Our wedding with a difference

We had an amazing day, the foul March weather suddenly cleared up and the sun shone for us and our 300 guests. We were able to have a wonderful wedding and a two week honeymoon, in England, for £1500! (around $2300)

With the average cost of a wedding estimated at £15,000, we were married in 2002 on a much lower budget. We would like to reassure people, especially those on a low income, that it is still possible to get married and have a lovely wedding, without being saddled with enormous debt.


We first met on the Internet. We were both involved with different Christian projects, which brought us together by email. After a few weeks, we realised that we were going to attend the same event and arranged to meet.

One thing led to another. We got on so well and had similar interests, we fell in love and wanted to be together as much as possible.


Our engagement party

We decided to get engaged to be married quite early in our relationship.

We expected to wait three years before getting married, because of the money situation.

As we are both Christians, just living together was not on the agenda, we didn’t feel it was the right way to start our life together. So we soon started praying for answers to our problem. We started sorting out our finances, working out how much it would cost us to live together when we were married and how to save money on our wedding costs.

By the end of the year, with the help of family and friends, we were able to produce a joint budget of our incomes and expenses.

We were surprised to find that we were going to have just enough; if we were both very sensible. Well, we did pray!


We were very conscious that we were planning a marriage, not just a wedding day, neither of us wanted to be “celebrities” for a day, only to be left with debts, not a good way to start a new life together!

When we booked our wedding our church pastor took us through a marriage preparation course. Just the three of us together, so we felt free to talk over personal issues. Partly to get us ready for our wedding day, but more
importantly to prepare us for the ups and downs of our new relationship, for marriage is for life.

We discussed money issues, resolving family conflicts and our different expectations in life and in marriage. Both of us were given a list of 12 expectations of marriage and asked to place them in priority and to explain our reasons. We felt that we knew each other much better, because of this, and were able to talk through some delicate issues. We would recommend this to every couple, for it was a great start to our marriage and has been of benefit to us since! After reading this page, you may like to read my blog post written for our 10th anniversary.

We also asked an older, long-married, couple to be our mentors, both before and after our wedding, they have been a great resource when we needed some sensible listeners when we could not agree on important matters.


One big problem for us was our guest list. As well as our families, we had hundreds of

Catherine's Mum, Mary Higgins

friends. We decided to keep the official invitations to 100 guests and lay on cake and refreshments to everyone else who came to see our wedding in the church, there were around an extra 200 people.


We bought both ready-iced 3 tier wedding cakes from supermarkets and added fresh flowers ourselves.

A church friend, who is a professional caterer, organised a marvellous buffet for the official reception with non-alcoholic drink. This main reception cost £500, including a delicious fruit punch at the beginning and Alcohol-free wine for the toast. Everyone had such a good time they forgot they were drinking soft drinks.

The second reception cost us £50 for the cake, tea, coffee and biscuits. We had a “bring your own” party for the immediate family at a nephew’s house in the evening.

The other pleasant surprise was that, because I was a church member, it cost us only £20 to pay for the reception rooms. The church wedding was free, but we decided to make a donation for the music group who had volunteered their services. We even had a gifted

Rob, Catherine and Trinity

Christian trio “Trinity”, to sing as we were out signing the register. As friends, this was their wedding gift to us.



Catherine & her elder son, Kjell van Zoen.

Apart from those cost-cutting items mentioned above we relied very much on family and friends, who were delighted to help us. A nephew’s smart company car, with flowers and ribbons added, was our bridal transport.

Catherine's son Pieter

My younger son borrowed a video camera and did an excellent job, as did a friend who is a serious amateur photographer; all he charged us were for his costs.

My hair and make-up were done as a gift by a niece, training as a hair-dresser, I wore no veil but had tiny fresh flowers clipped into my hair. My dress was an ivory lace long sheath, with a matching lace jacket from Debenhams evening/party range; it cost £100 for the set. My ivory satin shoes were £30 from a theatrical shop.

Rob & Catherine 16th March 2002

After the wedding we sent the outfit via Mission Aviation Fellowship to an Aids project in Uganda to be added to a small bridal hire shop they run.

Rob had a good suit and shoes which were hardly used; we bought him a newshirt for £20 and borrowed a flashy waistcoat and matching tie and cufflinks.

My going-away outfit was a skirt and top which no-onerealised had been bought in the January sales for £20!  We paid £25 for one little bridesmaids “party” dress and the other one’s mum paid for hers.   As we bought the engagement ring (£149) from Samuels Jewellers they gave us a reduction on the price of our 2 Celtic-style “three strand” wedding rings. These cost £168 together.

We bought the outer cards for the invitations and the orders of service, and we produced the inside pages on our computer. Our “Thank-you” cards were Easter cards; again, we printed the insides before-hand using the computer. The total cost, including our printing, was about £100

We seemed to find help at every step of the way; even down to Safeway giving discounts on postage stamps that Christmas as a stunt!

Rob & best man Martyn before the wedding

Church members provided the church flowers for the market price of the blooms, the bridal bouquet and the bridesmaids posies came to £40.We made the 50 buttonholes for £8 from supermarket spray carnations and florist’s tape with a family working party and also used a £3 roll of florists ribbon to make frothy bows to decorate the aisle seats.


As we prayed, thought and discussed the options the theme of our marriage service became clear: In the Bible  it says “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” The third strand is God. This was the “theme” of our wedding and our first reading  Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

We soon found that Christian Publicity Organisation produce wedding stationary with this as the theme, so we ordered the outer cards for the invitations and the orders of service.

We planned the whole ceremony ourselves; the only part that cannot be changed is the actual legal core of the exchanging of vows. I did promise to obey, within the will of God, this is something we had discussed and agreed on in the preparation. It has proved to work very satisfactorily, not that Rob is ‘The Boss” but that, as we already know how the other will react from our preparation, we don’t seem to get into too many arguments and I can trust Rob to make the decision that is the best for both of us. I know we can both be very strong-willed and if I do recognise that we are getting into an argument I say, ‘OK we shall do it your way!’ Not over trivial things but important decisions. Our second Bible reading reflects this attitude of the husband’s leadership, within God’s will this is Ephesians 5:21-33.

Rob, Catherine, Rev Tony Marron, Sue (Catherine's sister), Hilary & Katy(Rob's daughter & grand-daughter)

We married in my home church but, in fact, we had the ministers from both our churches taking part in the service, which, at our request, included us both i.e. our marriage, being anointed with oil and dedicated to God’s service.

Annointing and prayers

The tone of the service was joyful and lively and many of our guests did not usually attend church but loved the spirited singing and joyful atmosphere; one even remarked that shefelt an extra tingle from knowing we had not been sharing our home together before our marriage.

I came in to the hymn “Jesus stand among us” by Graham Kendrick, then we had Rob’s favourite “Be Thou my vision”, the Celtic version with the accent on the drums, the third hymn we chose was “Amazing Grace” played and sung with a jazz beat, we ended with “How Great Thou Art”.

Looking at each other coming down the aisle

Simon, a deaf/blind friend of ours, had written a prayer for our wedding, this was included in our order of service.


Many of our guests asked for copies of the video as they wanted to show it to others as they had “never been to a wedding quite like that one before and didn’t know how to describe it”! We know the difference was that it was not just a wedding but the first day of a marriage and that Jesus was a very welcome guest. No-one dictated to us how to plan our wedding, or how much to spend.

We had a unique day and know that involving so many family and friends gave them all

New family!

great satisfaction and has resulted in them continuing to be interested in the course of our marriage. On a practical note we started our journey of marriage with no debts for the wedding day!

God blessed us all on that day and has helped and blessed us in the years since then.

We trusted Him to provide and proved that you can have a wonderful wedding day and 2 weeks honeymoon for £1500!

Rob's Grandson James with confetti!

If you want to read how we met online here is a link.

And for more about Living with Blindness follow this link

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Blind date

Like any woman driving to her first date with a new friend, I was very nervous. As I turned into his road I spotted him sitting on his wall, waiting for me.

There he was, dark glasses and baseball cap on to protect his eyes, long white cane in hand – suddenly the reality of his blindness, his disability, struck me like a blow, I panicked, thinking “I can’t cope with this, I shall make mistakes, it is too embarrassing.”

I nearly drove on past, knowing he wouldn’t see me.

But I couldn’t do that to him and turned the car and went to pick Rob up.

Neither of us imagined that within 10 months we would be married, but we felt that we should go ahead, as we wanted to be together, we were married on 16th March 2002 and are very happy indeed.

I had got to know him through emails, in February 2001. He was running Echurch-uk, a friendly support and discussion group for people with visual impairments, and I was mailing 2,300 Christian websites in the UK to raise support for a national day of prayer for the foot and mouth crises. I had many encouraging replies, amongst them one from him.

I was intrigued as to how a blind man could even use a computer, let alone write a website!

I soon learned that increasing numbers of blind and visually impaired people access the Web and email through audio text browsers and digital Braille pads.

We started mailing each other. We discovered that we were both going to Spring Harvest , a Christian holiday held each Easter. We were each booked for the same venue and week and agreed that I should look out for him, to say ‘hello’ if I spotted him among the thousands in the Big Top! I had seen his photo on his website, and as a 6’3” blind man, with a sighted guide bigger than he was I felt I could possibly bump into him during the week.

Imagine our joint amazement when he was brought to the seat immediately in front of mine on the first evening in the 6000 seater Big Top!

We met, briefly, twice more, the last time being when we were the first in the queue at the door of the Big Top for the final communion. He said he’d like to contact me when we got back, to arrange a meeting as he only lived 25 miles from me.

Minehead Spring Harvest Big Top on our honeymoon! Easter 2002

We were both uncertain as to God’s will – were we to work together? Be friends? Or perhaps more??  When we finally had our first ‘date’ we talked for 6 hours, mainly about what God had done in our lives up to date. To cut a long story short we fell in love and got married on 16th March 2002, spending the second week of our honeymoon at Spring Harvest Minehead, with the bonus of lots of teaching on marriage!

But our first “date” was in May 2001, which, as you have already seen, nearly didn’t happen!

Rob has advanced retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration which basically means that he has, in the past sometimes seen a little, but not enough to be really useful but is now totally blind.

My family were concerned when I first told them I was going out with a man who was blind but they have come to admire and love him almost as much as I do. They are all getting adept at leading him and the small children in the family accept that Uncle Rob has to have things put in his hand if they want to show him something. Children are remarkable for the depth of simple understanding they show. A three year old summed it up, “Rob’s not poorly, his eyes just don’t work”.

I couldn’t put it better myself.

Here is the story of our wedding

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Angels in disguise

There was a man called Pete, who lived near a river. Pete was a man who believed in God. One day, the river rose over the banks and flooded the town, and Pete was forced to climb onto his porch roof. He asked God to help him and remembered that he had been taught that prayers are answered.  While sitting there, a man in big tractor comes along and tells Pete to get on the tractor with him. Pete says “No, that’s ok. God has promised He will take care of me.” So, the man in the tractor drives off. The water rises, so Pete climbs onto his house roof. At that time, a boat comes along and the person in that one tells Pete to get in. Pete replies, “No, that’s ok. God has promised He will take care of me.” The person in the boat then leaves.

The water rises even more, and Pete climbs on his chimney. Then a helicopter comes and lowers a ladder. The man in the helicopter tells Pete to climb up the ladder and get in. Pete says to him, “That’s ok.” The man says “Are you sure?” Pete says, “Yes, I’m sure God will keep His promise to take care of me.

Finally, the water rises too high and Pete drowns. Pete gets up to Heaven and is face-to-face with God. Pete says to God “You promised me you would take care of me! What happened?”

God replied “Well, I sent you tractor, a boat and a helicopter. What else did you want?”

This is an old joke but the message is clear, when we ask God to help us, or others, he seldom sends a bolt of lightning revealing a huge white robed angel with golden wings! There is a verse from the bible which says “Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!”

The meaning of the word angel is that they are God’s messengers, they have no power except what they need to do God’s will.

Usually we find help coming from ordinary down-to-earth sources. A couple of examples:

My husband Rob is blind and, long before I met him, when he still had a very small amount of vision; he was starting a new job, in an unknown town.

He got off the bus with his white cane, struggling to work out where he could cross two busy roads. He silently asked for help from God, and then a young woman with a baby buggy touched his arm and said “Can I help you cross the road?” She led him through the heavy traffic; he followed her squeaky buggy wheels till he was safely on the road he needed to go down. Now he had been shown a safe route through the traffic he stuck to it and completed every trip successfully. He never saw, or heard, that young mother again, though he listened for the squeak!

A few years ago, after we met and married, we moved down to live in a seaside town called Minehead, on the edge of the lovely, wild Exmoor National Park. My family were very concerned that we were moving to a new area, especially as Rob was blind. A place far from their help, where we knew no-one, how would we cope with the move, with getting our flat ready, unpacking etc? But we discussed this together and felt it was a good idea to send an email to the local Baptist church there explaining our situation and asking for help. By the time we moved we had 5 people from the church – total strangers to us – waiting to help us unload, putting up shelves for us, setting up my computer, getting the washing machine plumbed in etc. When we were finished, at the end of a long day, we were taken home by one of the men where his wife had a home-cooked meal waiting for us.

A year later we were on a lonely county road on Exmoor, miles from anywhere, when my car broke down. I pulled out my mobile phone to call the breakdown service but saw there was no signal. We said “Help us God”! A minute later a pick-up truck pulled up close to us and two young women jumped out and proceeded to hammer a notice board into the ground advertising an upcoming “Young Farmers Ball”. I asked them if they could help us, explaining our predicament. One said, “Oh, you never get a signal on that phone around here, I have a different company, would you like to borrow it?” I called the breakdown truck out and they stayed with us till he arrived and got my car fixed.

Since then we have moved 400 miles to the north east, 30 miles south of the Scottish border on the coast of beautiful Northumberland. My sister and her husband came to visit in early March 2009. We had taken them for a tour of this stunning area, had a meal in Berwick-upon-Tweed, near the border, did some shopping and then drove down, in increasingly awful wet, stormy weather to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, to visit friends. We drove across the causeway, but, when we arrived at our friends I realised that I had left my bag, with my wallet including my credit cards in it, hanging on a hook in the Ladies public toilets back in the car park in Berwick! We turned around and set off back up the A1 road, praying for help.

It was getting late and when we got back to the car park my worst fears were realised as the toilet block gate was locked for the day! I stood looking at them and one of two women standing nearby asked “Did you need the Ladies?” I explained what the problem was and she replied “Your lucky day dear, we are the attendants and our taxi is late, which is why we are still here, I have your bag in our little office, I’ll get it for you!” Now, if their taxi had not been late it would have been a real problem, but there they still were, waiting for me!

William Temple was Archbishop of York, then of Canterbury. His reply to mocking that “answered prayer was a mere coincidence” was, “That may be true, but I’ve noticed that when I pray coincidences happen and when I don’t, they don’t”

The stories of how we met and married are full of surprising ‘coincidences’ and provision, if you would like to read them follow these links

Blind Date

Our wedding with a difference

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Why “Pilgrim Path”?

The reason I chose “Pilgrim Path” as my blog name is simple,  since Rob and I linked up with the Northumbria Community nearly 5 years ago we have been exploring our lives, as a journey, a pilgrimage, and found this new monastic way of living was calling and challenging us to look at  life as the early Celtic Christians, and others saw it. We have come to realise and experience  that our whole lives are a journey, a pilgrimage, the first Christians called their faith ‘The Way’. This is the general reason for the name of this blog, but there are also more detailed reasons, which will become clearer if you persevere in my ramblings!

This Northumbria Community is not a church in the sense of a local gathering of Christians, who meet in a specific place regularly, but we are all free to choose ourselves where we attend a local church, in fact, some Northumbria Community folk are church leaders themselves. But you don’t have to be a church attender to be a friend of this community. We are non-denominational, and welcome all who feel they would like to get to know us better; we agree to the central core of Christian belief but recognise and enjoy that various different ways of serving and celebrating God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit can be just right for us or others.

We are not monastic in the sense that we wear habits and live in a monastery, but take a sense of being a community, dispersed over the whole world, but following communal simple rules of life, praying our ‘Office’ (daily prayers) wherever we are, whether married or single we are Community, though we do have Nether Springs, our Motherhouse here in Northumberland.

Here some of our people live, welcoming guests for a retreat, a short course or simply to have a reflective holiday in beautiful natural surroundings. At the beginning of 2011 Northumbria Community moved to our new Motherhouse, still in Northumberland where the first Celtic Christians in England lived and worked around 1400 years ago.

We learn from these ‘good ones of old’ in their example of seeing Christ in all things, whether you are washing up or praying together, walking in the hills or shopping in a supermarket, God is with you and we are aware that He is our constant Companion.

Rob and I live in our own home in the County Town of Northumberland, Alnwick. We offer hospitality, where possible, as part of our way/rule of life, welcoming others to stay with us when they are travelling in Northumberland on their own ‘pilgrimages’,  whatever that word may mean to them.

Most people are satisfied to be called ‘friends’ of the Northumbria Community, but some feel called to a deeper, life-long commitment, to follow this journey of life in the company of others in the Community.

Rob and I considered the path towards commitment to the Northumbria Community and started praying about it, asking God to show us if this was a real calling, a vocation.
During a time when we were just sitting in silence I had what you may call a ‘vision’ – a waking dream almost; I saw a path, a long, long path, an earthen path, with lots of people walking on it, coming from far, far, back to our left, passing us and visible far, far into the distance on our right. We were joining the path from another road, a paved road. These people were mostly alone, sometimes in twos or threes. Rob and I joined with them on the earthen path fitting in between two other people, though all the people were several yards or more apart from each other they all moved together, to the one rhythm, at the same speed, in the same direction.

But as we walked I noticed that the earth under our feet was getting thinner, so that I started getting glimpses of startling shafts of blue, all shades; cobalt, turquoise, navy, sky, all shades of blue. As we progressed, the earth got even thinner and the patches of blue larger, till in the end we were walking on an indescribably beautiful mosaic path. So breath-takingly lovely that I was moved to tears as I looked at it. This seemed such a clear picture of us following in the footsteps of others, on the same road but separated by time, geography or simply our work/home situations that we eventually did become Companions of the Northumbria Community. For us, it is the way we have chosen, having felt called to this way of life, but there are so many different ways of following Christ’s invitation to know Him and, through Him, through God’s Holy Spirit, to know the Father.

Here is how I tried to work it in a bead necklace but it falls short I know.

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Oregon or bust

When my elder son, Kjell, went off to Oregon to seek his fortune he met a treasure named Kim, an amazing professional photographer who had lived in Portland since her family migrated to the USA when she was 8. They fell in love and, when he lost his job, decided on a quick legal marriage so he could apply for his green card, become a registered alien (always thought there was something strange about him) and stay in the city he loved, with the woman he loved. They set up a business producing and selling Plywerk – eco-conscious photo mounting & art panels. Handmade in Portland, Oregon by sandal-wearing, tofu-eating, bike-riders. (from their site!)

In 2007  I travelled the 5000 miles from our home in the north east of England to attend their big church wedding in Portland on 7/7/7. Unfortunately my husband, my sons’ step-dad, Rob, was recovering from 2 heart attacks and could not get insurance to accompany me. But I had an amazing time, meeting my daughter-in-law Kim for the first time, all her family and their friends. I was stunned by the beauty of Oregon, its mountains, rivers, Pacific coast and Portland city, with its mix of so many different people, stores, restaurants and, especially the Saturday (and Sunday) Market!

I have been to Florida and New York several times but found Oregon so much more to my taste. Relaxed, environmentally friendly and so unspoilt.

Meanwhile my younger son, Pieter, (their late father had been Dutch, hence the names) was embarked on a 3 year course here in the UK on ‘Youth Studies and Applied Theology’.  After he graduated he decided to go and visit his big bro in the USA as he could not decide what else to do. Too much thinking is very tiring. To cut a long story short he met a lovely, gifted Portland girl (this is getting repetitive) at church there, they fell in love and, when his allotted 3 months visa was up, returned to us, very miserable and constantly on Skype to her! He flew back to Oregon a few months later and he married Keven (yes she is a girl) in a quick wedding. So now BOTH my sons live in Portland! Rob and I flew together to their big wedding – in a forest glade on Mount Hood – in July 2010 and the rest of that story is another post!

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Our Pilgrimpath Prayer Beads

Northumberland, where we live, is steeped in ancient history, covered with breath-taking scenery and full of friendly people.   In the 7th century, the Celtic saints from the Scottish island of Iona came and settled on the Northumberland island of Lindisfarne.  It was from there, often called Holy Island, that Christianity spread to most of England and to several countries in Europe.   People still come to Holy Island and to walk the pilgrim pathways of the north-east of England.   We make our prayer beads as an aid for those who are seeking meaning in life today.

OK.  I had better explain a bit more.  The fish emblem, on the prayer beads, is the ancient symbol of Christianity – the Ichthus. The large natural pale wood  bead , next to the Fish, is the Preparation bead. There are 33 beads, one for each year of Jesus’ life. The four Cruciform beads, the natural pale barrel ones, help us recall that Jesus died on the Cross for the sins of the world.   The four sets of seven small green beads are called Seasons .    Seven beads to remind the user that God created all things, and on the seventh day he rested and was pleased with his work.  There are Four sets of Seasons, to represent God’s continued work today, in spring, summer, autumn and winter.  Through the good times and the bad.

Pilgrimpath prayer beads

The prayer beads have no “magical” properties. They are just a simple tool to assist in prayer and  to help the user feel close to God. Quite a few people just carry them around, so they can silently hold them when they cannot find words to pray.

Using prayer beads for Prayer is a two way process of talking and listening to God.  Slowly moving from bead to bead, saying a few words and stopping to move on, establishes a rhythm of speech and silence; talking and listening.

We always start with the Fish pointing away from us and holding it between first finger and thumb, saying the words:  “In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

When you arrive on the Preparation bead , use the words:“In the shelter of your wings, I will sing your praises, O Lord

(You can change this phrase if you prefer a different one).

You then move on to the first Cruciform bead.    All Cruciform beads are for rest and silence.  Just rest silently on them for at least ten seconds.  You can use the 4 sets of Seasons to split up larger prayers into seven smaller sections, or to repeat small prayers, over and over again.  You leave via the Preparation bead and the Fish.

I make these Pilgrimpath prayer beads for personal friends and acquaintances complete with suggested prayers. If you would like to own a set of prayer beads you can buy some slightly different ones,  which I also make, from the new monastic Community which we are part of.  (see below).

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Northumbria Community Prayer Beads

I also make Celtic prayer beads for the Northumbria Community. These are red/blue and include the suggested Midday Prayers from the Community’s ‘Celtic Daily Prayer’.

Northumbria Community Prayer Beads

You can order these beads from their website

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Hotspur bronze unveiled in Alnwick

On Friday 20 August 2010, the, more than life sized, 14 foot high statue of Harry Hotspur was unveiled in Alnwick, Northumberland.

Harry Hotspur in bronze

The idea of a bronze statue was to commemorate the 700 year anniversary in 2009 of the Percy family in Alnwick. One note of continuity is that no-one knew what his face was like as in all depictions of him, he had his visor down. So Earl George Percy, son and heir to the current Duke of Northumberland was asked to pose as the model for Hotspur’s face. As Lord George was 24, the same age as his ancestor, Harry Hotspur, when he fought some of his greatest battles, this provided a modern link to the Percy family still living in the castle here in Alnwick today.

Earl George Percy, son of the current Duke of Northumberland was the model for his ancestor's face

Many people only think of the name ‘Hotspur’ as referring to a football team or a children’s comic. In fact it was the name given to Sir Henry Percy, also called Harry Hotspur (20 May, either,1364/1366 – 21 July 1403) was the eldest son of Henry Percy, 1st Earl of Northumberland, 4th Lord Percy of Alnwick. His nickname, ‘Hotspur’, is suggestive of his impulsive nature. He early acquired a great reputation as a warrior, fighting against the Scots and the French. Later, with his paternal uncle Thomas Percy, Earl of Worcester, he led a rebellion against Henry IV in 1403, forming an alliance with the Welsh rebel, Owain Glyndŵr. Before they could join forces, Hotspur was defeated and killed at the Battle of Shrewsbury  when he raised his visor to get some air (as he was wearing plate armour which restricted air circulation) and was immediately hit in the mouth with an arrow and killed instantly.

Henry IV, upon being brought the body after the battle, was said to have wept and ordered the body buried. Hotspur was buried in Whitchurch, Shropshire, but was later exhumed, by order of the same king, when rumours circulated that he was still alive. His body was first displayed in Shrewsbury, impaled on a spear, but was later cut up into four quarters and sent around all of England. His head was stuck on a pole at York’s gates.

Today, in peaceful Alnwick, it was good to see such an amazing piece of art celebrating the past and present influence and  presence of the Percy family through the ages.

Plaque on Harry Hotspur’s bronze
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Rob on the Pacific Beach

Rob loves his music and owns many different Celtic pipes/recorders and whistles. He composes his own tunes as well as playing well-known songs such as Amazing Grace, and his favourite is – Be thou my vision. He usually composes and plays in places such as the nearby Holy Island of Lindisfarne but on our great adventure to Oregon this summer he found himself on the Pacific coast!  We recorded him as he composed and played a new melody, standing next to ancient petrified tree stumps on the edge of the roaring waves of the Pacific, a very spiritual and memorable moment.

We were so close to the incoming tide that we eventually got caught out and ended up with wet feet.

Listen to the music of Rob and the waves! Download sound file here: Playing whistle on Pacific beach.wma

Petrified trees from a prehistoric forest on Neskowin Pacific beach

Rob playing his whistle on Neskowin Pacific Beach

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Home is Alnwick, Northumberland

Though Rob is from Northumberland we were living in the South West of England when we met and married in 2002. In 2007 we moved 400 miles to the north east, just 30 miles south of the scottish border close to the coast. We love living in Alnwick (pronounced Annick), the County Town of Northumberland. The town grew up around the mighty castle,  the home of the Percys, Earls and Dukes of Northumberland since 1309, making this year the 701st anniversary. Alnwick Castle is the second largest inhabited castle in England, and has been garrison to 3000 troops in the past. Today the current Duke and Duchess of Northumberland live there still. The castle, and the amazing Alnwick Gardens, a special project of the Duchess’s, attract many visitors each year, some hope to find Harry Potter as parts of the films were shot there!
The earliest mention of Alnwick Castle in the history books appears soon after 1096 when Yves de Vescy became baron of Alnwick and erected the earliest parts of the Castle. We love to visit the surrounds to our town, especially walks along the river Aln. We can also travel just 4 miles and have our choice of 40 miles of golden sandy beaches. This county has 5 times as many sheep as people and is worth visiting at any time of the year. According to Country Life, October 2002, “Alnwick is the most picturesque market town in Northumberland, and the best place to live in Britain”.

Percy Tenantry Column built 1816, showing the Duke's Percy Family's Lion symbol

The River Aln at Alnmouth showing Church Hill

A serene swan on the River Aln, caught in the spot-light of the winter sun

The Gardens Treehouse, There are resturants, walkways in the sky and wobbly rope bridges for bouncing on, and it’s all accessible by wheelchair and buggy

Out for a spring walk, this view of the Castle is less than 10 minutes from home.

This cascade is the longest in Europe, the centerpiece of the Duchess of Northumberlands celebrated Gardens

Sitting in our own back yard is also a pleasure!

A lovely corner of the old brick wall in Alnwick Castle gardens

The Aln River valley showing Alnwick Castle, taken from the Duchess Viewpoint on the Woodland Walk

One of the spectacular Hornbeam tunnels in Alnwick Castle Gardens

St Michaels Church, Alnwick built in 1464

Alnwick's mighty castle from the far side of the River Aln, home of the Dukes & Earls of Northumberland for over 700 year

Forest Lodge Gateway, from within Hulne Park, on the Duke's estate

The road north out of Alnwick, past the castle and over the Lion Bridge

According to Country Life, October 2002, "Alnwick is the most picturesque market town in Northumberland, and the best place to live in Britain"

The Lion Bridge below Alnwick Castle, where the Percy family, whose symbol it is, have lived for over 700 years

Alnwick Castle Gardens back gate, taken in autumn

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