Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Moon Worshippers

Went to Lindisfarne the other day. We've been there many times, but we've never actually visited the castle before. It's a great place and it's owned by the National Trust (so if you're a member you get in free). Like most NT properties, it's full of paintings, old furniture, interesting books and suchlike, only in this case -for me- the most interesting thing was the place itself. I didn't feel moved to find out a lot about it (how it was once a castle, but was turned into a house by the architect Edwin Lutyens). Instead, I just wanted to climb the stairs, look out of the windows, walk on the battlements and admire the view.

The island was very busy. On pleasant Summer days a tide of people almost as overwhelming as the tide that covers the sands around it and cuts it off floods onto the island as the water recedes. Queuing anywhere that sells food and drink can be a nightmare. (We've found, in the past, that one of the best ways to enjoy the place is to stay there after the tide has come in - it's usually quieter then). Instead, hungry and thirsty, we drove up to Berwick. Neither of us knew the place really. I'd been fantasising about Italian food all afternoon and I was delighted to catch sight of an Italian flag as we drove over the long bridge into the town centre. As I suspected, it hung over the door of an Italian restaurant. After eating we headed back to Lindisfarne, knowing that the tide would soon be in and the causeway which joins the island to the mainland at low tide covered.

The incoming tide on a pleasant evening at Lindisfarne is something of a tourist attraction. People are drawn there and if you've ever been there and soaked up the atmosphere it's easy to see why. They park up and gather at the end of the causeway at the water's edge, watching the intractable line of the water as it trickles innocuously over the grit and through the grass, up onto the road itself. I always feel uncannily aware there that what I'm watching, at my feet, is the moon pulling at the earth. Hardly surprising, as Lindisfarne is an uncanny place all round. When we were there there were about fifteen swans there too, waddling over the sand and swimming up and down the deepening channels. If you're lucky, seals swim up to the road to say hello. Finally the road is covered and the crowd melts away.


John Hayes said...

A wonderful travelogue--gives me both a picture of the place in my mind's eye & a wish to visit it!

Titus said...

Yes, a beautiful post that makes me want to go there. Tomorrow.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments.

JH: Go for it. I met up with a US blogger (George, of Transit Notes) only last week. He was walking Hadrian's Wall, just down the road from Lindisfarne.

Titus: And why not? It's just down the road from you (more or less).

Rachel Fox said...

I stayed the night there once - as much as anything to be there when it's not busy. It was a lovely experience. And we had one of our worst ever meals out in Berwick... hope you did better!

The Weaver of Grass said...

The fact that Lutyens worked at the castle explains why there is a Jekyll garden there - they worked together most of the time.
I have only been once and that was on a coach trip organised by our study group - I must say it was not particularly crowded then but this was almost twenty years ago - perhaps the crowds have got worse since then.
I remember being impressed by the abbey and the St Cuthbert statue.

The Solitary Walker said...

Nice to see you back in Northumbria so soon. Both moon worship and Italian food - good by me!

Jessica Maybury said...

Maybe I *will* go there! I need somewhere nice to go. Cornwall is so beautiful though, I'd love to go back there.

Gerry Snape said...

A place Dominic that I long to see..I have a friend who goes regularly and get reports of the island and the magic that it holds for so many...obviously st. Cuthbert knew that all those years ago.
Great post.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments!

I think Rachel and I have discussed this before. Yes, a night spent dossing in that layby by the causeway is a magical experience.

Mention the name Lindisfarne and people either have wonderful memories of the place (especially if they've sussed out how to avoid the crowds) or say they've always wanted to go. Go for it! :)

Arnab Majumdar said...

Is the Lutyens you mentioned in the post the same Edwin Lutyens who designed New Delhi? I live in that city, and I love his work!

Your descriptions make it sound like a really magical place, something straight out of an Enid Blyton book I used to read as a kid.

I hope you have many more such travels, and that you keep blogging about them!

Arnab Majumdar on SribbleFest.com

Dominic Rivron said...

Arnab - thanks for dropping by. Yes, it is magical. Enid Blyton's children could have a great adventure there (so could those of my favourite children's author, Arthur Ransome, although he never based an adventure there - the nearest his lot got to a place like this was Hamford Water in Essex).

Lutyens is the same Lutyens who designed so much of New Delhi. He was also the father of the composer, Elisabeth Lutyens.