Saturday, 2 November 2013

Northumberland Adventure

Chain Bridge Honey Farm near Berwick Upon Tweed
We spent a lovely hour there looking around the visitors centre, honey gift shop and at the vintage tractors.
The twins loved being able to walk.
We put on their safety reins and let them explore!
They thought that their new found freedom was fantastic. They had their wellies on and enjoyed being able to stomp along!
Taylor discovered that if he stomped on different leaves he got different sounds. The wet ones squelched and the dry one crunched.
I appreciate having these little moments with the children. Normally life is so hectic so I feel lucky whenever we do get chance to spend quality time with them, together as a family.
We treated ourselves to a couple of jars of honey, one being a heather honey which I am already thinking about what I can bake using it. First thing will definitely be a heather honey cake, then maybe a honey loaf of bread!
We had a lovely time here and were amazed that there was no admission fee, it was all free!
Ford, Etal and Heatherslaw
In Ford is the Heatherslaw railway which we knew the twins would be excited about. I took Joseph when he was 3 and he loved it, so I knew it would be a hit with the twins.
They are both huge Thomas fans and choo choo like mad whenever it is on.
At the Heatherslaw railway they have a 15” gauge steam which has been painted in Thomas colours.
As soon as the twins saw the train they choo choo'd over and over again.
They were in their element!
The railway runs from Heatherslaw to Etal Village which is 6.4k and takes about 25 minutes each way. It is a lovely way to see the surrounding countryside and enjoy a ride. All 3 children loved being on the train, especially when they heard the choo choo!
We took the train to Etal and went to explore the castle ruins. We have got a family ticket from English Herritage which allows us free entry to so many properties all over the country. With Etal castle ruins being an English Herritage site we had free entry.
All 3 for the kiddies loved walking through the leaves and long grass while exploring.
They then discovered puddles!
Splashing in muddy puddles!
It was great to see their little smiles as they heard the water splish, splash, splosh!
Etal is a lovely, quaint little village. Apart from the castle there is not a great deal there but there is a good old traditional pub called The Black Bull which serves lovely home cooked meals at a good price.
On the banks of the River Till is the Heatherslaw Corn Mill which is the only working water mill in Northumberland. It is powered by a 16 ft water wheel and has a history of over 700 years of milling. The fully-restored mill machinery which includes 3 different sets of millstones makes, still to this day, the highest quality, stoneground wholemeal flour made from local grown wheat. I was excited to buy some wholemeal and spelt flour which I am excited to get home and bake some delicious bread with.
I have got to say that I am really enjoying this holiday. I think I am enjoying it more because I can see how much the children are getting from it and watching them discover new life experiences. Plus having the hubby with us for the week without the stresses of work is an added bonus!
But the week is flying by and I just wish it would slow down at bit.

Berwick Upon Tweed Barracks and Main Guard

This is a place that Joseph had asked to go to last time that we were here but it was closed so we made sure we went when it was open.
Thankfully we had gone with my parents as this really was not an outing for the twins. They soon got bored and we had to take them outside for a bit of lunch while Joseph continued to discover facts in the 'By Beat of Drum' exhibition which gave him an insight into how the British infantrymen live. Detailing from the Civil War to the First World War.
We always take packed lunches out with us to save a bit of money so we huddled under a shelter on a bench and had some lunch while Joseph went round the exhibition with his nanna and grandad.
After lunch we walked the twins around the courtyard and they were excited to see there were puddles! They went straight for them and stomped their feet and listened for the splishing and splashing noises they could make. I am so pleased we invested in their first pairs of wellies before we left home!
On the way back to the caravan we took a detour to Sunnyhills Farm Shop as we had seen it advertised and were immediately drawn to it! One thing that me and the hubby do enjoy is good food and cheese! When we find a good farm shop we like to treat ourselves. We did that today! We left with various cheeses, pies, sausages, crackers and biscuits! We've even said we'll be going back before we go home.

Alnwick Castle and Gardens

Whenever we are in Northumberland we visit the castle and gardens.
We do this because we not only love seeing the gardens at different times during the year but also when you pay once and keep your tickets you are entitled to visit as many times as you like for a year!
Last time we visited it was in April. Due to the long winter that we had, the trees and beds were bare so we we're looking forward to seeing the garden a little bit fuller.
As it is now autumn we have missed the flowers but it was lovely seeing the autumnal colours. Everything is turning orange, yellow and brown and leaves are starting to fall. I do love the colours that autumn brings.
At the bottom of the huge cascading water feature they have ride on tractors. Taylor fell in love with them and we had tears and screams when we left them. We now know what to get him for his birthday!
We took them round to see the decorative water features. We thought that this would be something that they'd love. This was true for Taylor but not for Isabella. As we walked closer she backed away bless her but Taylor thought it was great and loved feeling the cold water on his hands.
After some lunch over looking the gardens we ventured over to the castle. Joseph ran straight over to the archery which unfortunately was cancelled thanks to the rain. I thought he would be disappointed but he just went to explore elsewhere. We saw,where Harry Potter was filmed and admired the castle. Joseph knew exactly where he was going and led us back to the Dragon's Quest. Last time we were here Joseph had to take us all through the spooky looking area one at a time, he loved it so much! So off he went. First with his dad and grandad. Next it my turn. This time he saw that it wasn't just a spooky tour there was also an activity to do as we went round! So we had a bit of "Mummy Joe-Joe" time and completed the activity as well as being spooked and getting confused in the maze of mirrors. It was just what we needed, a bit of time together, me and my boy!
We made our way down to the shop and as we left the heavens opened! It poured down leaving puddles which the twins made a dash for!
Once the rain eased we made our way back to the car discussing and planning a winter visit before Christmas.
They are having a Christmas market during December which we'd like to visit. They are also doing a winter wonderland special where the children can meet father Christmas. This would be great if the twins were older. This year I don't think that they will be sure of father Christmas and the wonderland would cost us £75 altogether for all 5 of us which is a lot of money for us, especially at that time of year. Another year maybe! But we're going to make the most of our years pass and enjoy a winter break.
On our way back we called into Sunnyhills farm shop again. After our visit for cheese we decided to go back and visit the tea room. We had some lovely cakes, scones and tea. We even bought some more delicious charcoal crackers that we had the other night. I could spend a fortune in this farm shop, it sells all the unusual artisan foods that I love. We had their steak pies for our tea last night. The steak was so lean and tender. I am normally quite fussy when it comes to bought pies as more often than not the meat is not great and can often be fatty but this pie was delicious and packed with huge pieces of fantastic quality lean steak. We will definitely be passing by on our way home to pick up a couple more pies to take home.
The shop is just on the ourskirts of Belford and if you are in the area it is definitely worth a visit!
I can't believe our holiday is almost over but we intend to make the most of our last day and make more memories.

Holy Island of Lindisfarne

Yesterday was our last full day in beautiful Northumberland and thankfully it was a lovely day!
We decided to cross the causeway and visit Holy Island.
Holy Island is linked to the mainland by a causeway. Twice a day the road that leads onto the island is covered by sea as the tide comes in. There is local information available which tells you when it is safe to cross the causeway.
I am always amazed by life on the Island that for a great deal of the time is cut off from the mainland. Just thinking about how life must be makes you appreciate having everything so accessible. However life must be so calm, peaceful and back to basics. It is a beautiful island that has quaint little shops and wonderful scenic walks.
We enjoyed visiting a couple of shops and a picnic before we walked to the castle.
Joseph ran off ahead as usual and went exploring. My dad took him down to the waters edge to see if they could find any crabs but I don't think that they had much luck!
My mum and dad took the twins for a walk so that the hubby and I could take Joseph up to have a look around the castle. The Lindisfarne Castle is a National Trust site. Thankfully we have cards so this was, yet another, free visit! It was a steep walk up but it was more than worth it just for the stunning views over the sea. It was beautiful to see the sun beams shining through the clouds onto the water. Joseph was pleased to have a bit of quality time with his mum and dad to himself and really took in the history of the castle. After we had explored all of the rooms we began our walk back down and caught up with my mum and dad and the twins. The long walk back had earned Joseph a well deserved ice cream before we set off again!
We have had one of the best holiday's and we have created so many happy memories. This is definitely one of our favourite parts of the country and I am sure that we will enjoy many more holidays here together.
We are already planning the next!!!

We had such a fantastic family holiday in Northumberland. I feel that it is so important that our children know and appreciate our country and get to know its heritage. Northumberland is the hidden jewel of Great Britain. It is a part of the country that more people should explore.
I know that we will definitely be returning in the near future!

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