Seahouses, Northumberland

Seahouses is a little town not that far from the English border with Scotland. It probably has some of the finest fish and chips in the north of England. My personal preference is for the ones at Neptune fish restaurant but I would happily buy them from another if Neptune was shut. If you own Neptune and want to pay me I’ll say I would not buy fish and chips anywhere else…ever 🙂

Inner Farne
Inner Farne

It does still have working fishing boats but the main business people go for is access to the Farne islands. It’s a thriving business even for ex fishing boats to take people on tours around the islands and weather permitting, and season permitting you can land on the main island which has a colony of terns on it. It’s run by the National Trust but don’t let that put you off, it’s a great experience and I still remember my very first one with my Dad when I was about 8 years old. The birds dive bomb you if you go too near their nests and while they don’t hurt you, it’s exciting and a little unnerving when they do it.

The islands are easily visible as they’re not far off shore, and Longstone lighthouse on one of the islands is still one of the most powerful in the UK being visible for 24 nautical miles.

Seahouses of course has a thriving gift shop which has been there a very long time, and in summer it’s still a popular destination for holiday makers including families. A couple of miles away is Bamburgh which is almost as popular just for the castle. 
Sitting on the edge of the great Whin sill Seahouses has some amazing geological formations both on the beach and nearby cliffs and the small rock cabin that housed the dynamite used during the construction of the harbour wall can still be seen. 

I came here for a day out with a friend, and aside from a picnic on the beautiful sand dunes and a long hike along the clean beaches that seem to go on forever, we got some fish and chips from Neptune and took them outside to sit on the harbour wall with.

It was a beautiful day as you can see by the photos, and there were a lot of people there but we had a fab time. Although we didn’t swim some hardy kids were having a great time splashing about in the water and it reminded me of visits with my kids when they were small. What kid doesn’t like the beach in summer, with sandcastles and ice cream and sand in their hair on the way home. 

The Old Keswickian

Seems like I rattled the cage of the owner of the Old Keswickian. Alan Simpson who claims to be the owner disputes how much I paid for my fish and chips. That’s very odd. I know how much I was charged, I wonder where the discrepancy occurs?
Anyway, he points out the price and then continues to  say I was probably ‘non compos mentis’ when I visited and therefore dialogue is futile, and he hopes I will never come back.  A few emails followed, all quite insulting, I see now why the Old Keswickian is the way it is. Well, with an attitude like that matey if I was coming back, I won’t be now.

However as I said:
The Old Keswickian; fish was fine, chips were dry, hard and tasteless, the cartons they use are so small food falls off, pay extra for a plastic fork, expensive.
the Kingfisher charged me a fair price, food was delicious, served in an appropriately sized carton and I was given a fork for free. What’s not to like?

You can see where I’ll be eating from now on.

Fish and chip drop

For as many years as I can recall I have been going to the Old Keswickian in Keswick for a lovely bit of cod and chips. There’s nowt like taking your food away and sitting on a bench in the sunshine to eat it while you watch the world go by. In Keswick there is a definite lack of seagulls to spoil the experience too.

However I’ve noticed for some time now the Old Keswickian’s chips are large and dry and tasteless. I asked the lad serving one day if they had changed the potatoes they use and he looked at me as if I was stupid and shook his head. Now on their website they say the following:
“our potatoes are the finest quality, primarily Lincolnshire, Maris Pipers and Markies, selected by our local merchant for their correct sugar content and dry matter percentage, so you get a superior chip…other than 100% vegetable oil (non hydrogenated) and flour, nothing else goes into our fish and chips…no additives…no colours…no preservatives…nothing!! Can other food outlets claim that”.
All I can say is, even frozen ones from elsewhere can taste better.

Something else I’d noticed but not really bothered about is the tiny carton they place them in. It’s very small and once they put the fish on top of the chips, the chips fall out and as happened yesterday, I dropped half my fish trying to eat it. The carton is not even the size of the fish and because the fish is balanced on the chips it’s very difficult to eat it. Especially if you use those silly wooden forks. Those silly wooden forks have been around for so long: I recall trying to use them as a child and they’re OK if all you have is chips, but they’re useless for eating fish with. You can pay 10p for a plastic fork which is much better, but if you paid £7 almost for fish and chips can’t they let you have a plastic one free?

So instead of enjoying my food in the sunshine, I dropped half of the fish on the floor trying to use the wooden fork to eat it, and the chips were so distasteful that I threw half of those away. Now, that cost me £6.95. Almost £7 is not a number to be sniffed at. It’s not a small amount that you’d not be bothered about if you lost, but given that I lost half my meal (partly by accident and partly by choice of course) that means I paid £3.50 for something I didn’t enjoy. I did enjoy the fish, so half of my £3.50 was pleasant, but half of that fell onto the floor because it was balanced precariously on a pile of chips in a tiny carton. So that’s £1.75 well spent out of almost £7. not good value.

So, I’ve contacted the Old Keswickian detailing my concerns and will update with their response. In the meanwhile, I’ll be scouring Keswick for the best fish and chips.

*Update: I have 2 backup sims that I use in an old phone so that I don’t have to give out my real number. I gave one of those sim numbers in the form I used to contact Old Keswickian on their website. An hour later I started getting nuisance calls…what an odd coincidence.

*More Update: Went into Keswick and had haddock and chips from the Kingfisher fish and chip shop on main street. Greta service from helpful staff, beautiful fish, lovely chips, in a proper size carton! and he gave me a plastic fork for nothing. £5.50 for all that. Old Keswickian is old hat now, I won’t be visiting there ever again. (The nuisance calls stopped after a while)