Monday, 31 August 2009

Northumberland - A new love affair has begun

Sometimes things seem to happen for a reason.

Back in February when I was in my previous job, I found that I would not be allowed 2 weeks holiday together due to the staffing levels & G's travels. This meant that we would not be able to have 2 weeks in Cornwall, as we usually do without incurring long drives.

We settled on Northumberland, having heard from several people how beautiful it is and it is a mere 3 1/2 hours drive from us (well it is if you drive like my husband....)

So last week was spent discovering some of the delights this beautiful place holds.

There were rock pools galore....

And wide expanses of golden beaches, that felt almost deserted, set under rolling skies.

We stayed in Beadnell - and this is the house that always caught my eye as we set out for a days exploring - How I would love to live in something like this....

The children paddled on Beadnell Beach....

Watched the tractor at work, taking out and bringing in the boats....

And there were lots of them too ....

On the harbour front at Beadnell, the Lime Kilns are still present, and were excitedly inspected closely by the little people.

We took a boat ride out to the Farne Islands - choosing the boat company mainly because of its pretty signage....

To everyones delight we saw the seals - and they didn't seem to perturbed by the 8 year olds squeals of excitement. Unfortunately we were to late in the year to see the puffin colonies.
(If you open the picture you can get a better view of them, if not peer closely & they are the squidgy things in the front of the bottom left!)

We also saw Longstone lighthouse, in which Grace Darling & her father lived in the 1830's. It was from her bedroom window - in the white stripe - that she looked out and saw a boat in distress apon the rocks, and she & her dad carried out one of the most famous maritime rescues in this country saving 9 lives. At the age of 23.

After all that hard work sailing - tea just had to be fish & chips by the bustling harbour at Seahouses....

We visited Alnwick twice.

Once to see Barter Books, one of the biggest second hand bookshops in the country, set in an old railway station....

It had a huge mural in the wall, a raised train track running across the tops of the bookshelves....

And books galore....

We finished our morning off, having a lovely lunch in the old waiting room, very tasty & reasonably priced.

Late afternoon was spent on the beach - whilst not overly sunny, it was still warm enough for the little people to get togged up & burn off some energy....

Alnwick is most famous for its Castle - where some of the Harry Potter films are shot. It is also becoming known for its gardens, however heavy rain did stop us from being able to explore fully, and I didn't take as many pictures I would have liked because of it.

We did however have lunch in the Tree House - one of the largest in the world, I felt like I was entering a fairy tale

Not cheap, but it was a real treat to sit high up in thease huuuge wooden chairs,

Surrounded by branches light with fairy lights. It felt like the most magical place to eat in.

Afterwards we wandered round the rest of the tree house, exploring the views, and walking the rope bridges, before heading up to the castle....

One of the things that I really enjoy when walking around historic buildings, is eavesdropping on what tour guides/ volunteers have to say. Fascinating stuff, full of anecdotal stories, not always found in the guide books. For example I learnt that when the Prince & Princess of Wales cane to stay in Northumberland in 1884, they opted to stay at Cragside, with the (not yet Lord) Armstrong's, rather than at Alnwick with the Duke of Northumberland. Why?- because Lord Armstrong had fitted hydro-electricity into his house, and had electric lamps & central heating.

This in turn spurred the Northumberlands to follow suite, after all, they couldn't be outdone by new money! The light fittings externally were pretty impressive too....

There was plenty to hold the little peoples attention, from dressing up as a princess and brass rubbing....

To being a brave night & checking out a dragons dental work....

We also came across the castle cat....

I've already mentioned Lord Armstrong & it was on another very wet day that we went to see his house at Cragside (Unfortunately no photo's as it was so wet, & no photo's from inside either, as it is a NT property) It was beautiful, and there were delightful examples of William Morris wall papers and Victorian/Edwardian decoration.

However we did go & see his other property - Bamburgh Castle which he purchased in the 1890's and extensively renovated.

Having read this I an tempted to put a picture up of Lord Armstrong in the Laundry Room - Just to remind me that modern day housework is not the drudge it could have been, due this mans inventiveness.....

And of course - a castle would be amiss without a cannon to fire!

Or a stunning view to admire (see, a photo with the sun shining!)

Our final big trip was to the Holy Islands to see Lindisfarne Abbey. Arriving later in the day, there was no time to go to both Castle and Abbey....

We strolled along the harbour side, admiring recycling at its best, before taking a coastal walk to the Abbey, avoiding most of the hustle & bustle of fellow sight seer's....

It was quite simply beautiful in all its destruction.

Then we drove back, across the flats before the tide came in....

On our last day we stopped of a Craster - A tiny fishing village. Cottages on the edge of the harbour facing out to sea....

Separated by the road, were their little front gardens, backing straight onto the edge of the harbour....

A wander round the village found a lovely house (I'm coveting again!)

Whilst the smokey wood smell from the fish curing building was more pleasant than I would have expected....

We also found a lovely Gallery - the work by Mick Oulsen was fantastic, but sadly out of my price range.

To end our holiday we decide to make the walk up to Dunstabrugh Castle. It was apparently only 1 1/4 miles - but with strong winds, and a little lady who has only little legs, it felt longer....

We stopped of to eat our lunch on the beach and examine more rock pools...

Before finally making it up there.

Now I am home.

Castled & rockpooled out.

Its back to realtiy as I tackle the packing away & laundry.

No more empty beaches & stunning skies.

But I have a selection of heart shaped stones, found by the Little People & proudly given to me, and I have to admit, I've fallen in love with Northumberland.

Love Lydia xx


  1. Guess where I want to go next year, it looks wonderful.
    Such a shame you have to come back to reality.
    That tree, a truly magical place!
    Beki xxx

  2. Looks like you had a great time. Thank you for popping over my blog and leaving a sweet comment.It's always wonderful to meet new people. So, nice to meet you too. :)

  3. That sounds like an amazing trip, i love the pics too x

  4. Beautiful photos - looks like you really had a good time! Its about 45 mins away from us and we go for a drive to Seahouses for the fish n chips, nothing quite like sitting by the sea eating them - they always taste better there I think!
    BH x

  5. It looks like you had a wonderful time away, lots of trips out with interesting and beautiful places to visit and holiday picnics are the best!
    Lisa x

  6. looks like a fab time was had by all :-) dont you just hate the laundry/unpackign after a holiday though :-(
    Lesley x

  7. What lovely photos Lydia. It really is a beautiful, magical and very unpopulised place. My friend has been to Cornwall and they have had dire weather (for the 3rd year running). Glad you had such a lovely time.

  8. Looks great!! Not too commercialised, interesting, and beautiful. Maybe another year for me!!

    Sharon xx

  9. Wow, its going on my list of places to visit. Glad you had a great time x

  10. Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventure :) My, what a beautiful house, if you do ever move in, can I come with you, so pretty. I adore the treehouse, I always dreamed of having one as a little girl, I was so jealous of my friends, whose Daddies had built them one ;)
    Lovely to have come along with you, what lovely photographs.

    Well, I did a little cutting out so maybe she is sneaking back in :)



  11. Awwww I totally agree with your sentiments about this patch of the North, we love it dearly. I've visited all the places you've written about (excepting the Farne Islands), as we've been holidaying there for the past 5 yrs since the children were tots..we never tire of it. Did notice that this yr it was very much busier than previous yrs though, which in many ways is a shame!! I want it to be kept secret!


  12. Errrr no, have you definately looked everywhere ;)


  13. Hello, you have the most fabulously wonderful site here and I had to leave this comment for you ! Your posts are beautifully written, creative and original too, and you have interesting pictures.

    It's all perfect !

    Thank you for sharing your site and best wishes.... 'Happy September'....

  14. Somewhere I've never been but my parents went there earlier in the Summer and came back gushing about the area. They rated it on a par with Cornwall (but a whole lot quieter). Your post has confirmed that we must put this on our hit list for next year (before everyone else discovers it!!)

  15. we;ve also been going here for a lot of years -- I have photos of me aged about 7 amongst the dunes at Seahouses, the place has so many lovely childhood memories for me and now I'm taking my 2 boys there in the hope they'll love it as much as I did. This summer we also ate chips at the harbour and visited Alnwick amongst other things :-)

  16. Glad I popped in here, although you've made me very homesick and I was just settling back down! Glad you like it up there but don't tell too many people or they'll all go!

  17. Hey - and you've got the photos to remind you too. Looks beautiful. Have never been. It's always miserable coming home. Give it time! x

  18. Lovely to read your posts, Lydia and to see your photos - which look great, despite the weather. Smiled and sympathised when reading the back to school entry! Best wishes. Lesley

  19. I had to pop over and see your pictures after your message on my blog today, and I want to say Thank You (a BIG one) because your photos have sent me into a dreamy happy place, they are terrific, and Ive spied some places Id like to visit next time we go there...because there will most definatly be a next time!
    Thank you for sharing with me, it was a pleasure to see and read!

    Much love, hope you are well,
    Julia x x x