Monday, 13 September 2010

Northumberland Jollies!

Goodness.....I missed August!

I can't believe it's midway through September already!  I can't say that I have been busy exactly, but I never seemed to have time to blog over the Summer hols (mostly due to the Boy hogging the computer to YouTube Dinosaur King!).  I've loved the holidays though, we've done lots of things - all sort of little and not totally awe-inspiring, but lovely nonetheless. All back to normal now!

This post is dedicated to our holiday touring round Northumberland in our little Eriba. I warn you though, it's a LONG one (and may be dull for others, like looking at someone's holiday snaps.....).  However,  it's my blog and I make no apologies. We made four stops staying 2 or 3 nights at each place.  It was a whirlwind tour, but I do feel that we got a good sense of what Northumberland was all about.

We started the holiday by trying to find and fit new brake shoes to the caravan.  I am now an expert in such matters, including the appropriate time to use the hammer!  Not nice to be trying to get the wheel back on at 9pm before you're due to go the next morning!  Uggghhh!

Anyway, all ended well and off we went.  First stop was just west of Newcastle near Heddon-on-the-Wall.

I had specifically chosen the four campsites for their views, however, not one of them had a decent view from our van :( .  If we had been in a tent we would have had some stunners.  It was a real shame.   I understand that they are trying to get some shelter from the wind at the sites, but surrounding the campsite with 10 foot hedges meant no view at all!  For example, this glimpse through a little hole in the hedge would have been our first view had there been less tree.

Enough moaning, here's the places we liked best.....

Beamish Open Air Museum.    We loved this place, the tram rides were a real hit and we got to see life as it would have been in 1913 and 1825. 

Miners cottages and their back gardens.

There is a town with shops and businesses as they would have been. Hubby particularly enjoyed the car garage.

There was a terrific band playing in the park where we sat in the sunshine, eating lunch and ice creams, listening to a collection of really 'happy' tunes and rolling down the hill.  What more could you ask for?

The Girlie made friends with a lovely couple in the tent next to us and ADORED playing with the dogs.  I had visions of Crufts.....  The poor things were probably shattered and glad when we left!

Belsay Hall and Castle were the next day's outing.  I nice place to visit and we really enjoyed the walk to and from the castle.  There was an exhibition on called Extraordinary Measures with pieces in the house and grounds which had some interesting (if a little surreal) work in it.  There were some fascinating pieces by Ron Mueck,  but I can't quite make up my mind about the rest.

On the walk to the castle I took a photo of this tree for no other reason than I thought it looked like a reindeer.

Next campsite was near Bamburgh.

We visited Lindisfarne and Holy Island.  An interesting place - with the element of risk - you've got to make sure that you were able to get back over the causeway before it floods at high tide :) .

On the far side of Holy Island there are large flat white stones on the beach.  In the gap between the path and the beach is a stretch of grass.  On the grass lots of people have been building towers with the stones and writing out their names. I thought this was really nice - such a simple thing that keeps changing constantly as the stones get removed to make the next word or message.

Before heading home we parked on the causeway and walked across the massive beach to the sea.  No kidding it took us 25 minutes from setting foot on the beach until we reached the waves!  And half way there it absolutely tipped it down!  We were soaked within a minute or two so no point in turning round - we carried on to the sea before heading back to the car.

While we were on the beach the Girlie spotted this..........

On the back of the Inform London Zoo bit is a number.  Very intriguing!!  With a fair bit of ringing around and internet research on our return (it's not as easy as just ringing London Zoo) we have found out that it is a seal flipper tag and have been in contact with SMRU in St. Andrews. They are going to get back to us with all the information about the seal that it belonged to. I'll update when I have more information!

Alnwick.  A visit to the town, the castle and the gardens was next in the plans.  The gardens was definitely the biggest hit!

Barter Books was a terrific secondhand bookshop in an old railway station.  We loved it here - I've never been in a bookshop quite this interesting before.

The Gardens.  The cascade does a different fountain display every half our.  I managed to take a pic when there was nothing on!!! Typical that!

The fountains are huge though at times and does get you wet if you're not expecting it!  Kids loved it!

Random sky pic out of the car window on the way back from Alnwick.

On the way home we stopped off at another beach half way between Bamburgh and Seahouses.  We adored this beach.  Great sand, calm sea, rock pools and rocks to climb on.  I also managed to take some great pics as the sun started to go down (well, Hubby took one, but I can't remember which one, maybe the last one!?).

The third campsite was at the foot of the Cheviot Hills near Alwinton.  Again in an area of outstanding beauty we had no view - pah! We arrived in torrential rain too - it wasn't our favourite stop.  We did visit some good places though, so not all bad.

Cragside  We didn't actually go inside this one (kids were a bit 'castled out' by now) but the grounds were fun.  They had a 'hunt the animal' task for the kids and best of all was a fantastic bird hide.  The boy had his 'I Spy Birds' book with him so we went in for a while.  It was fab, we saw loads including a bullfinch, a nut hatch and a woodpecker.  Since I've been home I've set up my own version of the bird feeders - very excited, I've been waiting patiently for the birdies to arrive, but all I've had is a robin and two very fat pigeons!

Cragside also has a rhododendron labyrinth.  This place was a little spooky to be honest!  Think Fanghorn Forest!

On the way back to the campsite we stopped off at the ruins of Harbottle Castle.  As a family we loved this place,  I'm not sure why really as there's not much of it left, but it entertained us all for ages!

Final stop was near Hadrian's Wall again and mine and Hubby's fave campsite (the kiddies liked the second one which had a large play area - it was a bit 'holiday camp' for us though - we like more simple camping.  A view and a toilet block is all we need!)

The campsite had an OS map on the wall so we went off in search of 'The Wall'.  Cutting across the top of the pic is what we thought was the wall (the line that looks like a tyre print).  We walked to it, stood on top of the mount that we took to be the wall and was a little disappointed.  We then carried on walking our planned circular route via the pub and back to the campsite.  On route on the hillside across from us we noticed a square foundation of stones and wondered idly what it was.  When we got back to the van, I realised that we hadn't reached the wall!!!!  The green diamonds that say H W Path was actually the wall not the tyre print!!  We were all of 50m away and missed it!

The wall runs over the little hill and behind the fort foundations.  I took this pic for it's view - unaware that we hadn't actually reached the wall! Dur!

As we rolled up to the campsite, this was the view from the campsite gate (obviously not the van, as we had no views from the van - have I mentioned that we didn't have any views?).

Next and last full day we went to Vindolanda .  The Boy loves dinosaurs and anything historyish.  He often tells us that he can't decide if he wants to be an archaeologist or a paleontologist so we thought were on to a winner here! We found this place really, really interesting.  It's a huge Roman fort and the buildings that grew around it.  It was occupied on and off for hundreds of years and each time the current army moved out they would dismantle the fort by chopping it to the ground, chucking in to the holes anything they could not carry with them and covering it all up with a layer of earth.  Then when the next lot arrived, they built their new fort on top of it.  This meant that after at least 10 forts had been built on the site there were layers and layers of foundations and artifacts preserved in the airless ground.

The diggers are all volunteers and many pay to come and dig all Summer.  They were so friendly and keen to show us what they had found it was great.  The archeologist also gave a talk and answered any questions.  The Boy plans to come and volunteer when he is 16.  He needs a adult to come with him, so I guess I'll be going too! :)

The Boy holding a piece of horse tooth that has been in the ground for nearly 2000 years.

Our holiday would not have been complete without actually visiting the Wall.  So the Boy and I climbed up a hill near Vindolanda to stand on the wall that ran along the top (the Girlie and Hubby stayed in the car - wimps!).  It was cold, damp and foggy - but at least I can say I stood on it!


  1. You guys must have been worn out after all that exploring. I'm beginning to ache just reading about it!

    Oh, and thank you for finding time to send the seeds. Much appreciated. I'll post on my blog so you can see how they get on next year.

  2. Hi Julia, I have really enjoyed looking at your holiday, especially as most of these places are near enough to Bag End to be a day trip. I don't know the east coast at all but some of it is just beautiful.

    Thanks for your comment about the Heritage seeds, if you could contact me by email (link right-hand side of my blog page, just above the Nigella photo) I would like to ask you something!

    cheers, Bilbo, xx

  3. Wow! It looks like you guys had a fantastic holiday up here!

    I live just ten minutes away from Beamish Museum! I've been countless times and never get bored of it.

    Excellent blog, by the way, it's taken me a little while to get round to it but it's a great read!



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