All to like in Alnmouth

Before I start with this entry, a few words about some of the photos form the previous blog entry. Sometimes ‘Er Indoors is quicker than the eye can see. Worth noting that ‘Er Indoors is fast becoming an ‘Er Outdoors, even suggesting walking up difficult looking paths “just because it looks interesting”. I will be carrying out random a retina–scans just to check she isn’t a Replicant.

An old illustration depicting a couple of Northumberland Keel boats at sea, showed them sporting square rigs and carved prows. No hint of Norse origins here, these are Viking long boats! Walking home one stormy night in 1900 and you’d be forgiven for thinking the Danes were back because they missed the taste of the Yorkie Bar. Apart from the hull shape, which was in front of us in the flesh, I don’t know if the other overly Viking elements in the illustration was artistic licence. Perhaps some retired parent could research.

The photo of what looks like the usual triumphant naval battle scene is that and more! It’s a wind direction indicator which is still in working order. It is a wonderful piece of art combined with mechanical interest. The artist whose name eludes me, is the same chap who did the “real time” ships position masterpiece in the Queen Mary cruise ship. For keen eyes with good glasses, the scene is the “Invincible (Spanish) Armada” being seen off by a couple of plucky Brits. This is the PG version with no blood or dead people being washed up onto the rocks.

The Lutyens additions to the castle are actually more interesting than the original castle. Well they are for me! He’s made a homely home from a cold battle tool. Most additions are very sympathetic without being boring or clichéd. I really do hate over-retro architecture. Luytens walks a thin line with me! The group of three chimneys highlights how good he was though. In the impossible case of a conversion like this being allowed to take place in the present day, it would look awful. The group of three chimneys wouldn’t pass, because they are too flamboyant and not “in keeping” yet “cost effective” plastic guttering would be used. They’d probably allow the playboy owner to use blue LED up-lighters in the steps. Grrr, I’m getting angry just at the hypothetical thought of it!

And here are some other pics of our rainy day at Bamburgh:

Where was I? Oh Almouth. What a delightful village! I don’t usually use the word delightful, but it seems appropriate here. Delightful is the sort of word a granny uses for a slice of unsatisfactorily light and flavourless sponge cake. In Almouth’s case though, it has rich flavour and definitely has substance. It is a low-lying village on a narrow peninsular that runs parallel to the coast. It features a sandy sea beach to one side, with a river entrance that has the bonus of more sand, which wraps around the land side of the village. It is a holiday destination for people who like nice villages and nice beaches, full stop. None of the usual tacky and crappy UK seaside distractions from the unpredictable weather. The stuff that so many people seem to like, that draws me back inland like some kind of refugee from ugliness. I hear words like childless and snob being thrown in my direction, but I fail to understand how people can buy even more plastic shit than they already own, how many flashing neon lights they need to amaze them and how many games arcades and fairgrounds are needed to keep the kids from eating their parents.

Each to their own and of course we have to cater for all types of people. It’s just that there are so few coastal towns in the UK that cater for people like us or for families who are satisfied with a nice village and a nice beach – full stop.

In my usual check of the local scene by reading the community notice board, I noticed a “Volcano Night”! What?! Oh, now this is my kind of fun. It was a competition open to all. With your team or family, you build a sand mound then top it with timber (no pallets or large pieces of timber permitted). At the sounding of the klaxon you light your timber and sand masterpiece as the tide comes in. Stand back and wait (probably with a glass of wine or a pint). Last fire burning wins. How very Pagan.

Other things to like about Alnmouth: quiet, a couple of cafés, a few pubs (one supporting Hugh Fernley-Witingstall’s sustainable fish campaign and another that is dog-friendly), a public golf course (if you like infuriating and completely bonkers games), a carpark right at the beach with enough space for Hans and only £3 for the entire day, and spectacular bird life for the twitchers out there.



I am still looking for a photo of viking long ships disguised as NE keel boats – or did I misunderstand something? Boat pictures good! Bird pictures, also good but not AS good. Great blog. More please.

Hello again, having had a chat to D, I now understand the task and have researched keel boats. (Research might be a bit grand to describe my googling of keelboat and coble because my attention span is not good. However, it’s about boats so I lasted well over an hour). Briefly, the upturned boat in your photo is probably not a keelboat in the traditional sense but it is one in the broadest modern sense because it has a keel. Sailors define keel boats as a sailing boat with a fixed keel but no toilet; that is, a day-boat for short trips. If it has accommodation, it is a yacht. Traditional keelboats were used to ferry cargo between shore and ship or barge. Derivation unknown (to me). They didn’t venture out of sheltered waters and were usually rowed. Cobles have a keel or keels and are derived from Norse and Dutch craft. The Norse influence is their clinker construction, the Dutch is the raked transom. Scottish cobles are probably closer to the Norse because they are often double ended for handling in all seas; also so they don’t have to be turned around for launching off a beach. (Transomed cobles are landed stern-first). They were rowed and sailed with a dipping lug sail which is squarish and might look a bit like a longboat’s sail as shown in old pics. Interestingly, there were no plans for traditional cobles because they were built by eye with variations depending on intended use. Grace Darling’s famous rescue was carried out by she and her father rowing a NE English coble, such as can be seen in places like Staithes and Filey today. Phew, that’s quite enough of that. Time for a snack.

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