To all my UK-based followers, happy bank holiday weekend! Can you believe, that’s it with the bank holidays until Christmas Day? Eek! However you’re spending this one, hope you have a lovely time. I’m in my office all weekend catching up on emails and admin as well as starting my edits on book eighteen which came through on Saturday night. But, before you feel sorry for me working all weekend, I have just had a week’s holiday so I’m quite happy to be back in the office.
On Friday we returned from a week in Northumberland which, for anyone not familiar with the UK, is the most north-eastern area of England, bordering with Scotland. It’s an area full of spacious beaches and steeped with history so if you like the coast and you like castles, it’s a fabulous place to explore.
We’ve visited on several previous occasions and had originally booked this holiday for February half-term but we couldn’t go as hubby and I both came down with Covid. We’d been talking about having a week somewhere in August but hadn’t yet booked anything so we managed to shift our booking rather than cancel it completely.
One of the things we’ve loved about previous visits out of season has been how deserted the beaches can be, how quiet some of the attractions are, how we’ve never had problems parking or finding somewhere to eat. We were therefore a little apprehensive as to how busy it might be in the summer and it did end up impacting on some of our plans.
We were staying in Alnwick which is about 125 miles from us and, in theory, a 2 hour 40 minute drive. Hmm. Add a couple of hours to that for being stuck behind tractors and campervans on the minor roads and held up by roadworks on the main ones! We therefore stopped off for lunch in Durham en route although we couldn’t believe how hard it was to find somewhere that made takeaway sandwiches. Must have been looking in the wrong places. It was only a fleeting visit so no photo opps but I spotted this on the side of the library which I loved.
It was shortly before tea when we arrived in Alnwick. We were staying in a beautiful conversion called ‘The Malthouse’ which had formerly been where malt was stored ready to be used by the local brewery. It was beautifully decorated and perfectly located right at the top of town so not far to walk to anywhere.
I loved how so much of the decor was relevant to my books. Check out this little selection along with the most fabulous goody basket:
On the Saturday, we ventured up to Berwick-Upon-Tweed – the most northern visit we had planned. We’ve visited before but hadn’t gone out of the town centre. This time we took a walk along the coast, through the town, down by the river and through a park, discovering new parts of the town. The weather was hit and miss with bright blue skies and sunshine one minute and torrential rain the next.
In the town, I visited The Works and found a copy of Family Secrets at Hedgehog Hollow on the shelf in the sale so had to get a photo. The manager asked me if I was looking for anything in particular and I said I was visiting, but then was brave and said I was an author and always checked out The Works to see if they had stock in from me or my author friends. She was so excited to have an author in and I was whisked back to the shelf for more photos and her colleague wanted the book signed and dedicating so she could buy it. I love the staff in The Works. They are always so friendly and enthusiastic and make me feel so special if I’m brave enough to mention I’m an author.
One of my fellow Boldwood authors, Lisa Hobman, owns a pre-loved bookshop called Slightly Foxed in Berwick, along with a friend of hers. We’ve not yet met in person so we stopped in hoping Lisa might be working that day, but she wasn’t. Next time, Lisa! Slightly Foxed is gorgeous and I was particularly excited to see Starry Skies at the Chocolate Pot Café on the shelves!
We left Alnwick and drove to nearby Spittal, which we’ve never visited before, and I managed to grab some pics of the lighthouse shown in the ceiling image at Slightly Foxed before the weather turned again.
Our final stop of the day was Seahouses where we had a wander round the gift shops and an ice cream before returning to Alnwick.
On Sunday, hubby needed to do some work so my daughter and I went to The Alnwick Garden. Dogs can’t go in so Ella stayed back at the holiday apartment. I’ve never been to The Alnwick Garden but one of the lovely members of my Facebook group, Redland’s Readers, highly recommended it and it was lovely. We were lucky with the weather although it took us a while to work out that the big display on the water fountain was an hourly thing on the half hour and we kept missing it!
The gardens were stunning although we’d just missed the best time of year for the flowers, particularly the roses. I loved all the fountains and streams running through them and the beautiful gates.
There was a beautiful area with rows of cherry blossom trees and double swings. We were too late in the year for the blossom but we did have a moment on the swing. This is me trying (and failing) to look casual!
We moved onto Barter Books after that which is the same end of town as the entrance to the gardens. I’d wondered if I might see any of my books in there and was delighted to find two in the fiction section as you go in – Starry Skies Over The Chocolate Pot Café and Making Wishes at Bay View and another copy of the latter in the romance overflow in the main building. It really is such a thrill to see my books on a shelves, especially when it’s unexpected like this.
On Monday, we’d arranged for my parents to come over. They’d brought their caravan to an area about half an hour away and the plan was for hubby and me to go for a hike with my dad while our daughter entertained my mum.
It had been pouring on the morning so we were expecting a wet walk but the afternoon was overcast with a few spots of rain rather than anything torrential so, although it made for very pleasant walking conditions, the photos aren’t the brightest. Last time we visited Northumberland was February 2018 and we did the walk from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle along the cliff tops. We decided to do the walk to Dunstanburgh but from the other direction, starting at Embleton.
There were two lovely book libraries along the road where we parked, although no books inside by me or any author friends. I love seeing these little book libraries.
Hubby spotted a couple of hares chasing each other across a field and we stopped to watch them and were thrilled to see they were boxing hares. I’ve seen this on TV before but never in real life. My word, do they punch each other brutally! It was amazing to watch and, every so often, they’d pause to have a breather and something to eat, then be up on their hind legs thumping each other! They were too far away for me to get any photos, though.
A little later, we spotted a mouse scurrying down the path towards us and, when we hit the coast, we saw several flying fish. So much amazing nature in one place.
The weather was much better on Tuesday and we had a busy day planned starting in a place we’d never visited before: Alnmouth. The beach was beautiful and reasonably deserted when we arrived…
We had a walk along there (it’s dog friendly) and beside the river then into the village where there are some lovely gift shops.
The sand by the river was covered in worm casts. As a child, these absolutely terrified me and I’d have to be carried screaming off any beaches we visited which had casts on them. Urgh! Thankfully, I now know they’re not actual worms and just the sand left behind by them but I didn’t realise that at the time. Still gives me the shudders!
In the village there was another mini library, this time in an old red telephone box.
After the village, we took a different walk back through the sand dunes by the beach and I took some lovely pics of the walk to the beach and the lifebuoy but hubby’s were better so these are his!
Our final plan of the day was a circular walk from Amble via Warkworth Castle which we’d found in a guide book in the holiday apartment. The first part of the walk was through Amble town centre, through a new housing estate where there were some lovely distant views of the castle, but then we were just on a country road for quite a long time. It was really hot and there wasn’t much to see but I still enjoyed it. The others moaned!
When we got to Warkworth Castle, we were looking forward to a sit in the sun and a spot of lunch. Typically, the skies had started to cloud over at this point. There was an event on and, being the summer holidays anyway, the castle was quite busy.
We had a walk into Warkworth itself which is a really pretty village. There’s a Medieval bridge out the other side so we grabbed a couple of pics of that. There was a heron in the water, stood so still that I had to do a double-take to make sure it was actually real. You can just see it at the left side of the right arch in the first pic. It was great to spot another mini library opposite the bridge too.
As we walked back beside the River Aln, the weather picked up again and the view was prettier. This took us out by the harbour where there was a wrecked boat and a really interesting sculpture which you could step into for taking photos.
I’d hoped we’d make it back to Amble in time to explore the lovely huts on the harbour which sell crafts and lovely gifts, but it seemed they mainly closed between 3-3.30pm so we’d missed them all. However, there was still plenty to look at. A yacht had got grounded when the tide went out and the RNLI’s ILB (inshore lifeboat) was attempting to tow it out. There was no chance of freeing it but the next step had been to turn it to place it in the best possible position for release once the tide came out again. That was exciting to watch.
There was a big crowd watching the rescue and several members of the coastguard service on the pier in communication with the ILB. Presumably the yacht did survive and make it out safely when the tide rose again.
I’m going to leave this post for now and start on a part 2 as it’s getting pretty long so do watch out for another post later today. Hope you’re enjoying the photos.