Bambrough Castle

We are very lucky living in Newcastle Upon Tyne as we are in striking distance of a great many lovely places to visit. If you go along the Northumbrian coast you will soon find yourself on a route that is jam packed with a number of different castles, lovely seaside towns and of course Holy Island and the Farne Islands. One of the castles that is well worth a visit is Bamburgh castle. It is set on a hill overlooking the coast in a very dramatic way. The outcrop it is set on was formed by volcanic activity many years ago and as you drive into the village of Bambrough the castle dominates the area. You can easily see by looking at the hillside how difficult it must have been to attack this castle.

Bambrough castle has a long history, there has been a fortification of some sort on the site since the year 420. Obviously this would have been a fort rather than the impressive structure that you see today. The castle we see today was based on the castle the Normans built in around the 1000’s but it has been added onto and lovingly restored by William Armstrong a victorian industrialist who was born in Newcastle. He was a very interesting man who had a house at Cragside, also within striking distance of Newcastle, which was the first house in the country to be lit by incandescent lamps.

Bambrough castle is well worth a visit and the inside is very striking. It is certainly a good days visit to look around.

We did not look inside on this visit but we did go down to one of Northumberland’s best kept secrets, the glorious golden beach that the castle overlooks. These beaches go on forever and are rarely crowded. As it was April it was really windy and good kite flying weather. However on a sunny day this beach is glorious. From the shore you can see the Farne Islands. These are  a seabird sanctuary and home to puffins amongst other birds. If you go a few miles down the road to Seahouses you can get a boat which takes you on a tour around the islands. In nesting season this is really worth doing, provided the sea is calm. It is a lovely day out and being close to the sea the fish and chips are fabulous.

Nip and Fab Frown fix winners

Thank you for entering my competition to win one of five Nip and Fab Frown Fixes. I have just done battle with random.org and pulled five names out of the hat.  The lucky winners of my competition are:

  • Jay
  • Lynsey
  • MunchKim
  • Alex
  • Splodz

Well done! I have sent you all an email, if you can get your details to me I will organize for these to be sent out.

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger

I must be one of the only people in the world who has never managed to watch or read the Time Traveler’s Wife so I was unsure what to expect from Her Fearful Symmetry, which is Audrey Niffenegger’s second novel.  It is billed as a ghost story and it is one, but it is much more than that. It takes a number of threads of different peoples lives and weaves them together into a compelling way.

It starts with loving couple Elspeth and Robert. Elspeth has had cancer for some time and at the start of the book she dies. Robert is left in his flat overlooking Highgate Cemetery to grieve and to get on with his everyday life, writing his thesis and giving tours of the cemetery to tourists.  Elspeth is an identical twin. She has been estranged from her sister Edwina for a number of years, but no one but the twins is aware of the reason for this. Edwina lives in America and has two daughters, Julia and Valentina who are mirror twins.  Elspeth leaves them her flat in London on the condition that Edwina and her husband are not allowed to visit.

Julia and Valentina are surprised to learn they have an aunt. They hope that a move to London will help them to lead separate lives. Currently they have dabbled in a number of different things, different university courses and careers but have no clear idea of what they want to do. They are very close and in a way they resent this. Little do they know that the move will embroil them in a number of other peoples lives and things will change drastically for them both.

This is complex look at relationships and the grieving process from a number of different points of view. Robert has lost Elspeth and must move through the grieving process. Elspeth has become a ghost and  no one knows she is there! The twins are starting to resent each other and wish to move apart. To add to the mix there is an obsessive compulsive agoraphobic neighbour whose wife has given up on him and left for Amsterdam.

Although the book is a bit slow to start,  you soon get pulled into the different threads of the characters lives. The characters interact brilliantly and begin to help each other in varying ways which makes for interesting reading. The story though has a number of interesting twists and turns which are spin tingling and make for a modern day ghost story that is worth the read.  The ending is unexpected but once you get there it makes perfect sense. It is rather sad and you wish that the characters had made different choices but its hard to see how any other outcome would work.  I am glad I picked up this book to read and am looking forward to reading The Time Traveller’s Wife to see how it compares.

Acorelle Epilation body scrub

Its sunny outside, time to start baring flesh to get the sunshine. Time to invest in a good body scrub to slough away the trials of  winter and to make your skin look nice. Time to bring out the fake tan and pretend you have been sunning yourself on a beach. I recently tested this Acorelle Epilation body scrub from MyPure.  Everything from MyPure is free from sulphates, parabens and pthalates and they use natural ingredients.

This body scrub uses crushed almond kernels for the scrubby bits and for moisturising your skin it has a mixture of organic beeswax and organic royal jelly.  Royal jelly is secreted by bees to feed their larvae and as a result is very difficult to harvest. I didn’t realise one hive would only produce about 500g of royal jelly over a six month period.  As you may know it is very high in vitamins, minerals and enzymes and because of this is prized for use in a wide range of products.   It is recommended that this body scrub is used once or twice a week on moist skin.

This is what it looks like in the jar. It is has a rich creamy texture with good size almond kernel pieces. The smell is a little bit bitter but its not strong so you so not really notice.  It feels really nice on the skin, you can feel the scrubbing action but it is not harsh.  The moisturising properties really seem to work well. After use my skin did feel a lot smoother and softer. It spreads really well and you find you do not to use very much to get a good effect.

This product costs £12.99 for a 200ml pot.  Its a lovely body scrub which works really well. The only downside is that you are left with bits of almond kernel in the bath after use, but this can be said about other similar products.

Drinking Fudge from Fudge Kitchen

Recently I tried some Drinking Fudge from Fudge Kitchen. I must admit I was very intrigued by this idea as fudge is one of my favourite things .  I have never heard of drinking fudge before and I wondered what it was going to be like.  I must admit it did sound a very yummy idea. Drinking fudge comes in six different flavours. These are Moreish Mint, Tangy Orange,  Dreamy Coconut, Gorgeous Ginger, Classic Chocolate and Mocha Chocolate Madness.  I would quite like a vanilla fudge flavour as well. They come in small packets each one of which contains a plastic sachet with the drinking fudge in it.

It is really easy to make. All you need to do is to microwave a cup of milk for a minute to warm it up. The drinking fudge, which is a bit like melted chocolate in consistency is stirred into it and then you warm the cup in the mircowave a little bit longer.  After that simple preparation it is ready to drink. Make sure you do stir it throughly though or the fudge will sink to the bottom of the cup and you will lose some of the benefit.

I tried the Classic Chocolate and I must say it is a really dreamy drink. It has a lovely soft smooth taste that is really luxurious and rich.  It is the sort of drink that could be jazzed up to make something really exciting with a swirl of cream, a couple of marshmallows and a drop of alcohol this would be the perfect drink to keep out the winter chills.

Drinking fudge currently costs £8.00 for six flavours on the Fudge Kitchen site. Definitely something to get if you fancy a lovely treat. Be careful on the site though or you may find yourself buying lots of other things!