We headed off last Saturday quite early for us - we were up and on the road by 8:30am, which meant we got to J's parents' house before 3pm having had a pretty uneventful drive (Audis were the bastard car of the day though - lots of them either cutting us up or intimidating us out of the way). It was nice to be there early - especially as we decided to go out for dinner in the evening. We went to The Lord Crewe Arms (which is the pub in the village) - none of us had eaten the normal food on offer there before, although John (note - J and his dad are both called John, if I'm spelling the name out, it's his Dad, if not, it's J himself) and Anne had been to a couple of parties there that had come with food. John and Anne had steak (which was apparently rather nice), J had Chicken with Mozarella and Oregano topping (a bit like pizza with a chicken base rather than bread) and I had the Wild Boar Chop (served with a Calvados and Apple sauce ... mmm). We stayed for 'a couple' of drinks afterwards - spoke to some of the other people who were there - and rolled in home at around midnight :)
Surprisingly, Sunday didn't start with a hangover, though it did start rather late. Just as well I felt OK - Anne was cooking roast turkey for lunch, and I've made a habit (slightly embarassingly) of being too hungover to eat her roast turkey dinners in the past ... it's all John's fault, no really ;) It was a very nice lunch, so I'm glad I was able to eat it :) J's Gran joined us for lunch - she looked well, though I swear she seems littler every time we see her.
We made it out for a brief walk around the village in the afternoon, though the rest of the day set the tone for the next couple of days - sitting reading books, doing the crossword, doing the Su Doku puzzles, and watching telly ... with the occasional glass of red wine :)
Tuesday the car was taken away to be serviced & MOTed ... oh the joys of being car owners. Wasn't too expensive, though.
Wednesday morning the car had a flat tire. Damnit. Still not too expensive, and John sorted it out, which meant we actually found out how to do it ;) Apparently he'd thought that tire looked most worn anyway, so it was the best one to get a hole in, if one had to.
John picked up a new case fan for their computer while he was in Consett getting the tire, so we sorted that out after the car - dropped the noise level incredibly.
After the flap over the car and fixing the computer we headed out for a day trip up the coast - Anne likes to go to the seaside, and have fish & chips ... so do we. But Anne has an uncanny knack of picking the days when it's cold & rainy & blowing a gale ;) So we had a proper seaside visit - went to Seahouses, and sat in the car eating our fish & chips! After that we headed further up the coast to Bamburgh Castle - which was mostly restored in the late 19th Century by the first Lord Armstrong (as a kind of whim, I got the impression ...). There had been a castle there since Norman times, I think, which was destroyed in the 13th Century - Lord Armstrong had it rebuilt, and I think his family lived in it off and on through the years till the wife of the fourth Lord Armstrong died in 1999. Part of it is apartments, but most of the keep and several other rooms are open to the public. There's a lot of Stuff in there to see - it took us 2 hours to go round, J and I mostly concentrated on the shiny, pointy implements of death, I think John and Anne spent more time looking at the crockery and clocks - there were also lots of paintings, and several photographs, of the Armstrongs, of people who had some other connection to the castle, of people who had some other connection to the Armstrongs, of random people/things entirely. Several things had an air of having been picked up randomly by one Lord Armstrong or another at some up-market car boot sale ... One difference from other stately home/museums I've been to was that things weren't fenced off or hidden away (well, the sharp pointy things were, but the furniture etc wasn't) - whilst there were lots of notices asking you not to touch they seemed to believe people would behave themselves and not damage things, which was a refreshing change.
Thursday we went for a much longer walk than Sunday - up to Allenshields (where J's family lived when he was small), through some woods for quite a while (I picked up purple stones) and back down to Blanchland. Between Allenshields and the woods we saw lots of dead moles. About a hundred or so - two sets, all hung up on the barbed wire fence. Apparently that's how the mole catchers used to let the farmers know how much to pay them - though now it's just coz that's the way it is, I believe. I was quite tired out by the walk (I've got soft, living here where there aren't any hills to speak of), but I managed to rally round enough to join J & John on a trip to the Club (the bar attached to the village hall). We only went for a couple of drinks ... I think we made it home around 1am, having had rather more than was wise. I'm glad I've given in to expectations and drink halves while I'm out with my father-in-law ;)
Friday started nice and late - we all decided that breakfast was going to be lunch given how late it was. After that, J and I went for a small drive - up to Ruffside (where J lived when he was smaller, and bigger, than when they were in Allenshields) then up over the fells to Ramshaw (where J's great aunt used to live), Hunstanworth (where John was born, and J's great uncle used to look after the church) and then back to Blanchland.
We had a quiet evening, as on Saturday we were off home again. Another uneventful drive - though it took longer, as we stopped more often. Yesterday evening was mostly spent vegetating, and sorting out laundry.