A couple of weeks ago the delightful assistants and I went off on an excursion to a foreign land.
Not all that different from Scotland, it must be said, the land in question being the first stop south over the border: England.
Our destination was the island of Lindisfarne (aka Holy Island), off the Northumberland coast.
One of the exciting things about going to Lindisfarne is that you have to drive through the sea to get there:
Having consulted the tide tables before setting off, I’m happy to report that we avoided the above predicament.
We drove along an exposed strip of tarmac that wound its way across the sand and mud flats to the island. It felt quite exciting, knowing that a few hours later the road would be under the sea.
It having been quite a long drive from sunny Perthshire, we were ready for a spot of luncheon and opted for al fresco paninis in the garden of the Pilgrim’s Coffee House:
The sign outside very helpfully informed canine patrons of the facilities:
To digress for a moment, this reminds me of a sign that was stuck up outside my local Catholic church. It said something like ‘No dog fouling’ and had been attached to a railing, not at eye height for humans, but a few inches off the ground at a position I can only assume was aimed at the dog rather than the owner.
Back at the Pilgrim’s Coffee House a dog sat quietly, not checking his email but gratefully accepting pieces of scone laden with jam and cream. Sadly, I didn’t get a picture of the treats, but here he is sitting nicely:
The island measures 2.25 miles from east to west and 1.5 miles north to south.
We concentrated our wanderings on the village area, which has a surprising amount to offer visitors.
One of the streets in Lindisfarne.
Entrance to the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.
Inside the church: six wooden monks carrying a coffin.
The sculpture above depicts St Cuthbert’s body being removed from the island during Viking raids in 793 AD.
St Cuthbert is the patron saint of the north of England and was at one time the Bishop of Lindisfarne. He’s a particularly interesting saint, one of the curious things about him being that when his sarcophagus was opened some years after his death, his body was found to be in tip-top condition.
Right next to the parish church are the remains of Lindisfarne Priory, seen below with the church on the left and Lindisfarne Castle in the distance on the right.
From left to right: church, priory and castle.
We didn’t have time to visit the castle, but I would like to pop down and look round it on another occasion. It was built in the 16th century and sits on the highest point in the island.
Lindisfarne Castle seen from the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin.
The weather was lovely, with hazy sunshine all day.
Delightful assistants soaking up the sun in a public garden.
Once we had wearied ourselves of walking, and despite the temptations of staying on the island….
…we scooted back across the sea and, not far over the border into Scotland, happened upon a delightful refreshment stop in the small town of Coldstream.
Stanwins Coffee Lounge, on the High Street in Coldstream.
We were gasping for beverages and I was delighted to find that Stanwins offered Lady Grey leaf tea, something I don’t see as often as I’d like to.
Delightful assistants happily awaiting treats.
The cafe had a Scandinavian feel, with a Danish poster on the wall and fresh, neutral decor. The lovely lady who served us said her husband was Danish and instead of the usual toasties for lunch, they offered open sandwiches and other Scandinavian-inspired fare.
I don’t think any of the things we had were particularly Scandinavian, but they were jolly tasty.
I had an enormous toasted teacake with Lady Grey tea, delightful assistant no.2 had shortbread and a cappuccino, and delightful assistant no.1 went for a slice of Swiss roll and a pot of breakfast tea. This was the Swiss roll, which was apparently delicious:
We all enjoyed our trip to Lindisfarne, and hope to go again one of these days.
Perhaps, if the next visit is post-referendum*, I might get an English stamp in my passport.
Grassy path, Lindisfarne, with water tower on the left.
*In less than four months, on 18 September, Scotland goes to the polls to vote on the issue of Scottish independence. The question we’re being asked is ‘should Scotland be an independent country?’ If the majority of voters tick the ‘yes’ box, Scotland will cease to be part of the UK and become an independent country within the European Union.