Brampton Old Church
I hadn't visited Brampton, the home of my grandparents, since they both passed away at the end of 2011. I was keen to go back to see my grandfather's grave for the first time and have one last look at my grandparents house before it is sold.
It was also the first time that Becks would meet my family. There would be nine of the extended family in town for the weekend with endless rounds of scones and hot cross buns to be eaten. I wasn't exactly breaking her in gently.
On the Saturday we headed across to Northumberland to meet up with Beck's brother and sister-in-law and to visit a coupe of National Trust properties. Our first stop of Cragside a sprawling estate built across a couple of hills.
The house was the first in the world to be powered by hydroelectricity and is a shining example of Victorian ingenuity.
We started of at the stables (now a café), before walking past one of the pump stations and up to a garden on the opposite hill from the house. There were some beautiful flowers in the glass house, even though it was still the final throws of the biting English winter with snow on the fells in the distance.
Flowers in the glass house
The house itself was huge, with innovative features for the time. There was electric lighting throughout the house and an automated rotisserie and service lift in the kitchen. Indulgent features like a Turkish bath in the basement and the biggest fireplace I have ever seen were also to be found.
I enjoyed Cragside, but I thought they undersold how special and innovative the house is. If my sister hadn't told me how unique the place was before I visited I don't think I would have understood the importance of the place.
Frozen lake in the late afternoon sunshine
After Cragside we drove to the nearby Wallington. We arrived too late to enter the house, but still had time to visit the café and talk a walk around the gardens in the late afternoon sunshine.
The gardens looked beautiful in the afternoon sunshine with ice on the lake and soft light shining through the trees. It was cold though! I was happy to escape into the heated glass house for a while to be warmed by their biomass boiler.
Walking into the sunset