There always seem to be programmes about railway journeys on the television – Michael Portillo‘s Great Railway Journeys are actually quite good. He’s an awful lot better doing this than he ever was as a politician, though we’d love to find out where he buys his jackets – not that we’d dare wearing any of them. Yellow anyone? Cerise? [that’s pink to you and us]. You can see some of his sartorial elegance here. Armed with his rather moth-eaten, dog-eared [what’s wrong with just saying it’s tatty…?Ed] copy of Bradshaw’s he travels far and wide. Mostly interestingly, he does it with only a small amount of “celebrity tries their hand at sheep rustling, or basket-weaving” staged events, or chutney making. You know the sort of thing. Cringeworthy. Incidentally, we quite like train journeys – hence the link to the absolutely excellent site Seat 61. We booked the motorail to Livorno for the last trip using the site, even following his “..book the first sitting at dinner” recommendations. Faultless. Mind you, poor trains overall, good food and inadequate toilets [yes, it’s the British abroad again]. Fast way to cross Europe, but we’ll drive next time thanks.
People have always raved about the Northumberland coast but, with the odd exception, we’re only seen it from the atmospheric East Coast rail journey up to Edinburgh. As with the lines to the south of Cornwall, the line practically runs along the beach north of Newcastle. And what beaches. Mile after mile of golden sand almost always deserted. That could be to do with the weather. Generally bracing, and that’s just summer.
So, this time we headed up north [yes, even further than Yorkshire] by car to meet some friends in Craster for a walk to Dunstanburgh Castle, followed by lunch at the famous Jolly Fisherman. Craster is a northern chocolate box type of village, mostly taken over by holiday cottages. Busy enough to justify a large car park on the outskirts and traffic banned, or actively discouraged, in the village itself. The Jolly Fisherman sits right on the side of the water with a large terrace overlooking the north sea, and a garden for those hardy souls. Of course the crab is famous, but there are lots of really tasty things on the menu and a good range of real ale. Apparently we couldn’t book a table at lunchtime so sharp elbows are needed.
There’s also a great pub, we are told, at The Ship at Low Newton – see “on the list…” – and, if you fancy a bit of shopping, there’s the excellent Craster smoke house and restaurant; the kipper paté is wonderful – not the refined sort of stuff you might find in Fortnum & Mason, but wonderfully full of flavour. So, try Robson’s with the fabulous domain name kipper.co.uk!