14th MAY 2012 to 19th MAY 2012



Dunstan was chatting with his pal Fletcher, while having a cup of Assam 2nd Flush tea.

"This really is a lovely cup of tea", sighed Dunstan.

"Dad and Uncle Brian discovered it while staying at Armathwaite Hall", Fletcher replied. "It was so fortunate that I happened to be in the display case in the entrance, as I sensed as soon as he saw me that I would be adopted. Like you I have so many friends here, and as well I have been lucky to holiday at Armathwaite Hall many times since, taking quite a number of our other pals along too."

"I was going to ask you about that", said Dunstan. "I understand since Dad was ill last December, that Uncle Brian has put his foot down and said that Dad can only take five of us along."

"Well that's the theory, but Dad told me that he does not intend to stick strictly to it. Fred and Gladly always go, so Dad says we should not count them as part of the five, so then at least seven can be taken in all", said Fletcher. "Mind you, don't tell Uncle Brian", he went on.

"Oh that's great", cried Dunstan, "as I will be able to take Ally & Bramble and Archie & Cheviot, as well as Fred and Gladly, of course."

"Are there any specific plans?", asked Fletcher.

"Well the main reason is to visit Aunt Pam & Uncle Kenny, and Aunt Julie & Uncle Colin & Uncle Jeff too. Sadly unlike when you last went to Armathwaite Hall, the weather does not look to be very settled or warm, but Uncle Brian, has said he would like to go to Eyemouth. He is taking his mobility scooter, so will be able to ride round the harbour. Otherwise nothing specific.". replied Dunstan.

"Well whatever the weather I hope you have a good time", said Fletcher.

"Thanks pal."


The Journey to Wooler

Monday dawned, and soon Dad was loading the luggage in the car, so my pals and I hurried to settle on the back seat.

"Which way are we going?", asked Fred.

"Up the M6 to Carlisle then along the A69 to turn off at Greenhead onto the road over Hadrian's Wall to Chollerford. Then we continue on the usual route to Rothbury."

The M6 north is one of the most picturesque motorways and we enjoyed the views of the Howgill Fells and away to the west the Lakeland Fells.

"Is there something wrong Uncle Gerry?", asked Fred.

"No, why?", Dad replied.

"Well you have not reeled off the names of the fells", replied Fred, laughing out loud.

"For once, I thought I would give you all a rest from that", replied Dad.

Travelling along the busy A69, Cheviot suddenly called out, "look there's the sign reading 'Welcome to Northumberland'. Great to be in our home county again."

"It sure is", replied Bramble & I in unison.

At Greenhead, we joined the road beside Hadrian's Wall, and on eventually to cross the river at Chollerford, then turning left at the crossroads towards Rothbury. Again we enjoyed the beautiful countryside, passing the National Trust house of Wallington. The trees were magnificent with there fresh foliage.

After some miles, Gladly called out "look there are the Simonside Hills."

This set our hearts racing in the knowledge that we were nearing the end of our journey.

"Are we going straight to the Tankerville Arms?", asked Cheviot.

"No", I replied. "We are going to Chillingham Castle, the intention being for Dad and Uncle Brian to have lunch in the tea room, run by Aunt Julie."Cheviot, Archie & I went in too.

Aunt Julie and Heather who was working too, made a fuss. They came to chat when the tea room had quietened down. A nice lunch was enjoyed - soup and sandwich, then Dad had a piece of lovely home made chocolate cake, all washed down with pots of tea. It was just so great to see them again.

Afterwards, I had my photo taken, sitting on one of the old cannons, with the castle behind.

The Dad, kindly took me again, with my pals Cheviot and Archie.

"Right", said Dad, "we had better be getting on to the hotel and check in."

It is not far to Wooler, and soon we were pulling into the Tankerville Arms, where we were staying.

When the room keys are issued teddy bears, like our pal Cheviot are attached, and indeed that was how he came to be adopted. So, of course he went with Dad to check-in, to explain this. Duncan remembered and said how nice it was to see us again. We had booked the same room as last year, but unfortunately Duncan had inadvertently moved us. However the alternative room was no further for Uncle Brian to walk, and in fact was divided into two with sliding doors, making sleeping easier for them both. Dad brought the luggage up, and we were all glad to settle in and rest after the journey.



We all slept reasonably well, and were up quite early, that is all apart from Dad.

He got his laptop and went back to bed, to which Uncle Brian said, "what are you doing?"

"I'm going to read my book, as it's only 06.30", he replied.

To which Uncle Brian replied, "no it's not, it's 07.45."

The explanation for this was that the hands on Dad's radio controlled watch, had got out of sync (it was not until he got home and consulted the instruction book that he was able to correct matters). Dad scrambled out and got ready quickly, and they were down for breakfast about 08.15 as planned. We had ours in the room as normal, this being organised by our pal Cheviot.

"What's on the agenda today?, asked Archie.

"Dad and Uncle Brian are going to Eyemouth. Fred Gladly and I have decided to stay in today, so he is taking you with Ally, Bramble & Cheviot. As you come from Scotland, I am nominating you to narrate the story today."

"Thanks pal", replied Archie, looking very proud.

Went across country to the A1, then headed north past Berwick on Tweed, and soon crossing in to Scotland.

"Hooray", I called out, "it's great to be back in my home country again."

Soon we were turning off right, and Dad drove down to the small car park above the harbour, where they had parked on previous visits.   The first thing was to assemble Uncle Brian's mobility scooter 'Beauty', then he climbed aboard and we set off down to and along the harbour.

"Look", called out Bramble, "there's one of the local residents."

The tide was in and the harbour was full of fishing boats and yachts,

like these.

Some were undergoing repair too.

"That looks like a lifeboat inside the building", remarked Ally.

"It is indeed", replied Bramble. "If that is the normal boat for Eyemouth, there will be a relief boat in operation, waiting for any call out."

As we got further round the harbour, where there was much toing and froing from the warehouses to the boats, Cheviot called out, "there it is, beyond that jetty."

Ally then said, "the lifeboat station is over there too, just to the right."

It was May, but that really was in name only, as there was a strong wind making the already unseasonably low temperatures feel like winter.  By the time we had got to the opposite side, poor Uncle Brian was thoroughly chilled through, and pretty miserable into the bargain. He was not relishing at all the thought of having to ride back, but thankfully there was parking on this side, so Dad kindly walked swiftly back and brought the car round. Much to Uncle Brian's relief, he was able to get in and warm up. We still wanted to do some exploring, so walked on along the harbour, where we spotted this mobile van selling sea food. It was the name that really amused us.

"Time to have our picture taken", called out Cheviot.

"There looks to be a convenient place over there", said Ally.

l-r, Archie, Cheviot, Ally & Bramble

As Dad was taking this a couple with a young baby walked past, and the mother was commenting on us to her baby. Dad briefly explained, telling them our names and where we had come from. As they walked away Bramble waved a paw and the child blew us a kiss. Ah!

Glancing across the harbour, Bramble said, "I wonder what that building is about."

"There's an information board over there", I called out, "let's go and have a look."

In the 18th century, the British Government put duties not only on luxuries like silk tobacco and alcohol, but on everyday goods such as coal, salt, soap and tea. As one of the few safe landing places on a rocky coastline, and with the nearest customs house more than 20 miles away at Dunbar, Eyemouth flourished as a destination for contraband.
Looked on by the public as benefactors rather than criminals, the smugglers frequently got the better of Customs and Excise officers. Cargo was landed under cover of darkness, and hidden away in roof spaces, secret recesses and underground cellars. Underground passageways and narrow wynds running in all directions helped the smugglers escape the excise men.
Gunsgreen House (pictured above) was built to an Adam design in about 1753 for a successful Eyemouth merchant called John Nisbet. This must have cost a great deal of money, and it seems likely that his respectable business provided a cover-up for Nisbet's participation in the smuggling trade. The House itself is reputed to have secret passages and a fireplace which could be swung out like a gate, as well as huge cellars large enough to hold hundreds of kegs of smuggled brandy.

So that was the end of our exploration of Eyemouth, for this visit, and Dad and Uncle Brian's thoughts turned to lunch. Well Dad's oft plaintive cry is 'I'm hungry'.

"What about going to the Barn at Beal, on the road to Holy Island", suggested Uncle Brian

"Fine", replied Dad, starting the car and heading along the main street. Here we saw another business with an amusing name. A hairdressers called 'Hair Port'.

At the junction with the A1, we turned left on to it, and returned in to England, eventually taking a left on the road to Holy Island. To get to the island it is necessary to cross the causeway that is cut off at high tide. However the Barn at Beal is a distance before the causeway, so we did not have to worry about the state of the tide.

Dad and Uncle Brian enjoyed lovely sandwiches here, served with salad and crisps, with pots of tea to drink. We had a picnic that Cheviot had arranged from the hotel, while sitting on the grass watching the sheep. Then afterwards Dad took our picture to round off the day.

Driving back we went via Chatton, where Dad and Uncle Brian went to see Uncle Jeff at the shop. He was very pleased to see them and they had quite a few minutes chat. Finally then we returned to the hotel where we told Fred, Gladly and Dunstan all about our day.

"Back to you Dunstan."

"Thanks Archie, for a most interesting account", he replied.



Dad, now that he realised that his watch was partly showing the wrong time, was up at the proper time, and they went to have their breakfast about 08.15. Ours was delivered to the room, thanks to the arrangement Cheviot had made.

"What are we doing today?", asked Fred.

"Well, going this morning to see Aunt Pam and Uncle Kenny, so I will be going of course, and I would like it if you and Glad would come along as well."

We'd love to", replied Gladly with enthusiasm.

So, after Uncle Brian had had a little rest following breakfast, we settled in the car and off we went, turning left out of the hotel, then almost immediately Dad turned right on to the Berwick road.

"Surely we should be taking the road to Chatton?" I queried.

"Yes, I would agree", replied Dad, "but you remember that super print of "The Tree", we saw at Beal yesterday, well I cannot remember exactly the name of the photographer. So we are going there first to get the name, which was Chris Lishman."

So that done, it was south on the A1 to take the Bamburgh road, soon turning off into Lucker, where Aunt Pam and Uncle Kenny live. We were all welcomed and there were hugs from Aunt Pam for Dad and Uncle Brian, and that ever firm handshake from Uncle Kenny. I was fussed to and my pals. We then sat quietly while Dad and Uncle Brian chatted away the morning catching up on happenings. Uncle Kenny has not been too well, for which we were sorry and hope that things improve for him soon. They had tea and of course there was chocolate cake for Dad. Aunt Pam knows what he is like! Dad had planned that they would all go out for lunch, but time just seemed to fly by as they talked, and by the time this was discussed it was rather too late, as they had to be in Alnwick for early afternoon. So instead Aunt Pam made them a sandwich and more tea etc of course. We took our leave about 14.00. It had been great to see them again, and hopefully we will see them again next year.

"So what are we doing now?", I asked.

After a little thought, Uncle Brian said, "How about going to Bamburgh, we can park on the Wynding, and you Lads can go for a walk on the beach with Dad, while I rest in the car."

"I hope the walk is not too far", sighed Fred, who is not one for too much exercise.

We were soon at Bamburgh, and fortunately there was space to park. Dad got his camera and with us in tow, we headed down on to the beach, walking south in the direction of Seahouses. It is wide and stretches for miles, but there were so few people, just how Dad likes it.

All the time we strolled along the castle dominated the scene above the dunes. Dad took a few shots but this we thought was about the best.

Whilst cloudy, the sky looks to be bright behind the castle, but looking out to sea, Gladly said, "I hope that weather is not coming our way."

"Nor that ahead", added Fred.

This picture too, shows clearly how deserted the beach was. The Farne Islands lie just out to see, a haven for thousands of sea birds like, terns, puffins, guillemot etc, and seals too. The nearest one is called rather unsurprisingly Inner Farne.

"My legs are getting tired", complained Fred.

"Well I think it's about time we were turning back anyway", replied Dad. "However before we set off I am going to take another shot of the castle from its southerly aspect."

So after not too long, we were back to the path leading up through the dunes to the car. Before climbing up however, we took the opportunity to pose for our picture.

Dunstan, Gladly & Fred

As we scrambled up the path, Fred called out, "look there is a man with his son building sandcastles, and trying to rival Bamburgh Castle itself."

Finally as we scrambled into the car and slumped on the back seat, Gladly said, "thanks Dad that was a nice walk, but we've had quite enough exercise for today now."

"Amen to that", said Fred with relief.

We were able to relax, and I think we dosed off as we did not remember much about the drive back to the hotel, where we later, over dinner, told our other pals about the day.

Dad and Uncle Brian, had another lovely dinner too. The food here at the Tankerville Arms is excellent, and we have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone visiting Northumberland.



The curtains were thrown back, and Ally exclaimed, "it's pouring with rain."

"Well whatever I am not going out today" said Fred firmly, "I am still getting over that walk on the beach."

"What had you thought about doing today, Dad?"

"We need to be indoors, and Uncle Brian likes to browse round Barter Books in Alnwick", he replied.

So that is what they did and just our pals Archie and Cheviot went along with them today, The rest of us were quite glad to relax and dose the day away in the room.

Here Cheviot takes up the story.

"Thanks pal."

The bookshop, which is one of the largest in the country selling second hand books is situated in the old Alnwick railway station. There is not much space to park outside and Dad's big car takes up a lot of room too, so he had to drop Uncle Brian off and find a place to park. In the event this was just a short distance away, but nevertheless Uncle Brian was still standing outside, waiting anxiously for him.

He then went in but we had spotted an old chair with a plush seat, where Archie and I sat and had our picture taken.

We then went in and sat with Dad by a large round table in the centre, with the many bookcases stretching away in each direction. Dad was not feeling too well this morning, so was glad to just sit and rest, while Uncle Brian browsed round. Dad did have a look later at the books relating to walking, but in the end neither he nor Uncle Brian bought any of the seemingly thousands there. We went then to the cafe, where they had a drink and Dad had a very filling cake, that for once he wished he had not eaten. He really must not have been well!!

Then Uncle Brian had another short session of browsing, while we sat with Dad at the table once again. Before leaving Dad took this shot along the length of room, to the back wall that has lights depicting the sun.

By now it was lunchtime, so it was to Sunnyhills at Belford, where we had been before last year. Here they had a nice lunch - broccoli and stilton soup with bread, and a bowl of their lovely chips between then, and of course a pot of tea. After this it was back to the hotel, where we all rested, and Dad, who was rather tired went to sleep. In the evening we had room service that, I had arranged, as usual, while Dad and Uncle Brian went down for dinner in the bar.

"Back to you Dunstan."

"Thanks Cheviot."


Today we rather took a back seat, as Dad and Uncle Brian, went to visit a friend, Joyce Porter, who they know from the Northern Sinfonia, and who is the friends coordinator. Ally, Bramble and myself went along however, as afterwards we went to Aunt Julie's at Chillingham Castle, for lunch. We went in too, of course. Before leaving, we sat in front of the blazing log fire, while Dad took our picture, which produced a rather unusual effect. Don't worry though, we were not really surrounded by the flames.

Bramble, Dunstan & Ally



Home today. My pals and I had once again had a lovely time here in Northumberland. Like Dad and Uncle Brian, I love this county, and I am proud that I was adopted here. A final breakfast to set us up for the journey, then we settled in the car ready for the off. The formalities completed with regard to settling the bill, Dad drove off taking the road to Chatton.

"Where are we going?", I asked

"To Sunnyhills at Belford", replied Uncle Brian.

Not only is this a cafe, but there is a wonderful farm shop, selling a wide range of food and groceries, and Dad and Uncle Brian took the opportunity to stock up on meat, bread, milk, pate, pies etc.

Uncle Brian commented, "if we lived near here, we would certainly shop here regularly."

"Right", said Dad, "time to get on the way."

As always the roads are quiet, so he made good time, and we were home early afternoon, and reunited with all our other pals, who were eager to hear all about our adventures.

And finally, a big thank you to Dad and Uncle Brian, for a lovely holiday.


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