Sunday, 20 March 2016
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
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Tuesday, 15 March 2016
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.
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.
Sunday, 13 March 2016
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!!