Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Back to work time after Mary's books

I've been missing from blogger land for several days; we've been on holiday. We got back from another week in Northumbria on Friday. We had a lovely time but the weather was mixed to say the least! This was taken on the best day weather-wise, a 4 mile walk along the coast from Craster along to Dustanburgh Castle, then Embleton bay and on to Low Newton where there is a pub, the Ship, that brews its own beer (DH always thinks he's in heavy when we get there). Whenever we've been to that pub in the past, we've practically had it to ourselves but the weather was so nice on the Thursday, it was packed, we had to share a table and got talking to lots of other holiday makers. After suitable refreshment, we walked another 4 miles back inland along fields past a quarry and old lime works.

We stayed in the stable block belonging to the Pele tower at Craster, it's the first time we have stopped there and it was magnificent. The stable block was originally converted into a residence for Mary Craster, a cousin of Mr and Mrs Craster who own the Pele tower. She was an academic at Cambridge, a professor of Anthropology, deputy Curator of one of Cambridge's museums and taught Prince Charles. Since she passed away, Mr and Mrs Craster let her home out as holiday accommodation and they showed us the table where PC once sat, swinging his legs during tutorials. According to Mary, he was just like all her other students but he had better manners!

Mr and Mrs Craster can date their family history back 850 years and the village was named after them, apparently they constructed the harbour and many of the buildings there. 

I can't praise the accommodation highly enough, it was huge and the best, the very best thing, about the house is that it is full of Mary's books and those she inherited from her parents. They span almost the entire twentieth century and the variety of subjects was diverse and fascinating. I was taking notes and sketching things from books on Byzantine art, Islamic art, Indian art, Greek art, you name it. There were craft books on quilting and embroidery, books on mysticism, novels by a diverse range of authors, old gardening and cookery books and many of the books were about India where she apparently grew up. There was a section of poetry that was almost as large as the secondhand book shop in Alnwick! Barter Books is one of the largest secondhand book shops in the UK and dogs are welcome - we had a great afternoon in there! Another lovely shop in Alnwick is the yarn shop, a boring hour for DH but I can't visit Northumbria without a trip to it!

One way or another, I found myself with a nose in a book quite a lot of the time we were away. I took 2-3 novels to read but only finished one, Cross Stitch, the first in the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon recommended by Lori, thanks to that, I found myself thinking in a Scottish accent for half the week! :-) Rather appropriate as we were close to the border!

The rest of the time I was buried in Mary's books and the really interesting thing was that every other book had a clipping in it, perhaps a review from the Times, an obituary on the author or something about the subject matter; a brochure from an exhibition related to it, sometimes a letter from the author! Some of the letters had 2.5d stamps with King George on them!

A very lucky find was No Signposts on the Sea, a novel by Vita Sackville West, I have read several of her works but I wasn't even aware of this one, it was apparently the last one she wrote before she died.

So I am back all refreshed, relaxed and happy and brimming with new things I want to get on with making!


  1. I love to hear of great holidays. Better still lots of pics. :-) xxx

  2. Hi Midge, I'll send you a link to a few more, once I've sorted them out! :-)

  3. Hi Sue,

    Your holiday sounds idyllic and how wonderful finding so many interesting books and even more wonderful finding clippings in them - fascinating. How trusting of Mr. and Mrs. Craster letting out the home with all the contents! I'm so glad guests haven't abused it.

    Look forward to seeing you soon and finding out more about it.

    I'll be boring you with my magazine shoot on Tuesday .... do you want my autograph btw? Reveal Magazine is out next Tuesday! OMG!!

    Love Sandy xxx


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