Long Nanny, and it is surprising just how quickly you walk that distance on the sand. As long as you avoid the soft dry sand, it is really nice to walk along.
It was also very interesting to see how the beach changes as the tide and light changes. It was still sunny in the evening, but much cooler now. We got some nice photos as the light was much more suitable for photography in the evening. There were not many people still on the beach at that time, and we saw the remnants of the sand castles that children (of all ages!) had built during the day. These would not last the night of course, as the high tide would take them away.
Monday 6th June 2016.
Another glorious day awaited us once we finally awoke. Despite the bed not being very comfortable, we both seemed to have little trouble in sleeping quite late. This is most unusual for Sally, who hardly ever has a lie in. Perhaps it was the sea air?
Sadly, today i had a visit from my “Black Wolf”, and i was very down for some reason. I wish i could have pinpointed just what set it off, but i can’t. It couldn’t have been an easy day for Sally to deal with, and i can only apologise to her for this.
We decided to head to Druridge Bay, which we had also seen on the Robson Green TV show. It is a nature park, with a lake with walks around it, and also a large sandy beach quite similar to the one at Beadnell.
I managed to get us “lost” twice on the way there, which didn’t help my mood any. Still in quite a lot of pain also didn’t help, but we elected to walk around the lake, which was very pleasant and gave us views of various birds. The binoculars came in very handy again. After this we had a short walk along the beach there, but i really wasn’t in the mood to enjoy it. Sorry.
Back at the flat, in the evening, we went for our usual stroll along the beach, where we saw some beach “art” someone had done of a mermaid drawn in the sand.
Tuesday 7th June 2016.
An overcast morning, which gave way to pleasant sunshine as the day wore on. A morning walk on the beach this time, which was fairly empty today. We walked to the Long Nanny, and then crossed the bridge to get closer to the Tern’s nesting site. Here we found quite a few bird watchers equipped with huge spotting scopes and cameras.
We toyed with walking to Low Newton for lunch, but neither of us felt up to the 3+ miles each way walk. By now the sun was out fully and it was very warm. We spent some time just sitting on the beach, enjoying the weather and the sound of the waves on the shore.
In the evening, we went to High Newton (by car) and had dinner at the Joiners Arms. We had booked a table, which turned out to be a good move, as it was quite busy in there. Their tiny car park was full, as were all the roads around it, so we parked in the Low Newton carpark and walked the half a mile or so to the pub.
Sally had gammon, and i opted for the burger with pulled pork topping. This made a change from the enormous piece of fish that i usually have when we go there. We both had an ice cream sundae for dessert.
We ended the day with another walk on our beach before bedtime. It was cold and a bit windy, but a lovely way to end a lovely day.
Wednesday 8th June 2016.
Another late morning, followed by a drive into Seahouses to have a quick wander around the shops, and top up on provisions. This was followed by a walk around Beadnell village and tea and cake at the cafe in the village. This was a mint tea that was quite nice, but a bit too strong all at the same time. The cakes were lovely though!
We walked around the village a bit more before ending up on the beach again.
The evening was spent watching Game of Thrones on DVD.
Thursday 9th June.
Another overcast start to the day, which became sunnier as the morning went on. For lunch today we drove to Low Newton to the Ship Inn, where we both had the kipper fish cakes with stottie and salad. Absolutely lovely as always. Despite getting to the pub only just after it opened, it was very busy. It’s a good job that we didn’t leave it any later than we did.
The afternoon was spent walking along our beach where we saw some kite surfers (it was VERY windy and so ideal for them) and then walked around a bit more of the village.
The evening with Game of Thrones and a quick walk along the beach at almost 10pm. It was lovely and quiet then!!
Friday 10th June.
Our last full day. Lunch at Neptune in Seahouses. Fish and chips again. (we drove this time though!) followed by a wander around the shops and a brief visit to the amusement arcade.
An afternoon walk along the beach to the Long Nanny and back. It was dull and the weather was looking a bit threatening. It was also fairly windy and a bit cool.
We had noticed quite a few people on the beach near the harbour during the walk, and i did think it may have been something to do with the local sailing club, as a yellow canoe was much in evidence and appeared to be the main focus of interest. Walking back, Sally asked me if i had any idea what was going on. She had heard someone say something about the Police being there.
I hadn’t brought the binoculars with us on this walk, and was kicking myself a bit. Then i spotted someone holding a white board at an angle. I thought it was maybe a reflector as used in photography or something, and then i spotted someone with one of those large furry microphone things on a pole. Sally persuaded me to go and have a look with her, and boy, am i glad she did!
As we got closer i thought i recognised a man’s voice that i heard, and then when i saw a woman in a long brown rain coat and floppy hat i knew i was right. They were filming for an episode of “Vera” and the woman was Brenda Blethyn in character as Vera.
We stood and watched for well over half an hour while they practised the take, before doing it for real. Over and over and over again. We were taking some photos, and the actor playing Vera’s DS saw me and waved.
Brenda and her sidekick played by Kenny Doughty came over to talk to a couple with two children who were near us between takes. We listened into the conversation, and it turned out that the family were going back to Manchester later and one of their school friend’s was in hospital waiting for a new heart and they were going to try to cheer him up. Brenda said that she would be back in a minute, and returned with a hand written sign on a piece of A4 paper with a message to their friend and invited them to have a photo with her and Kenny. This seemed to me to be real class on their part, and was a really lovely gesture.
Kenny told us that it takes 4 weeks to film each 2 hour episode of the series, and that the new series should be shown early next year.
It was surprising just how many people are involved with the filming. There were at least 2 dozen people involved with shooting just this one scene which will probably only be on screen for a few seconds when it is all done.
This was a great way to finish our final walk on the beach. The evening was cold and windy, and starting to get a little damp. It was also the start of the Euro 2016 football championships, so the evening was spent watching the football and packing ready for an early start the next morning.
Saturday 11th June 2016.
Up early for a change. The car was packed quickly, and we headed off at 9am. It was raining, and did so for most of the journey home, which was uneventful apart from a rolling road block on the M1 near Sheffield for no reason that we could see.
Five hours later, and we were back home. It is good to be back in some ways (the comfy bed, a clean house, our usual surroundings and things), but it is also sad that we can’t be on the beach in a minute. Maybe one day??
We are already planning our next visit, hopefully later on this year.
Sorry that i haven’t got more to say, but as you will have guessed we didn’t do a huge amount apart from walking on the beach this time!!

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Saturday 19th March - back home

So, the holiday is over, and we are back to some form of "normality". The journey home took a little longer than it might have due to traffic hold ups on the M1 forcing us to take a slightly scenic route via the M18 to Newark and the the A46 across to join the M1 lower down than we would normally have.   Both cars got a good wash once we got home, and they both looked a lot better for bit of a spruce up.   Once we got home we found that our big bear, Bobby, had been "bear-napped" by our next door neighbours, and had gotten himself into all sorts of trouble. Thankfully, they had taken photographs to show us just what he had been up to while we were away......  
Firstly, he went to Ann's parents house to meet them.
They kindly gave him tea.
Of course, this wasn't enough for him, and he went onto gorge himself on chocolate.
This sent him all excitable, and then he went a bit wild.
He even drove Daniel's car to the shops on the lookout for more sweets.
Disappointingly, he discovered alcohol.....
And by the time we got him back home, he was tired after his exploits.
Apparently, it was all our own faulty for not having taken him with us on holiday........
Which all goes to prove that our neighbours have become as barkingly mad as we are. It took a while, but we have managed to get them to our level of silliness! Thank you Daniel and Ann for "looking after" our bear for us while we were away!! 😀

Friday 18th March - final day

Sorry for the delay, I've had a few issues with getting Blogger to work and so I am a bit behind schedule with my posts!


Another dull, grey start to the day, which was sadly our last full day in Northumberland for this visit.


A trip to Seahouses was in order for last minute gift buying, and more importantly, trying to arrange our next visit! It turns out that one of the reasons we are struggling to get much of a choice for the week we have off in June is that it is just after the bank holiday, so those fortunate enough to be able to have booked extra time off for the bank holiday. It makes sense once it was pointed out to us, it just wasn't something we had realised.


Lunch was taken in the Neptune fish and chip restaurant in Seahouses, and it was better than the one we had earlier in the week at The Pinnacle just across the road from it.


A quick stop off at Beadnell on the way back, and a walk around the village to parts of it that we hadn't been to before left us with an even more positive view of the village. Yes, we could imagine ourselves living there when we are retired. Assuming we would be able to afford it of course! I would say that about 80% of the properties there are either second homes or are rentals for holiday use. Therefore the prices are somewhat high. Oh well, one can dream I suppose.


Back at the cottage, we got ourselves as packed as we could, and sat down to watch the second and third episodes of "One Child" on BBC iplayer. I didn't really fancy it to begin with, but actually did enjoy it in the end, despite that rather unexpected and somewhat sad ending.


Talking of sad endings, so to bed for our final time in Kipper Cottage. We would both be more than happy to return at some point if the opportunity arises.


So, to end this holiday blog, I'm going to put some photos of the cottage on. These were taken just before we left, so all of our junk was out of the way, and the place was nice as tidy, just as when we arrived!!




Thursday, 17 March 2016

Thursday 17th March - Low Newton & The Ship Inn

Well, I would love to tell you that we have lots to tell you about today, but we don't I'm afraid. Another dull day, and the sun didn't even try to show itself today, but it did stay dry all day, so that was a bonus.   We had decided that we would walk down to the beach by the golf club again today, and would walk along the beach the mile or so to Low Newton and have lunch at the famous old pub called The Ship Inn.   The walk wasn't that strenuous and only took about 40 minutes. Walking on the soft sand in places was a little tricky, but once we got to where the tide had gone out and the sand was still a little damp it was much easier to walk on. Lots of dog walkers out again today, and the car park at the golf club was full. I do wonder how these people find the time to do such things. There must be a lot of retired people around, that's all I can imagine.  
The pub was quite busy, and we had to squeeze onto a small table in the corner, but it was well worth it. The food was lovely, and really lived up to the pubs reputation. I went for a ploughmans with local ham, local mature cheddar cheese, home made apple chutney, and a quarter of a huge stottie. (The local type of bread roll) Sally chose the kipper fish cakes and salad. This meant that we could share both out and each try some of both. They came with almost an entire garden of salad, and were truly tasty.  
I forgot to take a photo until it was half eaten. Sorry about that!   No room for dessert today, which was good as their dessert menu was rather small and a bit uninspiring. A gentle walk back to the cottage and time for another mug of tea.   The afternoon and evening was spent catching up with the new series of House of Cards on Netflix, so there really isn't anything else to report other than we are still looking for places to stay for our summer holiday, ideally in this area. This is proving to be a bit harder than we expected as most of the ones we like are already booked up for when we have time booked off work. We have found a couple of possibilities, and are working on firming those up a bit more.   Time for bed now, and looking forward to another day tomorrow, although with a bit of sadness as it will be our last full day here.  

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Wednesday 16th March - two beaches in one day

The weather that greeted us first thing this morning was pretty much more of the same as yesterday. This was a little disappointing, as the weather forecast had been better for today. A bit of a lie in was deemed to be in order, and sure enough, by the time we were ready to go out, the weather had started to improve. It had dried up nicely, and the sun was even threatening to poke though the clouds.   We elected to go to Beadnell, which was the very first place we stayed at when we visit Northumberland a few years ago. We had walked on the beach there a couple of times in the past, but had only ever done one small part of it. This time it was our aim to do the much longer stretch to the South of the harbour.  
  Just a little bit of a factoid about the harbour at Beadnell - it is the only harbour on the East coast of the UK that you enter from the West. This is due to the way the bay is shaped, and the entrance to the harbour means that you do enter it from the West. A bit odd, but I didn't design it, so please don't go blaming me!
The car park by the beach was a little interesting to get to as they are building a new estate of holiday homes opposite it, but we managed to find our way in and park up. I drove the car today, and am glad to report that I am getting a bit more used to it, and think that I will grow to actually like driving it. It's not the Mini, but what on earth could compete with that for a driving experience?  
The beach was pretty empty, with just a few dog walkers braving the wind and overcast skies. We walked for a mile or so, and eventually came to an estuary type thing which meant that we couldn't easily go any further in that direction, so turned around and walked back, continued on past our starting point and took in some of the coast road into the village too. It was nice to see some of the houses we were familiar with from our previous visits, and we both agreed that Beadnell is one of our favourite villages. It is quirky in some ways, but not just plain weird like some of the other places we have been to. (Like Aldeburgh in Suffolk for instance......shivers at the memory of it!)  
Our walking boots off and back to normal footwear, I drove us to High Newton to a pub called the Joiners Arms. We had been there twice on our last visit to the area, and had enjoyed two lovely meals. A look at their website had shown that it had gone a bit more "gastro pub" since we were last here, but inside it hadn't changed at all really. Yes, the menu was a bit more expensive, but it wasn't too silly. I went for the fish & chips which they still describe as being the biggest fish that the boat had been able to safely land, and this description is still fairly accurate. Sally went for the home made chickpea, feta cheese and coriander burger. This was also on the large side, but was very nice. I tried some and would actually choose it myself if we went again.  
  Foolishly, we also went for desserts, with Sally going with the chocolate brownie, and me opting for the ice cream sundae. Afterwards we both felt totally stuffed, and in need of another walk to try to get rid of some of the excess calories!!  
Back at the cottage, we donned our walking boots again, and walked to the golf club and onto the beach as we had done on our first evening here. Hence the title for today's blog post. Two beaches in one day. They may only have been a few miles apart, but you couldn't have walked them all together thanks to the coastline. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.  
We didn't have any dinner in the evening, both still feeling adequately full. Sally started crocheting a scarf, and I read for a bit and we also tried looking for places to stay for our Summer holiday, though without the success we had hoped for so far.  
Another day draws to a close. We are both feeling relaxed but a bit tired with all the walking. We should sleep well again tonight I think.

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Tuesday 15th March - Alnwick & Barter Books

The weather app had always claimed that Tuesday was going to be the least good this week, and so we had always planned to go to Alnwick today to look around the shops and mainly to go to Barter Books, the huge second hand book shop set in the old railway station. Then last night the app changed to say that today was actually going to be really nice, and so we changed the plans, and I looked up a route to take in a few of the towns going South from where we are staying that we haven't been to before.  

Then, we woke up to find that it was raining. So, back to the original plan. After a lie in, we had a nice cooked breakfast, which is something that we hardly ever have. Sausage, poached egg, mushrooms and toast to set us up for the rest of the day.

When we eventually went out, it was just after lunchtime, and we made our way to Alnwick and parked up on the outskirts of the town. Having been a couple of times before, we pretty much knew where we wanted to go, and our first port of call was "Bari Tea" which is a tea shop that specialises in high quality teas, and also makes their own cakes. We both had a pot of tea, Sally having "Glendale", and I had "Kenyan Kambaa". They were both really nice, but we each preferred the one we had chosen, which was just as well. The coffee cake looked rather splendid too, and so we each had a slice of that too!

After these refreshments, we had a quick wander around the town, before heading to the main destination for the day, Barter Books. I was so excited about going there again. What a shame that I had left my wanted list back at the cottage, and that my mind literally went blank the moment I walked through the door to be confronted by thousands of books. My poor little brain could hardly cope with it all, but thankfully I pulled myself together, and with the help of Google and the Amazon website, I was able to pick up a few that I wanted!

When you see just what they had available though, it becomes a bit of a surprise just how few I ended up buying!!! I could have filled a shopping trolley.

Sally really could have just left me there for the rest of the week to be honest. Although she did find a couple of books for herself too.

A quick spin around Lidl to top up on a few supplies, and then we made our way back to the cottage. It has been drizzling on and off all day really, and has been a bit chilly compared to the last few days. The heating at the cottage is on full blast though, and we have actually had to open the patio doors a little to try to feel comfortable! 

Jacket spuds are in the oven cooking for our dinner, and an evening of reading, following the football on the radio and the last episode of Happy Valley await us.

I'm just not sure how we can cope with the excitement of this rock and roll lifestyle we find ourselves leading 😉

Monday 14th March - Lindisfarne Castle & Holy Island

Another promising morning awaited us today. Although it was fairly dull, you could tell that the sun was just itching to break through the clouds and cheer everyone up. The original plan today was to have gone to Cragside near Rothbury, which is a fantastic National Trust property set in beautiful gardens. However, thankfully I checked the website first, only to discover that it is closed on Mondays.

So, we quickly juggled our plans, and instead headed North to Holy Island, or Lindisfarne if you prefer. We took the opportunity to drive on the coastal road as far as possible, which meant that we got to pass through Beadnell, Seahouses and Bamburgh on the way. All three have a special place in our hearts from previous visits up to the area, and the spectacular view of Bamburgh Castle is something's that you could never tire of.

I had also checked the tide tables before we set off. The island is only accessible by driving across a causeway that gets flooded by the sea at high tide, and you have to consult the charts as the times it is safe to cross vary quite dramatically from day to day. Today it was safe to cross from 09:45 until 16:30.

Once there, and parked up, we had a quick chat to the man at the NT van in the car park, who told us that the castle may well be closed for the whole of 2017 for major renovation work. The previous time we visited the island the castle had not yet opened for the season, so it was definitely the right time for us to give it a visit, fate it would seem had taken things by the scruff of the neck.

The castle is about 3/4 of a mile walk from the carpark, which is on the edge of the village. The castle itself sits imposingly on a tall rock, and despite being quite small does look very impressive.

There were plenty of people making the walk up to the castle, although once inside it wasn't as busy as we expected it to be. It seemed very "cozy" inside the castle, which is something we have never felt before with either a castle or an old house. Perhaps because it had been quite windy outside and the thick walls were keeping that at bay it just felt nice and warm inside?

I hadn't  really known what to expect of the inside, but it wasn't quite what we found. It turns out that the run down castle had been discovered by the owner of Country Life magazine many years ago, he had bought it and renovated it to live in. So the furniture and fittings were not as old or medieval as I had expected, and the castle's military history was virtually nowhere to be seen.

Despite this, it was very interesting and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The views from the castle both inland and out to sea are very impressive, and the inviting nature of the rooms almost had us thinking "we could live here", as opposed to the usual thinking of "how the hell did people live here" when wandering around old houses or castles.

The walk to the castle had been up a fairly steep cobbled slope, so the walk back to the village was a lot easier, and the sun had started to really show itself by now, and the day was becoming very pleasant indeed. Back in the village, we needed refreshments and stopped at a cafe that prided itself on its coffee. Of course, we both opted to have tea! Sally went with a slice of carrot cake, and I chose something called Cuthbert cake, which neither of us had come across before.

The carrot cake was lovely, but the Cuthbert cake was amazing. Fruit, nuts and seeds combined together and with a lemon icing to finish it off, it was truly delicious, and quickly had us checking Google for more information. It seemed that "Uncle Google" had also never heard of this awesome cake, and as we were leaving we were going to ask the staff for some information about it. Just as Sally was waiting to ask, I spotted some recipe cards, and one of them was for Cuthbert cake! We bought the recipe and the lady behind the counter said that this was the recipe they constantly sold out of first. Seeing as the others were for cakes that everyone would have already have heard of, I found this unsurprising!

We wandered around the rest of the village and ended up visiting the famous Meade shop and sampled some of their wares. I had been keeping an eye on the time due to the tide, but we left the island in plenty of time, and made our way back South to pass through Bamburgh again, and finally stopped in Seahouses for a bite to eat and a look around the shops. It does seem that everywhere closes ridiculously early around here, and by 4:30 pretty much everywhere was closed. 

Once back at the cottage we settled down to watch some videos for the evening, I struggled to stay awake for all of the time as the sea air makes me feel so tired. That's my excuse anyway! Another successful day came to an end, and finally to bed for a good nights sleep.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Sunday 13th March 2016 - Dunstanburgh Castle & Craster

I suppose that you only appreciate just how comfortable a bed is when you wake up and realise that you had a totally undisturbed nights sleep. The bed here in the cottage gets a full 10 out of 10 as far as I'm concerned at the moment. We both slept really well, and awoke feeling refreshed and ready for almost anything.

Over breakfast we discussed options, and although we both fancied a half decent walk, we agreed that walking from the cottage to Dunstanburgh Castle, Craster and back was probably pushing things a little bit far for us. We have both been building up our walking up a bit recently, but that walk would be at least 6 miles, and we weren't too sure about the terrain, so we decided to drive to Craster and walk to the castle from there.

I drove us there, which was probably more hair raising for me than it was for Sally - I'm still very much getting used to the car, and for me it doesn't seem as nice to drive as the one we had a test drive in. That one was obviously "settled in", and more importantly, didn't actually belong to me, so i guess this one will seem a bit different for a while!!

We had been to Craster before, so knew what to expect - parking on the outskirts of the village, a walk down a hill into the village itself with its small harbour, a few houses and cottages and a pub/restaurant, gift shop, tea rooms and most importantly for the village itself, a kipper smoking plant. Kippers are what Craster is most famous for, and i am hoping to sample them before we go home. Believe it or not, i have never tried kippers, so this is something i will be able to tick off my bucket list hopefully.

To get to Dunstanburgh Castle, you have to walk through the village and then across about a mile and a half of farm land up a gentle hill to the ruins of what was once an imposing castle on a hill overlooking the surrounding land and the sea. It is a National Trust/English Heritage owned site, and as NT members we had considered visiting it on both of our previous visits to the area. Sadly, out of season, it is only open at the weekends, and we had missed out both times before. Today was going to be our only chance to visit it on this trip because of the reduced opening hours, so it was today or never as far as this trip was concerned.

Walking across the fields we had to pass many grazing sheep, all of which totally ignored us as they were engrossed in eating the grass. The path isn't that well defined, but as you can see the silhouette of the castle on the horizon for virtually the entire time, you can't go far wrong. Plus, we were not alone in making this journey - it seems that it is very popular with locals, and many families were making the trek, and plenty of dog walkers were using the opportunity too.

Once at the castle, you discover that despite it being paid entry (NT and EH members free), the system for going in is very haphazard, and one could get in for free if you were that way inclined anyway. Whilst there is not a lot left of the castle, it was still worth the effort of getting to it because of the stunning views the hill offers of the local area. Being quite high also meant it was pretty windy up there, and despite the weather being fairly good (cloudy with some sunshine peeping through, and not really cold) it did feel chilly there.

There were a few information signs, which gave interesting background and history of the castle, its inception, building and usage and finally its decay. It would have been nice to have had some form of refreshment place there (and a toilet!), but all there is available are some bottles of pop and sweets in the entrance hut. Of course, the fact that there is no road to the castle, and everything has to come by the route we took to it on foot must make for it being impossible to offer better facilities. Despite this, I would recommend it if you are in the area and the weather is dry for the walk.

We took the same route back to Craster, and this direction seemed to take far longer, possibly because of the wind being against us this time, and as you have no feature to head for on the journey back, the route isn't quite so obvious at times.

Back in Craster village we made our way to the tearooms that we remembered from our previous visit, and managed to find a table inside. It was virtually full, and the staff seemed a little overwhelmed with the volume of customers on this Sunday afternoon. We opted for the cream tea (always a good choice), but they had sold out of fruit scones, so we had the cheese ones instead. They offered me jam and cream with these when i ordered, and not knowing any better, i said yes. This was apparently a rather odd choice, but it did seem to work fairly well when we tried it!

The part of the cafe we were in was right by the front door, and i was grateful of being able to reach it without getting out of my seat so that i could keep opening it for a bit of a draft - it was boiling hot in this part of the room as there was a radiator that was on full blast quite needlessly. The couple who were sitting next to it commented that it was too hot, and the lady's handbag that had been resting against it was on the point of melting.

We got chatting to this couple and the other couple they were with. It turned out that they were from Liverpool, and that the older couple were the parents of the male of the younger couple. They had arrived on holiday yesterday too, and they are staying in Alnmouth in what sounds like a lovely house.

Once fed and watered, we made our way back up the hill to the carpark, and i drove us back to the cottage. I read for a time, while Sally did some crocheting. Eventually i became dozy and went for a snooze on the bed with the football gently on the radio in the background.

Dinner was jacket potatoes with sausages and some baked beans. Very pleasant it was too. Afterwards we settled down in the living room with Sally doing some more crochet, me doing this blog, and waiting for 9pm for The Night Manager on BBC1. What a rock & roll lifestyle we lead!!

Embleton, Northumberland. Sat 12th March 2016

After last year, which, thanks to a number of reasons, turned into a bit of a fiasco holiday wise, we finally get to have a "proper" holiday again. Having enjoyed our previous visits to Northumberland, we decided to come again, despite knowing that at this time of the year, not only would it be cold but that a lot of the tourist type places would not yet be open. We know the area well enough for the latter to not have put us off, and the former is never a problem with a warm coat, hat and gloves.

This holiday was made a little bit more exciting with the purchase of a brand new car, a VW Polo, which we only picked up the evening before we went away. I drove the car home from the garage on the Friday evening, and Sally only had a very brief drive around the local area on Saturday morning before undertaking the four hour drive up here in it. Thankfully, she is an old hand at driving long distances in unfamiliar cars, and so it wasn't as daunting a task for her as it would have been for me. All I had to do was to stay awake and offer directions. Several times I disagreed with the directions that my phone was suggesting, and we did get here safely and without driving through the centres of Middlesborough and Newcastle, both of which the "Waze" app favoured.

The cottage is an old converted fisherman's one, and was originally two cottages that have been knocked into one, and extended at the rear. It is a good size, and has been beautifully modernised and fitted out. The owners obviously take pride in it, and haven't cut any corners or spared any expense it would seem.

The kitchen is huge and is nicely set out, although a bit more work surface would make it even better, but as our kitchen at home suffers from the same problem, we can hardly complain about this!  There is a dishwasher, fridge/freezer, washing machine and tumble dryer, toaster and microwave as well as the usual one would expect, the crockery and utensils are all of good quality and look pretty new. We are very impressed. The dining table is enormous and gives the kitchen a focal point, and also an ideal place for a snooker table if you are that way inclined.

The central heating keeps the cottage nice and warm, but for those particularly cold evenings there is a wood burning stove in the old fireplace in the kitchen. I doubt that we will need to use this as the heating is set quite high anyway. When we arrived there was a bottle of wine, a packet of shortbread and a card welcoming us to the cottage, and we also found a pint of milk in the fridge. This was all a really nice touch, and impressed us no end. Thoughtful owners it would seem.

A flight of four steps leads off the kitchen and down into the living room, which is part of the rear extension. This is a fairly large room with two sofas and a coffee table along with the TV. The owners appear to favour lamps which has gone down well with Sally, and every room is so well equipped with them that you don't really need to worry about the main lights. The rear wall of the living room has double doors leading out to the decked area of the small garden, complete with table and chairs for alfresco dining in the summer.

Off the living room is a shower room with a walk in shower, basin and toilet. The shower is very powerful and gets a big thumbs up from us both. It does seem a little odd to have this room where it is, but it does save one from having to traipse to the main bathroom when you are watching telly or just chilling out in the evenings.

Back up the stairs into the kitchen, we then go along a corridor into what would have been the second cottage. This has the main bathroom off it, which has a bath with shower over it, basin and WC. Further along again we get to the master bedroom with a king size and very comfortable bed, built in wardrobes and bedside cabinets. This room is very large and inviting, but does have a window looking right out onto the footpath in front of the cottage, so make sure you draw the curtains!

Opposite the door to the master bathroom are four steps down into the other part of the rear extension which is the second bedroom, with two single beds that can be joined together, wardrobe, drawers and what have you. This room looks out onto the rear garden, and seems to be the coldest room in the cottage, but as we won't be using it, we didn't investigate the controls for the heating in there.

Once we had unpacked and investigated all the rooms, we had the obligatory mug of tea, and ate a late packed lunch that we hadn't eaten during the journey up. We then decided to go for a walk, which took us briefly around the village. Embleton is actually quite tiny, and there isn't a lot to see here apart from the village store, two pubs and a small hotel. We then walked towards the golf course, or links, as we are on the coast! This took us down a lane for about half a mile or so, and once at the golf club you can walk across the width of the course and find yourself on the beach. 

It was absolutely wonderful to see the sea again after such a long time. It brought a big smile to my face, and I think Sally was quite glad to see it too! The beach is sandy, not very deep, but it does go in both directions for a few miles. By now it was getting close to dusk, so we set back up the hilly lane to the cottage. We weren't that hungry because of the late lunch, so just had a makeshift dinner before settling in for the evening, with us both reading our books. Once we got to 9pm, all of this stopped so that we could watch the final two episodes of "Trapped" on BBC4. 

Despite having watched every episode of Trapped and paying what I thought was close attention, the ending came as a bit of a surprise, and I'm not totally sure I fully understand the who's why's and when's of it. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it though!

Off to bed, where we discovered just how comfortably the bed was, and a good night's sleep was had by both of us.