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Old stamping grounds


If we were going to choose a day out, Thursday was a pretty good one to choose.

OH and I had decided to visit the NE – we go regularly, it’s OH’s homeland, and where we began married life. A super part of the world.

We had intended to leave at 5.30 am, but finding ourselves wide awake at 4 am, were on the road well before 5, and just north of Lancaster by 6. It was a lovely morning, and apart from some cloud around midday remained so all day.

Our first port of call was the round of family graves, which we always visit. OH’s great grandfather is buried at St Paul’s, Jarrow, which is – I believe – the second oldest extant church in Britain. It is built around the Saxon remains of the monastery where the Venerable Bede lived and worked. It is always a source of wonder to us when we visit. When we lived in Jarrow, although the monastery was taken for granted by locals, and known to academics and historians, it was of little note to most. Now it is restored, well-presented and a candidate for world heritage status. The park adjoining it was an overgrown field, full of debris and hardly safe to walk through. The visitor/education centre was a derelict building. How times change!

St Paul’s Church : the part to the right of the tower is Saxon, and part of the old monastery:

Remains of the Monastery where St Bede worked:

The view in the other direction. These cranes are on the south bank of the Tyne:

The park between the church and the visitor centre – it was impossible to walk across this space when we lived here :

After leaving Jarrow, we headed north to Craster, on the Northumberland coast. This lovely fishing village is another old haunt of ours. We had two memorable holidays here when the children were young. We rented one of the cottages overlooking the harbour. The front gardens of the cottages are across the road, bordering the harbour. The village has most definitely been “discovered” and was actually quite busy when we visited this time – mainly over 60s (like us) mostly walking along the low cliffs to the dramatic Dunstanburgh Castle. It is definitely my favourite castle ever, but today was not the day to go. I know it so well, but I enjoy it best when it is quiet and lonely, even in poor weather. When we stayed there, we used to like it in the evening, when it was closed, and we could walk around the outside and imagine how it must have been, so long ago.

A fishing boat in Craster harbour.
A plaque on the wall reads “Hodie felix, cras ter” which is a Latin pun meaning “today happy, tomorrow thrice [happy]”.

As you can see, the sea was like a millpond. Lovely weather, of course, but on this rocky shore, I rather like to see the waves and hear the sound of the water! (Never satisfied, eh?)

The white house was our home for a week in 1987, and again in ’88. The front gardens – which are across the road – are on the edge of the harbour, and awash with colour:

Next we drove into Alnwick. No – we didn’t visit the garden. We didn’t have time (and have you seen the price of the tickets? – only joking!) We had lunch at the White Swan, where one of their rooms is decked out in the original panelling, mirrors and ceiling salvaged from the Olympic, sister ship of the Titanic – quite a sight! We often visit Barter Books here, a superb second-hand bookshop in the old station, but again – no time on this visit. You need to allow plenty of time in that treasure-house. It’ll wait – we’ll be back!

After lunch, we headed south and west to Corbridge, another frequent destination. After browsing the antiques centre, we enjoyed a coffee at the Angel Inn, which we have been visiting for 45 years. The weather was hot and sunny and everywhere looked beautiful.


Finally, we decided it was time to head home – early enough to miss most of the traffic on the A69, and late enough to miss the worst of it in Preston. I love the M6 north of Lancaster. The countryside looks beautiful at this time of year – so lush, so many different greens.

M6 – part of one of the most dramatic stretches, just south of Tebay:

We were home by 8, feeling rather pleased with ourselves for fitting so much into a great day. We have no more day trips planned for a few weeks… (the next one will undoubtedly be to Paisley to see daughter, s-i-l and grandson!)

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Wow, what a lovely day out! You do get around Melchi! I loved those coastal scenes, and was fascinated by the ancient church of Bede! He was mentioned in Simon Schama's History of Britain which I was watching the other night. I have been to Alnwick Garden and stayed overnight in the town, but apart from that I've never really visited the NE of England. I might actually do that soon. We are thinking of a weekend away in July, and if our friends in the N. of Scotland can't see us, then the NE of England would be lovely...I'm thinking Lindisfarne etc. :)) Thank you for inspiring me!

14 Jun, 2014


Very nice photos and countryside, Melchi. What part of England is this? North-East?

14 Jun, 2014


Looks like a lovely day out, Susanne. We've only visited that area a couple of times but always said we would go back. You've re-whet my appetite now - I think it was the book shop that clinched it. We live less than 5 mins from J32 of the M6; you could have called in for a cuppa, although in fact we were all over the show on Thursday, very busy day. We do get about a bit ourselves with being so close to the motorway.

14 Jun, 2014


It was a super day, Karen, thank you. We thoroughly enjoy our day trips. We share the driving, so it's not too exhausting. We do occasionally stay somewhere, especially if we're going to London, which is usually for a concert.

Glad you like the photos, Katarina. Yes, it's NorthEast England - Durham and Northumberland, a beautiful part of the country. The Northumberland coast is breathtaking.

Barter Books is well worth a visit, Tuesdaybear. You can take books to them - they won't pay you, but you open an "account" and the perceived value of what you give them is balanced against what you buy - hence the name of the shop. In winter there's an open fire, there's a cafe, and lots of places to sit where you can read the books if you wish.. super. They stock a huge range from very ordinary paperbacks right through to rare books. Highly recommended, and Alnwick is a lovely old town.

14 Jun, 2014


Thank you for sharing your trip with us.
The hills look wonderful in the sunshine.

14 Jun, 2014


I'm glad you enjoyed it, Diane - we certainly did!

14 Jun, 2014


It was worth making that early start! It is so surprising how little we achieve on some days but how full of interest and excitement another day can be.
It must have been a wonderful day out and what an achievement to do and see so much. It all looks really special and is an area I do not know so it has been lovely to see it on here.

14 Jun, 2014


Hi Melchi, Enjoyed your blog and so glad you had a good day in my part of the world. I live in Northumberland so know it well, the countryside and coastline are beautiful. More people from the south should come up here to sample the beauty of the area and the northern hospitality. We have a caravan at Amble which is only 30 minutes from my home so we are up there most weekends.

14 Jun, 2014


Thanks Wildrose, it certainly is worth investigating!

I always used to think, Doreen, when I lived in Jarrow, that the weather worked to Northumberland's advantage - if it was soft and mild, the coast would be ruined. But we have always been extremely fortunate on our visits - we so often have the most beautiful days. When we were first married, we used to set off on the bus. First into Newcastle, then to Morpeth and then off into the wilds - reaching Warkworth on one memorable occasion. So much easier now in a car, even from Southport. We did manage to pass on our love of Northumberland to all three of our children, though. They have all chosen to have holidays there - quite right, too!

I envy you your holidays at Amble, but I'm sure you know how fortunate you are to be close to such a lovely area.

14 Jun, 2014


It's nice to visit old haunts. Brings back lots of memories :)
I enjoy looking around old graveyards, especially where ancestors are buried. They are fascinating places I think ...
And antiques centres, I enjoy those too :o))
So I'm pleased you had a special day, with all those pretty places to see aswell !

15 Jun, 2014


Thanks Hywel. I agree, graveyards are fascinating. And antiques centres! We had a great day.

15 Jun, 2014


I love graveyards too - and antiques centres!

15 Jun, 2014



15 Jun, 2014

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