Across the Border Again and a Lesson in Hydraulics

So yet again we cross the border and are on the doorstep of Eyemouth World of Boats as it opens. A lovely lady directs us on a short drive to the storage sheds. She makes no mention of ostriches, perhaps I misunderstood. She had said that she was unable to locate the boat we were interested in but when we provide a few more details (like giving her the correct name) we are in luck. I can see why this is a health and safety nightmare. Someone has removed the steps up to a three foot high platform on which most of the boats are stored. Undaunted, we scramble up on the platform and are able to see the Flying Foam. Ironically she was on display at World of Boats until last year when she was moved to make room for the whaler.

We manage to get back in order to move the van at the approved time and head for a site near Alnwick, which we are learning to call ‘Annick’, so that we sound like locals. We have been to this site before (see archive posts for October 2012 for that visit) and we are on the adjacent pitch to the one that we occupied on that occasion. Unusually, I have planned no itinerary for this part of the holiday. The weather is still demanding an inside venue so it is a case of looking for a National Trust property near us. This turns out to be Cragside, near Rothbury. We encounter a first at a National Trust property, we have to queue to get in. The house has been subject to several extensions and is a distinctly strange shape. The imposing Victorian house was the home of the Armstrong (later Watson-Armstrong) family. William George Armstrong, was an engineer who specialised in hydraulics, meaning that there are various gadgets in the house. Cragside was the first house in world to be lit by electricity that had been generated by water power. He also installed a hydraulic lift in the 1870s.

Unusually, there are decorative tiles on the walls, up to dado rail height, on all floors. There is a very interesting kitchen, with high ceilings and a mechanical jack to turn the joints of meat. There is an over-the-top chimney breast in the drawing room, probably installed to impress the future Edward VII, who visited with his wife and children in 1884. There is also an exhibition about the local businessman, David Dippie Dixon, who, amongst other things, was in charge of the Northern Picture Puzzle Exchange. These were not the lobed jigsaw pieces that we are used to but interlocking, push-fit puzzles.

438 Cragside Rhododendrons 31 May 2016Cragside has plenty of opportunities for outside exploration, with gardens and extensive grounds. Given the temperature, we opt for driving along the six mile estate drive, which commences by driving under an arch through the house. This is obviously the right time for a visit as the rhododendron lined woodland paths are spectacular. It is a shame that we have neither the time, energy, or the warmth, to explore on foot. Home then via a quick shopping stop at Rothbury.

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