Another vastly delayed holiday write up.
We went down (or, as I suppose it really is, up) to Northumberland a few months ago. The place we rented was enormous, a converted stable with a private courtyard and huge kitchen. It had even been advertised as having a ‘games room’, which turned out to be a garage with a battered pool table and ping pong table in it. However, this was the only disappointment. Everything else was very luxurious, the bedrooms were huge and the bathroom was about twice the size of the bedrooms. Seriously, I don’t know what they were expecting you to do in this bathroom. You could have used it for ballroom dancing.
It rained for a couple of days, and we took the opportunity to spend a lot of time indoors gossiping, cooking and watching movies. I was introduced to Citadel and brushed up my Ticket to Ride skills. We watched Sunshine, which I thought was good though not really my cup of tea (bit too nail bitingly tense and bleak), and The Wind Rises, which was beautiful but maybe a bit lacking in narrative drive.
A short drive took us to Seahouses, where we got a boat to go to the Farne Islands, and I finally realised my ambition of getting to see puffins! Yay! They really are very small, and very recognisable even from quite a distance. We’d taken the cheap binoculars we’d bought in Cornwall a couple of years ago, and got a really good look at them. On Inner Farne there was a walkway around the island, with eiderducks nesting right next to the path. You can see why they were popular for feathers, they look really soft, and when the settle onto the ground they look splatted down, like duck pancakes.
We also went to Bamburgh castle, which is beautiful and, while slightly disorganised inside, has a lot of really interesting bits and pieces, particularly relating to its owner Armstrong (of Armstrong-Vickers). Ed particularly enjoyed all the stuff about planes. Alnwick castle was substantially less charming and more disneyfied. The garden was impressive, and the castle was far grander than Alnwick, but it all felt very pre-packaged and carefully presented with family groups in mind. And the ticket price for single people was breathtaking. If I was going to revisit one it would definitely be Bamburgh. Sadly we didn’t make it out to Lindisfarne (choosing a lie-in and Alnwick instead); maybe next time.
The last night of the holiday was the general election, and we stayed up just about long enough to see Paddy Ashdown offer to eat his hat. Seeing the destruction of the Lib Dems the next day was heartbreaking, particularly when they kept getting him back and referring to what he’d said. I don’t think I’ve seen that many seats change power since 1997, and I’d forgotten what its like, seeing so many people have their careers ended.
I slept pretty much all the way back. Strangely, unlike with most holidays, I felt more tired afterwards than before. But I really enjoyed it too – hopefully we can do it again some time soon.