Posted by: christinelaennec | July 17, 2012

A wee Northumbrian holiday!

Well, what do you know?  We had a week away.  We weren’t too sure it would work, having booked a cottage in Northumberland over a year ago when the Dafter was full of energy.  However, we went, it rained all week, we got out every day, we relaxed, and we all really enjoyed having a break!  Hooray!

On our way south, we wished Our Son a very happy 20th birthday.  Wow!  How did that happen?  He was born just a month before we came to Scotland, and he came to us at the age of 3 years 10 months.  He’s had a very tough time of it in many ways, and is doing so well.  It’s not in perfect focus, but I love this picture of his smile.  He plays ice hockey and was happy with the present of two secondhand books about hockey players.  His sister gave him art paper and coloured pencils, as he also enjoys drawing.

Our Son’s 20th birthday!

It was so great just to relax.  I read a few books, amongst them a very interesting one called Endal (by Sandra and Allen Parton).  It tells the story of a remarkable assistance dog who helped a disabled veteran to regain his life.  Allen Parton’s head injuries caused him to forget his wife and children, and for about 7 years he couldn’t really feel empathy, and was hugely angry and bitter about not being able to go back to work.  The arrival of the golden lab Endal helped him to reconnect with his feelings, and he was able to rebuild his relationships with his wife and children.  Incredible.  It certainly put the challenges we face as carers in perspective!

Reading on holiday

It rained almost all week long, but we had a few moments of sun:

View from the kitchen window of our holiday cottage in Northumberland.

On the last day of our stay, the weather was clear enough to make me admit that Michael had been right all along – you could see the sea from the window!  It had been so rainy and misty every time I’d looked, I’d just thought it was mist on the fields.

The Dafter was of course tired (being a sufferer of ME) but we managed to get out every day, and she said the change of scenery did her good.  Hooray for the wheelchair!

Have wheelchair, will travel – except not down very muddy bridle paths.

I had not one but two lovely meanders around Alnwick Castle Gardens, and a tour of the outside of the castle, and we also went over to Holy Island – I’ll be posting about those excursions in the next few weeks.  It’s good to be home now, even with a rather long list of Things to Do around the house.  I haven’t had the courage to go see the church garden yet… our own garden seems to have shot up about a foot and a half in height in just seven days!  I hope this finds you all having a great summer, regardless of the weather.



  1. wow! so many great things to comment on with your post. so happy that you got away and had time with your son to celebrate his birthday. that is a lovely picture of the two of you. i have longed to go to Northumberland and Holy Isle. i’ll be looking forward to your post on your visit there. absolutely beautiful scenery out your window and love the photo of you reading. i’m glad your daughter could get out and about. it sounds like a wonderful family holiday. xx

  2. Nice to see a pjc of C, so grown up but still the same boy. Our Seumas will be 20 this year too. We rented a farm cottage in Northumberland last Easter, and I was accused of finding the one place in England that could impersonate the isle of Benbecula, full of sheep and wind and green-and-brown!

  3. What a wonderful relaxing time you all must have had! It reminded me of some of the ones we used to take when all of us used to have more money (before such expenses as private school, medical needs, etc.) and when prices were not so high. we would all rent a big house together, and my husband, especially, would sleep and read and just generally relax. I would draw and paint, and we would play board games and work puzzles. We found out that rain does not have to spoil a holiday.

    I’m glad that the Dafter was able to get out and enjoy the countryside, and that your son had a Happy Birthday. He has a very nice smile.

    I have a little Lenten book I’ve had for years called HOLY ISLAND. I’ll be looking forward to what you have to say about your visit.


  4. Glad you had a good holiday and rest, That book, Endal is really good isn’t it. We are going near there for our holidays this year and I want to visit Holy Isle, so looking forward to your blog about it! xx

  5. Glad you had a lovely holiday and time to rest and enjoy your son and daughter. 🙂 They both have a beautiful smile!

  6. Your little cottage looks out over a lovely and peaceful view and your holiday sounds so restful. You all have such lovely smiles and happy faces despite the rain and mist. It does seem to rain proportionately more times on vacation than any other time, doesn’t it? Those always seem to be the best and most memorable vacations, though. xx

  7. Christine, I’m so glad you got this holiday, I wouldn’t have expected you to be making such a journey at the moment and it must have been wonderful to have that complete change of scene. I would love to visit Alnwick Castle, it’s on my wish list, I take it you enjoyed it if you went twice! The photos are wonderful, from your son looking delighted with the books, to you lounging on the sofa (you remind me of a cat relaxed in the sun), to the lovely views and the Dafter enjoying her excursions. A very refreshing post!

  8. I’m delighted to hear that you all managed to get away for a well deserved break, Christine. Some lovely smiles in these photographs.

  9. What a lovely post! Who caught you napping on the sofa I wonder – it’s a great picture! And I will have that kitchen please – even washing up would be fun with that view!

    • Not napping, Roo – reading! (Really!) Yes, agreed about the kitchen. It reminded me so much of my Granny & Grampa’s kitchen. Very homey.

  10. Looks like you all had a lovely time. I’m glad you were able to have a restful time away. Happy birthday to your son! My son turns 20 in November. xx

  11. We had two lovely holidays in Northumberland when our girls were small. We camped near Bamburgh Castle. Visited Alnwick, tho over the years the lady of the house has transformed the gardens. Other place to visit was the Grace Darling Museum which an old friend of mine now curates. You brought back some lovely memories for me, so glad you enjoyed your break and your family too.

  12. I’m so glad you were able to get out and how wonderful that the Dafter does not let ME stop her and she is willing to go out in a wheelchair. I am new to your blog so don’t know all your history, but I suffered from some form of chronic fatigue for many years and am very grateful my issues are under control. I always feel a bit of a kindred spirit with others who have similar trials.

  13. Looks like you had a great time, I would love to go the gardens at Alnwick one day.

  14. Dear lovely blog-friends,

    You’re so nice to be so sincerely happy for our holiday! You’re right, we were smiling. We took it a day at a time, and lo and behold stayed the whole week.

    Seeing as there’s such an interest in Holy Island (plus Sister Julie’s going to be going there soon!) I’ll work on that post next. Then Alnwick Castle and the gardens. Jill, you’re right, the Duchess of Northumberland has spent a lot of time and a LOT of money redoing the gardens. We didn’t make it to the Grace Darling museum, but did have a conversation that began with me saying to the other two: “Who is Grace Darling? You mean you’ve never heard of Grace Darling?!” I think they thought I was making up the fact that I had really heard of her daring rescue feats at sea.

    Fiona, how hilarious about you being accused of finding a Benbecula equivalent! As we crossed the causeway to Holy Island, the Dafter said, “It’s like Harris!” (Only with trees.)

    Linda, we have had many similar rainy holidays. We never go for a week in a cottage without an “activities bag,” with all sorts of rainy-day things to do. Karen, perhaps it is true that it rains more on holiday weeks! I refuse to take the weather personally and I am determined to enjoy myself no matter what. Being a knitter helps a lot!

    Sister Julie, yes Endal is a very interesting book indeed. One of my reflections after reading it is that whereas dogs can offer humans complete non-judgemental adoration, humans find it much more difficult to be absolutely selfless.

    Heather, thanks for your kind words about the Dafter. Someone said to her, several months ago, “When you’re 19 you’ll have forgotten all about this”. She and I both think she will never, ever look at life or other people quite the same way again!

    The Dafter wishes me to send you all her best – and a hug – as well!

  15. The view from the kitchen window was lovely. And a change of scenery always does one good. Even if the weather is inclement.

    That does sound like a good book to read. Animals are such healers and they don’t even know it, but we do.

    Lil Bit Brit

    • Yes, a change can really be so beneficial. I would recommend Endal if you’re interested in animals who heal. It’s very thought-provoking.

  16. So glad you got away for a change of scene. That’s a lovely photo of you and your son. Ice hockey! A tough game – I’m impressed.

    You look like you could read on the head of a pin.

    • Linda, thank you. Yes indeed ice hockey is tough and a good outlet for the boy who was always throwing himself around the playground. I think it’s probably channeled his energy.

      As for reading on the head of a pin – depends if I have my contacts in or not! For close knitting work, I’ve been known to take them out! Age doesn’t come on its own… nevermind!

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