I spend a lot of the year in my make believe village of Dunleith and it is as familiar to me as my home town. I like to travel and visit other countries and bustling cities but it’s always a pleasure to revisit Dunleith and see what’s going on or what could go on if I stayed there a while.
Dunleith first appeared in my debut novel, ‘A Jarful of Moondreams’. Lots of the action in my second novel, ‘It Only Takes a Minute, Girl’, is set there, as well as in Newcastle and London’s theatre land. While novel two is being critiqued by its first reader, I’m taking a short break from the village but I am looking forward to getting back shortly because there is enough trouble brewing in one household to start novel three.
So where is Dunleith? I have the only map and can see it sitting in the Northumbrian borders; a tranquil beauty spot near to rivers, hills and dales as well as golden beaches. It is a perfect place to bring up children or visit for a countryside break. Most of its younger inhabitants can’t wait to move away to the bright city lights of Newcastle or Edinburgh or further afield but they make their way home to relax and recharge or to lick their wounds and to see familiar faces and places.
An overnight stay here would have to include a bracing walk, because there is always a breeze, followed by a few drinks at the Bridge Inn. The pub is full of locals who will be happy to include you in their craic. Elsie would expect you to call in at The Singin’ Hinnie at some point for a plate of her scones singing fresh from the griddle and smothered in butter served with a pot of tea. She has a jar of instant but her coffee making skills have never improved so tea is the safer bet.
If you’re pushing the boat out, Whych Elm Hall has a spa and fabulous rooms but there are plenty of farmhouse B and Bs in the area. Whych Elm is well worth a visit for Saturday dinner or Sunday lunch but you will have to book well ahead because the French and Geordie chef partnership has made this a popular eatery for the city folk. There are fresh Geordie stotties and mufflers alongside pain baguette and pain brioche and there will be pease pudding and clooty dumplings featured as often as chateaubriand and casoulet.
Sunday morning at Weddell’s shop in the square is where all the local news is shared along with buying the Sunday papers. The shop is a treasure trove and, if you get lucky with the weather, Dot Weddell sells Doddington Dairy ice cream. Their local flavours, once tried, are never forgotten. Sit in the square with your ices and watch Sunday unfold until it’s time to head back to your real world.
Haven’t the time? Haven’t the money for a break in the borders? I can transport you to Dunleith for £2.99 on Amazon