ALAN CASTLE: Summer starts here for county

As the schools break up for summer, I’m looking forward to seeing the streets of our towns and villages bustling with visitors.

Granted it can get a bit frustrating when you’re storming into town for a sandwich at lunchtime and you come across a gaggle of tourists taking up the pavement.

But many of our businesses rely on the tourist trade during the summer season to see them through the winter, which can often be bleak in this part of the country.

I watched all but one of ITV’s Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green and from coast to country, Northumberland looked stunning.

The series, which visited different locations every week, really put Northumberland on the map.

Our secret kingdom is a secret no longer – but that has to be a good thing.

And while TV programmes are good for promoting us, there is also the draw of places like Alnwick Castle and its connections to Harry Potter, Blackadder and other TV shows and films, Holy Island – the birthplace of Christianity, the rugged coastline and the rolling hills of Coquetdale and the Cheviots.

If that doesn’t entice people to come, then I’m not sure what will.

I for one will be enjoying a ‘staycation’ this year. With belts tightened, Mrs C and I will be heading out to discover more of our county. And why not?

On our doorstep, we’ve got beautiful sandy beaches, on which the canine Castles can roll around and play.

There’s the Alnwick International Music Festival in August, which sees groups from across the world playing in the Market Place and even the town’s food festival later in September.

And while we’re on the subject of food, our county provides some of the best.

The Craster kipper, Lindisfarne oysters, Northumbrian beef and much, much more.

Here’s hoping we have a a bumper summer, with tourists basking in the glory of north Northumberland and our businesses, attractions, bars, restaurants and shops have the best year yet.

If only we could order the weather to make it even better, then we would definitely be on to a winner.