The books at Cragside
The books at Cragside

After returning home from Europe a whole month earlier than we had planned, we were feeling a bit low that our travels had come to an end. Our funds were tight but we still had one month left to fill with adventure before we had to commit to settling down and finding a job. Europe was out of the question, but there were still lots of places we hadn’t visited in the UK. So, on a budget, we decided to head north and explore the Isle of Arran, followed by Northumbria.

What can we say about Arran, other than we fell in love with this glimmering green island? A few minutes after disembarking from the ferry and taking the coast road to a convenient stopping point a few yards from the sea, we saw our very first seal. It bobbed in and out between the waves, welcoming us to its homeland. We knew we were in for a great time after that.

It was bitterly cold, but perhaps no more so than in Paris, where, it was hard to believe, we had been staying only 10 days ago. Nevertheless, the weather did not deter us, and we spent our week going on invigorating hikes (one of the nicest being to King’s Cave, starting at Blackwaterfoot golf course), cooking bacon and eggs in the back of the van so the wind wouldn’t blow out the gas cooker flame whilst watching cormorants on the rocks in the sea, searching the hills and seas for sightings of wild deer and more seals, and biking the forest trails (that was more Luke than me). We also ate as much local produce as possible, which was just delicious. If you go, be sure to sample their island cheeses and the butcher’s haggis. And of course, no Scottish island stay would be complete without a wee dram of whiskey! They have their own island distillery and seeing as it was Luke’s birthday, I bought him a tasting experience as well as a couple of bottles of his favourites. And for my belated birthday gift? A spa day, at the only island resort of its kind. It was certainly a week to remember.

We then headed for the rolling landscape of Northumberland where we stayed in Alnwick. We explored Alnwick Gardens (which included the Poison gardens), Bamburgh Castle and beach, Alnmouth beach, Cragside (National Trust), the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, and the infamous Barter Books (a thriving second hand book shop set in an old railway station). If you like vast stretches of sand, the Northumbria coast is for you. It is an expansive landscape that surely must inspire Gothic tales of deaths at sea, losing one’s mind on the moors, or terrible tortures deep within the castle’s bowels. On a lighter note, it appears to be a wonderful place for pet owners. The beaches teem with wet and wild-eyed dogs who zip in and out of the water, and there are pubs aplenty where such dogs dry before open fires.

Which leads me nicely onto my final news. After returning home, our travels well and truly over (for now, anyway), we set about redecorating the spare room and making into my official office. And now, as I write this, in my newly painted room, I have a little companion called Pepper. She is a small, mixed breed puppy, rescued from the streets of Romania. She is utterly beautiful and looks rather more like a cross between a fox and a badger than a dog. Despite the lack of sleep she is causing, life without her now would be unthinkable.

P.S. for pictures of our travels and Pepper, visit my Facebook page.

About the author

Delphine Woods - Enthusiastic, budding author