Islands

Three years since I last stood here. Lindisfarne, a tidal island off the Northumberland coast of North Eastern England . Otherwise known as Holy Island. A place with a rich religious heritage dating back to 635AD.

It’s such a beautiful and evocative place. We would regularly visit here as a couple, as a small family and now as a family of two.

Saint Aidan came from Iona to found a monastery here. Iona is a small island of the western coast of Scotland. He must have liked wind and rain. Shall we say both islands are a tad exposed.

It’s a place I’ve always wanted to move to. Cut off from mainland for large parts of the day. Feels like you are surrounded by the vast open water on all sides. No escape from the unique feel and smell of the sea. A great place to think and breathe.

Not great for the waste. I would live off Fish and Chips…..

I’m talking about this as my mind wandered today. Hawklad is getting older. Won’t be many years before he is 18. Where did that time go. If he’s Independent then MAYBE I will need to find a new place to live. He’s always talked about never moving. So it might be be packing the bags. How knows maybe the bags will head here.

But it’s such a feeling. Such a big step. The thought of potentially starting again

#itsabeautifulplanet

Ok I know I go on about Switzerland. How I think it’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever been to. But I need to set the record straight. In my eyes we are so lucky to live in a world with so many wonderful places. Every country, every region will have at least one place. One special place. I’ve been so lucky to actually visit many of those places in Yorkshire, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Congo, South Africa and yes Switzerland.

Yes today Yorkshire is separate from England – must be time for the next King Richard III to take us out of the place which has became the play thing for the Madness of King Boris.

If I can’t physically visit places then I can see the beauty through virtual trips.

Yes we live in a world which can still be beautiful. It can still be a wonderful life. Surely it’s time for us to not to always focus on all the ugliness which fills the news these days. Time to focus on the beauty. Time to delete the #itsanuglyworld and get behind something like #itsabeautifulplanet. Time for us to promote those special places. To give others a glimpse of what is truly out there.

So I will give you my first offering. I give you Northumberland.

The need for travel

Last night we were watching the new Sonic the Hedgehog movie. Yes we really do like to stretch our cultural boundaries. A couple of times during the movie I found myself thinking – wish I could visit that location. I’ve been doing that quite often recently. Can’t really blame the pesky virus completely for that. I was having those thoughts before the lockdown. Our Son’s world is naturally contracting. So mine is as well. The last time we spent more than one night away from our home was back in 2015. Sporadic day trips and the daily run partially helped fill my mind with some connection to the wider world.

So after Son had gone to bed I went in search of photos. Photos which would remind me of trips and holidays. Soon I was back in Northumberland with my partner. A week in a gypsy cottage.

Walking alongside Hadrians Wall and in the footsteps of Roman soldiers, almost 2000 years ago. Touching and drinking in ancient history.

Enjoying the open spaces. Hardly meeting another soul. Feeling that cold northern wind and walking on the soft moorland. Feeling no limits and letting the map decide the route.

Places like Northumberland have a unique atmosphere. A bleakness. An almost somber beauty.

And then a reminder of why I am so thankful for life.

Hadrians Wall

This is the final instalment of our unscripted and unplanned day trip. So far we have ventured to Kielder Forest and Kielder Water. So where next. After a series of left and right turns we are driving along a road when.

Dad stop. That most be Hadrians Wall. Ok it could be a farm wall. But it looks Roman to me.

It was the famous Roman Wall and ten minutes later we were trying to find a parking place at a Roman Fort.

Dad this is really busy. Too busy.

Luckily after buying tickets (while son hid in the car) I was able to find an alternate way onto the site avoiding the crowds. Hopefully the sheep in the neighbouring field didn’t mind us trespassing too much. It would have been such a shame for our son to miss this piece of ancient history.

Housesteads Roman Fort was built around 124AD to help defend Hadrians Wall. The wall was 73 miles long and stretched across Northern England from the Tyne to Solway Firth. It marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire.

When it was constructed the wall was up to 20ft tall.

Housesteads is the most complete Roman fort in Britain. It stands on a stunning Northumberland escarpment. Can’t think of a more stunning location for a history lesson.

I wonder what the Romans would have made of me. Aspergers wasn’t even a word back then.

Before I could say anything he smiled and said.

Maybe they would have just said he’s on whatever Nero is on.

Back to the Fort tour. Son had obviously banked a considerable amount of information about this Fort from somewhere. No need for a guidebook.

As son was lost in a dream I wandered around the Fort silently with him. Trying to imagine what the site would have been like almost 2000 years ago. Good job the Romans installed steam underfloor heating. Would need it in summer never mind winter. Then another thought. All those years later and we are still trying to build walls. Put up barriers to try and protect our way of life. Have we learned nothing in all those years. Actually our PM is increasingly Nero like. A few other countries have their very own modern day Nero’s.

George RR Martin has revealed that Hadrians Wall provided the inspiration for Game of Thrones. The imagery of the book and it’s Wall are strong and echo that of a Hadrians Wall all those years ago. Romans stood on a huge wall marking the very edge of their civilisation. That view to the unconquerable northern lands must have been truly frightening.

Dad it’s funny when you think about it. The Romans would probably now be standing in the opposite direction, looking South and thinking the same frightening thing. A strange, scary land.

Yes England seems to have gone completely barking mad. Looking into England is a very scary prospect.

And with that we head back home. The road trip has been a great success. Especially as I only thought we would be having a random visit to somewhere local in Yorkshire.

Dad I’ve decided we need to have more road trips to make sure I visit the 12 new places. One needs to be to Scotland. Sorry Dad that might mean we are setting off before we go to bed.

Isolation trip

School summer holidays are in full swing and we have mainly been home based. Some splendid isolation. Summer holidays reinforces how much of our social connections are based around school. Without school my son has hardly seen any of his friends or spent any time with other children. Without the daily school drop off and pick up, my contact with the outside world has dried up completely.

So after three weeks of home based isolation we decided to make a break out. Just a small one to start with. We had a day trip to beautiful Northumberland.

DUNSTANBURGH CASTLE

LINDISFARNE

It was my son who pointed out that after our splendid isolation we had decided to go a place which is cut off twice daily by the tides. Let’s visit a splendidly isolated place. At least we got to see some people in the real world, especially in the queue waiting to cross the still flooded causeway.