Saturday, March 25, 2017

out and about there and back

border hopping on a sunny but windy day (ahead of the snow)
Still playing catch up with the blogging ...

Spoiler: we did make it back to Edinburgh and escaped the industrial action. Apart from not much sleep the evening before, we landed in Edinburgh unscathed to pick up our hire car.

Dear reader - I sped over the Scottish border in a Smart Car...

lets it sink in ...

A four-door Smart car.
Not great for long distance, and it catches the wind like a kite.

So maybe I should say that we sailed over the scottish border into Northumberland.

in its natural habitat
Day Thirteen was thus recovery day.
This is by no means because of a late night out with friends, catching up with old times, cheering absent friends or playing Exploding Kittens.

Wee Guy and I checked out Barter Books, the British Library of secondhand books, which is conveniently within a 10 minute walk of our rental. It was busy around lunchtime but we still managed to find odd nooks to tuck ourselves into next to the books.

most perfect bacon sandwich ever IMO ...
For lunch we trotted down to the Treehouse in Alnwick Castle's grounds. Wee Guy had a perfect bacon sandwich, which he described as being plain and only having bacon ... in other words, a perfect bacon sandwich. And the bacon! thick, meaty, juicy, pink ... in other words, not like Canada's pale excuse. The restaurant kitchen salvaged my tasty but gag-inducing roasted garlic and mushroom by sieving out the stringy vegetable matter that made each swallow an ordeal. The result was a velvety smooth veloute that I am not sure why they didn't provide in the first place. Top marks for customer service on my complaint though.

books. cohen. trains

After a wander round Alnwick centre we ended up back at Barter Books for book #2 and cake :)

stables and ghost
Day Fourteen
Day 14 was family day, catching up with mother-in-law/Granny Kate for a chilly but enjoyable day at Seaton Delaval Hall. As stately homes go, this one went up with a whoosh! in 1822, with the west wing remaining roofless for around 40 years. Today it is an amazing architectural skeleton that allows visitors to see the bare bones that usually hide under layers of plaster and wood panelling.

The west wing is roofed and undergoing restoration - speaking with the guides gave us some insight into the history and the work currently underway to preserve the building. We also learned about the ghosts but luckily after we'd scrambled through the cellars.

Day Fifteen
More stately home visiting and this time to Bamburgh Castle on the coast. Wee Guy and I bounced up the winding roads in the Smart car (nope - never buying one) and spent the day checking out Lord Armstrong's pile and then paying our respects to Grace Darling.

... followed by packing ... where next?

the details
Not much to note here, except that if we'd been visiting more National Trust properties like Seaton Delaval Hall it would have made sense to buy a membership to decrease admission fees.

Oh, and not sure if this is relevant but beware booking car hire online. Sometimes the cheapest option might not be as good as it sounds. I booked through what looked like an aggregator since the rates quoted were extremely low. however, when I checked the find print for zero deductible premiums I found out that even with zero, you still have to pay up. What brings it to zero is that you then have to put in a claim to the aggregator company ... ho hum.

I rented directly from Europcar, picking up at one airport and getting one-way hire (extra 46GBP) to drop off at another. My premium package to reduce the deductible to zero cost around 75GBP for four days hire plus around 30GBP for roadside assist. And I bought a full tank of gas for around 33GBP so I didn't need to hunt out a refueling stop before return.
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