Today I fulfilled a long held ambition to explore some of Hadrian’s Wall which was constructed by the Romans in 120AD, taking around 8 years to complete. When in use it was effectively the northern limit of the Roman Empire.73 miles long, or 80 Roman miles!
The displays we saw today brought home the fact that not many of the invading army were actually born in Rome, rather they were men from captured lands, regions now known as Syria, Netherlands, Belgium and France.
There are many, many sites to visit along the length of the wall and you can indeed walk on sections, although you are encouraged to walk on the adjacent path to help preserve the wall. With the time we had we chose to visit the excellent Roman Museum to gain an overview and then the Vindolanda site just ten minutes further east. Vindolanda was a Roman auxiliary fort and it is noted for the Vindolanda tablets, among the most important finds of military and private correspondence,written on wooden tablets, found anywhere in the Roman Empire.
We were totally blown away by the size of this site and the excavations, which are still going on today and will for some time, so extensive is the site.
This is a ‘live’ archaeological site and you can apply to be a volunteer on their annual excavations – check out their website – Vindolanda . I am VERY tempted!!
There is a totally absorbing museum at Vindolanda which houses displays of the thousands of items which have been excavated to date. These really bring the site to life and the detail and craftsmanship in the shoes, jewelry, pottery and weapons which have been found are simply stunning and so well preserved due to the environmental conditions on the site. I was so engrossed that I forgot to take all but this single photograph in the museum -sorry!
It is rather humbling to stand on these sites and imagine the people who lived there almost 2000 years ago now and who lived, laughed, loved and died here,leaving behind little fragments of their lives for us to discover all this time later.
Well I certainly do! I welcome the change which each season brings but I think that Autumn is probably my favourite. I love wrapping up warm in cosy layers and going for a walk, scuffing through the fallen leaves and picking up items of interest.
I love picking Blackberries and squirrelling them away in the freezer for fruit crumbles later in the year.
I love the vivid sunsets which we seem to have more of at this time of year and I like to shut out the darkness and light scented candles to make the room cosy and inviting.
It is the best opportunity for stargazing and the time to plant bulbs to bring the first colourin the garden next year.
I’ve just been reading about the concept of Hygge. The Danish word, pronounced “hoo-ga”, is usually translated into English as “cosiness”. But it’s much more than that, say its followers – an entire attitude to life that helps Denmark to vie with Switzerland and Iceland to be the world’s happiest country. I’m signing up for this idea (who wouldn’t) and now following the blog http://hellohygge.com
As a child we always had holidays in Montrose on the east coast of Scotland. My father’s family came from this area so it holds special memories for me. I was pleased to find that it hasn’t changed too much or been spoiled, it remains a rather traditional seaside town. The town has a view of a two-mile square tidal lagoon, Montrose Basin, which is considered a nature reserve of international importance. It is the largest inland salt water basin in the UK, and an important habitat for the mute swan.
We found my grandparents old home in Panmure Terrace and enjoyed a coffee in nearby The Pavilion, a very friendly,quirky and dog welcoming establishment which we highly recommend.
Montrose was also famous for training Minesweepers during WW2 and there is a monument to them on the seafront.
The beach, well the poor old beach once with magnificent high sand dunes is now facing problems of serious erosion and here I certainly did see a huge change. Tons of rock have been brought from Norway of all places to try and protect the dunes from the waves but it is clear that greater remedies need to be considered now.
On the way back to Stonehaven we stopped at the berry-oriented Charleton Fruit Farm for a delicious tea and strawberry tart – biggest I have ever seen – yum!
Heading off for a short break, we chose Stonehaven just south of Aberdeen as the weather forecast looks good there. The site is excellent, right on the seafront and a very short walk into town. New site facilities make this a very comfortable place to stay. Nice.
Dunnottar Castle is top of our list to visit here and can be walked to from the town. They allow dogs to visit too so that’s a bonus, Brodie will love it! Dunnottar Castle is a ruined medieval fortress perched upon a rocky headland. Very dramatic. William Wallace, Mary Queen of Scots, the Marquis of Montrose and the future King Charles II, all visited here so we join an illustrious line of guests and troop in to explore and we love every moment.
Feeling hungry we head along to Castleton Shop and Cafe, which came highly recommended by a friend. We were not disappointed – yum! From there we headed south along the coast to the very beautiful St Cyrus beach, home to an RSPB reserve – St Cyrus National Nature Reserve . Well worth a visit, I loved the vast expanse of this beach and the long line of fascinating twisted driftwood. I collected a bucketload to take home to be turned into something magical.
We even squeezed in a short visit to Steptoe’s Yard that day, a real Alladin’s Cave of a junkyard. We thought it a shame that they haven’t protected the majority of their items from the elements and the furniture indoors was stacked so high that you couldn’t really see things properly.
We returned to Lizzie, tired but happy and to top it all, the weather has been amazing today!
Today’s Fact: for over 150 years Robert Stevenson and his descendants designed most of Scotland’s lighthouses ( his grandson was the author Robert Louis Stevenson). They have stood the test of time and the elements and no doubt saved the lives of countless seamen over the years so well done to the Stevenson family!! The one we visited today was built in 1830 and is Scotland’s southernmost lighthouse. We climbed all 115 steps and have the certificate to prove it, though I don’t really think the effort warrants one! The views were amazing and we thought we could see Ireland off to the west.
It’s been well over a month since we have been out in Lizzie……strange I hear you say, why not spend every minute of the summer away in your motorhome? Well, we are very pleased to announce the birth of our first grandchild, Isaac arrived last week weighing in at 9lbs 3 oz and of course we wanted to be around for this very special occasion and were able to help out with dog-sitting until the new family got settled.
FAR too young to be grandparents I hear you say….yes we agree but we are embracing this stage of our lives with pleasure and joy and Isaac has already captured our hearts. Grandchild no.2 is due to arrive in November so this is turning out to be a very special year!
However, we spotted a window of opportunity to get away from the rain and headed south for a few days on the Mull of Galloway in South West Scotland.
The Mull of Galloway is Scotland’s most southerly point and rewards the visitor with stunning beaches, cliff top walks and amazing views across the water to Ireland. Pretty little harbours and 6 top class gardens are other attractions.
We spent one day pottering around Stranraer, Portpatrick and finally Port Logan, which was our favourite.
One beach produced an interesting haul of Beach Pottery and Sea Glass. I always wonder where these beautiful little works of art originated?
It was MOT time for Lizzie, the first since we bought her so off she went to our friendly local garage for a full service and Test. We hadn’t felt that there was anything mechanically wrong so were hopeful that she would sail through. Wrong! Nothing very major though, new wiper blade, new brake pads and brake cylinders and new brake light. In addition we asked them to source a new door handle as we had a little encounter with a swinging gate which had damaged the passenger door handle. She was all clean and sparkling and pleased to see us the next day although we were a few hundred pounds poorer. Hey ho, had to be done!
A happy day exploring the treasures of the east coast, Burnmouth & Eyemouth on the Scottish side of the border and Bamburgh on the English side.
Bamburgh Castle took us completely by surprise, we had no idea it was one of the largest castles in the UK and is still lived in by the Armstrong family. Very impressive sight. The croquet team put on a show for us in the foreground.
For £2 you can buy 4 pieces of fish to feed the seals in the harbour.
RNLI Lifeboat. There was a terrible tragedy in 1881 known as Black Friday when 189 fishermen lost their lives when a storm blew up while the fishing fleet was out. 129 of these were from Eyemouth. If only they had RNLI lifeboats in those days. Eyemouth today is still a bustling fishing village.
The weather was looking poor at home so we checked out the forecasts and decided that the East Coast looked rather better, so here we are for a short break. We have 3 nights in Berwick Upon Tweed which is the northernmost town in England. Fascinating history, in and out of Scottish/English possession no less than 13 times. The Tudors were so keen to hang on to Berwick that they spent vast sums on its fortifications and today the Elizabethan ramparts remain as the most intact defensive walls in Northern Europe. No mean feat, they took 12 years to build and cost the sum of £128,648 (=£40 million today).
There also remains a bridge built in 1611 by James 1 (V1 of Scotland) and still in use today. They knew how to build to last in the past.
The artist L.S. Lowry was a frequent visitor to Berwick Upon Tweed and many of his finest paintings of ‘matchstick men’ were executed here. There is a Lowry trail around the town and many boards highlighting them dotted around the streets and along his much loved Promenade.
Wandering around the town there are many delightful and quirky shops and some really old buildings. I loved the leaning 18th century granary I spotted down a side street.
Swans. Lots of them. Berwick is home to the second largest mute swan colony in Britain. Numbers can fluctuate from 200 – 800 swans.
Finally Seagulls. Even more in number than the swans and much less photogenic, they call incessantly over the town and swoop and dive and finally one dive bombed Chris and plastered him from chin to shorts! Not an attractive look. He had to recover from the shock with a change of clothes and an obscene hot chocolate.