Saturday, September 27, 2014

England - week 13 - northumberland holiday

having driven up from hadrians wall, we quickly put the tent up to reverberating thunder. we stayed at a nice campsite in budle bay. after a discussion, we also put up the porch. mostly because the weather forecast was a bit iffy, and the thunder was concerning me. a good thing too! it rained buckets that evening and even hailed. the thunder and lightening was a bit extreme! BB was actually pretty scared, and we ended up having a beans on toast supper to cheer people up before snuggling down for the night.
The next day [Monday] was gloriously sunny and we decided to spend it at the beach. Bamburgh has a fabulous long sandy beach of perfection. has sand dunes, gently slopes into the sea, there are some rock pools and it overlooks the farne islands and is overlooked by a castle. What more could you want :) oh, and yes, as I said, it was sunny :) . It is still the North Sea, so wetsuits for the kids on the boogie board! when we were kids we would swim and then be wrapped in towels and handed a cup of tea to warm up. Lots of pootling around on the beach, in the pools, swimming in the sea. FrB and BB ran up and down an exposed dune and then made sandcastles. SB read a book. I did some sewing, as rather behind on my kentwell sewing
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The girls were desperate for a BBQ, so that evening we had halloumi and veg kebabs and veggie sausages BBQ with choc banana for pudding. Very Nice!
tuesday was a slightly iffy weather day, so we decided to go to Alnwick castle and gardens. we really should have just done one of them, as we saw a lot of the gardens and hardly any of the castle [tho did visit the state rooms] and it is quite expensive! We started with the poison gardens, which SB [ as a stillroom apprentice] and I found fascinating, and our guide was informative. BB also found it surprisingly interesting, but FrB just found it a bit creepy, and even though we discussed the medicines bit, I think she was bemused about being told about all these plants that could kill people. I loved the beech walk and we all loved the watergarden. My favourite planting was the alliums and tulips in the meadows. It was perhaps the wrong time of year to visit a garden and look at the planting! We couldn't resist the treehouse and had lunch in the potting shed and a race around the rope bridges.
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The first couple of Harry Potters were filmed here, and there are various bits relating to that at the castle. However, we didn't actually get to those bits before they shut - oops! but did go round the staterooms, along the curtain wall, in and out of various little museums and had a wander and thought we might need to visit again.
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I wish I had known BB had flowers in her mouth!!

wednesday -  we booked to go to the farne islands to see puffins. I have never been to the farne islands before, and we booked a boat trip with serenity which took as round the islands before landing on inner farne to view the chapel and nesting birds. The guide was very informative, the boat comfy and we got a really close up look at the cliffs and the seals. The island itself had lots of nesting birds, with the arctic terns being right on the path in places so that they would fly up and dive bomb to protect their eggs. we tried hard to avoid upsetting them. at the cliff top we were so close to the chicks we could have touched them. and we loved the puffins :) . well worth a trip.
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thursday -  an entirely miserable looking day. after some discussion, we decided we needed to leave england, so on a whim, we took FrB up to scotland! It took a while to get there, and we did make her stand in the rain to have a photo with the entering scotland sign :) but finally we reached edinburgh. There was a bit of a heated debate over visiting the castle or the museum, and we went with FrB choice of castle, since it was 'her' day. BB slightly grumpaceous as feeling 'castled out'.
Unfortunately we had left our English Heritage cards at home so it cost an arm and a leg - argh!!! But well worth the visit, and it is an 'iconic edinburgh' moment. we went via princes street gardens and the scott memorial first. quite a clamber up to the castle [and my hip not feeling friendly so harrump!] but we really enjoyed exploring it. I told the kids all about mary queen of scots, and the interelationships with the other tudors whether they listened or not ;) and we saw the stone of scone and royal bits and bobs including a wand! FrB rather taken aback by soldiers in kilts.
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when we left the castle we had to run the gamut of the tourist shops! eek!! we went in every single one on the royal mile, but the kids didn't buy too much. In the end we needed a cafe stop to reinvigorate, but all were shut! Panic! 3 cheers for cafe nero.
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friday - A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
When you write this in Latin, it becomes clear that the Normans were Vikings... ANyway, we went to LIndisfarne. it was a grey drizzly day to start with, and BB was a bit nervous about the causeway, absolutely sure we were going to be trapped on a remote island, and even seeing how inhabited the island was didn't really reasure her!
We went to Lindisfarne Abbey and the museum, contemplated the lindisfarne gospels, the history of st cuthbert and the attacks of the Viking raiders on northumbria [hence title] . that morning we had read about viking raids in our english history project, so all tied in rather nicely. We also walked around the coastline a bit, found a geocache and the kids and dh scrabbled to a little island. however my hip had been too hippish, so didn't want to fall off the rocks!
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having looked at Bamburgh castle all week, this was our final destination on the Saturday. It has a fantastic history of occupation from Saxon times onwards [covered in history] It is very imposing and dominates the skyline frm beach and islands. It is privately owned but open to the publuic. the inside has an eclcetic collection of 'stuff' accumulated over time and it has a central norman keep [see those pesky vikings won out!] with accumulations of architecture subsequently! They were setting up for a viking living history event which unfortunately was starting the following day :( . ANyway, a good wander round, very interesting, and a FABULOUS teashop :) . The kids got to sit in a recreated anglo-saxon throne - they liked being queen :)

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We did a shop in nearby seahouses and then the next day headed for Yorkshire, stopping at the iconic angel of the north on the way.
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