Merry Christmas!

This is just a quick post to say Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate it.

I also want to send my best wishes to anyone who is not having the sort of Christmas they had expected or is spending it alone due to the pandemic. I hope you’re still able to have a lovely day – and let’s all look forward to a better 2022!

Merry Christmas!

Just a quick post to say Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it!

This has been a year like no other. Many of us are unable to have the sort of Christmas this year that we would normally have and I know that there will be a lot of people who, like myself, are spending some or all of the Christmas period alone. Take care – and let’s hope for a better year in 2021!

Dubrovnik

I probably haven’t been away long enough for anyone to have noticed my absence, but I’ve just returned from four days in Dubrovnik. It was the first time I’ve been to Croatia and I thought it was a beautiful country with some spectacular scenery. We were lucky enough to have good weather while we were there too.

I’ll have some books to tell you about soon, but while I finish writing my reviews I thought I’d leave you with some of my pictures…

Rooftops of the Old Town

Dubrovnik Rooftops

Old Town Harbour

City Harbour

Stradun (the main street), viewed from the city walls

Stradun

St John Fortress

St John Fortress

St Lawrence Fortress

St Lawrence Fortress

Lopud Island (one of the Elafiti Islands to the north-west of Dubrovnik)

Lopud Island

The beautiful Adriatic Sea

Adriatic Sea

I’ll be back to talk about books in a day or two – including one set in Croatia which I started reading on the plane!

Seaton Delaval Hall (and more new books)

Another nice, sunny weekend (sadly now just a distant memory as the rain appears to be back again today) meant another visit to a National Trust property, this time Seaton Delaval Hall, a country house near the Northumberland coast. Only a small part of the Hall is open to the public as the central section is currently being restored – you can see the scaffolding in my first picture – but the gardens are beautiful.

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SD1

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I was excited to discover that there’s also a second-hand book shop at Seaton Delaval Hall. Just a tiny one with only a few shelves, but I managed to find two books I wanted to read:

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I haven’t read anything by Helen Hollick but have often thought that she sounded like an author I might enjoy and after recently reading my first Jane Aiken Hodge book, Watch the Wall, My Darling, I’ve been looking out for more of her work too.

How was your weekend?

Gibside

On Saturday I decided to take advantage of the warm, sunny weather and my National Trust membership to visit Gibside, a beautiful 18th century country estate overlooking the Derwent Valley, only a few miles away from where I live. Gibside was formerly the home of the Bowes-Lyon family before becoming a National Trust property. I thought I’d share some of my photos with you today.

This is Gibside Hall, sadly now in ruins:

Gibside Hall 2

Gibside Hall

Several views of the Orangery, also a ruin:

Gibside Orangery 1

Gibside Orangery 2

Gibside Orangery 3

Gibside Orangery 4

The long tree-lined Avenue and the path beside it:

Gibside avenue

Gibside avenue 2

The Column of British Liberty, built in the 1750s:

Column of Liberty

I loved the pretty colours here:

Gibside 2

Gibside 3

Gibside

The estate also includes a chapel, stables and a newly restored walled garden (still a work in progress). I didn’t take any pictures of these this time, but maybe on my next visit!

Cragside

Have you remembered it’s Mary Stewart Reading Week this week? I hope to have a review of Stormy Petrel for you later in the week, but today I wanted to share some pictures I took on Saturday.

We drove up to Cragside near Rothbury in Northumberland as they were offering free admission as part of this year’s Heritage Open Days. We had been before but not for a long time and as there’s so much to see there we thought it would be worth going again. Cragside was built in 1863 and was the home of the Victorian engineer Lord William George Armstrong. It was the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, generated by water from the lakes on the estate.

This is the view of the house from the Iron Bridge at the bottom of the rock garden:

Cragside 1

Another view of the house surrounded by trees:

Cragside 2

A carving inspired by the mythical Green Man:

Cragside 3

The kitchen:

Cragside kitchen

Lord Armstrong’s Billiard Room:

Cragside billiard room

The study (the globe on the left is an art installation forming part of an exhibition):

Cragside 5

Sorry about the quality of the interior pictures; the rooms aren’t very brightly lit and I haven’t mastered the settings on my new camera yet.

Did you do anything interesting at the weekend?

An update…

Sorry for the unannounced disappearance last week! I’ve been to Venice for a few days and was meaning to post about it before I went but never got round to it.

I’m starting to catch up now with all your blog posts I’ve missed while I’ve been away, as well as writing about all the books I’ve been reading recently. But for now, I’ll leave you with some pictures from my trip to Venice. It’s the first time I’ve been and it’s as beautiful and unique as everybody says it is.

The Bridge of Sighs

Bridge of Sighs

One of Venice’s many canals

Canal

Gondolas

Gondola

Gondolas 1

The Grand Canal

Grand Canal

View across the lagoon to San Giorgio Maggiore

Lagoon

The waterfront near San Zaccaria

San Zaccaria

St Mark’s Basilica

St Marks Basilica

And two pictures taken on the island of Murano

Murano 1

Murano 2