Day Two – You Know Its Remote When You Have To Shop In A Different Country

Monday morning last week saw me arise at my normal awakening time, around 6am, which is ok on a workday but a trifle disappointing when you’re on holiday. Being one to not lie around in a bed when awake I showered, dressed, went downstairs in the sleeping Spindlestone House, grabbed a banana and my painting stuff and took a stroll down the lane to Budle Bay.

7am in Budle Bay is quite the most beautiful part of the day…

I chose a tree trunk to sit on just above the high water line and painted and sketched for an hour, just me, lots of sea birds, and something that kept rustling in the grass behind me, it was simply quite wonderful, as was the walk back through the fields for breakfast …

When the sun shines, and often when it doesn’t, you cannot surpass the beauty of the English countryside, you can stick your parched and brown hot sunny foreign landscapes right where the sun won’t shine for there is little to paint in a barren wasteland of burned rock, it may rain a tad here but that’s what supplies the beauty in abundance, and anyway, you only get wet once.

After a huge cooked breakfast for nine with lashings and lashings of hot tea and strong coffee we had managed to eat all the food we’d catered for the week and so at some point the day must include another supermarket visit, but on the agenda today was the island of Lindisfarne a few miles north of our Grace Darling Holidays rental home and so with the barometers set for “Hot” we set the compasses to “North” and ventured forth, in several cars.

Lindisfarne, or Holy Island for those who prefer the ecclesiastical angle, is a genuine island that sits half a mile or so out to sea in its own bay and is linked by a tidal causeway which is fortunately driveable when uncovered. Its the home of the Lindisfarne Priory and Lindisfarne Castle, we visited the castle even though we knew it was shut on a Monday but didn’t visit the priory even though we knew it was open on a Monday and for what reason I cannot remember why we did it in that order, I think stopping off at The Ship Inn for beer and food at lunchtime may have had something to do with it, a lunchtime that sort of stretched into the afternoon, anyway, I took some photos of the closed castle at least…

As a castle it was built in the 1550’s although the Vikings had used the site 700 years earlier and the island of Lindisfarne was of course known even before then as the home of the Saints Aidan and Cuthbert. In 1901 it was purchased by Edward Hudson (owner of Country Life magazine) who employed the famous architect Sir Edwin Lutyens to convert it to a private home, and that my friends is what I call a substantial private home with a wonderful excuse to offer the in-laws when they call you on the phone to ask if they can call in and see you tomorrow as they will be passing, “No, sorry, the tide is in all day, you’ll never get across the causeway”, one day every home will have a causeway again.

The view looking south from the very tip of Lindisfarne, the smudge in the distance is Bamburgh Castle (see yesterday), note also the distinct lack of other people on the shoreline, this is a secret coastline, remember how I told you that yesterday, its important that you don’t share this information with anyone else or the next thing you know there will be amusement arcades, shops selling buckets and spades and council house tenants* up and down these beaches all summer long.

We finally left Lindisfarne before the tide cut us off and in need of further food for the house we partook a short journey up the A1 to Berwick, the town that sits on the border with Scotland and can never quite make up its mind whether or not its English or Scottish, as if its not enough to have been invaded and captured by a thousand years worth of battles ‘twixt English and Scots the town currently stands in England but its football team play in the Scottish leagues, and its residents all have a definite Scottish accent – go to Lindisfarne and they are still Geordies, drive a few miles to Berwick and you’re left in no doubt that you’re in Scotland now – just check your change in the supermarket and make sure they don’t give you any of those “funny” Scottish bank notes or you’ll spend the rest of your holiday trying to palm them off onto some English shopkeeper who doesn’t believe that they may or may not be legal tender in England.

* That should put the hit rates up a bit.

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