24 September 2013

Shopping and sightseeing in Sunderland

Dear Coco
We are coming to the end of our holiday - tomorrow we leave Jethro and his family and start the long haul home again.
It seems just yesterday that we left the Derbyshire Farmhouse and spent a few happy hours exploring the truly amazing Tudor house of Little Moreton Hall.
This is a dog kennel in the main courtyard of this house - just a hole in the wall (but a comfy space inside neverthelesss) and a water trough made of stone outside.
As we were leaving the postman arrived with the mail.
We arrived in Whitburn, Sunderland, where we were able to meet the latest addition to the family - the cutest little kitten called Neo. Here he is with Marie-Anne. It was so lovely to see all the Schroeders again.
Marie-Anne and Neo on my bed
which was a very comfy fold-out sleeper couch used by Vincent, Marie-Anne, Neo
and Jethro the big and beautiful.
 On Thursday it was raining so, after Beth dropped Marie-Anne and Vincent at school, we had a relaxed morning in Beth and Norbert's lovely house on the sea cliffs, and then went shopping at Sainsburys.
 And lunched at Sainsburys.
 Then we fetched Marie-Anne from school ...
 and went to TK Max for some more retail therapy. It was lots of fun and we bought a few gifts and I bought a skirt.
Back in my room, with Neo for company. (The bird is a paper cut-out, not real.)
On Friday, after showing me all the dragons that he has accumulated in his Dragon Quest game, Vincent and Marie-Anne went off to school
 and Jethro went for his walk (here he is waiting patiently for his walking lady to pick him up),
and Mom, Beth and I set out for Belsay Hall, Gardens and Castle in Northumberland. At the entrance we met this distinguished dog - an elkhound-greyhound cross. 
Belsay Hall is a Greek Revival mansion built in the early 1800s and now owned by English Heritage.
The gardens are really romantic and unusual. One section had a long walk with lots of different northern hemisphere ericas and heaths, including this Erica tetralix which seems to occur in the UK.
But the most exciting and truly amazing garden was the Quarry Garden - a lovely garden inside the quarry where the stones for Belsay Hall were quarried.
Before the hall was built, the family lived in this castle, which they just abandoned when they moved into tthe hall in 1817. It was lovely to explore it - with memories of I capture the castle by Dodie Smith and the Lorna Hill stories that I just loved as a child. The castles in those books could have easily been this 14th century defensive 'peel tower' which was built as a refuge at a time of Anglo-Scottish warfare.
On the way home we went to the Barbour factory shop where Mom bought a hat for herself and Anna, and so did I - for Sophie and Marie-Anne.
Time just runs on and it is time to sign off. 
See you soon Coco!
love The Food Lady 

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