So this week we spent a couple of days in Northumberland revisiting old haunts from the decade when we kept a boat at Amble.
It is strange how some places improve and others decline, leaving us a little disappointed by our hotel which is now part of a chain and whilst we had expected the man on the door in the frock coat and top hat would have retired had hoped, in vain, that if the chef had followed suit he would at least have been adequately replaced.
On the plus side Amble itself has really benefited from what is clearly an upmarket regeneration, designed presumably to replace the fishing industry with tourism.
Despite the stormy skies, Northumberland's beaches never fail to please. If only they had stupendous weather to match the miles of golden sand, but then they wouldn't be so brilliantly under populated.
We took in Northumberlandia opened only in 2012, the vast sleeping giant of a woman carved into the site of a deserted open cast coal site and approached from the car park through a delightful beech tree wood. Living as we do in North Yorkshire, beech trees are sparse but the memories of a childhood garden surrounded by them came flooding back when prompted by the olfactory organs.
The Alnwick Garden is approximately fifteen years older but for some reason had escaped all our previous visits to the area. It was not as large as I had imagined but the main water feature is outstanding and the roses and delphiniums were in full bloom.
We particularly enjoyed a guided tour of the Poison Garden with the guide's explanation of the dangers lurking behind some of our most common plants including Giant Hogweed.
Mister E also clearly revelled in the rope bridges adjacent to the tree house as he bounced along ahead of me sending waves of nausea behind him and quite deliberately.
I once heard tell that Northumberland has more castles per square mile than any other area of the British Isles, I'm not sure if it's a myth or fact but we certainly took in two of the finest of them with Dunstanburgh and Alnwick, as well as the fishing harbours of Seahouses (North Sunderland) and Craster famed of course for its kippers.
There are no motorways running through Northumberland. The landscape takes in views of the Cheviot Hills and boasts the northern-most National Park in England with its dark sky status. It has a stunning coast line and innumerable historic sites starting with Hadrian's Wall and Lindisfarne. Nevertheless it remains an overlooked county when it comes to tourism and that of course is part of its attraction.