Blue sky moments have been rare this summer! I took this last week off and had planned to spend it pottering around the flat and getting out and about in the local countryside however the weather had other plans and by last Sunday I had cabin fever. It just doesn’t seem so much fun at home in the rain and it’s hard to find motivation to do anything – this was not the relaxing holiday I had planned! So on the spur of the moment, a holiday cottage was booked for the next day, for four nights. Looking at forecasts, we settled on Northumbria – it’s only a couple of hours away and it didn’t look like the weather across the rest of England was going to be any better so what was the point of travelling far! What a brilliant decision!
I’ve been to this part of the country as a child but don’t really remember it very well so it felt like I was exploring somewhere new. We based ourselves in Corbridge, a beautiful village with significant Roman remains. It also has amazing little shops and pubs – perfect! The added bonus was that we were extremely lucky with the weather; there were some grey but mild days, and then the sunshine belted out on Thursday in Newcastle whilst the rest of the area got flooded!
A highlight was exploring the Roman remains along Hadrian’s Wall and I’m now quite inspired next year to volunteer on a dig for a week next summer.
It’s quite amazing the things that have been found on these digs however most fascinating were the Vindolanda writing tablets which provide a written picture of life at that time including shopping lists, appeals to Emperors for lives to be saved and a birthday party invitation from a wealthy family.
Next day we were in Durham, primarily to see the Cathedral. Unfortunately you are not allowed to take photos inside however the outside is also quite impressive. Durham itself had quite a French feel (which is not surprising really considering the French Norman origins of the cathedral itself), with the Cathedral on the hill, a river twisting round it and the town built up on winding streets surrounding it.
Our final day was spent in Newcastle. I headed to the Seven Stories Centre for some picture book inspiration and met the Gruffalo along the way! They currently have two exhibitions on, one about Julia Donaldson and the other about Jacqueline Wilson. The book reading space in the attic was amazing – I could have spent all day snuggled up there with a book!
There was also a quick visit to the Baltic which had some amazing installations in it including a surround sound version of Talis’ 40 part motet, with each part emitting from a seperate speaker (therefore there were 40 speakers in the rooms); when they were all singing at the same time the feeling was amazing!
Anyway, I came home feeling much more rested and inspired and I can see me heading back down that way more often. The countryside is lovely and there’s plenty to do. And there’s sheep…