Our day trip to Craster and the Dunstanburgh Castle

Today, Joe and I gathered up our courage, rented a car, and drove (on the left side of the road) all the way across the Scottish borders to Northumberland to see Craster and the Dunstanburgh Castle.

(Actually, Joe drove the whole way, I just jammed my foot into the floor and my arm into the door and squeaked every time we neared the left-side curb during the first few minutes of the journey.)

Joe drove very well, actually! And it was awesome to get out into the countryside on our own for the first time on this side of the Atlantic.

And as a fantastic reward for our efforts, we got to have a delicious seafood lunch (in the town of Craster, which is actually known for its kippers) and explore the ruins of a 14th century castle. Good day!


Definitely a lunch fit for an outing to a fishing village. (In case it’s unclear: all those little bowls are full of various forms of fish or crab.) The kipper was heavenly, and the smoked salmon was unlike anything we’d ever tasted before.

And this is why.

I’m not kidding: I drooled almost the entire day through, with the scent of smoked meat wafting through this tiny little stone town.

Apparently, Craster does at least two things fantastically: fish and roses.

Or just gardens, in general. I couldn’t believe my eyes, with the abundance of roses in this place!

We marveled for what felt like several minutes over the sheer ferocity of the thistle–the national flower of Scotland. (No joke: it’s even on our coat of arms at the University of Edinburgh.)

We spent the majority of our time in Northumberland prancing about (or attempting to, against the gusty British wind) in and around the castle, paying what surely ended up being the majority of our attention to the sheep grazing all around. (oops… perhaps our priorities are a wee bit misplaced?)

Joe attempted to befriend some of the fluffier Craster locals.

The castle itself was a marvelous site (/sight), complete with all sorts of stone windows and nooks which I apparently have at least a mild obsession with. I wish I had spots like those to use as reading corners–view of the North Sea and all!

There’s something about weathered stone that is just so… enthralling. It just sets the imagination ablaze. (Or maybe I’m just a geologist’s daughter.)

Either way, I could sit for hours at windows like these.

OOPS forgot to focus. Oh well. I still like it. (It’s just an artistic endeavor to show the world what it looks like through my eyes on an itchy, scratchy, my-contact-lenses-just-won’t-sit-properly day. I totally did it on purpose.)

It was incredibly gusty today, much to both Joe’s chilled discomfort and my gleeful delight. (To clear things up: the latter there was not caused by the former.) I love a strong wind; I love the thrill that accompanies the sensation of being nearly lifted (or knocked) off your feet by something so unseeable and yet so impressive. When taken from just the right angle, it feels as though you might just be able to catch flight, just this once, if you open your arms real wide and bare your face to the wind (and don’t mind the very real possibility of having your own breath thrown right back into your lungs for a heartbeat or two).

Today was totally worth the anxiety and panic over Joe’s learning how to drive on the wrong side of the road and my realizing that I know absolutely nothing of the driving directions aspect of the Edinburgh streets I’m so fond of wandering. (Cars clearly don’t fit down closes or up winding staircases, or across recreational parks. for that matter.)

Apparently, there is always something more to learn or see, whether it be in your own hometown or in some ancient, windy fishing village somewhere along the coast of the chilly North Sea.


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