Posted in Inspiration

Spectacular Ruin On Rugged Coast – Dunstanburgh Castle

Approaching Dunstanburgh Castle

Yesterday we visited a ruined castle at Craster. It was the most spectacular yet. I thought Lindisfarne was amazing built on a volcanic rock on an island but Dunstanburgh castle is a spectacular ruin on a breathtaking stretch of the Northumberland coast.

Alongside the walk to the castle
Alongside the walk to the castle

The photographs speak for themselves although in real life the waves crashing against the rocks is even better.

The view from the walk to the castle.
The view from the walk to the castle.

You do have to pass close by to sheep and cows so you will need to keep your dogs under close control but they are clearly used to visitors and ignored us which suited me.

Jazz and Oby were well behaved.
Jazz and Oby were well-behaved.

The ruined castle has some interesting features including these windows.

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 There is also a double height tower.

Double Height Tower
Double Height Tower


Today is our last full day here in Northumberland and I will be sad to leave the beautiful coast and countryside and the friendly locals. Today we are off to explore the beach we saw from the castle yesterday.

From from the castle gorunds towards Craster Harbour
From from the castle grounds towards Craster Harbour


Amid the ruined castle
Dunstanburgh Castle








Posted in Inspiration

Summer Holiday #2- Castles and Islands


After a lazy morning reading and blogging we decided to explore Holy Island and Lindisfarne castle which is close to Berwick-upon-Tweed.

DSCN0763Lindisfarne is a castle on an island which is only accessible at low tide along a causeway. We arrived at  about three in the afternoon and I must confess I was a little apprehensive about driving across the causeway. There is something awe-inspiring about driving or walking for that matter on land which the sea claims as its own. When we arrived at the huge car park there was an electronic screen displaying the tide tables and I breathed a sigh of  relief; low tide lasted until 21.30 plenty of time for Vince, the dogs and I to explore.

Holy Island  although quaint and with lots of pretty gardens was a little commercial for my tastes. Food stalls , gift shops and lots of tea shops and restaurants predominate . However once you leave the village behind there is a spectacular view of Lindisfarne castle  and the surrounding countryside.DSCN0759

DSCN0751       DSCN0752Lindisfarne castle is owned by the National Trust. Sited on a volcanic mound Beblowe Craig it was built in the 16th century to protect the island’s harbour. Stones from the demolished priory following Henry Vlll’s dissolution of monasteries were used in its construction. 

Lindisfarne was redesigned in the early 1900s by architect Edwin Lutyens for the founder of Country Life Edward Hudson. He used the Edwardian country house as a retreat.

Today it is open to the public and used for weddings. A wedding party was just leaving when we arrived. As we had the dogs we didn’t want to go inside which was fortunate as it is usually closed on Mondays. 🙂  

DSCN0773There were some beautiful flowers growing  up the side of the castle which made it look spectacular.  I think these are a type of marsh orchid.

Bamburgh castle which we visited on Sunday is visible across the bay and proves the point that Northumberland is a county of castles.

I managed to get this distant shot just before it rained.


Posted in Inspiration

Summer Holiday #1 New Friends,Castles and Walks on the Beach



Last Friday saw me madly packing for our trip to one of my favourite parts of the UK Northumberland which is England’s most northerly county.  In the past holidays have always been family affairs  but this time it’s just Vince and me. We are having a fabulous time staying in a lovely cottage close to Bamburgh which even has its own supply of vegetables.


When we arrived we found these lovely cows at the bottom of the garden. There were lots of calves who were fascinated with us. They made the view from our cottage even better.


There were also hens and lots of wild songbirds including this cheeky Pied Wagtail.


 Yesterday we walked along the beach from Bamburgh castle past the Black Rock Lighthouse to Budle Bay. Oby really enjoyed himself and even did a spot of rock climbing.

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Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

Places To Find Inspiration- My Contemporary English Country Garden


We’ve been in our new house for about two and a half years now and this is the third time we’ve remodeled the garden. The main reason being we had an enormous garden at our former house and I miss it. 😦 even though a smaller less time-consuming garden was one of the reasons we moved to a new house on a small village estate.  For the first couple of years  it was okay we planted lots of pretty  flowering shrubs and sat back and enjoyed them but then  at the end of August last year we adopted Oby 🙂

DSCN6684cropped-cropped-2013-06-18-13-26-18-e1371568673962.jpgOne large dog in small garden was fine but two and we knew major alterations were needed.

The grass or should I say mud patch needed to be taken up and replaced with patio and decking.

DSCN0209The plants were the next project they needed to be in raised beds to combat against dogs doing what dogs do. 🙂 My clever husband created planters for my fruit trees: Plum, Cherry and Apple and raised beds for my  Roses, Lilies, Lavender, Poppies and Rosemary and Thyme. I  will probably paint them but for now I just plan to  enjoy them.

Next on the list is extending the garden into the large driveway to give the dogs more room to play. I should point out that we live on the edge of numerous trails and a country park, again one of the reasons for moving to this location and they  have plenty of places to run.

 Now when I’m writing I can see the lovely flowers out of the window. I’ll leave you with a few photographs of the flowers I can see at the moment.DSCN0204

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Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

Ghostly Experience in The Lakes


I was inspired to write The Dragon Legacy from my lifelong love affair with The English Lake District. Incidentally it is also the setting for my second ghostly encounters post.

Like my ghostly experience in a haunted house this occurred on a family holiday about thirty years later with my own children. Not a spooky house this time but a family walk by the beautiful Lake Ullswater on a bright August day.  At the time none of us attached any supernatural significance to the event until afterwards…

Photo0039Taking advantage of the beautiful summer weather about ten years ago we decided to walk from Glenridding to How Town before catching the steamer onto Pooley Bridge and back to Glenridding. The walk is about 7 miles and seemed the ideal afternoon pursuit. Ullswater steamers run between Glenridding and Pooley Bridge and stop at How Town.

Lots of other people had the same idea and the first stretch of the walk was full of families with children running around.  As we left the village behind we realised a young boy about the same age as my ten-year old son was walking with our kids. They chattered happily for about five minutes and then I became worried that he would be separated from his family, although when I looked around no one seemed to have missed him.

We reached a patch of grass close to the lakeside where some families were having picnics and decided to stop for a drink. The boy stayed with us for  a while kicking the stones and chatting to other children and families.  As we were leaving he came up to us and asked where we were headed.

“We’re walking to the How Town pier.” I said knowing it was approximately five miles ahead.

“You’ve a long walk ahead of you.” The boy replied.

I thought this was a strange remark for a child to make. We decided he must be a local child from one of the farms who made friends with children who passed by. We set off and when I looked back the boy vanished. I scanned the groups around but he wasn’t there, we carried on assuming he returned home.

During the long  walk the weather changed and we got very wet, a common occurrence in these parts. The seven mile walk seemed  to take forever as we got lost and ended up following one of my husband’s short cuts, never a good thing.


When we finally arrived at How Town Pier exhausted and wet we’d missed the last return ferry and faced a repeat of the long walk to get home again. As we convinced the kids they could make the return journey despite their blisters the boy’s words came back to us. We definitely did have a long walk ahead.

We trudged homeward  and discussed the boy and his prophetic remarks. My daughter said he’d been dressed strangely  like a child from  the 1930s or 1940’s something we didn’t think about until afterwards even though it set him apart from the other children.

We looked for him on the way back as we passed farms and campsites but there was no trace. We couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something eerie about  him and the whole experience.

Hours later we reached Glenridding and  returned to where we were staying. Later that evening at the hotel bar my husband recounted our little adventure to some locals over a pint. They didn’t seem surprised and assured him the boy was a regular occurrence often seen by tourists  on that part of the lake.

 Intrigued we walked that way the next day but never saw him again.

When  I researched ghostly happening on the lake there were stories of fairies and lake monsters as Ullswater is known as ‘The Dark Lake’ but nothing documented about the boy.

Just coincidence or something more?


Missed the Haunted House Post? Read Here.





Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

A Walk in the Meadow on a Summer’s Day

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Summer  has taken such a long time to reach us this year, nature seems to be playing a constant game of catch up. I’ve been waiting patiently for my oriental poppy to flower,finally on Saturday it did. 🙂 Now the sun has arrived the wild flowers are abundant in the countryside around my home. I took a walk with my daughter and our dog Jazz this lunchtime  to give us both a break from our computers and here are a few of the flowers we saw on the way. 🙂

orchids close up

The Marsh Orchids which are pictured grow in the country park close to our home.  I always escape to the country park and trails when I want inspiration or just need to work through an issue with a plot or character. Walking through meadows of wild flowers always makes me think of  the supernatural especially Fae.

orchids and daisies

Jazz needed to recover  when we got home 🙂

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We found the enchanted wood below near Curbar in the Peak District Derbyshire last Sunday.

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This water filled rock was found high up on Baslow edge. I couldn’t help but wonder what mystical worlds it concealed.

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Finally an inquisitive visitor I had whilst writing this post. This friendly bird visits us several times a day. 🙂

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What’s your favourite way to spend a summer’s day?


Posted in Inspiration, Writing Journey

Animal Friends and a Walk in the Sunshine Sunday May 26 2013

Writers and their animal friends seem to be a recurring theme in blogs at the moment. Since I currently have two wonderful animals sharing my life I thought I would introduce them to you and share a few recent photographs I have taken.

I took these pictures of Tom this afternoon after Jazz ,Vince and I returned from a lovely walk in the sunshine. Not to be outdone he was doing a little sunbathing himself. At fourteen Tom is still full of surprises. He has always enjoyed sitting in planters but this is the funniest to date. 🙂

2013-05-26 15.23.00Jazz my border collie/German shepherd  is nearly nine and my constant companion. He always walks and runs at least three times further than we do. Hence his exhaustion when he gets home. 🙂

Jazz needs a snooze after his walk.

As the writers among you will know writing is a solitary occupation having Jazz and Tom around to share my day is wonderful.

Whilst we  walked I took a few photographs of things and places that caught my interest.  Ancient caves were my most exciting discovery. Just how I imagined the caves  in ‘The Dragon Legacy’ .

Reminded me of the cave entrance in 'The Dragon Legacy'.
Reminded me of the cave entrance in ‘The Dragon Legacy’.

Check out ‘The Dragon Legacy ‘board on my Pinterest for more pictures of the caves.

Here are a few more things I saw. I never cease to be amazed how lovely the countryside is a short walk from my house. 🙂

Old railway bridge
Old railway bridge
Lovely houses hidden in the trees
Lovely houses hidden in the trees
Baby ducks explore in the sunshine.
Baby ducks explore in the sunshine.

Hope you had a lovely Sunday Jx