Monthly Archives: October 2011

Away from the woods for a bit.

For woody stuff & quiz, see further down.

We’ve been in Northumberland, “up North” for three days (our ‘main’ Summer (read “Autumn”) holiday).  We stayed in Bamborough with its splendid castle above and below:

It really is a pile.  Seat of Northumbrian kings from time immemorial and more latterly, from Victorian times, belonging to the Armstrong family.  It sits on an old piece of igneous rock formed in a volcano, right next to the sand dunes and sea.  It is complete with a Norman keep, disused windmill, aviation museum and glazed brick Victorian stables.

The building stone looks to be the same red sandstone stuff used for Glasgow tenements – and not terribly durable:

Even the refurbishments look to be going the same way in places,

although much of the restoration (the castle was wrecked in an artillery onslaught in 1464 during the War of the Roses) uses stronger stuff.  Quite a challenge standing up to the German Ocean’s salty winds day after day (well we found an hour or two challenging enough!).

But the setting is stunning, feast your eyes on these beaches:

The beach really is first class: uncrowded (at least in October!); really clean with hardly any plastic stuff and big (for England).

Lots of fauna too:

I also gathered some kelp for kombu, nom, nom.

On our way to Bamborough we called in at dangerous Chillingham:

I didn’t fancy being pierced in the rear end (or anywhere else) by these chaps:

They are members of the very select group – Chillingham Wild White Cattle.  A distinct bloodline back to the wild British cattle, now only living in Chillingham, Northumberland on the estate park and less than 100 in number.  Magnificent beasts, but much smaller in stature than our modern hybrids. Tough and compact.

Woody stuff

On the estate I spotted this avenue of blasted limes (I believe)

If you click on the photo for an enlarged version you will see that the tops have all been killed off, presumably by a blast of wind, except that they didn’t seem to be exposed to the prevailing Westerly winds, oh well, the lower branches looked to be in good order so the tops will be repaired in good time no doubt.

Backtracking a little to Bamborough Castle contents, here is an interesting project for a woodworker – the original bone shaker:

Yes its an early wooden bike.  I particularly like the arrangement of the spokes on the wheel boss (hub).

On the way back from the hols we called in at Alnwick gardens, an interesting modern project:

Much playful water and formal (too formal for me) plantings.  But also a very interesting project:

This is the level entry bridge to a rather large tree house:

This has been skilfully designed and built to float in amongst a grove of 20 lime trees and comply with strict building and fire regulations.  It has a massive deck housing a large restaurant, second floor toilets and private hire space and two fire escapes, as well as an aerial walkway complete with two wibbly wabbly suspension bridges.  Well worth a visit, but … why the heck wasn’t the cladding in shingles done in a craftsmanlike way that did not recall some B-movie cowboy film set? Doh!

Now a double quiz for ye:

What’s my bark?

Should be pretty easy there are some heavy clues there.

Here’s the answer:

betula pendula silver birch.

And, what’s my fruit …

And why would it be described as a DA?


Answer – dog’s arse – that the way it looks to some people – even Shakespeare.

I’ll leave you with some interesting rustic chairs I spotted in the tree house:

This is m’fungus.

A stinkhorn (phallus impudicus).  It only takes about an hour to expand once it breaks through the veil, but I had to wait a week for the breakthrough.

Somewhat unfortunately I was unable to take the final photograph in the series as Jane came home before me, and as the stinkhorn truly does stink (rotting flesh) she put it outdoor, opened the windows, burnt two papiers d’Armenie and made a curry.

Here it is in its full stinking glory:

They normally expand vertically, but it must have been hampered by sitting in the glass.