Gardens, Books, Chips and a few other things

The day begins with a look at Longframlington Gardens. These are clearly a labour of love for the owner, who we chat to. There is a strong commitment to environmental principles and we wander through the arboretum and wild meadow. The gardens also boasts rope sculptures, including a swing, which I road test until Chris points out that one of the uprights looks decidedly unstable. We attempt the garden maze quiz, where correct answers to gardening questions lead you successfully out of the maze. We escaped but probably not solely due to our gardening knowledge. We also look at the attached garden centre, well it would be rude not to and I succumb to purchasing a mock orange (Philadephus). Now we are back to impersonating Burnham Wood.

We travel on to Alnwick (pronounced Annick), where we fail to find our supermarket of choice, despite having what was, allegedly, its exact address. We did find a substitute supermarket and also paid the obligatory visit to Barter Books. This is a second-hand book shop on steroids, set in a former station and complete with electric train running above the bookshelves. Refreshments and comfy chairs are available as well as a vast array of books. I purchase a map to help with locating ancestral villages, which are annoyingly and probably inevitably, centred on an area that is on the edges of four separate maps, of which I now possess two. Then it is back to the van to deposit the supermarket haul.

We decided to pay repeat visit to Cragside, rather than stay in the van for the afternoon. Cragside is an impressive Victorian edifice; the former home of Lord William Armstrong who was a notable engineer and pioneer in the field of electricity. Cragside was the first home in the world to be lit using hydroelectricity. Armstrong installed a lift, a water powered jack to turn the roasting spit and a Turkish bath. There is real cooking going on in the kitchen and we sample Earl Grey cake; fortunately, the Earl Grey is not discernible. There is also brass cleaning in progress. Here, pine cones discourage visitors from sitting on the chairs. I suppose that is one up on the holly at Seaton Delaval. The gardens are impressive and are famed for their rhododendrons. These are already beautiful but look set to be even more spectacular in a few weeks’ time. We drive along the five mile ‘carriage drive’ round the grounds. As we pass through Powburn, fortuitously, the mobile fish and chip van is in situ – no brainer.

122 24 May 2019 Cragside


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