Monday, August 03, 2009

A week in Northumberland #1

Come with me, gentle reader, to a little corner of England I bet most of you have only ever gazed at wearily from the window of a car (or train) while hoping it's not too long till Edinburgh (it's not).

Northumberland may be one of the largest counties in England, but it's also one of the emptiest, partly because everyone is too impatient to get to next-door Scotland to stop there, and partly because the few people who do live there keep it close to their stout and farmerly chests.

It's also one of the most beautiful, and even (I'm bracing myself for getting lynched in short order by sundry broad-vowelled people as I write this) outdoes Yorkshire for the sheer volume, to say nothing of idyllic beauty, of its countryside. Best of all, it has some of the most inspirational gardens in England.

Just to whet your appetite - here's a taste of what you can expect to find there:

PS the sharp-eyed among you may notice that Holy Island is conspicuous by its absence. That's because I couldn't see it beneath the three thousand other people crammed on there along with me. Come to think of it, maybe that's where all the people in Northumberland had got to. Anyway, for a place that's meant to be a haven of spiritual reflection and romantic mysticism, it had a very unholy number of chip vans and push buggies. It's enough to make you start writing letters to the National Trust and English Heritage, both of whom should know better. Harrumph.


VP said...

Having lived (and courted) for 6 years in the North east, you've just made me extremely homesick.

We stayed in a cottage opposite Alnwick Castle a few years back. June's the time for Holy Island - you get the place pretty much to yourself and can linger for ages in Gertrude Jekyll's tiny little cliff top garden.

We also visited Alnwick Garden. I expect it's very different now as we were there before the tree house was built.

The Constant Gardener said...

Ah VP now if I'd known you knew Northumberland I've had pestered you no end before we went - apart from Alnwick and Holy Island we didn't know much about the place at all.

Thanks for the tip about Holy Island - that was such a disappointment, it's somewhere I've wanted to see for years and years and it was so awful.

see tomorrow for Alnwick Gardens ;D

VP said...

Looking forward to it.

Though I could have told you loads, it's just lovely discovering all that emptiness - Holy Island excepted - for yourself. I see you've been to the Farne Islands too - did you get bombarded by the terns?

VP said...

PS Interesting point about writing to the NT. The Garden Visit website's urging people not to visit Sissinghirst unless they really have to as the experience there is so awful.

I wonder if this will be become an increasing theme as a) people stay home for their holidays more or have increased leisure time b) the NT have now vowed to make garden writing about their properties much easier to do c) an ever growing and aging population find garden visiting the ideal pastime.

Hmm - time for a blogpost on the subject methinks

The Constant Gardener said...

no we saw lots of terns and even more kittiwakes, cormorants and some big brown birds I couldn't recognise - but no bombarding. We had more trouble with seagulls eyeing up the kids' chips on Holy Island.

I think you're entirely right about the tension between the number of people staying at home and visiting attractions here, and the tipping point at which those attractions become entirely unattractive due to sheer weight of numbers. I don't see either NT or English Heritage lifting a finger to help the situation either. As you point out, quite the opposite. I shall look forward to your blog post :D

and by the way - are we to conclude it was NAH you were courting in Northumberland? if so.... awwwww... romance is alive and well. If not I'll shut up now :D though details would still be riveting ;D

VP said...

We found the seagulls are most adept at catching falling chips in mid air at Craster.

And yes, NAH was the courted (and courting) one :D All the gory details are reserved for a blog post one day... It's far too much for a comment! Let's just say I still go all gooey at the memories and we've been married for 25 years this year :D

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