This week was one that we’d all been looking forward to for some time: our main family holiday of the year. Our first one that we’ve had to take during school holidays too – we used to go in September and last year we went in June before H started school. We decided that by going north we’d get better value and availability, plus it was quite a while since we’d been north for a holiday. Last year I’d travelled on the East Coast mainline past the lovely Northumberland beaches and been tempted to holiday there as a result. So on Saturday we ended up in Alnmouth, near Alnwick in Northumberland in our little holiday cottage. Alnmouth is a pretty little village right on the coast and this picture was taken in the beer garden of one of the local pubs.
After driving up to the far north of England from the midlands, I wasn’t in the mood for too much driving so we went to nearby Alnwick Castle and Alnwick Garden for the day. Alnwick Castle is quite spectacular and was used as a location for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. There was lots to see and do and H particularly loved getting in some water play in the Serpent Garden section on Alnwick Garden. With the sun shining the garden was the perfect place to play.
On Monday we went to Cragside, a nearby National Trust property. This was a magical place and we all came away saying we wanted to go back. It’s a large estate that you can drive slowly round on a one way road. H loved ‘guiding’ us round with the map and the fact that the road goes right through the courtyard of the house. Here he is at the adventure playground about half way round, just before the rain really got going for the day. We didn’t get to do everything we wanted because of the rain and we’d love to go back to walk through the estate and visit the gardens.
Tuesday was a better day weather wise and we spent the day outside. First up was English Heritage owned Warkworth Castle. This is a ruined castle, but the keep is quite complete and rather unusual (I have been round more castles than I have fingers and toes, so I feel I can say that with some authority). We also made a visit to Alnwick to mouch around the shops, in particular the famous Barter Books (it’s a very large second hand bookshop in a former railway station with a model train running over the bookcases and a cafe in the former waiting room). In the afternoon we went to Alnmouth’s beach so that H could complete another of his 50 things to do before you’re 11 3/4 challenges: burying someone (in this case Daddy) in the sand.
Wednesday saw us heading even further north to Berwick on Tweed. Berwick is further north than some parts of Scotland and was a frontier town for a large part of its history. We walked along the Elizabethan bastions and town walls and visited some military museums. The highlight of the day was our tour of Berwick’s townhall. During its history the town hall had functioned as a prison and here is H wearing some manacles in one of the criminal cells. It was a great tour that was geared to its (in this case) family audience and we all learnt a lot.
Another day, another castle so Thursday saw us visiting Bamburgh Castle. Here’s a view from the castle of the sea and the Farne Islands. We ambled back down the coast road, after our visit, and returned to base in Alnmouth for another beach fix.
Friday’s castle was Newcastle (a bit of a cheat perhaps, although we did see the castle keep at a distance). We gave the car a rest and went into Newcastle on the train which didn’t take long at all. Most of the day was spent at the Life Science Centre, but we also made a short visit to the Discovery Centre, which is where this picture was taken. The Discovery Centre covers the history of Newcastle and has lots of interactive exhibits, plus it’s free.