It is my great pleasure to introduce Vicky from Northumbria Byways in Northumberland, UK. Byways is the website behind that cute badge with the three border collie dogs in my Sponsor Bar above…
…and they have been with us now for just over a year!
Jennifer: Let's start by asking you a little bit about Northumberland. Where exactly is it, and what makes it special?
Vicky: Northumberland is up in the top right hand corner of England and lies on the border with Scotland. It is one of the least populated counties in England and has some really interesting places. For instance, Hadrian's Wall which stretches for 80 or so miles from the east to the west coast. This was built in 122 AD by the Roman emperor Hadrian. It is an Unesco world heritage site and has some very atmospheric sections.
This was a troubled land which saw many battles between the English and the Scots. We are fortunate in having two magnificent castles at Alnwick and at Bamburgh. The castle at Alnwick was used as the setting for Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. Bamburgh castle has a reputation for being haunted. We also have what might well be one of the most appropriately named castles at Chillingham which which also has some very unpleasant spectres indeed.
Border Reivers and the troubled times
Around the same time as the border wars were being fought there was a general lawlessness to the area and this encouraged a wild west mentality with families grouping together and raiding their neighbors. The outlaws were called Border Reivers and they have left us with words such as bereaved and blackmail.
Our heritage from the 19th century
The border troubles and wars meant that most of the county was desolated and lagged behind the rest of England. But the 19th century brought coal and lead mining as well as ship building. This brought great wealth and has resulted in some magnificent country estates.
Jennifer: Could you talk a little about what Byways actually does?
Vicki: Yes of course. We help visitors coming to Northumberland to find the best vacation rentals for their own requirements. We have been in this business for over 15 years, and a lot of the holiday homeowners are our friends.
Jennifer: Can you introduce us to some of your favorite houses?
Vicki: Ok, lets start with "Dunsdale house". It must be the highest house in Northumberland. It sits half way up an ancient volcano and yet you still get real quality accommodations.
Then we have "The Bathing house". This was built by the family of a British Prime minister back in the 19th century and sits literally on top of the beach. The Estate here is where Earl Grey tea was first made.
This is John Dodds (below), a local farmer who still ploughs his land with Clydesdale horses…
Jennifer: What is the story behind the 3 border collies on your badge?
Vicki: We know a farmer up in the Cheviot hills who is working really hard to preserve and grow the local sheep stock. Every lamb is hand delivered and then tagged and recorded. He looks after his stock with lots of love and care. However the countryside is hilly and steep so that although he has a quad bike he still needs his working dogs. These three border collies are called Kale, Tweed and Glen. They are named after local rivers and to us they are a direct link with traditions going back hundreds of years. Interestingly, one of the local collies was involved in rescuing American air crew when their flying fortress crashed here during WW2. The collie received the Dicken medal for valor and is fondly remembered.
Jennifer: Why have you chosen to advertise with The Old Painted Cottage?
Vicki: We liked the idea of quality from days gone by. Individualism, uniqueness and well just being special is something which we treasure and felt that your readers might like to share our views of this beautiful country around Northumberland.
Thank you Vicki for speaking with us today. I know I’m feeling inspired to get out of my own backyard and visit foreign, magical places far and wide, Northumberland being number one on my list. Okay, I’m off to go dust off my passport…
Till next time, click and keep up with us on our favorite sites….