National Trust Treasures


Moss Lake at Cragside

Is there anything better than a day out with the fam wandering about the grounds of a National Trust place? What better way to spend a crisp autumnal morning than to wrap up and do the River Walk around Wallington Hall? Or to kick up the leaves, moseying through the fields at Waddesdon Manor? These are the kinds of days I look forward to most; no arguing; no squabbling; no nothing! Just a lovely day out, surrounded by nature and seeing your brothers. Oh…and a lovely cup of tea/coffee/hot chocolate to warm up afterwards!

Tea at Waddesdon Manor

I think I’ll take this opportunity to share with you some of my favourite National Trust experiences. Sit back with your favourite hot bev and blanket and enjoy! Oh and maybe go and visit somewhere I mention. It might become one of your favourite places too.

  1. Cragside – This place will live forever in the best of my childhood memories…Now I know I said no squabbling but the amount of times I’ve been here it would be near to impossible for every time to be perfect and with no picking on the youngest sibling (me)… However, I can’t put in to words how much I enjoy visiting this amazing place: from running through the woods to racing through the rockery, exploring around Moss Lake, finding my way out of the Labyrinth etc. etc. We would often visit with my Grandad as he lived not too far away in Hepple and that in itself gives me days to treasure.
  2. Wallington Hall – As this place is only around 16 miles away from Hexham we come here quite a lot. My favourite things to do here include playing with my brothers in the courtyard when we were younger, again, running through the woodland and exploring/playing hide & seek in the Walled Garden and finally, taking a picture on the stone gargoyles. Whenever I had a German Exchange student we would take them to Wallington for a walk and cream tea. There are so many gorgeous walks around Wallington, my favourites being the River Walk and to the Walled Garden.
  3. Farne Islands, Northumberland (see previous blog post)
    A stone’s throw from Bamburgh lays Seahouses; a small town of fish and chip shops and gift shops. From here you can catch a boat over to the Farne Islands and explore the inner island belonging to the National Trust!
  4. Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire
    Last October we stopped off here on the journey back up North from Oxfordshire. I had had a lovely weekend at my aunt and uncle’s house with the rest of my family. So on the way to drop my brother off at the station in Milton Keynes we came here for a little while for a mosey through the grounds. It was so nice because the autumn was in full swing and everything was a deep orange. We got the shuttle bus up to the manor house where stopped in the café for a cup of tea. From there we meandered back down through the woods to the car park – just what was needed before a 5-hour car journey back up North!
  5. Cliveden, Maidenhead
    We came here once to meet up with my brother who lives in London. Although it was only once that I visited this place I loved everything about it; from the stunning grounds to the café in an orangery. The little woodland path that ran from the car park to the house was so sweet – I felt all cosy and snug in my winter coat and Doc Martens!
  6. Chartwell, Kent
    So again, I’ve only been here once (as far as I know) but I really enjoyed this day out. We spent the day walking around the gardens and I recall being really interested by the border plants and the rhododendrons… I remember it was a bit frosty that day; magic! Jumper weather…yay
  7. Glendurgan Gardens, Cornwall
    In my life I’ve only been to Cornwall twice; once this summer and the other when I was three years old, in which case I may have visited this seaside garden more than once. I saved this for last as it’s where I actually became a fully-fledged National Trust member; free entry for a year, YAS! I also discovered my love for succulents here (The garden shop is where I bought my first house plant; Aristotle the Aloe aristata). There was also a few awesome Agave Americana’s here and SO many amazing tree ferns (I’m obsessed). This was also where I fell over and gouged my palm open…something a toddler might do. That’s what happens when you try to show off. But on the up side they have a really cool maze to get lost in.

    Last week I pestered my parents enough to go to a National Trust place and we ended up going to Wallington Hall, it was military weekend so there was a massive display of military vehicles and demonstrations in the house – which naturally I thought was amazing. I was wanting to go down to Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire but unfortunately it was too late in the day to drive 2 hours away.

My Favourite Untranslatable Word of September- MERAKI, Greek.
Meraki is an adjective meaning pouring yourself wholeheartedly into something, such as cooking, and doing so with soul, creativity, and love. I chose Meraki as my September word because I’ve found myself getting more and more enthusiastic about blogging over the past month; especially at midnight when all the ideas flood my brain all at once. I love writing what’s on my mind and now I have a word to describe just how deep the love goes!

‘When you’re giving your all, the end result is usually a great one. The concept of meraki has obviously grown up around the Greek culture, which seems to emphasise a thoughtful kind of passion and an appreciation for the small things.’ – Lost in Translation by Ella Frances Sanders20161001_152112

I’m currently listening to Save The Last Dance For Me by Michael Buble.

Until next time,
Caitlin x


Trams and Tasty Waffles

If you can’t clearly work out from the title or my recent Instagram posts, I returned from the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam last Wednesday to the rain and miserable weather at Leeds Bradford International…It always manages to be raining when I step off the plane in the UK. Not happy about that obviously, yet it always feels like home nonetheless! I wonder why.

We left on Sunday for a 2 1/2 hour car journey to get to the airport after some frantic last minute packing the night before (aassss usual). To be perfectly honest it was my worst flight experience to date due to not being able to get all of my toiletries through security (because I can’t for the life of me pack lightly). It meant I had to throw away some Soap&Glory body mist that I got for Christmas…*cries*. Another thing was actually on the airplane when the guys behind kept kicking the back of our seats…until one of them was sick and we were able to move elsewhere on the plane due to the smell and the pool of not very nice stuff on the floor beneath our seats. But never mind that! We brushed it off fairly quickly. There was a bit of confusion at Schipol trying to find out how to get to the hotel because there was no 310 bus running to Station Zuid on Sundays and also the trains weren’t running so we had to get a coach replacement. Finding that coach was fun (not) and took us about an hour.

After checking into the hotel and topping up on deodorant we got the tram into Amsterdam’s canal district to find some place to eat. The tram ride itself was amusing as we weren’t sure whether to get on or not so Dad hopped on and next thing we knew the doors were closing behind him XD He was stranded on the tram system so we had to rescue him at the next station with the tram tickets.
Now, out of all the culture and architecture and amazing heritage that Amsterdam has to offer, the food was probably my favourite thing about this lovely city and the little restaurant that we went to on our first night was by far my favourite; Buffet van Odette, which actually ended up being in the rough guide but anyway… Here’s what I had: for starters it was beetroot, feta and roasted hazelnuts… so so heavenly; for mains I had a salad complete with fresh salmon, puy lentils, and topped with a poached egg. It was super yummy.

After the meal we just headed back to the hotel but we thought we’d walk – we were sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to find our way. How wrong we were! Dad ended up having to use his phone to navigate our way around the labyrinth of canals, although these are quite useful as a landmark to find your way. Along the way I spotted a few herons in the dark – exciting!

IMG_3662 - Copy

The next morning, Dad wanted to go visit De Foodhallen, north of Vondelpark so we took the tram as far as de Museumplein and walked to Kinkerstraat. As de Foodhallen had just opened the counters hadn’t all opened up yet so we went across the road to The Breakfast Club, cue ‘Don’t You Forget Me’. This place also served delicious food which I am determined to recreate at some point. I had buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit while my mum had an avocado and beetroot club sandwich (hmmm) and Dad tried the sweet potato salad bowl; I can’t remember what was in here but the basis is good enough to give it ago for brunch one day.

Now, what do you think of when you think Amsterdam? Trams? Yep… Canals? Of course! After eating the most amazing breakfast – I tried a bit of everything – we hopped on the tram heading towards Centraal Station to look for a canal boat company to show us around. We opted for a covered boat which would take us around the canals for an hour showing us the highlights. This gave us an idea of where we wanted to go next so when we stepped off the boat we headed in the direction of the Prinsengracht where we wandered upon the Tulip Museum and a figure of Anne Frank outside the Anne Frank Huis.

We were pretty hungry by this point so naturally we looked for somewhere to eat for dinner. This took us to an Indonesian restaurant next to the flower market, a colourful haven for succulents, cacti and, of course, the tulips. After booking the restaurant we rambled around for a bit before deciding that our stomachs were getting impatient. Aside from the starter at Sam Purno Indonesian this was my least favourite of the restaurants that we tried out – the food was too hot for my liking. One tram ride from outside the restaurant and we were back at Hotel Beethoven.

I woke up on Tuesday morning to find that Dad had booked us tickets for the Rijksmuseum. These online tickets are good to get because it means you can skip the queues like with many other popular highlights in Amsterdam; namely the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank Huis & Museum. When I visit art museums I like to buy postcards featuring art work I find in the museum which I particularly like. I was a tad frustrated when I couldn’t find one of the Monet painting I’d found that morning and so I bought one of A Windmill on a Polder Waterway by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriel – this was also Dad’s favourite painting in the museum. After a long while wandering the many corridors of the Rijksmuseum, we sat down in the coffee for a good ol’ cup of tea.

After pondering what to make with the rest of our day we decided to explore Vondelpark by hiring some bikes. This was a interesting first experience of riding bikes in Amsterdam. To start with, I saw only one cyclist, over the few days we were there, who was wearing a helmet; the roads are confusing to cross when you can’t immediately work out which way to look with regards to oncoming traffic!

After a lil while we thought we’d return the bikes and, you guessed it, look for somewhere to eat so we wandered down the Singel towards de Prinsengracht to find this vegetarian restaurant called the Golden Temple. The only table spaces they had free were the ones upstairs…the only thing was that you have to sit on the floor because the tables are that low. I was certain I was sitting on blankets and cushions tangled with bits of food from customers past – but it was certainly an experience, I almost did fall asleep there though!

As Wednesday was our last day we’d decided to book an early entrance time for the Van Gogh museum so we headed there for 10am. I loved roaming about the different floors from different periods of Vincent’s life. The place had different rooms from somewhere for his self portraits to a hub of inspiration from ‘Peasant painters’ and other impressionists such as the one and only Claude Monet. Aside from the angry, mad security woman around the Sunflowers painting – who was scaring all the children away – it was my favourite place in Amsterdam yet. I ended up paying €11 on Van Gogh postcards -they live on my bedroom wall as we speak…
When we were satisfied that we’d seen all we wanted, we caught the tram from the Museumplein to Kinkerstraat once more to find some lunch in de Foodhallen. There was loads to choose from but I went for a falafel wrap with grilled veg….YUM. And for pudding was an amazing treat in the form of awesome lil tartlets. I chose a raspberry (framboos) and lemon (citroen) tartlets and guess what!? They were bloomin delicious!

After that tasty lunch we decided it was time to make our way to the airport. But wait! On stop first. Opposite our hotel was a lovely little bakery/café called Le Pain Quotidien – Belgian- we had eaten here for breakfast the previous two mornings and so we decided to stop for a lil snack. I had Belgian waffles with fresh fruit – it was divine – with a fresh mint lemonade.

It took us a while to find the train back to Schipol but it was a much nicer journey home than the way there. Bye-bye Amsterdam I miss you!

I’m currently listening to The Silver Birch by The Magnetic North

Until next time,
Caitlin x



The Farne Islands

 Last Friday, my dad took myself and my brother along to Seahouses in order that we could ride the waves across to the Farne Islands inhabited by tens of thousands of sea birds such as puffins and Arctic terns, as well as shags and cormorants. These islands also play host to a pretty impressive seal colony with the occasional curious seal head popping up in the water to say hello!

We arrived in Seahouses with minutes to spare as the next 2.5 hour tour of the Farne Islands was leaving in 10 minutes; just enough time to park the car and check in with the National Trust. A brisk walk down the harbour wall, and a few slippery steps later and we’d boarded the Serenity. As it was a little late in the season there were only about 15 of us on board so there was no fear to be had of being squished! The captain took us on a tour of the smaller islands where all the seals could be found making a bit of racket. We then ventured towards the cliffs where hundreds of seagulls made there nests. From there, we ploughed on through the waves chasing the hoards of puffins heading toward the main Inner Farne- with beaks bursting with sand eels- exactly where we headed to next!


On this main island you can find a small chapel, a little information hut and some public toilets on one end and the lighthouse on the other, as well as multiple rabbit burrows inhabited by the puffins. There are boardwalks that take you around the island, right to the cliffs and some picnic benches. One particular thing to look for are the adolescent puffins waddling across the boardwalks or this coming back from fishing flying low right in front of you. Although you can see seagulls most anywhere, one of my favourite photographs of the day were those of the two lovebirds…literally.

The island is now owned by the National Trust and the history of the islands include the story of Grace Darling and the part she played in the rescue of a shipwreck one stormy night. Grace Darling died very young and she is buried nearby in Bamburgh, another coastal town on the Northumberland coast. From the open water you can see Bamburgh castle and Lindisfarne castle; resting place of St. Oswald. Other castles down the Northumberland coast include Dunstanburgh and Warkworth.

One thing you have to be careful about if you’re exploring the Inner Farne are the Arctic terns which are prone to dive-bombing  to protect their chicks. You are encouraged to wear some sort of hat or carry an umbrella so here you see me modelling my old air cadets hat passed down to me from my older brother.

If you’re interested in visiting the Farne Islands I’d recommend going June-July but there’s plenty to see if you’re there a little earlier in the year. I’ve previously been there as early as April but there were only a few puffins as about 70,000 of them had gone off fishing further afield. However there was great entertainment provided by a young seal sun-bathing by the little port, he wasn’t at all deterred by all of the tourists and he just lay there on his back smiling and enjoying the sunshine.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post on the Farne Islands.

I’m currently listening to Come And Get Your Love by Redbone.

Until next time,

Favourite Snaps of 2015: October

Ack. This break from blogging has gone on long enough! Too long did revision take over my life. I’m back to doing the things I love: such as cooking dinner, wandering and exploring, photography, drawing, knitting, being healthy…er.
With results day in a little over 2 weeks away I thought I should get back to my favourite series of blog posts and with it my favourite snaps of 2015!

Truth be told, October was a better month for photography than September. I had the half term holiday to look forward to and my cousin was leaving, yet again, to live in New Zealand – Mia had a leaving party at her home in Oxfordshire and so I was able to enjoy a weekend in my uncle and auntie’s sweet little cottage… so thank you Mia! On our way back up North we stopped off at Waddesdon Manor where I enjoyed the autumnal colours on the trees and the decaying leaves which littered the grass. A particular favourite of mine for this month is the photo of my brother with a disc on his nose saying ‘Oxford Brew’. I find this hilariously ironic because he went to Cambridge university and so it would have been too good if he’d got some tea from Cambridge and not from its academic rival. Also his expression is priceless. Just one other little thing: my brother stayed in that jumper all weekend.

A little later on in October it was time to pop down to London to go and see The Lion King in the West End with my family. I just love going places, especially if it means we can go somewhere awesome for brunch! Enter: The Grainstore.

Ah yes it’s my first post on here since February and it’s also my first post of August!

My favourite untranslatable word of July: TSUNDOKU, Japanese
This is a noun meaning the pile of recently-(or not so recently)bought books that don’t get to see the light of day. I chose the word tsundoku because I’ve been reading more and more recently and I keep heading for the ambitious reads, for example I’m currently reading The Pillars Of The Earth by Ken Follett and it’s great but it means that the list of books I’m waiting to read keeps growing as I keep getting pulled into Waterstones by the will of the books and I often come out having adopted a book or two! Most of the classics in my room previously came from my dad’s bookshelf, e.g. Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations suitably! Oh and To Kill A Mockingbird of course although I fully intend to read this one!
‘The tsundoku scale can range from just one unread book to a serious hoard, so you are most likely guilty of it. As intellectual as you may look tripping over an unread copy of Great Expectations on your way to the front door, those pages probably deserve to see the daylight.’ – Lost In Translation by Ella Frances Sanders.


I’m currently listening to Solace by Myriam Gendron

Until next time,
Caitlin x


A Wander At Wallington Hall

First of all, happy New Year! Happy 2016! Now of course the first thing you have to remember about the Christmas holidays is that you need to relax. After Christmas had passed by I had intended to start my school work and get it out of the way but then, as always, an opportunity arose to procrastinate and postpone the torturous work, as well as work off those mince pies. So the day after Boxing day my dad & I drove to the beautiful Wallington Hall. Driving up the road I saw people walking down by the river and felt most eager to do the same as I remembered walking down the same path with my Grandad almost 5 years ago when he still had the use of his legs. As I anticipated it was a lovely walk and was so peaceful- more so than I’d expected. The intention was to walk down to the river and then along to the stepping stones and then through the luscious walled garden back to the clock tower how this was made difficult to do because the stepping stones were just ever so slightly submerged…and I mean just a smidge. We turned back down the marshy path and instead followed the road and crossed over into the field to get back the house. It was a really nice day (aside from some cold soup) and I will treasure the memory.
At the start of the walk, Dad said to me, ‘Caitlin you’ll have to bare with me, I have a bad knee so you need to walk slower’. I however, replied saying that no matter how slow he would walk he’d still be in front of me because I would be taking lots of photos.
Speaking of photos, lets get on with this!

Wallington Hall
The Clock Tower
Keep Your Feet Dry
Woodland Floor
Tree Line
Two Sheps
Singular Shep
Tree Line #2
Hello! Guess Who?
Two Little Posts
Down By The River
Where Is That Bridge?!
Looking Back
Mate, I’m Leaning!
Ugh I Think That’s A Bridge
Yep It’s A Bridge
Definitely A Bridge
When Will My Reflection Show…
Wallington Hall From Afar
These Aren’t The Stepping Stones
Longer Exposure Shot
Wallington Bridge
Disappearing Into The Foliage
Running Out Of Titles For This River…
Rocky. Still Not The Stepping Stones
Needed The Toilet At This Point
The Front Of The Hall
Clock Tower At Wallington

And now of course, because this is my first January 2016 post, it’s time for my Favourite Untranslatable Word: December 2015 (already weird…)

My favourite untranslatable December word- SAMAR, Arabic
This is a noun to embody ‘staying up late long after the sun has gone down and having an enjoyable time with friends’. I chose the word samar as it seemed appropriate for the current festive period as I highly suspect that many did this over the holiday season.
‘When you don’t notice the evening bleeding into the night, nor remember the fire changing from hot flames to barely there embers. When you talk for hours about nothing in particular, figure out the meaning of life, and likely drink too much to remember what it was the next morning.’ – Lost In Translation by Ella Frances Sanders.

I’m currently listening to- A Moment’s Grace by Boy & Bear

Until next time (and Happy New Year),
Caitlin X