A foreign land

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.

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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:

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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.

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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:

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The sign outside very helpfully informed canine patrons of the facilities:

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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:

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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.

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One of the streets in Lindisfarne.

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Entrance to the parish church of St Mary the Virgin.

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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.

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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.

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Lindisfarne Castle seen from the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin.

The weather was lovely, with hazy sunshine all day.

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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….

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…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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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Categories: Coffee, Earl Grey tea, England, Gardens, Photography, Scotland, Tea, Tearooms, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 42 Comments

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42 thoughts on “A foreign land

  1. Hi Lorna. How wonderful to read your delightful stories again of lovely far off lands, gardens & tearooms. I’ve no doubt you had a beautiful trip away to the country (or other side of the wall as it were.) A lovely read as always.

    I’m so interested to hear of the ballot vote regarding Scotland’s independence from the UK, especially as it’s such a big part of Royal history. Indeed ‘The times are changing’!’

    • Thanks Alice, I’ve been very remiss with my blog lately but I wanted to stick these photos up to remind me of the lovely day we had.

      If Scotland does become independent we’ll keep the Queen as our head of state and become one of the Commonwealth countries, along with Australia and all the others. Interesting times, indeed!

      • It’s always lovely to see what my blogging friends are up too & I too have had little gaps in my publishing schedule. I’m exactly two weeks away from finally finishing my studied as a chef and I’m so focused (excited,) but stressed!!!

        If Scotland does become a commonwealth then we shall become cousins! Along with New Zealand & other countries too of course! ;)

  2. Wendy

    Enjoy your blog so much. Enjoyed a visit to Lindisfarne and nice to see the assistants enjoying themselves and looking quite handsome. Hope that the work on your novel is going well.

    Wendy in NH

    • Thanks Wendy, very kind of you to say so, and thank you for your good wishes on the novel front. I’m doing an online fiction writing course at the moment, which I hope will prove helpful with the novel, it’s certainly teaching me a lot and I’m very much enjoying it.

  3. Liked the look of both of those tea rooms but my favourite was the one with the garden which welcomed four legged visitors too

    • It was a popular place, that dog-friendly one, and nice to be able to sit outside on such a lovely day. The dogs seemed to be enjoying it, too.

  4. Haha, thank you so much for a good laugh, Lorna! What a delightful post. I feel as if I had been there with you. I saw exactly the same thing in the cafe sign before I read your text, so I was delighted to see it had amused you too. I wonder how long the dogs had been campaigning for the free wi-fi before it was finally installed! I love the church with its sculpture of the monks, and I would be so interested to visit the Priory. Wow, it looks wonderful! I’ve read about the miraculous state of preservation of St Cuthbert’s body but nowhere else have I heard it described as ‘tip top’, which has still got me chuckling. And those pastries in the Coldstream cafe look so good! That is definitely a good stop-off point for the return trip!

    Strangely enough, Colin and I were planning a visit to Lindisfarne next week but I’m not sure if it will happen. However, we do want to go there soon, and your lovely photos and descriptions just make me more excited!

    This referendum thing hasn’t really hit me yet with its full significance as I tend to avoid most of the news and especially politics, but I’m thinking maybe it was a good thing after all that we renewed our passports a couple of years back. The idea of smuggling myself back into England occasionally as an illegal immigrant, however, does have a certain appeal! :)

    • Thanks Jo, I thought of you when I saw the priory, imagining it would be right up your street. I hope you get to go and see it soon. I was surprised by how busy the main car park was but I suppose the island is a bit of a magnet for anyone in the north of England or south of Scotland. Even if all you do is wander around soaking up the atmosphere it makes for a grand day out, but for history buffs it’s quite a treat.

      I like the thought of you smuggling yourself back to England. Apparently the situation with passports is that we can keep our old ones until they expire and then replace them with Scottish ones when they come up for renewal. I suppose if you were to move back to England, or to another part of the UK, before your passport ran out, you would replace it with another UK one and then need to show it to come into Scotland. I’m ploughing through ‘Scotland’s Future’, the Scottish Government’s book about independence, but it’s a weighty tome and I haven’t read anything about borders yet.

  5. Morag Hooker

    Great to see you are still doing your bit for tearooms everywhere even in foreign parts. We are venturing into the lands of Perthshire and Angus next week so may be able to sample some of your previous posts. My question to Scottish parliament is why if I am to be entitled to a Scottish passport being born there , can I not have a vote,.?

    • Thanks Morag, I have been visiting tearooms on the quiet lately and not posting about them, but I felt it was high time I made a little effort on the blog front. Delighted to hear that you’re going to be partaking of treats in this part of the world soon, I hope the sun shines on you and the scones rise up magnificently on your plate. As for the question of who gets to vote, you’re certainly not alone in feeling miffed about the situation. I don’t know why they chose to use the Scottish electoral role rather than some other voting system, maybe it was the easiest option to organise.

  6. Was so nice to see a new posting from you. Enjoyed reading and looking over your photographs.

    • Thanks Charles, it’s been a while since my last post right enough. Other things seem to have taken over my life lately, but it’s lovely to be welcomed back like that. :-)

  7. Oh this was a great treat for me, thank you Lorna! Great to see your delightful assistants again, and of course such a beautiful place. As you might remember, we visited Holy Island two years ago, and I loved the atmosphere there. I’d love to go back again and spend a bit more time. Hopefully someday!

    I’m glad to know you haven’t stopped visiting tea rooms, even if you haven’t been blogging about them. And hats off to you for tackling Scotland’s Future. I am very interested in the debate, but said to Michael it’s a bit like grocery shopping – Tesco’s tells you you’ve saved £2.45 that you would have spent at Sainsbury’s, and Sainsbury’s tells you you’ve saved £2.46 that you would have spent at Tesco’s – etc. etc.! Of course the decision is so much more important than which supermarket to spend your money at…

    • Thank you Christine, I do indeed remember your visit (was it really two years ago?) – you inspired me! I hope you and I both get to go back some time, there’s too much to see for only one visit.

      That’s a great analogy with the supermarkets, so true! I’m only a short way through Scotland’s Future, but I hope I can finish it before the referendum…

  8. What a delightful report Lorna! It sounds like a great day out. I’m not a great fan of Swiss Roll but that did look pretty decent. I’ll spare you my Swiss Roll joke!
    I’m sick fed up hearing about the Referendum. I hit rock bottom recently when they announced that the official campaigning period had commenced. We’ve been deeved sick of the whole thing already.

    • Thank you kindly, David, it was a lovely day out. I’m not a huge fan of Swiss roll either (does your joke involve pushing him down a hill?) but that one did look very good. The jam, if it was the same stuff I had on my teacake, was very good.

      Sorry to hear you’re sick of the referendum, I’ve only recently started taking a proper interest in it. I think if I watched the Scottish news on TV I might feel the way you do, but I watch all my TV on iplayer and they don’t broadcast the Scottish news. Why on earth I would want to watch the London news I don’t know, but that’s all they offer in addition to the main news bulletins.

  9. Hi Lorna, I so enjoyed reading your blog this morning and am happy to see the sun shining for you and your lovely assistants. Your photos and writing bring me right there…and your shots of pastry always make me happy :-)

    • Hi Linda, very kind of you to say so, thank you. We weren’t exactly getting Californian temperatures that day but it was very pleasant all the same.

  10. Well the monks and wooden coffin plus Lindisfarne win the day for me – didn’t take long to sort June out ha ha.

  11. That sign with the very wet car would definitely get my attention! I’m glad you had such a nice visit and were able to leave before the tide came in too… :)

    • It’s pretty dramatic, isn’t it? Not a position I would ever want to get into. It was a bit of a relief to reach the mainland safe and dry.

  12. I have always wanted to visit Lindisfarne. My in-laws sent us a postcard with the castle on it once and it peeked my attention. Now you have rekindled that desire. Looks like you had a lovely time. Great pictures as always!

  13. Lorna this is gorgeous! I want to hop on a plane this very moment:) Thank you for sharing such an enchanted visit!

  14. Hello Lorna, next time you visit Lindisfarne try to get to the castle, it’s an interesting place and the views from the top are really quite special. I love it up on that coast!

    • Thank you Finn, I would very much like to see round the castle. It might be best to try and go on a clear day to get the most of the views. Although it was sunny on this visit, it was hazy too. There were quite a number of noisy seals sitting on a sand bank, which were easier to hear than to see.

  15. Ha ha I like it.

  16. It’s so nice to join you again on one of your many delightful adventures, Lorna. My favorite thing about this particular jaunt is that you had to cross the sea to get there. I love that! I also got a kick out of that sweet little wire-haired fox patiently awaiting its tea time treat. My little pup, also a foxy, used to love sharing a scone with me…and she was quite the lady with excellent “floor manners.” I hope all is well with you, my friend. I always enjoy your blogs whether they be frequent or infrequent. Happy days! xo Lucinda xo

    • Thank you, Lucinda. Such a delightful wee doggie wasn’t it? It sat so nicely and had such good manners, just like yours by the sounds of things. Very kind of you to join me after rather a long break, I haven’t been on FB for yonks either, but I’ll be popping in to see your teatime things very soon. :-)

  17. Glad to see you popping back in to share your trip! It looks like it was a wonderful day. I’m so envious of all the little tea and coffee shops everywhere! So…how are you voting, Lorna :-)?

    • Thanks Annie, we were especially lucky finding that coffee lounge on the way back because several other places were closed and it was a wee gem. As for the voting, I’ve yet to decide but I’m interested to see the way my thoughts are changing the more I think about it.

  18. Ha! You almost made it onto my territory too, Lorna :) I love Lindisfarne. Glad I spotted you in Meg’s comments.

    • Yes, not too far from you, but a fair distance from me. I’d love to be able to explore more of the north of England but I need more than a day to get much further than Lindisfarne.

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