We were on the road by seven, and were pleasantly surprised to find that the highways north were spacious and swift. Even so, it was six hours before we stopped for lunch, about 45 minutes away from our destination. We had a picnic, as had become our custom.
“When in Viking country, do as the Vikings do!” We gleefully stripped a barbecued chicken, eating it with greasy fingers, and munched on parsnip and sweet potato crisps while reading the whimsical crisp packaging. Strawberries and grapes, and then we all piled back in the van for the last leg of the journey.
Northumbria is a revelation. Tucked in behind a farm, at the end of a single lane country road, it is an oasis of calm and beauty. It is blanketed with a deep quiet, as I’ve experienced in other monasteries. Each room is named after a Celtic Saint. I’m in Hild, along with Hannah, Phyllis and Nicola. We have prayer, from the Celtic Book of Common Prayer, at 9 am, noon, 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm.
As soon as we settled in, Hannah and I set off to explore. Britain is full of public footpaths, even across private property, so we had a great time tromping through woods and fields, climbing stiles over fences, and trying to make friends with the local horses. We took a photo of a massive wooly bull, which later on provided inspiration for my needle felting (tune in tomorrow). Later on, Hannah tried another of the footpaths on her own, and got quite lost. When she didn’t arrive home in time for dinner, a rescue team set out with warm coats and flashlights, only to discover her trudging tiredly up the path to the house. The rooms are a bit chilly, but hot water bottles are provided to snuggle up with at night. We are kicking ourselves for not planning more days here..