Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle
Alnwick Castle

Alnwick Castle has been home to the Dukes of Northumberland for over 700 years. Fans of Harry Potter and / or Downton Abbey might recognise it, as it has starred in both. If you so wish, you can sign up for broomstick training on the very spot where Harry had his first lesson, and you can see in the State Rooms an exhibition of photographs, costumes and props from the Downton Christmas specials of 2014 and 2015 in which Alnwick doubled as Brancaster Castle.

As with Lindisfarne, I’d never been here before and enjoyed discovering the castle. The exterior is imposing, and I particularly liked the figures on the ramparts. They, and the numerous cannon lying about, could have been intimidating, but fortunately John, Valerie and Kenn look quite relaxed.

However, what I enjoyed most – and we didn’t know it was on before we went – was the falconry display. It was so well done that we watched it twice.

Afterwards, John was able to get up close and personal with some of the participants. Well, maybe not too close. Those beaks look scary!

Alnwick Castle is also famous for its gardens – however these operate as a separate attraction, and I think to do both we’d have needed more time. On the way out, we had a peek through the beautiful gates and there wasn’t much colour yet (this was a month ago) so we’ll save that up for another day. The gardens ticket includes admission to the intriguing Tree House, also a reason to go back.

This was the third day of our short Northumbrian break. One more castle to go!

#ThrowbackThursday: 2007

When I was looking for photographs to illustrate my recent posts on our Canadian Rockies trip of 2007, I came across these pictures from just after we came home. I’d forgotten about turning up to Aberdour Castle and discovering a falconry display was about to happen. I look ever so slightly nervous about that beak!

We also visited Castle Campbell on what seems to have been a lovely early autumn day.

We had a weekend in Newcastle-upon-Tyne so that I could attend a school reunion. The Quayside has improved enormously in the years decades since I was a teenager.

That 3-button cardigan makes me laugh – I wouldn’t mind betting someone reading this owned a similar one. Marks and Spencer sold them for months, though varying the colour-schemes quite regularly. We more or less had to have a cardigan rota at work to avoid wearing them on the same day.

I also saw the Angel of the North close up for the first, and so far only, time. I think it’s really impressive, though I know it’s not to everyone’s taste.

Angel of the North

I’d forgotten the two castle visits – we visit castles all the time – but I remember the reunion very clearly. I’m only in touch with one friend from those days but it was amazing how easy it was to chat to the others, even if I hadn’t seen them since the mid-1970s. I met the teacher in the photograph below too – I wonder if you can find me?

Rutherford 1971