A different kind of cold.

"How can you be cold? You live in Canada", asks my friend in a Newcastle cafe (Cafe Royale - great scones by the way). "Because this is a damp cold and in Montreal we have a dry cold," I explain. "This is a different kind of cold." So I have been shivering for most of my trip here even though it's above zero. But the cold can't take away the wild beauty of a walk in Northumberland. It enhances it. Above is the cold North Sea near Dunstanburgh Castle. The stuff in the front is seafoam which was whipped up by the wind.
Puffin merchandise - they have been suffering with the cold
Bizarrely as we chatted with the tourist information people in Craster nearby, Carol Smith (@worksincraster) tells me she has read my article about Northumberland in the Montreal Gazette this week. I look puzzled but she has a google alert which tells her when a story appears on Craster anywhere on the web. I didn't even know it had been published this week. Here it is :The Secret Kingdom.

Told you it was cold.
As the article tells you any walk to Dunstanburgh Castle is not complete without a visit to The Jolly Fisherman for crab sandwiches and crab soup. (It's had a make-over and is looking great although the waiting staff are just as sour-faced). There is a sense of humour somewhere though as the ladies' room is labelled Fish Wives which is quite funny if you were born in North Shields and your husband already calls you one. (English humour)
Toliet humour

When we popped into L. Robson and Sons for fresh fish opposite, he says the men haven't been out for two weeks - the boats remain in the harbour. It's too rough. Nothing else for it but a trip to the fabulous second-hand book emporium in the former railway station at Alnwick: Barter Books. The place where the Keep Calm and Carry On logo was first discovered on an old blueprint poster for a wartime campaign.
Drinking tea in the former waiting room
 This place is a must-see with it's huge array of books, real fires, miniature railway which operates above the bookshelves and fun artwork. Best of all the former waiting rooms (first, second and third class) are converted into cafes serving rose flavoured lemonade and malteser cakes as well as the usual.

 As you can see the clientele are quite relaxed by the fire and you can easily spend a whole afternoon in this place. I love that they are using such an old space for a new purpose and they have done it so brilliantly. Just one of the eccentric treasures of the North-East. Talking of eccentrics two of my friends here write about the region in their blogs. Why not give them a try?
Eccentric England
Tammy Tour Guide

Getting warm at Barter Books


  1. Ooh, thanks for the lovely photos. And yes, those crab sandwiches are delicious.
    I have to admit, that it's the same with Chicago - bloody cold in the winter, but not damp.

  2. We saw the same penguin merchandising in Fowey last May! And my friends/family and I have been marvelling at the weather reversals: my former long, grinding winters in northern Ontario, which used to be brutal compared to the gentle winter and early spring that they enjoyed, and now my almost-English winter and spring in eastern Ontario compared to the nasty conditions of the UK. Don't mind a bit, but feel sorry for them!


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