Monday, 30 August 2010

More Bank Holiday fun

I cannot believe I didn't show you the first harvest of potatoes- grown by my own fair hand! Well with a little excited help from D3.

and to think we are about to exhume the second yield and you have not known of the wonders of harvesting. P has promised me some of his apples. With pots of jam on the shelves, patio pumpkins and sprouts,leeks and cauliflowers in boxes I am becoming quite the farmer and Nigella!

Fine weather saw R complete a 140+ mile cycle ride for charity while we all went scarecrow viewing at Rennington. We love the effort this village puts in every year originally begun to roof their village hall; this year it was for their beautiful church and the North Air Ambulance; it is only right that we eat scones and drink tea in order to support rural economy and such a wonderful service to the folks of the North. Isn't it?

After egg & cress sandwiches and sausage butties there we proceeded to the RNLI Fete at Seahouses; I have a soft spot for the Lifeboat men who put their lives on the line voluntarily to help those 'in peril on the sea'; when the maroons used to go up over the village , men would start running to man the lifeboat - it brings hairs up on your neck and a lump to your throat. The Boulmer rescue helicopter and 'Grace Darling' Lifeboat carried out winching 'survivors' up as we threw balls at china and into pails all to the sounds of a good group.

D3 won Rusty the goldfish while I (now an honorary grandmother to a goldfish) won a coconut.

Sunday, 29 August 2010

Bank Holiday

Below me there are cries of "Rent", sounds of laughter and gaoled moans; the hissing of stacked,steaming pans of Sunday dinner & the last Christmas pud in the pressure cooker is intermingled with the chink of wine glasses; more laughter and screams.... we have solved the Mysteries of Old Peking and Baker Street and worked out Miss Scarlett did it in the Hall with the revolver; accrued letters lists of Topix have now been abandoned for high rising competition and thereat I picked up the vegetable knife- I don't like Monopoly- my sister when I knew her- and H1 later in my life are both cut-throat at this and unlike me , neither play to enjoy but play to win whatever the cost. So I'm out!

I woke up to rain pattering on the windowpane and leaves rustling on the beech trees.I am pleased this didn't greet yesterday as D3 and I did a fruitful car boot sale.

The ladies went to Seaton Delaval Hall in the rain earlier this week; I recall the 1970's medieval banquets with singing maidens, mead and platters of broth under the lead of a baron and his good lady. I am pleased the National Trust managed to pull together enough donations to save the hall from going out of public hands.

Pakistan has been drowned; collections are going on all over the UK to help. Will the money get to the poor? We hear tales of rich,indigenous people not contributing for their own people- and money going into the wrong hands- backshish makes folk reluctant to donate but Britain gives regardless.

At 8pm I am typing in growing darkness as the autumn nights are drawing in.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Land of far horizons

That is what the historian G.M.Trevelyan called Northumberland.

Cragside is ablaze with rhododendrons in May/June but it is a joy any time of year; National Trust so rather expensive for a family. We lost our lot in the labyrinth up beside Nelly's Moss lake. I like autumn there too especially Halloween events and Apple Day.

Lord Armstrong is my favourite Northumbrian- well so is Admiral Lord Collingwood-and Sir Bobby Robson- and St Bede-and Gertrude Bell- and St Benet Biscop- and Basil Hume and Grace Darling..... Armstrong was so clever- a water wizard and appreciative of others;so as well as Joseph Swan being first to create the incandescent lightbulb Lord Armstrong invited his pal Swan to Cragside to light his bulbs by hydro electric power.

We walked with friends above Wooler on Humbleton Hill- iron age camp , Gleadscleugh hill farm, Harry Hotspur raining longbow arrows on the heads of the Scots in the Battle of Homildon Hill; 'all around the purple heather' purpled for miles; buzzing and scented with honey.

If you visit National Trust Souter Lighthouse sup the broth and prepare yourself! Just when you think you have conquered your fear of the stairs winding up the wall, you realise the light still eludes you up the last ladder. We spelled our names in flags, tapped messages in Morse code and inspected the foghorn; peacefulness descended as we progged mats, embroidered and knitted in the lighthousekeeper's cottage. Ooh! and try Minchella's icecream at one of the kiosks along the Leas.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Carlisle and coast by rail

Eeh!I can't find the time to sit and write, blog, iron.... the housework will have to wait...(sad about that last procrastination).

Friends are so good to us; J fed us dinner, breakfast and provided packed lunch. J booked us a trip on the Carlisle /Settle railway which I would recommend for relaxation , views and a trip back in time and comfort.

Oh heck, already I am distracted by company bearing fudge (my one weakness to quote Dorcas) and chocolate raisins; we'd better eat them this week as I have a cholesterol test next week!

Back to the blog... Carlisle was decked out with flowers; the train was clean, offered magnificent views and refreshments were sold by the Friends of the Settle Railway; the tiny railway stations were beautiful and transported me back to childhood trips to Jesmond Baths and the fishladies from Cullercoats.... At Ribblehead we were booked onto the walking tour- there are two- we took the long walk up to the tunnel & below the viaduct with two knowledgeable guides.'The runaway train came down the track and she blew.....' Well it is the Royal Scot steaming at 30mph across the viaduct on the photo. After the return journey, we found a happy hour Turkish meal in Carlisle which provided a great end to a super day.

Have you ever travelled by train to the coast? This week's sun provided the Ladies with the opportunity to offload at Monkseaton to sample provisions at 'Brown Sugar' at Monkseaton station- watch your money as there is SO much to tempt passengers. A walk through Whitley Bay, along the front above beaches like Whitley Bay Long Sands, Cullercoats, King Edward's Bay to the priory passing the Park,the Grand and through Tynemouth(via Raspberry Bazaar) and with a salute to Admiral Lord Collingwood , ends at the listed Tynemouth station.

The Metro sell a book of walks from & to Metro stations at the Haymarket and Monument Travel shops.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Letters from America

Well in text form- not Alistair Cooke variety. Ds1&3 went on a 'once in a lifetime' tour from New York to San Francisco for 4 weeks. We set about visiting London, gardening and lots of activities like painting and decorating..... but traumatic calls from the U.S., trips to hospital in NY (imagine living in a country where the paramedics won't load you into an ambulance till you've shown the insurance forms and the colour of your money!) The medical staff were lovely, the tests were adequate but the hospital was 'minging'. Hostel 1 staff were kind, Hostel 2 receptionist was horrible, the NY Holiday Inn guy was compassionate.... and we spoke to people all over the world as we tracked down insurance, offspring etc. Ellis Island was interesting.... The tour started in not just high temperatures but in a heat wave on top; after camping in 40+ degrees (why is there no degree sign on a querty keyboard?), 2hrs sleep per night and too much heat to visit anywhere during the day, a leader who was 'entertaining'(read drinking) till 3am then driving at 6am, the tour reached New Orleans; internet cafes there were not,(take WiFi mobs with you if you go) so UK received calls to get a hotel; yes the website looked good, but a collapsing bed, stained sheets, hair covered sheets and howling dog does make you wonder how hotels across the pond get 5* awards or are we used to higher standards so moan? Smelly, seedy New Orleans did not serve to impress so as camping in Death Valley loomed the Intrepid pair jumped ship and requested us to get them flights across the Atlantic; we picked them up from Heathrow 17 days early and a lot lighter in money- but safe and sound.

The hydrangeas are magnificent this year. The rowans are berried. The nights are drawing in and at times the heating has been on. I have bought hedgehog food - if S&V can get a whole family of hedgehogs on their patio for supper, why can't I? But the magppies are nicking my expensive and special food.

The walk to Souter lighthouse along the National Trust's Leas from South Shields was pictuesque; even if it was overcast there were optimistic folk on the beach!

Friday, 13 August 2010

The Tyne

I cannot sleep so after at least two hours I am up and on the computer; this has had its working memory upped- I wish I could get my working memory raised. Somewhere on a note book I had jotted down some things to jog my blogging- can I find the notes? No! Can I even find the notebook?

We have been so busy this last two weeks...

I am sure I saw Robbie Williams in Newcastle last Thursday on our way to Zizzis but then why would he be in Newcastle- and just before his wedding? Seeing his friends Ant and Dec?

On the 'Pilgrims to Pandon' guided walk the guide was knowledgeable and interesting; I had always wondered who had got to make the electric lighbulb first- our Joseph Swan had invented the incandescent bulb first - but didn't register his patent globally just nationally - so when Edison came up with it later they were both going to court to claim it & unsure of themselves they joined companies. We mosied from Earl Grey's monument (Nelson's Column in London is a copy of this) via Market Street and Electricity Board & Police Station, passed Worswick St, on to Swan House roundabout (there is Joseph again!) & no longer BT but apartments; we wandered down from the city walls and Corner Tower to the area below which was Pandon; amid the new areas 'inhabited' by lawyers and barristers- thus the 'Silk Rooms' restaurant. Trinity House and the Live Theatre/Cafe Vivo/ Eye on the Tyne (formerly the Wig and Pen?)the new Law Courts and the evening opened onto the Quayside.

I have never seen the river so still so there were double views of the Millenium Bridge, the Sage concert hall (do you think those windows really look like the sails of sailing ships?) and all the bridges; Dorman Long had a practice run on the Tyne Bridge before they built the bigger Sydney Harbour Bridge finishing it 4 years after our bridge.

You can get an understanding of the city if you follow the geography now hidden underground; tributaries cut down , particularly from the Town Moor to the Tyne; the Lort Burn is conduited under Grey Street (voted Britain's most beautiful street by UK citizens- certainly Sir John Betjeman thought it was the most beautiful street in Europe)and down under Dene Street; the Pandon Burn goes under the new Law Courts; the piece of art work in Pandon has small pieces of stone in the bottom representing the Pandon which still flows hidden below it; further east is the Ouseburn which valley holds the city farm, the Cluny pub and the national museum for books ' Seven Stories'. Thinking about it that steep flowing threesome must have complicated matters for the tunnellers of the Metro line under the city.

We came back round the Guild Hall, past Bessie Surtee's Elizabethan house and up Dene Street , only stopping for refreshments at FitzGeralds on Grey Street.

Ther is more to write but I am going back to bed to see if I can grab some sleep. 5a.m is often my best time for writing but today this is not so- the bottle of wine shared with H1,S&D at The Highlander over dinner may have fogged the creative thoughts a little... or maybe it has been the lack of sleep as we have tried to help with the problems in the lives of our offspring this last two weeks... now there is a story for another day.

Monday, 2 August 2010


We went to see 3D Toy Story 3 before the hordes descended on the cinema (the school holidays started two weeks ago); I loved it- it operates on two levels-for the young it is fun and scary; adults too will find it those things though if you are a parent I think you will find it sad thinking about times passed. Read A.A.Milne's 'The House at Pooh Corner' wherein the last paragraph is similarly wistful.

'So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.'

J.M.Barry said 'If a man is sick of London he is sick of life'. Try as I might I cannot like our capital city! I am so proud of every thing it represents via 10 Downing St, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace etc but for me it is 'noise, traffic,muck, people and very few Londoners'. We have been to see D2 and fiance and to have a girly day looking at wedding dresses. However trauma with a relative caused anxieties second to none.... I shall tell you about that another time.

For the first time in years I sent an Interflora bouquet (£30+ £7 Interflora charge)-to the engaged pair; the bouquet arrived- brown edged lilies, dead flowers and all; I rang my florist who rang the London florist; the latter asked to recollect it within the hour so she could check its condition; 4 hours later!! she recollected and delivered a new one. I went to visit 3-4 days later- so small, pathetic and almost dead (see photo above- that wilting bunch cost £37) nothing like the one chosen from the Interflora catalogue. Having said it was not their responsibility and with my making lots of phonecalls & emails (with photos), Interflora have offered to send a £10 voucher to D2. Shabby ,unacceptable and appalling customer service so don't send things Interflora is my advice. I bought a gorgeous bouquet off our local florist for P&M's silver wedding-3 stems of white lilies and 5 white delphinium, straw wrap,greentissuey paper and card for £11.

Men have a weird mindset and selective hearing. I suggested to H1 not to buy flowers to celebrate our anniversary as we would be away so he bought a dozen red roses!!!!!! They are beautiful now we are back (all except for one which has died unopened after just 3 days and alone probably cost an arm and a leg).

Meanwhile gardens are showing the effects of a snap of cold, rain and moving into later summer; roses are blowsy while buddleia butterfly bushes, montbretia and hydrangea are all full out.So many fields this year are filled with cereal crops especially wheat- has the EEC taken the subsidy off rape? The fields are golden and combined harvesters are trundling up and down sacking grain and stacking or rolling hay. Subsequent ploughs and harrows are followed by a cloud of gulls.

Over the last two weeks we have all seen lots of dead bees- why? I hope my solo bee is not one of them. H1 has positioned my birthday bee-home on the fence; I wait expectantly...