Armchair Travelling – Lindisfarne / Holy Island, near Berwick on Tweed

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island

We had wanted to visit Lindisfarne/Holy Island near Berwick-upon-Tweed for decades and often drove past it on our many journeys up and down the UK – but the tide never seemed to be right for us and we feared getting stranded on the island. But last year we planned it all out, looking up the tides so that we would have plenty of time to investigate the place. We parked the car, along with many others, it was a really bright and hot day and walked around the small village, it must be strange to live there I think. We walked along the road heading for Lindisfarne Castle which is very historic and ancient, dating from at least 1550 but in the Edwardian era it got a make-over by the famous architect/designer Sir Edwin Lutyens so it’s now a mish-mash of ancient and not so ancient. In 1901 the castle was bought by Edward Hudson who was a publishing magnate and owned the magazine Country Life. I believe it had a reputation in those days as a party destination for the very well-heeled. Now it is owned by the National Trust

Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island, National Trust

In the photo above you can see people walking along the road towards the castle. This is still a place of pilgrimage for some Christians, and they tend to walk barefoot over the sand/mud across to the island to emulate the pilgrims of previous centuries.

This is the modern entrance to the castle.

Lindisfarne Castle, National Trust

For some reason there is a model ship hanging from the ceiling in one of the rooms, it makes a change from Airfix aeroplanes I suppose! It’s a lovely model anyway.

Lindisfarne Castle, (ship)

Every castle needs a kitchen, I’d quite happily settle down in this one, although I imagine the cooking range would be a bit of a nightmare to control.

Castle Fireplace, Lindisfarne, Holy Island

Speaking of settling, what do you think of this settle by the range? Just add a few cushions and I think it would be a lovely cosy place to sit and pass the time knitting, the very high back would certainly keep any draughts at bay.

Lindisfarne Castle Settle, Holy Island, National Trust

This dresser completes the kitchen. There’s plenty of storage space I suppose for dishes, pans and utensils in the end cupboards.

Lindisfarne Castle cupboard, Holy Island, National Trust

It all looks very peaceful now but you can read more about the violent history of the castle here. Viking raids and all.

Tynemouth Castle and Priory, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

I can hardly believe it, but way back in December 2019 we visited some friends down in Sunderland, the north-east of England, and while there we went to see Tynemouth Castle and Priory, we had never been there before. December seems a strange time to be taking a longish trip ‘down south’ but it was a very mild winter.

Tynemouth  Castle

Tynemouth  Castle  and Priory, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

The castle is a ruin but the priory part is quite well preserved. If you are interested you can read about the history of the place here. This was one of the many religious places that were suppressed by Henry VIII during his Anne Boleyn phase.
Tynemouth  Castle, Tynemoth, Tyne and Wear

Tynemouth  Castle, stained glass, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

As usual a lot of the stonework would have been re-used in local buildings after the priests and monks were driven off. Then the area was heavily fortified, something which continued for years because of the strategic position overlooking the River Tyne and in the photo below you can see the remains of the gun emplacements from the Second World War
Tynemouth  Castle, Tyne and Wear

The earliest settlement here dates from the Iron Age 800 BC – AD 43, but the ruins that we can see today date from 1090.

Tynemouth  Castle, Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear

It’s an interesting place to visit and if you happen to be there at a weekend then it’s worthwhile having a look at the market which is situated at the railway station. There are all sorts of stalls and Jack and I managed to find some books worth buying – and I couldn’t resist buying some old glass bottles, Veno’s cough mixture and such, they wash up on the beaches around the area apparently.

Tynemouth  Castle entrance,Tyne and Wear,

Beamish Folk Museum, County Durham, England

We are members of lots of arty and historical organisations such as the National Trust, Scottish Heritage, Friends of the Edinburgh Galleries and such AND we got annual passes to Beamish folk museum when we visited there last year, it’s situated near Stanley in County Durham. We were sure we would go back as we had such a good time there but we didn’t manage to get there as planned at Christmas and after the winter it didn’t open because of the Covid-19 situation of course. Anyway it turns out that I didn’t blog about it although I could have sworn that I did. Here are some of the photos I took. In the beginning Beamish was just farmland, you can read about the history of the place here. The buildings have all been moved to the site brick by brick and stone by stone to be saved for posterity rather than being demolished.

Beamish, Church + from waggonway

There are all sorts of buildings there, below is Pockersley Hall which has a lovely chocolate box garden.

Pockersley Hall, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

A teeny wee thatched cottage, this photo was taken from an ancient steam train as we were riding on it.

thatched cottage, Beamish from waggonway

And this is the train we were on, I remember seeing illustrations of a train like this one when I was ‘doing’ the Industrial Revolution at school, I never thought I’d actually have a trip on one!

Puffing Billy and train, Beamish, County Durham

You can go inside all the buildings, a few of them I would quite happily have lived in.

Farm terrace, Beamish, County Durham

Volunteers are on hand, living the life, rolling out pastry or whatever and answering questions.

1930s fireplace, Beamish, County Durham

Actually it all seemed very homely to me as most of the ‘stuff’ was very similar to the furniture that we had had to get rid of when we downsized to a more modern and manageable house – all of six years ago now. I looked at a Victorian bed chest and could have sworn it had been ours! And the gate below is exactly the same as the back gate of the 1930s house that I grew up in, except ours was in better condition and painted rural green.

1930s gate, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

1930s chairs, Beamish, County Durham, folk museum

Do you remember those halcyon days when we didn’t have to worry about crowds and social distancing? Below is the queue for the working bakery at Beamish but we didn’t bother to join the queue, it looked like they might run out of stuff to sell anyway! I was really taking the photo of the lovely Edwardian?Victorian window. There’s also an old sweetie shop selling authentic sweets, we DID queue up for that one. Indian Limes anyone? They were delicious.

Beamish, Edwardian  windows,

We hope we’ll be able to visit again – sometime.

Pockersley Hall from road, Beamish, folk museum, County Durham

Aalborg, Denmark

I’ve been looking back at the photos of our Baltic cruise last year and I realised that I hadn’t blogged about our visit to Aalborg which is apparently Denmark’s fourth largest city. It didn’t feel like a city really but it did have plenty of people bustling around and has lots of shops. I liked the building below, so quaint despite being large.

Aalborg Building, Denmark

It’s very clean, I liked the restrained decoration of the building below, it’s a pity that part of it’s inhabited by those golden arches that seem to get everywhere.

Aalborg Building, Denmark

The building below reminds me of an old pipe organ at the top.

Aalborg Building, Denmark

And this one seems Germanic, but they share a border so that’s not surprising.
I love fountains so was happy to sit by this one for a while, and get a bit wet.
Aalborg Building, Denmark

while admiring the house below.
Aalborg Building, Denmark

The pansies looked good, but they always do.
Aalborg Planter, Denmark

Below is a small street which wasn’t far from the city centre but was so peaceful. I think this place would be nice to live in, close to a park and the town.

Courtyard, Aalborg buildings, Baltic cruise

The public loos in a wee park sported some grafitti, but also a thatched roof which helped with the quaintness.
Aalborg Thatched Building, Baltic cruise,

I think that Denmark is called the land of fairy tales, which probably prompted this park of ‘singing’ trees. It’s a good idea, each tree has been planted by a famous singer and generally they are thrilled to come along and plant ‘their’ tree, it’s all good publicity I suppose. There’s a wooden block in front of each tree and you press a button to hear the famous singer’s best hit. Unfortunately none of them worked! I think they were having trouble with the electrics. I believe that Cliff Richard was the first person to be honoured in this way but loads of famous people had followed him.

Singing Trees, Aalborg, Baltic cruise

Singing Trees, Aalborg, Baltic cruise

So that was Aalborg, a pleasant place to spend an afternoon and stretch your legs when you’ve been on a ship for days. According to the European Commission the inhabitants of this place are the most satisfied people in Europe with their city. I must admit that I would never go on another cruise, it was bad enough when all you had to worry about was norovirus from people who don’t wash and sanitise their hands as they should, it doesn’t bare thinking about with Covid-19 rampaging. Obviously not everyone feels that way though as I have friends who have bookedup for 2021, expecting that there will be a vaccine by then. Hmmm – I have my doubts.

National Library of Russia Reading Rooms, St Petersburg

This time last year we were visiting St Petersburg in Russia, a place I had always wanted to see. Can you believe that our tour bus parked right outside the National Library of Russia Reading Room? It’s situated in a very handsome building.

National Library of Russia reading room

aNational Library of Russia reading room 2

Strangely there’s a fairly old looking sign with the opening hours on it, written in English. I wish we had had time to go in and investigate the place, but there were so many other places to visit in the city and we had to get our skates on.
aNational Library of Russia reading room 3

aNational Library of Russia reading room 5

aNational Library of Russia reading room 4

We were in a rush to see as much as possible inside about five hours.

Below is the Alexandrinsky Theatre, with some very pretty planting in front of it. St Petersburg is a lovely city and the locals were friendly, obviously not too annoyed by tourists.

Planting Ostrovskogo Square, St Petersburg

75th Anniversary Victory Day

This time last year we were in Russia, a place that I never really believed that I would ever visit, sadly we got there two days after their huge victory celebrations commemorating the end of World War 2, but the banners were still decorating the streets.

1941-1945 banner

The Russians commemorate The Great Patriotic War – as they name World War 2 – on the 9th of May so I thought I would do this post of the memorials in St Petersburg, mainly because I really dislike the way the Russian war effort is overlooked by the rest of the allies. Without Russian people’s efforts and sacrifices, we would all be speaking German.

There is a memorial garden just off Nevsky Prospekt where I took this photo of the VICTORY hedge plus Red Star.

Victory

Below I’m just reposting what I blogged last year about what is the Leningrad Hero City Obelisk installed on the 40th anniversary of the war’s end.

WW2 Monument, St Petersburg, Russia

Over the last couple of days we’ve had the commemorations of the D-Day landings which were attended by the leaders of the allies and also by the German leader, Angela Merkel. But there was apparently no invite for President Putin, despite the fact that they were definitely our allies and if Hitler hadn’t taken on more than he could handle when he attacked Russia it’s almost certain that we would all be speaking German now. It was a close run thing.

I’m definitely not a fan of Putin, but given the fact that the Soviets lost more people in the war than anyone else, it seems mean and petty to leave them out of the memorial services. So I thought I’d show you a couple of photos of the War Memorial at the top of Nevsky Prospekt which is St Petersburg’s equivalent of Paris’s Champs Elysees or Glasgow’s Sauchiehall Street.

WW2 Monument, St Petersburg, Russia

Balbirnie House Hotel, Fife, Scotland

The local posh hotel – Balbirnie House Hotel – has beautiful gardens, and now that it is closed due to the lockdown I felt I could take the opportunity to snap some photos there.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife, Scotland

If you feel that you’re hemmed in by four walls I hope these photos will go some way to making you feel a bit cheerier. Just take a big breath in and imagine you are there.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

It was a very bright day and the sun made some of the photos look a bit faded.
There’s obviously still a lot of hard work going into the upkeep of the gardens, which is just as well as wilderness takes over so quickly if you don’t put in the effort to keep things trimmed. It’s a shame there are so few people to see it though. I suppose I’m rectifying that a wee bit now.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden , Markinch, Fife
Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

The steps above lead to a little sitting area with some lovely topiary, very peaceful looking.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

And the photo below is from the top of the steps looking down at the hotel which was the home of the Balfour family until the 1960s.

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife,

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

Balbirnie House Garden, Markinch, Fife

This is the front of the hotel, which is the more recognisable poart to most people.

Balbirnie House Hotel , Fife

Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

Just as it was getting towards the time when all the National Trust and Historic Scotland properties were going to be opening for the new season – they didn’t, due to Coronavirus. But when we visited Drum Castle – I’m amazed to see that it was way back in October 2018 – I only wrote blogposts about the outside of the castle and it’s surroundings here and here.

I meant to get around to blogging about the inside, but you know what it’s like, it somehow eluded me, anyway below is a photo of the dining room. I must say that Drum Castle is very comfortable looking, considering it’s a castle.

Dining Room, Drum Castle

The library is very well stocked, but untouchable of course.
Drum Castle, library, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

There’s a very handy sitting area at the window where you could settle down with your choice of book, if you had happened to live there. The alcove it’s in highlights the thickness of the castle’s walls.

Drum Castle Library, Window Recess

The door leading to the sitting room loks like a castle door should I think.
Sitting Room, Drum Castle

But the room is fairly homely I think, not too grand.

Sitting Room, Drum Castle

I could quite happily settle down at this fireplace.
Sitting Room Fireplace, Drum Castle

The sitting room ceiling goes well with the door.
Drum Castle Sitting Room Ceiling

I woinder if there ever really was a cradle at the bottom of this four poster bed when this castle was a family home. I suspect that a nanny was in charge of the nursery and children. But the cradle is beautiful.
Bedroom, Drum Castle

As is the half-tester bed below, and the bureau which I believe is in a Japanese/Chinese style but it’s so long ago now I can’t remember!

Bedroom, Drum Castle, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

If you happen to be in the vicinty of Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire or what is now called Grampian I believe, it’s well worth a visit.

Luss Village and Church, by Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, West Scotland

Walking around the village of Luss by Loch Lomond last week, it was difficult to get photos of the houses but I managed to take the photo below of what I think is just about the cutest cottage in the village, peeking out from behind its hedge. It’s a shy one. Or maybe the owners fear that tourists might keek in the windows, it has been known elsewhere! Those elevated parts of the roofline above the windows are known in architectural circles as ‘cat slides’ for some reason and Jack and I live in hope of seeing an actual cat slide down one. These ones are very small and not like the usual cat slide dormers.

Cat Slide Cottage, Luss, Scotland

Walking a bit further along we reached the church which was shut, a bit of a shame but maybe it’s open at the height of the tourist season. There are a few images of the inside here.

Luss Church, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

This Church of Scotland building dates from Victorian times but there has been a place of Christian worship at the site for over 1500 years, it was formerly dedicated to Saint Kessog and has some really ancient graves in it including this Viking hogback grave below dating from around 1200.

Viking hogback stone, Luss church, Loch Lomond, Dunbartonshire
You can still see the decoration on it, I think it’s just designs rather than any letters or runes.
Viking hogback stone, grave, Luss, Loch Lomond

We had planned to walk over this wooden footbridge but as we got closer we realised it was all blocked off, apparently it’s dangerous at the moment. Anyway we walked past and onto a path which bypassed it and I managed to get a photo of the church steeple in reflection, if you look closely.
Loch Lomond, Bridge,Church

Loch Lomond Bridge, Luss

near Loch Lomond, Luss, Scotland, trees

Then on back around to the village again.

Luss, from Loch Lomond,

One of the cottages is being re-roofed, not before time as it looked fairly derelict otherwise.

Luss, Loch Lomond, cottages,

I imagine that although these houses must be really quite small inside they won’t be at all cheap to buy, at least there’s no danger of anyone building in front of you and spoiling your view.
From Loch Lomond, cottages, Dunbartonshire, Scotland

Loch Lomond panorama, Scotland

Marian Clayden Exhibition at Drum Castle

It can be quite surprising what you see when you visit castles in Scotland. When we went to Drum Castle in Aberdeenshire – I have to say a couple of years ago now, I didn’t expect to see an exhibition of textiles and clothes by Marian Clayden who I hadn’t heard of before but is very well known in her field of textiles and weaving. You can see my earlier posts on Drum Castle here.

Marian Clayden designs

The photos really don’t do her work justice as you can’t see the textures so well. The fabric is mainly silk and velvet, absolutely sumptuous looking.

Marian Clayden textile

Marian Clayden dress designs

Marian Clayden, designs

Marian Clayden was born in Preston, Lancashire which had a thriving textile industry back in the day, so her family was involved in various crafts, but I think we can safely say that Marian picked up that baton and ran with it. You can read about her life here.

Marian Clayden design

She trained as a teacher but after having a couple of kids and being stuck at home she decided to try dyeing some textiles in her kitchen, using skills she had learned in her teacher training. Moving to San Francisco in 1967 must have influenced her hugely – with all of those flower power people and bright colours around the place.

Marian Clayden  designs

Her career took off and there were exhibitions of her work all over the world. Sadly she died in 2015 but her work lives on in major collections all over the world in places such as the V&A in London and the Metropolitan in New York. We were just incredibly lucky to stumble across this exhibition in a Scottish Castle.

Marian Clayden