Tag Archives: farne islands

School Trip

26 May

Friday 25th May, for ‘team building’, 16 over-excited women high on sugar and one very patient male tour-guide, hopped on the bus in Durham (and Newcastle) and headed out for a day’s adventure in Northumberland, and what a day for it, the weather was absolutely glorious!

Lisa and Lidsay at the back of the bus – caffeine and excitement, a dangerous combination!

First stop, once we were all on the bus, was Craster Shoreline Cafe for tea and cakes! Sadly nothing vegan or wheat-free on their menu, so it was just coffee for me (and a Nakd bar I’d sneaked into my handbag) whilst everyone else munched on huge homemade scones. All the windows were wide open and we had glorious views of the sparkling sea whilst we enjoyed our morning coffee break.

Craster Harbour

After the trip to the tea shop we wandered through Craster. Some of the group dropped into the kipper shop to buy some famous traditional smoked kippers, whilst the rest of us walked along the coast to Dunstanburgh Castle

Walking along the path to the castle.

After our stroll we all got back on the bus and drove up the coast to Seahouses where we were having lunch. Lunch was arranged at the Bamburgh Castle Inn. Alex, our fab tour guide from Northern Secrets had made sure there was something I can eat so we sat down to a massive 2 course lunch. I had homemade tomato soup to start (delicious) followed by a lovely salad (lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber, apple, pear, olives and pineapple). Everyone really enjoyed their lunch but were completely defeated by the portions, especially since they had all been eating scones about an hour before!

Keeping it glam on the boat!

After lunch we headed down to the harbour and joined the Billy Shiels boat trip (Glad Tidings IV) to go over to the Farne Islands to see the seals and the birds. The boat trip takes you around some of the islands where you can see the birds nesting on the cliffs and flying or floating all around you. They also take you to see the grey seal colony. After 45 minutes of sailing around they land on one of the islands so that you can go and look at the nesting birds.

Looking back to the mainland with Bamburgh Castle

The birds are pretty tame, and will happily sit there on their nest whilst you get up really close. A lot of the birds had chicks in their nest that you could see too. The puffins live in burrows, and are quite shy, so they tend to scuttle into their puffin-holes when you get close, they are so funny. I love their orange feet, I think they look like they are wearing wellies! (gum boots for my US readers)

The terns are the most aggressive of the birds. They nest really close to the paths and shriek at you if they think you are getting too close (it must be very stressful for them) they will also dive-bomb you if they are really pissed with you, so we were all recommended to wear a hat. Even so, they still had a go at everyone. It made me laugh so hard to see everyone ducking and scuttling along as the birds dived at them. L was particularly bothered by them and one bit her ear whilst she shrieked, “It bit me Bee, it bit my ear! It’s like Hitchcocks fucking Birds!” I nearly wet myself I was laughing so hard!

The bird on the left was sitting on an egg, when she stood up slightly you could see the chick was beginning to hatch out. The bird on the right was giving her snuggles, probably telling her what a clever mummy she was.

Can you see the chicks in the nest with her? She was grooming them whilst we photographed her. Isn’t her plumage gorgeous?

We caught the boat back to the mainland at 4.30pm and were back at the coach in Seahouses by 5pm. After a quick pause for a 99 ice-cream and a photo we headed home, a lot more quiet than we had been on the way there. We’d had a fabulous day out with Northern Secrets, and couldn’t have wished for better weather.


15th April 2012

15 Apr

I’ve been a bit quiet of late, but it is simply that I seem to have been so, so busy!

I spent the Easter weekend up at my parents house in Northumberland. I adore it up there. When I win the lottery I plan to move up there to live, and own lots of dogs, but until then I have to make do with occasional trips to visit the parents instead. 

The weather over the weekend was pretty unpredictable. One minute the sun would be shining, and then the  next the heavens would open and we would get drenched, and all the time there was a strong, cold wind from the north west. Even so, most of the beaches we visited for walking had hardy families on them trying to make the most of their Easter break in full British style by spending the day on the beach well wrapped up and trying to keep the sand out of their sandwiches. I don’t think anyone was brave enough to actually take a paddle in the sea, but we did see a couple of surfers head down to the waterline in a rather optimistic attempt at a ride.

The best walk we did was on the Friday when we walked on Ross Sands, which is quite difficult to find. The beach takes you from Budle Bay right the way along towards Lindisfarne, so the views of Holy Island are absolutely brilliant. When we reached the end of the beach we could smell this really strong, unpleasant smell. Rhiw was pretty interested and we thought that perhaps a dead seal had been washed up on the sand nearby, but as we rounded a corner we realised that there was a massive seal colony on the sands at the end of the beach, and what we could smell was actually the seals! There must have been about 50 of them all up on the sands barking and howling at each other. We didn’t get too close because we didn’t want to disturb them, but that was pretty cool. I visited the Farne Islands last year and even then I don’t think I ever saw so many seals together in one place. We turned to walk back to the car and noticed on the sand the marks of a seal making it’s way up the beach, and then the slithery marks of the seal heading back down to the water. It had used it’s claws on the way up the beach, and it was really interesting to see the impression it had made in the sand during the progress of its journey.

As well as exploring the beaches near my parent’s house, we also had a good wander through the fields. The village my parents live in is surrounded by farms, and as an animal lover it is always great to see so many lovely animals in the fields. Next door keep chickens, who are always wandering all over the village (they really are free range!) Dad gives them the stale crusts off the bread occasionally so when you go outside they will come running up to you. They really are very lovely and very funny. The cockerel fusses around them and shows off his shiny tail feathers. Rhiw doesn’t really like them and chases them whenever they come onto the drive. The neighbour had left a dozen of their eggs for my parents on Saturday when we got back from our walk. Mum made egg sandwiches for her and dad’s lunch and I have never seen such golden yolks. I guess that’s what you get from truly free range chickens, and not the sad sort that lay eggs for supermarkets.

There are also horses in the village, including a couple of brown Shetland ponies. Each day on the way out for our walks we would stop and give them a couple of carrots. Mum and Dad aren’t sure what their names are but we call them Cadbury and Buttons. There are also some larger horses next door called Joe, Leo and Solli.

Easter is the time of year when all the lambs are in the fields around my parent’s house too. Last year I visited towards the end of lambing, when things were a bit more quiet, and the farmer invited us over to the farm to visit the lambing sheds. That was really interesting, and I hoped that they might invite us over again, but Easter was much earlier this year so I think they were still really busy with lambing, and we didn’t see them the whole weekend to see whether it would be ok to visit. Even so, the fields around the house were absolutely full of gorgeous little lambs, bouncing around and exploring.

We drove over to Embleton to go to the pub one afternoon (which turned out to be closed unfortunately) and came across a lamb that had escaped onto the road. He had a bloody nose where he had bashed himself against the fence trying to get back to his mum, so we stopped the car and Dad threw him back over so that he didn’t get hit by a car! Sheep really are proper little Houdinis!

So, Easter was quite lovely with lots of nice walks, coffee in Alnwick, and lots of gorgeous baby animals to coo over. Mum and Dad know better than to buy me a chocolate egg for Easter (if I have one I will eat one and that is never a good thing) so instead they got me a box of Lush goodies (several bath ballistics and a tub of Turkish Delight shower smoothie) which I was thrilled about. It’s dreadful that at 32 your parents still buy you an Easter present, but hey, if they get me lovely Lush products I am not going to complain!!

Since I got home from Canada (and Northumberland) I have been doing a load of running. I am really into my running at the moment, and have been clocking up the miles quite happily several times a week. I tried for a Great North Run ballot place, but didn’t succeed. Even so, I’m training as if I got a place, and then if a friend gets injured or drops out, perhaps they will let me take their place. 

I noticed that I was getting a sore left knee, or right ankle, and it occurred to me that my running shoes are now a couple of years old. I over pronate on my left foot and wear support shoes. I must have done far, far more than the recommended 500 miles in my running shoes and I supposed the support wasn’t working quite as well as it should be. So I decided it was time to replace my shoes. I got exactly the same type as I had used previously as I had been very pleased with them (and they were vegan too), but in black this time. They arrived on Friday, so yesterday I took them out for a 6 mile run to try them out.

Immediately I noticed the difference in terms of support. It is really obvious that my old trainers haven’t been supporting my feet well for a while, so I am very lucky that I haven’t injured myself. They felt a lot better and had a lot more cushioning in them, which made the whole run a lot more comfortable. I did a PB over the 6 miles (64 minutes), which I was thrilled about. I had a bit of a sore left Achilles yesterday afternoon where my new trainers had been pressing on them, but I think that is a wearing in problem and in a few weeks that will all have settled down as they soften and get worn in. Overall I was pretty pleased.