It’s been a long winter and by February half term we were all exhausted from working too many hours (Ad and I are both meant to work part time but sometimes that just doesn’t happen), studying too hard (Ab) and illness (Ab and Josh). Just winter colds, nothing major, but before holiday we were all on our knees for one reason or another. It’s true that as the holiday crept closer I wish I’d booked a week in the Canaries or Caribbean rather than a winter week on the northeast coast, but by the time it was time to go literally anywhere would have done. Ad and I in particular were desperate for a break from our full on, full of work, life.
We decided on Northumberland as somewhere we’ve never been (and it looks beautiful on Vera – as many friends have told me!). I chose the house simply for its setting. With views over the river and out to sea at the back, and views of Warkworth Castle from the front, it looked ideal.
The house itself was a huge 4 bedroom 1930’s semi, with a strange mix of old and new; some nice (and some not so nice) original features coupled with shiny modern bathrooms a fully equipped kitchen, utility and conservatory. And WiFi. We can’t go anywhere without WiFi these days. Shame it was very poor WiFi! “Mum, Why is the WiFi rubbish?” “Mum, the WiFi won’t let me stream Netflix” Like it’s my fault! But anyway, both kids have hefty data contracts and fortunately the 3G reception wasn’t too bad so complete meltdown was averted.
Warkworth itself is a small village lying at the southern end of the county so many of the places we had in mind to visit were a bit of a drive away but that never bothers us. We spent the first day exploring locally but ventured further afield after that.
Monday was a gloomy, wet day so wherever we visited wouldn’t have the best chance to impress. We headed to Seahouses where Pinnacles Cafe had been recommended to us for its fish and chips. Sitting inside a cafe eating appealed on such a miserable day so once we’d walked the mad dog on St Aiden’s beach we stuffed our faces with fish and chips which always taste so much better at the seaside!
It was still raining as we left the cafe and the kids were keen to head “home” to watch a film. Ad and I wanted to explore some more so we pulled rank, overruled the kids and headed for Dunstanburgh Castle – National Trust ruins on Embleton bay. As we trudged across moorland towards the castle the kids were becoming grumpier and grumpier, moaning non stop. Yes I know you’d rather be wearing flip flops. Yes I know that dragging your ass to a castle in the rain isn’t top of your to do list. Believe it or not it’s not mine either! We couldn’t even see the castle in the distance due to the low lying mist.
The dog was being mental because she had to stay on her lead – she would have worried the sheep way too much. Anyway, we never made it to the castle. We gave in to the inevitable and turned back – and the kids got earache from me all the way back! Although I did manage to slip in the mud and fall flat on my face, which eased the tension somewhat!
Fortunately the rain gave way to gorgeous sunshine for the next few days which meant we could explore without (too much) moaning.
Alnmouth and Beadnell were both great places to take the dog to (try to) wear her out. Both beaches were huge and sandy – and she rarely tires of fetching the ball. We found a great dog friendly tea shop in Alnmouth where we refuelled. Ok so we had to sit outside because our dog is mad and would have barked non stop if we’d tried to sit inside. In the warm. On the comfy chairs. Amongst other people.
Whitley Bay, historically part of Northumberland is now nestled within Tyne and Wear, but given we were based so far south of the county it was only about a 45 minute drive from “home”. It was such a beautiful, but freezing day. We wrapped up warm in winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves but we actually walked past someone in t-shirt and shorts! I guess that officially makes us southern wimps!
We loved Whitley Bay beach, golden sands stretching from Whitley Bay North down to St Mary’s Lighthouse. The fish and chips got a big thumbs up too.
We visited the historic, unspoilt Lindisfarne, or The Holy Island as it is often called. It is a tidal island which is cut off from the mainland twice a day when the North Sea swallows up the causeway. so we had to time our visit carefully.
Amble is a small fishing village lying just a mile or two from where we were based at Warwkworth. In the gorgeous sunshine it’s a pretty place to wander around, and the ice cream parlour is definitely worth a visit.
Ad and I (and I think the kids too!) loved Northumberland; beautiful beaches, unspoilt villages and a plethora castles (mostly closed because it was totally out of season up there; Northumberland half term was the previous week). We are also lucky that the weather was kind to us – had we visited a week later it would have been a totally different blog and the photos would have looked a lot like this!