Known as the ‘nectar of the gods’ Lindisfarne Mead is a rather delicious fortified wine produced on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne off the Northumberland coast. Made with honey, fermented grape juice and fortified with spirits, this mead is made exclusively at St Aidan’s Winery on the island. It is one of the many reasons people cross the causeway from the mainland each day, ensuring they return before the tide comes in.
The word ‘honeymoon’ is derived from an old Norse custom where newly-weds drank mead for a whole ‘moon’ to increase fertility and the chance of a happy and fulfilled marriage. I wasn’t intending to drink it for a month, but a bottle or two to take home would hopefully put a smile on my face and wouldn’t be enough to have any impact on my fecundity, with a bit of luck.
With this in mind, we set off from our holiday home in Seahouses last August and drove up the coast a short distance. The tide was out so we crossed with care and joined the other visitors, walking from the main car park into the centre of the village, not quite in the same manner as St Aidan would have made the journey in 635AD from Iona to found his monastery.
It was a beautiful day, perfect for seeing the castle and the priory at their very best.
|View across to the village on Holy Island|
I even managed what I felt was quite an ‘arty’ photograph (see below)
|Upturned herring boats used as storage sheds on Holy Island|
We walked, we sat, we stopped for an ice-cream, we looked in some of the little shops for souvenirs. All the while I kept saying to the family that I knew the winery was somewhere close. I had been to the island before, many years ago, on a school trip, when I and a bunch of daft teenage girls thought we would be completely inebriated just by having a sniff of the mead, never mind a small taster.
It’s not a large island by any stretch of the imagination and I don’t quite know why I didn’t ask directions. I thought maybe it had closed down and that the mead was sold in one of the souvenir shops. The family were getting rather annoyed at my quest for this magical elixir and suggested if we wandered back to the car park, we might see it on the way. We didn’t. We did see some people ahead of us with a cream-coloured plastic carrier bag which looked suspiciously like it was holding glass bottles – but they were too far ahead of us and it was too hot to run.
I continued wittering about this until we returned to Seahouses. Later that day, in the shop round the corner from our accommodation, I found a whole shelf full of Lindisfarne Mead. In fact, every shop in the town was selling the stuff. Of course we bought it in the first shop we entered, then kept seeing it cheaper everywhere else.
We sat on the balcony that evening and poured the gloopy, golden liquid into two small wine glasses. It was heavenly.
“So…” asked Dougie, with an optimistic grin and a twinkle in his eye. “Has it got you going yet?”