I’m liking the feel of my feet on the ground. (Mary Chapin Carpenter)
After two nights in a semi-sketchy hostel in Edinburgh (a basementy wonder with an alley-floor view complete with pigeons, a tiny, grimy window and weird lighting,) my accommodations have gotten steadily nicer. (I hasten to say, however, that the hostel was a Great Sub-Cultural Experience and I got to stay there with my daughter. So, no complaints here. But yeah: the room had room for improvement.) At the other end of the spectrum, I arrived yesterday at Langley Castle.
Built in 1350 on land held by the barony of Langley, the castle overlooks the River Tyne valley in the Northumberland region of northeast England, just west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Most personal to me: my family surname, Tyndall, comes from this place.
It is well documented that our name–my sisters’, my father and his brother’s, and their father’s, and his father’s… all the way back–has its etymology in the dale of the Tyne. I take it for granted, really. But traveling there, being there in person, has caused this intellectual interest to settle down into my gut.
Langley Castle is a schmancy hotel now, after having been things like a girls’ school, a private residence and a 400-year ruin. Many features of the 14th-century fortification remain: teensy spiral staircases, low doors, and giant fireplaces. There are deep window wells in the seven-feet-thick walls, some are for sitting and gazing, and some for defending the castle. The view from the very top turret shows the entire estate of several hundred acres, which ends at Hadrian’s Wall.
I was ensconced in the Tindale Room, named for Adam de Tindale, first baron of the estate. I had hoped to be visited by the ghost of a long-dead ancestor, but alas. Instead, I just went very slowly, and walked around touching everything. I took a bath, because there were bath salts. I wore the robe and the slippers. I had a lovely dinner and breakfast in the restaurant. My clean laundry appeared magically on my bed. Except for a little walk around outside for a selfie, I stayed inside the castle for my entire 24 hours there. I paid for all of the services, of course, since I was a guest and not the lady of the estate. I received a deep gift in my blood, the heavy weight of my history. I am grateful.