Plan A: catch the bus to Alnwick and visit the Castle, famous Physic Gardens and bookshop. So yesterday we checked with Berwick Tourist Info about bus prices, something that Arriva seemed to deliberately hide online, apart from student pricing. Perhaps they assume the only folk smart enough to figure out their online website are students. Well they had me baffled, that's for sure.
Berwick Tourist Info don't know for sure but give us a ballpark figure which was perfectly reasonable. And then - the guide whispers to me, "but you don't want to go on a Sunday". Why not thinks I, internet research suggests everything is open, perhaps there are strange religious sects lurking to drag us off the street and into a Nunnery (I really must stop having cheese just before bedtime, it gives me the weirdest, most enjoyable dreams). No, on a Sunday the bus goes the scenic route and takes 2 hours to complete the 34 mile journey; weekdays the express bus takes well under half that time
OK, 4 hours sat on a bus is just too much a price to pay for the day out. Now we could just drive there, but that breaks holiday rule #1 which is to park the van up at a campsite and only move it when absolutely necessary, preferably only when moving on to the next campsite.
Plan B, stay in Berwick and go to the museum. That'll work, especially after last night's chance encounter. On the way home last night we popped into The Curfew, Berwick's micro pub. For those unfamiliar, micro pubs are a new phenomenon where a small pub starts up in a small premises, usually an old shop and buys real ale in minimal quantity so beers are always changing. Did you spot the emphasis on "small" in that definition? In the case of The Curfew think shipping container with a bar at one end. Standing is almost mandatory because the few seats they do manage to shoehorn in are guaranteed to be occupied.
Where was I? Oh yes, chance encounter. So at the bar next to me last night stood a young chap wearing a shirt emblazoned with "Northern Edge Coffee". Now if it is one thing I've learned from my Dad is that it never hurts to strike up a conversation in a pub. So I mention how good it is to find a coffee roaster in Berwick. Long story short, he plans to be at the roastery Sunday morning and if we want to drop by for a tasting we are welcome.
Now the roastery is actually very close to the campsite so off we trot at 11, full of expectation and expecting to get full of coffee and the place is shut. Rats!! C'est la vie.
Anyway off to Berwick Museum by way of a decent Sunday Lunch back at the Castle Hotel. The food (and beer) was so good yesterday, definitely worth a revisit. The museum in the old barracks was 3 museums in 1, a history of the King's Own Scottish Borderers Regiment, a history of Berwick barracks, and a history of Berwick, including a small art gallery. The military stuff was interesting enough but not me, the town museum was quirky with odd artifacts, but did have the Holy Island electro-mechanical telephone exchange. Fascinating to dial one of the other handsets in the museum and watch the relays click and whirr.
Oh, the highlight of the day? Seeing the grey seal again off the bridge. On the way into town the tide was out and a lot of white water around the bridge parapets. The seal was in some calmer water with his head obligingly out of the water the entire time it took from us spotting him to Liz bring her camera to eye-level, whence he immediately dived. Then a canoeist appeared riding the white water, what fun that appeared. Liz took some shots but we were certain that his presence would spook the seal and move it elsewhere. Not so, just a few metres from the canoe up popped the seal's head, coordinating exactly with Liz closing the zip on her camera case! This time Liz re-engaged camera in record time and managed a snap microseconds before the seal disappeared beneath the foam once more.
Don't you just love a happy ending?!