Thursday, August 4, 2016

Being Bookish in Alnwick

After my glorious days on Holy Island and at Bamburgh Castle I spent a day exploring my base of Berwick.  My last day in Northumberland was earmarked to visit Alnwick  (pronounced "Annick" because's Britain and they like to do stuff like that).  It was a dull cold rainy foggy day ....but you've got to roll with it. So off I went on the double decker bus and I was lucky enough to get the seat on the top in the front row. Fun on a nice day - not such a great move on a foggy day. ("I'll be the first one killed if a crazy driver hits us because I'll fly through the window" I kept thinking.- one car made it back into its own lane just in time as I cringed and closed my eyes)  Anyway we made it there in one piece..obviously or I wouldn't be writing this would I?

Finally snagged a picture of's a play park a "stone's throw from the beach" where you can paint pots, go to a cafe and have a family adventure together.  All righty then.  I snickered every time we passed this on the way to Holy Island and Bamburgh but never managed to get a picture before this bus trip because I had my camera out and ready to snap.

Upon my arrival in Alnwick I headed onto the High (main) Street passing through the market first.

I slowly made my way to Alnwick Castle.  Having read negative reviews saying it was overpriced andbeing as I had visited two Castles in the past three days I knew I wouldn't bother with this one.  I did visit the gift shop however and purchased a 5 x 7 copy of this print.  Yes, I am obsessed with sheep!  I loved the gift shop and could have spent a whole lot of time and money there but stuck with the print only.  I wandered over to the entrance to the palace grounds and asked security if despite having no ticket I could walk past and get a photo.  He said "go ahead" so here it is...ahem here they are...well I couldn't stop at just one could I?

Absolutely loved the detail on this fence.

Barter Books...the real reason I came to Alnwick.  Barter Books is on the site of the old Alnwick Railway station and was opened in 1991.  They have kept the character of the railway station yet turned it into a wonderful place for readers like me.  It is one of the largest second-hand book shops in Europe and attracts over 200,000 visitors a year with 40% being outside the local area.  The reason the shop is called Barter Books is that customers can exchange their books for credit against future purchases if they wish.

When I walked in the door and saw this I fell in love... I mean really...a dog, a fireplace, coffee and tea on tap, specially made cookies,(both kinds: ginger and chocolate chip were very nice thank you)  a cafe as well (though I didn't sample their wares) and thousands and thousands of idea of heaven...okay put Paul McCartney on the sofa with a guitar (on second thought he doesn't even need to bring that with him)  and I'd spend eternity there!

I stood in here and tried to calm myself down...I am such a book geek that is pathetic.


This mural of authors was fascinating...I had to get postcards of it..for more information click here.

See the Keep Calm and Carry On poster above?  This is where it all began...This is an original 1939 wartime poster that was bought at auction in 2000.  It was put up in the book shop and caught on and well..the rest is history.

And yes I did buy a book!  (the book was donated to a charity shop when I had finished reading it..AFTER ripping the part of the page that said Barter Books with the price on and gluing it into my travel journal...geek, geek!)

At this point I was getting a bit peckish so headed back into town passing through this gate...

Hotspur Tower, Bondgate

Another view of the High Street - lots of pubs, cafes and shops.

St Michaels Pant - Pant is the word used for fountains that had water funneled from nearby streams. There are numerous pants all over the city including the High Pant and the Low Pant. ("You take the High Pant and I'll take the Low Pant and I'll get to the toilet afore you") I didn't know this when I was there or I'd have gone stalking all the "pants".  On second though it was rather a dull icky day to be doing that...ah well, next time!  Anyway this was one was constructed in 1759 which makes it the second oldest functioning pant in Alnwick.

Harry "Hotspur" Percy - erected to commemorate 700 years of occupation of Alnwick Castle by the Percy family.   He looked better from the back...ahem...This trip seemed to involve an unusually high number of knights.  (sadly, all dead)


For some strange reason I was not in the mood for a pub so finally found a local cafe that had what I wanted.  I was having one of those days where I didn't know exactly what I wanted to eat but somehow I'd know it when I saw it on a menu..I hate when that happens!  It was a cold dank day so something warm and quintessentially British was in order.  What could be better than a Toad in the Hole....Yorkshire pudding meets sausages.  It was yummy delicious.

With my tummy full I wandered through the market again and paused to buy some pretty hand made note cards before boarding my bus back to Berwick.  Alnwick is certainly on my "list" of places to get back to if only to see more "pants" and get "accidentally" locked in the bookshop for the night.

No comments:

A bit of bliss in Mirissa, Sri Lanka

While I enjoyed my tour of Sri Lanka I also found it exhausting.  It was nothing against the tour - it hit all the spots I wanted to see an...