Rock & Craster & Dunstanburgh Castle

After our morning in Newbiggin Sophie and I went up to visit Craster, and on the way stopped off in Rock at a cafe Sophie found on Trip Advisor.

Rocking Horse Cafe

The owner there was lovely and had a good chat with us.  He had 2 gorgeous sheepdogs, and the cafe is dog-friendly with an area outside for dogs to run around in.  Good food too.

Breakfast Stottie- couldn’t eat it all!

Then we drove on to Craster which is famous for its kippers.

Smokin’ Fish
Craster, with Dunstanburgh Castle in the backkground.


That boat’s not going anywhere soon.

We walked up to see the castle, the sea was being quite dramatic.

Sea doing stuff

The sky was lovely

Dunstanburgh Castle

The castle was built between 1313 and 1322 by Thomas the Earl of Lancaster.  Thomas was an immensely powerful English baron, the second richest man in England after the King, his cousin, Edward II, with major land holdings across the kingdom.   Edward was not the greatest King we ever had and was having a bit of a fling with his friend-with-benefits Piers Gaveston.  Thomas and other earls did not like Piers’ influence on the King so led an army against Edward and Piers. The king escaped by sea, but the earls captured Gaveston at Scarborough. During his journey to London under arrest, they summarily executed him in Warwickshire, on Lancaster’s land. The King was pretty peed off about that, but he pardoned everyone involved.  It was then that Thomas decided to build the Castle,  and it is currently believed that Thomas probably intended to create a secure retreat, a safe distance away from Edward’s forces in the south. In the years following Gaveston’s death, civil conflict in England rarely seemed far away, and Thomas probably hoped to erect a prominent status symbol, illustrating his wealth and authority, and challenging that of the King. The resulting castle was huge, protected on one side by the sea cliffs, with a stone curtain wall, a massive gatehouse and six towers around the outside. 

Castle Sheeps

Unfortunately for Thomas, life went tits up.  The only time he even saw his castle was on the way to the siege of Berwick.  Also by 1321, Edward had new favourites the Dispensers, father and son and both named Hugh.  He especially liked the son though. The Dispensers were absolutely ruthless & horrid chaps, so Thomas and the other noblemen yet again went into battle, but this time their campaign failed, and though they tried to make it to Dunstanburgh a royalist army intercepted and defeated them at Boroughbridge, Yorkshire, on 16 March 1322, and captured Thomas. After a humiliating trial, Lancaster was beheaded at his own castle at Pontefract. The king took Dunstanburgh Castle into his own hands, garrisoning it with 40 foot soldiers and 40 hobelars (lightly armed cavalry).

So poor old Thomas! The castle’s history doesn’t end there (obviously as it’s still standing 🙄 ) but I’ll cover the rest when I return for a second visit.

We didn’t go in as the sun was sinking by the time we got there and we wanted to get back before it was dark, but a return trip is planned.

and we were treated to a nice sky on the way back.

Walking back to Craster

The fishermen at the harbour were packing up to go home

Next time we go we shall be lunching with this fine chap

Stay tooned we’re off to see the art galleries in Newcastle next time.

Also pop over say hi to me on my OTHER BLOG where I’m making pretty in Black & White. 🙂


Newbiggin-By-The Sea ~ January 2019

Into 2019 outings now, as Whitley Bay was our last trip out in 2018.

Also I’m not posting here as often as I’m busy doing a 365 project over on Fraggles Other Place this year, feel free to pop over and visit me there! Clickety click HERE.

Sophie and I had a day out in Northumberland, visiting a few places, and starting with Newbiggin B-T-S.

The History Bit  

Newbiggin was once an important port for shipping grain and a coal mining town, it is still a small fishing port now making use of traditional cobel boats. The town was at the end of the first telegraph cable from Scandinavia in 1868, and was laid from Jutland, Denmark. Attractions in Newbiggin today include the 13th-century parish church, and the new flagship Newbiggin Maritime Centre, which has replaced the former heritage centre at a cost of £3million. The lifeboat station was opened in 1851 following a fishing disaster in which ten Newbiggin fishermen lost their lives in stormy seas. It is the oldest operational boathouse in the British Isles.
A £10,000,000 renovation to rebuild and improve Newbiggin’s rapidly eroding beach involved importing 500,000 tonnes of sand from Skegness, delivered by the trailing suction hopper dredger, (try saying that after a couple of glasses of vino delecto!)  Oranje, and deposited on the beach through a pipe approximately 1 metre in diameter. A new offshore breakwater was installed to accompany the matching breakwater on the opposite side of the bay. Also installed is a brass statue by sculptor Sean Henry named Couple, anchored in the centre of the bay.
The 13th century Parish Church of St Bartholomew, bleakly situated against a North Sea backdrop at Church Point, contains a notable collection of medieval gravestones. Eight complete cross slab grave covers have been reset in the walls of the north aisle which was rebuilt in 1912. The chancel, the east and western bays of arcades and the west tower are all 13th century, while the spire dates to the 14th century.

That’s about it, let us crack on with the pictures.  We parked up in the community car park next to St.Bart’s Church, and when we got out of the car were surrounded by dogs.

The Bedlington Terrier Brigade

I asked them what they were up to (the owners not the dogs) and was informed that this was the Bedlington Terrier Walking group.

Sophie and I left them to it and we went off to visit the church.

St.Bartholomew’s Church
old grave
Robert Redford drowned :/
Guarding the door
This one still had all his teeth!

We walked down to visit the lifeboat station

Puffin bollards

and took a photo of the expensive breakwater and the statue of the Couple. Click on the pic to see them better. I have no idea what the Couple is about, but in researching (looking on Trip Advisor as it happens) came across the following moving tribute by a resident which I felt was worth sharing here…

“lived in the bay for a number of years and this statue has to be the worst thing that the council could have ever placed in the village
N.C.C literally must have rocks in their heads to totally waste so much of the tax payers money without even consulting locals about what they wanted for their village
Its ugly…dull…drab and in very bad taste
The figures look like Andy Cap and Flo !!
Its an insult to Newbiggin and its history”

and many more concur, so not a well loved landmark, or even seamark, by any stretch.

(for my overseas pals, you can see & read about Andy Capp and Flo HERE)


Breakwater & The Couple.

The Bedlington Terriers were having a nice time on the beach

Invasion of the Bedlington Terriers

There was a cobel boat in the yard of the lifeboat station

Glad cobel boat
Safe as houses

we cut our visit short as time was ticking on and the sky wasn’t looking too promising, and we had other places to visit, and as we left, so did some of the Invasion Force

Dogs of fashion.

Stay tooned folks, next time we’re off to lunch in Rock (named after me possibly) and to Dunstanburgh Castle.

All pictures embiggenable and clickable.

Whitley Bay- November 2018

After Sophie and I visited Tynemouth Market, we went for a wander to Whitley bay, to see the renovated Spanish City.

Spanish City, 1910

It opened in 1910 as a concert hall, restaurant, roof garden and tearoom and was a smaller version of Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach. A ballroom was added in 1920 and later on a permanent funfair. It had a Renaissance-style frontage and became known for its distinctive dome, now a Grade II listed building.
There were shops and cafes inside, a roof garden, and the Empress Theatre, with seating for 1,400 on the floor and 400 on the balcony. The Empress Ballroom was added in 1920, and the Rotunda in 1921. In 1979 the Rotunda was converted into the Starlight Rooms for live entertainment. Dire Straits, Sting, and Christopher Cross a few of the notable performers.

In June 2011 ADP Architects won a commission to regenerate the Spanish City with a plan that included a 50-bed, four-star boutique hotel, 20 apartments, a 1950s diner and a pleasure garden. The completion date was announced as 2014, but work was halted in 2013 because of a lack of funds. The project received a grant of £3.7m from theHeritage Lottery Fund in November 2013. The building re-opened in July 2018.

The ceiling of the central space has been removed from the ground floor, allowing visitors to see the dome in all its glory from inside for the first time in over 100 years,

railings in the buildings original style have been reinstated on the surrounding gallery.

Family-friendly venues, a high-quality steak and seafood restaurant, tearooms, event spaces and a champagne bar take permanent homes inside.

Steak & Seafood restaurant
Christmas desserts
Shampoo Bar
View from one of the function rooms

The front of the building actually looks out over the sea, and we went outside to photograph the seafront, but it was bliddy cold and windy so didn’t stay long!

Tynemouth Market ~ November 2018

Now and then due to busyness or bad weather, Sophie and I go to Tynemouth Market for a shorter excursion as it’s only 20 minutes away and there’s always stuff to photograph, and shop for!  The market is held at Tynemouth Metro Station, a Grade II listed building, and is on every Saturday and Sunday.

Things you could buy there..

Eyerolling cat.


Steampunk Topper


Hangover Tea




Nuts and bolts


Converted fire extinguishers


These might be sitting on my kitchen shelf now 🙂


Art Deco perfume bottle.

Things you might see there…

carving his wares





There are always lots of doggies



Doggage à Trois


and sartorially elegant ladies

Golden Wonder

We had our lunch there..


and then went to have a quick look at the newly opened Spanish City, which I’ll do next time, so stay tooned!

Shrewsbury November 2018

My final post on Shrewsbury is on my film blog, Tudor buildings lend themselves nicely to B&W film I think.


photo’s taken on an Olympus XA on Ilford HP5 + B&W film.

The Market Hall built in 1595-6.

Ancient & Modern


Chocolate Box

Prego Fatface?

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