shewhomust: (bibendum)
After dinner I went for one last walk.

Down to the harbour, over the Heugh and down the other side to the beach immediately across the water from the sandbanks where the seals hang out. I couldn't see any seals, but I could hear them cooing to each other. The tide was quite low, so I walked round the headland towards Saint Cuthbert's island. The sun was just breaking through a grey sky, tracing a faint silver path across the wet sands:

Sunpath


Photograph taken at 9.20 pm. The solstice is past; the nights are drawing in.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Just a little walk: it's not far from here to the harbour, then across the meadow onto the village green, round behind the church and down the track to the shore. They've made a display in the old lifeboat house, about the lifeboats: tales of courageous rescues, a comedy photo opportunity (of the 'your face here' variety) and - completely simple, but I found it very effective - the painted outline on the floor of the boat itself. I sat on one of the benches, and watched the swallows, and the play of the light behind the clouds over Saint Cuthbert's island:

Saint Cuthbert's island


With a little goodwill, maybe you can see the slanting rays of light coming down onto the island. Those clouds keep trying to rain, and a few drops hit me as I left the beach on the footpath up through the field, but they didn't come to anything. I cut through the churchyard, but there's scaffolding there, too, between the church and the priory, so I turned, and discovered there's a dangerous tree round the other side of the church: it didn't look dangerous, it looked as if it was lying down and resting, but the notices said it was dangerous, and who am I to argue?

Past the shiny new village hall, and along the village street. Passing the Impressions Gallery I was invited in by the artist, and he told me that the excavation on the Heugh have found Saint Aidan's church - a bit of poking around the internet tells me that that is what they were looking for, but I can't find any up-to-date information.

Something to investigate tomorrow...
shewhomust: (Default)
The last few days have been full of busyness, some of it self-inflicted: cooking choices result in washing up, and did I really need to bake a loaf of bread? (Yes. Yes, I did.) Some of it was stubbornness about not being deterred from doing things which might more conveniently have happened at a different time: the farmers' market, the annual Eco Festival at the local church. Some of it will be rewarded when we return home at the end of the week, and find I have already done those things - mainly work, and the residents' association minutes. Some of it was me not responding well to the hot weather, and slowing down ...

Ah, well. What didn't get done before we left can be done when we get home. [personal profile] durham_rambler and I got away in time to meet [personal profile] helenraven from her train in Berwick, and here we are on Lindisfarne. [personal profile] valydiarosada and D. are unpacking their shopping into the kitchen, and I am writing this at the dining table with its view through the French window, across the patio and over to the Castle, which is elaborately scaffolded and topped with a canopy - just like home, in fact. But it's cooler than home, which is very pleasant.

Time for a stroll, I think.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
The summer continues as grey as it was during our week on Lindisfarne: on the last day of July we dined on mutton strw, mashed potatoes and dried fruit compote, and didn't feel that this autumnal meal was in any way inappropriate; I lay snug in bed this morning and thought that the heather must be in bloom on the hills, and perhaps... and then rose, put on a warm jumper, and thought, perhaps not. I'd like to claim to be a hardy northerner, undeterred by weather, but the truth is that although I still have fun when the skies are grey, there are things that I don't do, that I would have done if the sun had been smiling. That applies today, it applies to much of our trip to the Western Isles, and it applies to our week on Lindisfarne.

Fun under grey skies, then: with photographs, obviously. )
shewhomust: (bibendum)
For the ten summers since we decided we were too old for this driving to Lindisfarne overninght (and then driving back again) lark, we have rented a house for a week on the island: different houses, some we return to, some once only. I suspect that Coble Cottage will turn out to be a once only.

Coble Cottage


It's a new house, replacing an older building, neatly fitted into the space, and I'd seen it under construction and wondered about it. The descriptions on the website were impressive - but so was the price. Eventually we agreed that it was worth a try, and that four bedrooms, all of them en suite, made it a good opportunity to invite the Bears to join us for the week. And that remains true, despite all my reservations about the place.

Long and not very interesting unless you are actually looking for a house to rent on Lindisfarne )

None of these drawbacks in any way spoiled my holiday; but I didn't warm to Coble Cottage as I might have.

tl:dr version - Coble Cottage is unusual on Lindisfarne in offering so many bedrooms all with en suite facilities, and if that is your priority, it delivers. Otherwise, you can probably do better.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
The important thing is the sunrise: it was raining, the sun was not seen to clear the horizon, but we were there. We being the hard core of [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and myself, D. and [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada; occasionals G. and C. (with family); and neophytes, the Bears. Only Richard was absent. I could say his spirit was with us, or some such, but I don't believe that, so I won't. He wasn't there, and this was wrong, and we missed him.

[livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler had enlivened Friday evening with the discovery that he had failed to pack his medication, leading to a whip round which demonstrated that between the other five of us we could supply all his immediate needs (this says something about the age of the party, but I'd prefer not to explore that), but did not have enough supplies to see him and us through the week. So on Saturday morning, having failed to raise our GP by phone, he and the Bears and I headed into Berwick in search of medication (and other supplies). Once there, we set to work to accomplish our various missions: [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler consulted the pharmacist at Boots, who recommended the drop-in centre at the infirmary, while GirlBear bought some postcards at the stationer adjacent to the market hall, BoyBear and I scrutinised the secondhand / antiquarian bookshop at the back of the market itself. So by the time we were reunited, I had found the next two books in the Aubrey / Maturin series (and asked the price of what turned out to be the most expensive volume at the shop, on the prehistory of Malta, at £140), BoyBear was in the music shop, I was stocking up on goodies in the Green shop and [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler had an appointment with a doctor at 2.30. This gave us just time for lunch at the Curfew, a tiny pub with a good range of interesting beers and a tapas bar next door. The appointment went smoothly, a prescription was issued and in due course filled at Tesco's (all bar one item), and we also did some heavy duty supermarket shopping.

Which was just as well, because we served dinner for 11 at Coble Cottage on Saturday evening (the table is described as accommodating ten, so this is a plus, to be recalled when I come to write, as I will, at greater length about the cottage). We went to our several beds, sofas and in one case van, and emerged at four a.m. into the rain. I am proud to announce that no-one bailed at this point. We straggled down the road, past the castle and out to the edge of the island, and we were all eleven of us gathered there by 4.30, when we declared that the sun must surely be risen by now = or else not - and that the world would either carry on or it would not, and either way there was no point in standing around any longer in the cold and rain.

Pyramid


The party continued en masse a little further along the shore, then some of us turned back to the village, while others continued to the white pyramid (it's a navigational aid) on Emmanuel Head. Some of the younger members of the party declared it to be climbable, if only we had some rope (which we didn't), and if it weren't wet from the rain (which of course it was). Older hands pointed out that it was clearly in need of repainting, and the imperfections this revealed in its surface made it more approachable now than it had been for years, a state of affairs which would probably have been remedied by next year. By now the rain had stopped, and the party splt again, some returning the way we had come and a hard core continuing along the dunes, getting wet all over again in the long grass, before turning inland and home across the nature reserve. The castle floated in a moat of mist, but the sun was shining brightly by the time the last few of us reached home, and bed - and all of this was right and proper.

Castle in the mist


Sunday was a blur of peple getting up and different times, and lingering around the long table eating different meals and discussing different plans, declaring they must go, they had things to do, but well, if you are making coffee... In the course of these conversations, G. revealed that he has been looking into his family history and discovered, several generations back, that [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler's surname crops up. When this happens, we have a simple test: are you related to the boy V.C.? G. said, yes, it seems that he was my grandfather's cousin. As he was also [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler's grandfather's cousin, the two of them must be, in some degree, cousins: which was unexpected, but pleasing. The day ended with all visitors departed, and with the resident party raising a glass of prosecco, above the bowls of more strawberries than we could eat, to Richard Turner, our absent friend.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
[livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler spotted that the octagonal tower house at Seaton Sluice is for sale - which is tempting, but very silly. He described it to [livejournal.com profile] helenraven, and she was curious enough to see it that we decided we would pay it a visit on our way up to Lindisfarne (while [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada and D. took the sensible route, via Sainsbury's). It's a charming, chunky little tower, a Vanbrugh jeu d'esprit, with a sea view and a tiny garden, and [livejournal.com profile] helenraven conceded that she could see the attraction. But she was stern: "You are the last people who should buy a listed building," and she is probably right. So instead we strolled around, admired the sculptures, and went for fish and chips at the Harbour View.

We took the scenic route north to the island (including getting lost in Newbiggin - when 'lost' means knowing where you are, but not how to get out) and were still there not long after the tide went out. And the rest of the day is a blur of unpacking and other people, with time for a stroll down to the beach. By now the tide was low enough that just meandering along, looking at the tiny shells and the fragments of pottery, picking my way between boulders and clumps of bladder wrack, listening to the seals singing on the mainland, brought me past the Buoy House and round to the path onto the Heugh before I was really aware of it.

There isn't much to be said about the sunrise: I have bought some postcards showing a hazy view of the harbour and castle, with the caption "Sunrise on Lindisfarne", though you can clearly see the bright patch which is the sun halfway up the sky. This appealed to me, because that's exactly how it works. You go out before four in the morning, in not quite full daylight:

Before the dawn


and you look at the bank of cloud behind the castle, and know that you will not be seeing the sun clear the horizon today. You walk beyond the castle, and maybe you see a gleam over to the left and maybe you don't, and eventually someone checks their watch and decides that it must be up by now. We waved to R's friend C, who, after delivering him to Farne View had gone off to climb the Cheviot, but without much hope he would see us - the summit was hidden by black cloud; [livejournal.com profile] helenraven said she would walk for a bit; [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler, D, R and I turned down Crooked Lonnen and followed the lane back to the village and home.

For obvious reasons, Saturday was a quiet day. [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada and I set off together for the shops, and got as far as the mead factory (and gift shop and deli). I found my way into the URC next door, which I have always just walked past before: it has an attractive garden of almost-wild flowers, and inside there was an exhibition of paintings of views of the island, with the artist in attendance, and he told me about the gallery he is about to open in the village (next Saturday). There have been other small changes: the fudge shop which replaced the generic souvenir shop (next door to the Celtic craft shop) is making a big fuss about its ice cream (Spurreli's - which I'm pretty sure we met in Amble) and has an artistic window display, combining themes of ice cream and art glass; the bookstall that used to be outside the Island Oasis café is now in their courtyard, and I relieved it of a Rex Stout which I hadn't read before (I can never tell from the titles, which are all general-purpose crime titles, or the covers, which all have orchids on them, but this is the one in which Nero Wolfe's daughter turns up, and I reached the end without at any point finding it familiar).

We had planned to eat out, but all the pubs were fully booked. [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and D. persuaded the Crown and Anchor to provide us with fish and chips to take away - and at huge personal cost to themselves sat in the pub and drank beer until it was ready.

Sunday was as traditional as we get: various people were sent off after breakfast to ring bells, various other people went out for walks. I took my camera down past the car park to the point where the causeway meets the edge of the island. If there are any poppies at all on the island, you'll find them growing along the wall there, maybe not entirely wild but not the cultivated giants either, and I had noticed that there are a fine display this year, an abundance of flowers and enough fallen petals below to make it look as if they are growing from a pool of blood. This was some consolation for missing the thrift entirely: once upon a time we would cross to the island through a carpet of pink, but recently it has been mostly over by the time we arrived. Last year I found a last few clumps of flowers, but this year it is all papery dead heads as far as the eye can see. We reconvened for lunch at the Ship (they do very good crab sandwiches). Much later I walked through the churchyard and down to the beach in the evening sunshine.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
The Lindisfarne Gospels weigh about the same as a badger.

Reported without comment from a lecture by Dr David Petts on New Perspectives on the Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Lindisfarne.

Since this was billed as "A lecture to celebrate the presence of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham", perhaps he felt obliged to say something - anything - about them.

There seem to be two aspects to the archaeology of Anglo-Saxon Lindisfarne, the past and the future. On the one hand, you have the digs which have already taken place, and which have not been published, so that meta-archaeology is required to sort and organise the data (including some field notes on the back of a cigarette packet). Compared to this, on the other hand, the excavations which have not yet taken place seemed more solid, represented by photographs of shell middens and an incised cross on the rocks below the castle.

An afternoon well-spent - and it was followed by a visit to Gail-Nina and a party chez [livejournal.com profile] samarcand, so a good day altogether.
shewhomust: (guitars)
I am blocked on this post: that is, it feels like the next post I want to write, and when I am not actually working on it, the various ideas that feed into it go round and round in my head. But when I try to write it, it looks a) muddled. b) either self-evident or obviously wrong (or both) and c) boring, boring, boring. It gathers up into one incoherent mess some ideas I've been kicking around for some time, a book post and some thoughts about a recent concert which loop back into some thoughts about a less recent concert. For the past three evenings I have sat and looked at it, crossed bits out and put them back in, tried reversing the order and then decided I liked it better the way it was to begin with, and meanwhile if I play a couple of games of solitaire it will all make sense. This hasn't worked so far. I'm tempted just to delete it and move on - there's so much else to write about. But I'm afraid that if I do that, it will carry on spinning around in my head; the only way out may be through. So tonight I press the button and post it. No-one has to read it.

Random thoughts about folk music, and the general unhelpfulness of defining your terms )

A book: Georgina Boyes'The Imagined Village' )

It's different up north. )

And that's quite enough of that: normal blogging will be resumed as soon as possible. Meanwhile, have a picture of St Mary's Church, Lindisfarne:

Sunset daisies
shewhomust: (dandelion)
The weather forecast for our week on Lindisfarne was for rain; I packed books, writing materials, letters to answer. As it turned out, we had sunshine every day except Friday, the solstice itself (of course) which was grey and slightly - but only slightly - showery. I confess here and now that the prospect of an early morning walk in probably rain to see the sun fail to rise from behind the clouds (allegedly the whole purpose of our stay) failed to lure me out of bed on Friday morning. But I spent much of the rest of the week walking about, from gentle strolls down to the beach to hear the seals singing (I'm sure they were more numerous than in previous years) to more ambitious expeditions.

On Tuesday morning I surveyed the island from two vantage points which hadn't been available on our last visit, the Lookout and Window on wild Lindisfarne (picture set on Flickr by the architects). the Window is a sort of glorified hide handily positioned by the stop for the Castle shuttle bus, very boxy and brutal in stone, but a surprisingle pleasant space to be inside. Here I learned that the old coastguard watchhouse had been opened as a viewpoint, and an agreeable blowy walk along the Heugh took me there. In the afternoon [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I went into Berwick to shop: the bookshop, the Green Shop and a supermarket, with a short walk along the river and onto the town walls. Berwick grows on me.

Wednesday was the day for a real walk: we went to St Abb's Head, and walked around the headland: a steep climb up the cliffs, the village of St Abbs emerging from its shelter as we climbed higher, the view of the bays beyond becoming more extensive:

St Abbs village


then down to the sea at a little rocky cove and up again to the lighthouse, past some cliffs screaming with birds, bristling with guillemots, and inland back to our starting point along Mire Loch.

A soup and sandwich lunch at the visitor centre - with a big jug of water - revived us enough to visit the Chainbridge Honey Farm, with its extensive collection of bee-related stuff (bee-related postage stamps! china honey pots! a wasps' nest!) and I was strong and did not buy beeswax candles in the shape of puffins (because after all, I could never burn them). A stroll down to the Chain Bridge finished us off.

Thursday's walk was less satisfactory. On a previous visit we had collected leaflets about the villages of Ford and Etal, and walks between them, and liked the sound of a walk along the river Till, returning by the light railway. In practice, too much of the walk was on roads to be truly enjoyable, and even where it followed the river it was less beside than parallel to it. We cut back through the fields and drove to Etal, which gave us time for lunch at the Black Bull before going down past the castle to see the last train of the day come in. Not a dead loss, but disappointing, since it had sounded so promising.

And Friday, of course, was all about wandering around the island wondering where the week had gone...
shewhomust: (dandelion)
I titled this post on Monday, when I wrote it; I had posted to LJ - with photo - the previous evening, and was confident I could do so again. But I never again managed to maintain a sufficiently stable internet connection to do - well, anything really. I'd get online, and then lose it, and eventually I decided that I had better things to do. So that "delayed" is doubly apt.


At ten o'clock last night I turned off my computer, and saw that the sky beyond the window was stained pink with sunset. So I rushed downstairs, and went out for a walk round the village. I was too late to choose a vantage point from which to watch the sun go down, or the rosy clouds frame a landmark, so I just strolled along the streets, admiring the plants rising above the garden walls and the sweetness of the scented air. There will be other evenings to benefit more fully from the sunset (visibility permitting) - but not tonight, for tonight is the night of the Midsummer Phantoms.

So far, it's been all about the flowers - the flowers and the lazing with a book and the sleeping quite a lot. I had noticed as we crossed the causeway that the carpet of thrift, which is usually well past its best during our week on the island, was in full bloom, so yesterday morning I walked back to the causeway and had fun taking photos: single blooms, and one clump half of which was regulation sea-pink pink and half pure white, and general views in which the posts which mark the pilgrim way across the sands rose from a foaming sea of pink - and then I came home, we all went out for a fish-and-chip lunch at the Ship, and I snoozed away most of Sunday afternoon.

Pink carpet


This morning I went out again, this time across the nature reserve, to the dunes. Again, the orchids which would normally be past their best, still numerous but with their purple spikes singed to brown, were at their peak, some barely emerging from the buds - there are some advantages to the lateness of this year's spring, for my selfish enjoyment at least!

Walking down the lane which leads to the nature reserve, I met a couple, each with camera, telephoto lens and tripod, carefully flattening the grass around a lone purple orchid - admittedly the first I'd seen, but I knew this was just the first outlier of many. They asked me, was this the Holy Island orchid? If there is such a thing as the Holy Island orchid, I know nothing about it, but I said I thought that might be the marsh helleborine, which I've only ever seen once. I might have told them where, but they said they had a map which marked the Holy Island orchid, so I didn't insist. I meandered on until I reached the sea, at the beach just beyond Emmanuel Head, where I took off my boots and paddled. I might have looped on to the castle and home that way, but there were people about, and I was tempted by the possibility that the marsh helleborine, too, might be lingering later than usual, so I took the path from which I had seen it last time. No sign, but many more orchids, and a vivid white patch of bog cotton waving its banners below the distant castle.

And so home, bath, lunch - and soon out to Phantoms.
shewhomust: (dandelion)
Written yesterday evening at the kitchen table at Farne View, nine o' clock and still full - though not bright - daylight; posted, I hope, via the internet connection we have found in the spare bedroom, if you sit right over by the window. Ten to ten, and I'm writing by daylight. Anyway, add a day's distance to all that follows...

we - [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and D. and I - have reached Lindisfarne and unpacked our belongings and dined and done most of today's crossword. I have been out for a short walk, between showers, and found a fragment of willow pattern on the beach - a fragment with a boat on it, which seems appropriate. And we have a week ahead of us, which is a good thought to slow me down after today's dashing about.

Come sailing in


Two nights ago we were in Sunderland - at Sunderland Minster, and who Knew Sunderland had a minster? - for 'Song of the Shipyards', a compilation of film clips accompanied by music from the Unthanks. Odd to be sitting in a church with a glass of wine, being sung to and watching men at work building ships, and elegant ladies launching them (because evidently the launch was the moment in the construction of a ship most often thought worth filming). At one point the film came with its own sung soundtrack, and I thought, "I know that voice" (it wasn't until the credits I realised it was Alex Glasgow). The project sprang from Tyneside, and the Unthanks were properly apologetic about bringing something so Tyne-centric to Wearside. ("The biggest shipbuilding town in the world," my father used to say. There were places where more ships were built, but all of them cities. I often wonder what he would make of the trnsformation of Sunderland into a city - and a university city at that.)

Last night we were at 'One night in Gateshead' at the Sage. We've been to a series of concerts under that title at which older folk musicians perform and talk about their lives and careers: it was, I think, one of the things Kathryn Tickell set up when she became Artistic Director at Folkworks. Last night was Kathryn Tickell's own 'One night in Gateshead' and it was completely different, a game of three halves. The "main concert" (according to the programme) was a series of arrangements, each based on a folk song and played by the Northern Symphonia (now, apparently, and for reasons I have not yet discovered, the Royal Northern Symphonia. This was presented as a Good Thing. But I digress..) At first I felt that these didn't come off, that they were neither one thing nor the other, but the later ones were more successful, Bobby Shaftoe, Bonny at Morn and a triumphant Water of Tyne. This concert was preceded by Philip Trevelyan's short film, made in the 1960s, of the 'Ship Hotel - Tyne Main' (which [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I recognised as the pub where we had lunched the day we bought the car), film of another country where everyone smoked and men wore ties, and people sang in pubs. And it was followed by an extraordinary grab-bag of local celebration - for Kathryn Tickell is also a major force behind the current Festival of the North East - with primary school children singing Tyneside music hall songs, and David Almond reading a piece he had written for the Guardian about the power of usng dialect, and dance and Kathryn's new band and...

After which I'm ready for a few days' rest.
shewhomust: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] helenraven's post about the trip to Lindisfarne prods me into posting about the end of our week there, which was shaped even more than usual by the tides. Lindisfarne's a tidal island, accessible and inaccessible at times of day which shift as the days pass. This worked well for us on Tuesday, when we were able to dine out in Newcastle and still get back to our beds on the island. By the end of the week - well, I'll come to that.

The Tweed at Coldstream


On Wednesday we drove up Tweeddale, through Cornhill and Coldstream to Kelso. I love the Borders: the Highlands are more dramatic, but harsh and barren, between the rich green land to the south and the open lands and big skies to the north. The wet summer had left the fields an almost luminous green. Coldstream is a nice little town, and we picked up a leaflet with a guided walk - another time we might visit the museum.

We returned via Wark, because [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler wanted to see the castle; and as we drove towards the village, a large mound of grassed over rubble did indeed dominate the road, but we were distracted by having to brake quite suddenly to avoid hitting a hare. We paused to poke around half-heartedly, and I think might have seen more, but not much more, if we'd made the effort. But it was late, so we headed home, braking rather less abruptly on the way out of the village to avoid a couple of pheasant out for a stroll, and drove through the receding tide onto the island.

The solstice was observed on Thursday: which is to say that some of us got up at half-past three and walked down past the castle, where we gazed at the total cloud cover and consulted our watches and eventually conceded that the sun was now as risen as it was going to be. I blame [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler, who refused to get up: if the ritual is not observed, how can the sun be expected to sise? But there was some magnificently rosy pre-dawn cloud:

Just before the dawn


After which R. walked out to Emmanuel Head, and D. and I returned to the village by the lane between the fields, and the rest of the day passed in a haze of sleepiness and rain.

As did Friday. Too wet to do more than stroll round the visit, tide times too awkward to visit museums or other wet weather entertainments on the mainland. What could we do? We stayed home, read, did crosswords, may have opened a bottle or so - I'm not complaining.

Birdsong

Jun. 27th, 2011 09:56 pm
shewhomust: (Default)
Startled


What were the birds that flew out of the bushes by the hide, during our dawn walk? Starlings? They behaved like starlings, flying off in that great cloud. I've seen one or two starlings on the island, but the birds we really see in numbers are the sparrows. And hear them too - a great din of whistling echoes down the sreet, and I look up and see a ball of brown feathers not as large as my fist: how can something so tiny produce so much noise?

Though the real noise comes from the pigeons on the roof - our room is in the attic, right underneath the cooing, as persistent as if they were drilling through the tiles. Not to mention the morning that one found its way in through the open window, in a great flurry of feathers and curtains (and got out the same way, thank goodness).

And walking home from the dunes on my last evening, a flock of pigeons wheeling in formation over the fields: anyone who thinks that sheep move en masse hasn't watched pigeons.

That same evening, there were four lapwings patrolling one particularly marshy field between the road and the dunes, shouting like affronted cats. There was no sign of them as I approached along the lane, but as soon as I was on their territory they took turns to keep an eye on me, swooping back and forth until I reached the field boundary and the drier, sandier terrain.

Lots of swallows, too, this year, zipping along the lanes, low and fast and apparently not bothered by people.
shewhomust: (bibendum)
Dawning


Sunrise was observed on the morning of Sunday 19th June; all paricipants had reached the island before the tide cut it off on Saturday afternoon, so we were able to dine sociably over a couple of bottles of Madiran, before an early night, followed by an even earlier morning and a brisk walk down past the castle. We might have been too late to see the sun clear the horizon, except that the usual layer of cloud hid that crucial moment anyway. We were there in time to see the sun emerge from this shroud - as in the picture. It isn't necessarily the best of the batch of photos, but it's the one I don't think would be improved by editing. More may follow.

Then [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada and D. went back to the house (more about the house later, too), and [livejournal.com profile] helenraven and [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I walked along the coast, past the hide, where there was a great twittering of small birds and a great cloud of birds taking off and swirling down the edge of the lough as we approached. We turned inland not far past here, and walked down a lane bordered with purple orchids spiking through the green grass, and home and back to bed.

Thereafter, a quiet Sunday: late mornings and independent degrees of lunch and cups of tea and ginger cake and lying on the sofa reading Val McDermid and the Saturday and Sunday papers, and going for walks. We dined at the Bean Goose, a tiny organic restaurant - the best food we have so far discovered on the island, and the most expensive. The spicy crab soup was delicious, rich and creamy with coconut, but only very mildly spiced; the lemon posset dessert was wonderfully silky, and pleasantly lemony (which is to say that I would have liked it a bit sharper, but that's often the case: I'm not all that subtle). The main courses appealed less, and intheend I chose a goat's cheese salad which was offered as either starter or main - and was happy with my choice, though it might have worked even better as a starter. We drank a New Zealand white (blanc de pinot noir) which - again - was a bit bland, and an Argentine torrontes which I liked very much. Both wines, I think, from Vintage Roots.

And this morning [livejournal.com profile] helenraven and I walked back down to the castle, and then we left D. at home, took [livejournal.com profile] helenraven to Berwick station, and [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada, [livejournal.com profile] durham_rambler and I came to the Wetherspoons pub for lunch and wi-fi.
shewhomust: (Default)
Midsummer moon


Almost time to go to Lindisfarne and celebrate midsummer. [livejournal.com profile] helenraven arrives tomorrow (must make spare bed; must clear path through displaced computer equipment to bed) and we drive up to the island on Saturday, arriving before the causeway is closed by the rising tide at three o'clock. D. and [livejournal.com profile] valydiarosada will join us there, if not before the causeway closes then after it reopens.

And for the week that follows we will do the traditional mixture of getting up to watch the sunrise, going for walks, sitting indoors watching the rain fall... There may or may not be internet, depending on how hard we feel like looking for it.

What stands out for me about last year is not the solstice sunrise itself, but walking out alone in the evenings after dinner and enjoying the dusk and the sunset (around ten o'clock). I still haven't finished sorting the pictures I took in that week, but I doubt that I'll find one I like better than this.
shewhomust: (Default)
Summer sunrise


Picture taken at four o'clock yesterday morning, as we left the house to walk down to the end of the island, beyond the castle, the point from which we traditionally watch the sun rise - or more often, struggle up from behind a band of cloud on the horizon. This year, not so much of a 'band' - the sky was clear, with just a few scatter clouds (like scatter cushions, plump and fluffy, but more decorative than functional). Except for a big mound of solid grey, piled up behind the castle.

Still, it wasn't too cold, and it didn't rain, and eventually the heap acquired a gleaming edge of copper lustre, and the rather fluffier clouds back on the other side of the castle turned marshmallow pink, and we went home and - variously - made coffee, or went to bed, or ate breakfast.

And in the evening Iwalked out along the Heugh, and watched the sun set slowly behind the causeway, while the seals sang to each other around Saint Cuthbert's Isle.

Today being the actual solstice, we could, of course, have set the alarms and tried again. But somehow, we didn't.
shewhomust: (Default)
We could probably, if we tried, find a more spacious, or more modern, or more lavishly equipped house on Holy Island than 3, Herring Houses, the one we have taken to renting at midsummer, year after year. But we don't try, because we are comfortable there, and because we couldn't possibly find a better situated house.

The end of the rainbow


Herring Houses is the group of buildings in the middle ground of this photo from last year, an old herring smokery right by the harbour. 'Our' house is the middle third of the large block which forms the back of the courtyard, with lower houses forming the wings on either side. The front windows look out across the harbour to the castle, and beyond to Bamburgh Castle and the Farne Islands. The back widows look across two fields, to the Priory and the village. If you aren't doing something else, you can always just pause and look out of the window; it's always a pleasure, but sometimes the pleasure is an unexpected one.

A room with no view )

Weasily wecognised )

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