From snowy Northumberland to snowy Devon last Friday, at the end of our short holiday. Probably colder in Devon although there were some seriously icy winds when we strode along those huge sandy beaches near Bamburgh. Couldn’t really see any beauty benefits in having a frozen face!

We stayed in a little white clapboard cottage on the edge of the dunes a few hundred yards from Bamburgh Castle, so warm inside that we had to turn down the heating. My son Joshua told me that Bamburgh had the most scenic cricket pitch. He was right.

This bit of Northumberland is awash with castles so armed with David Haffey’s ‘Walks on the Northumberland Coast’ we did the Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle one. Really good guidebook, ring bound so easy to use, precise instructions, five stars. Along the way we came across Saddle Rock, made up of sediments of limestone buckled up by molten dolorite.

I am a bit of a fossil nerd so we visited Howick beach hoping to find, in my dreams, a trilobite. No luck but there were loads of fossilised ripples in the sandstone.

Holy Island next, lots of Brent geese and oyster catchers feeding as the tide went out and we crossed the causeway. Ambled round the priory and then set off for the castle, the lime kilns and a lovely walled garden designed by Gertrude Jekyll.

Alnwick was great. Not only does it have a thumping great castle, a bonkers tree house but also has the best secondhand bookshop ever, Barter Books. They have taken over the old Alnwick (silent L silent W) railway station. So many books with some really rare ones, first editions and so on. There was a blizzard outside so could quite happily have been snowed in as there was a café, excellent loos and a model railway running on tracks on top of the bookcases.

Came home to find two of our youngsters a bit weedy. They are now in the barn at night surrounded by food and close by on grass during the day.