Sunday, 31 July 2011

Autumn cometh?

I must be quick- downstairs H1 is waving the remote!
I am getting the hang of this new camera- but the photos take ages to upload.

Is it just my perception of things or do I detect a slight change of colour on the trees? I don't want summer to go- yet I do like every season & love autumnal colours and festivals- but that heralds the end of another year.......

A bowl of soup at Simonburn tearooms (ooh! have you sipped Fentiman's rose lemonade? mmmm!)

then we walked from Stonehaugh....

from Warkburn Picnic area.........past the totem poles......(I was with a right clot-D3!)

through a really forward-thinking campsite environmentally lit and water heated by wind and solar panels

past hawthorns already covered in haws, past sycamores already winged, through vetch, tormentil and harebells......

to 'The Long Drop', a netty (outside toilet down the garden- in this case which 'dropped' straight down into the valley below ) for the inhabitants of (now abandoned) Roses Bower..........

the rosebay willow herb is everywhere.

The audience at the Custom House was as funny as the play 'Visiting Mr. Green'! People don't know how to act in the theatre nowadays! Crackly packets of crisps, sweets which have to be unwrapped from crackly papers, crackly plastic cupped drinks which 'have' to be brought in to the auditorium then have to be evacuated by people leaving to go to the loo in midplot! YOU JUST DON'T DO THAT! Good job the play (about New York jewishness ,homosexuality and the young meeting old) was excellent or I could have crackled a few folk!

Friday, 29 July 2011

Bringing in the corn.....

The rain has stopped!

Nexus have issued a book of Metro walks;

the Ladies walked the south bank of the Tyne having dismounted from the train at Hebburn and walked to Pelaw station via Bill Quay Community Farm; the farm has good food, all sorts of animals & is free! There is a bookshop nearby where we were unable to resist a browse and buy!

The cereals are being harvested; the rape is in; wheat has turned golden & is in mid cut; barley is bearded and whiskery to the point of froth.
My neighbour has left rhubarb (mmm.... crumble), courgettes(almost marrow size) and my favourite- sweet peas- on the doorstep; thrice now the house has been scented with the perfume from sweetpeas.

At Raby Castle the deer were distant but the borders were buzzing when we visited;

King Cnut the Dane owned Raby first;

then into the moated castle came the Nevilles who orchestrated 'The Rising of the North' in the Great Hall; they rose in support of Mary, Queen of Scots (who did have a much better claim to the English throne than Elizabeth I!)

The castle was taken as part of the punishment for this and the Vane family took up residence. The present owner, Lord Barnard, is a member of the original Nevill family.The gardens are beautiful! Buddleia (the butterfly bush), loosestrife, sedum, Lucifer (a montbretia) were just a few of the bee attractions amid the lily ponds and ancient yew hedges.

Monday, 25 July 2011

...there's more!

... and I have just been told the wine was £23 a bottle so that's an extra £69 on the bill to share!

There's been more rain too- 6 days of downpour but at last the sun is out. Schools are out too for the summer holidays.

This has been a period of celebratory lunches and meals out for birthdays and retirements: I recommend Basilico's fish soup, Classico's starter mushrooms.... it is always this way- feast then famine. Fascinators and beautiful frocks galore on Ladies Day since we went over to Gosforth on a big Race day on the Northern calendar! 'Buddy' at Whitley Bay Playhouse was fun! Marie S. had a small part but that is how to make a small part steal the show!

We all went to Frankie and Benny's before- aaaagh! Harry Potter! I just loved it- though D1 should go on Mastermind for her Potter knowledge of all 7 books (such excitement- & poignancy it is now finished).

The garden looks a little bedraggled at present yet this should be a beflowered time; it seems to look blowsy and emptyish! D3 and I have bullied H1 into leaving the lawn uncut- so the clover is a buzzing carpet of bees! Most people have a tidy, cut lawn with no clover & no bees- but not ours!Defenders of the environment! Also hebe, Rose of Sharon, Japanese anemone, roses and the last of the loosestrife are all providing some visiting opportunities for the pollinators. BUT after the rain, while I was 'walking the bounds' I tidied a clematis only to see a cartoon-like cloud form above my head then aim like an arrow for me while I RAN! Wasps! I got stung! Just as well I had my souwester coat on which afforded some protection from the beasties!

The world has gone mad and brutal. Norway has lost its youth and experienced a bomb in Oslo and terror and death in a youth camp. I hope they don't cover the court proceedings publicly so he does not achieve the notoriety he probably wants.

In UK, recession has factories closing down all over and lots of people finished from jobs or are worried about keeping their employment; I can not imagine why people are immigrating to UK thinking it has Dick Whittington's pavements of gold. Europeans watch Greece to see if economic support will aid its dire situation.

Somehow a garden, no matter how small, provides solace and quiet tranquillity from the world; I suppose rather ostrich like.

Monday, 18 July 2011

We know what you're doing!

Don't you love those sort of people who get rich on the back of others?
You will have been out with them........

You order a single glass of wine while they order 2 or 3 bottles.....
then at the end of your £6 pizza and your single glass, they declare,
"Let's split the bill. Everyone put in £20 and £2 for the tip"

Embarrassed revolt by the one-glass and non-glass......

Mr. Man asks loudly to his wife,
"Not this again. Next time we'll come on our own. Why do we bring this lot with us?"

ANSWER: You bring us to pay for your wine

Don't you love them?!

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Principles, profits, precipitation, plagiarism, pests and phones

By Jove! It is bucketing! Thank goodness St. Swithun's Day was yesterday and only had a fine sprinkle for a few minutes then hot sun, otherwise we'd have had 40 days of deluge!!

Durham Botanic Gardens is a gem hidden away in an already beautiful city; the cafe food, service, shop and gardens (& yesterday's relaxation in almost too hot sunshine)are worth more than one visit. Boo! We saw a pesky, grey squirrel there yesterday.

Barbara Birley's talk on Roman Jewellery was so interesting- it was worth the journey out to Vindolanda- on a golden evening- 'the best part of the day'. General Wade's Military Road may be quite dangerous for driving but the views of the Roman Wall perched high up on the Whin Sill, Northumberland to the north and the Tyne Valley to the south- are so achingly beautiful.

I rarely include anything controversial in my blog but......

I was sickened by the Murdoch media involvement in phone hacking, especially of Millie Dowler's mobile; I cannot imagine her parents' hope of Millie still being alive when her inbox became able to take more texts- only to be due to deletions by a Murdoch employee.

I was amazed to hear the News of the World was the newspaper with the biggest circulation worldwide- I thought everyone shared my opinion that it was a 'pulp rag'. However lots of undeserving employees were sacrificed upon its closure.... but what has Rebekah Brooks got on Rupert that she has been so safeguarded? Can the Murdoch monopoly sink any lower? Did the 'group' hack into the phones of September 11th victims? The U.K. public kicked- will the U.S.A's Joe Bloggs do the same? Will people stop buying Murdoch's newspapers, Sky and advertising in all his enterprises, as they have here? Sky seems to contribute little in the making of new programmes but merely plagiarise. Would we miss this monopoly if the public demanded some principles in the media?

Saturday, 9 July 2011


I have just waddled my way home from Matfen Village Fair.

One of our ducks came 2nd in the Duck Race on the stream on the village green. Double click on the second photo- can you see him? Duck 25!!! H1 won a coconut while D3 and I managed to miss the coconut shy and hit the road behind the stall! We won a box of green tea on the Tombola stall and bags of sweeties by picking winning straws out of a sand tray. We shall not mention that we lunched on delish cheeseburgers from Matfen Brewery's stall and dined on afternoon tea (a cuppa and slice of coffee cake)in the village hall. ALL PURELY TO SUPPORT RURAL ECONOMY, OF COURSE!

We used to have such fun at Matfen Hall Fair every year when it was a Leonard Cheshire Home.

We have been back to Vindolanda; every day of our week I said
"This is a well and when I go down it, please grab my feet" and the guys on my team all laughed.Well! Well! Well! I could not tell you last week but it DID turn out to be a well! I knew it was as I removed the capstones- and dug out the top 3 courses of shaped has now been dug out- 8 feet to the bottom and not one votive offering.... a Roman crowbar, lots of smelly mud- and bones of lots of birds to the delight of Dr. Deb! But it will be capped and left so tourists can see my well- I hope it will be named after me - a Latin gerund! Eat your heart out Coventina!

D3 and I had a behatted and fascinatored , ladylike, Ladies Day at Simonburn Tearooms in aid of the Northumberland Air Ambulance. Being a rural county, for rapid travel to hospital from upcounty and out in the Shire, folks rely on that emergency helicopter coming to the rescue; but it depends on public donation to keep it in the air- as does the R.N.Lifeboat Institution to keep rescues going at sea- and to rescue stupid people (who really vex me) running (expensive)risks by trying to cross the Lindisfarne (Holy Island) causeway too late- Time and tide wait for no man! Haven't these roadrunners heard of King Canute?

Monday, 4 July 2011

The Edge of the Empire

We have finished our third dig; I had always wanted to excavate and wasn't allowed to read archaeology at university-to be fair, in those days there weren't the jobs in that 'field'.

Vindolanda is probably the site of 9+ Roman forts; it was built on the Stanegate (the supply road for Hadrian's Wall).
Vindolanda Museum and the Roman Army Museum have both been completely changed and updated; the latter has the 3D film, 'Eagle's Eye', (by Newcastle company Dene Films -Remember D3's television series with them all you Wayward Women?) which is excellent. We all thought the Army Museum was brilliant & both are so worth a visit.

Yes we found all sorts which others might not find as awesome as we did but even just shards of glass, pieces of bone and pottery are all dateable; who handled them before us? I can't tell you how exciting our finds were!

I keep telling H1 that July will be calmer- but will it?

The Shetland Isles

I'm a troll fol-de-rol..... waved to us from the waterfall and we slipped away from the Norwegian coast and out to sea.....

'Ocean Countess' called in at Lerwick where we were all impressed by the early morning, personal greeting - a handshake to each of us- and a young piper piped us ashore.

Shetland was treeless but of course had ponies!......and wild flowerfilled meadows.

Being potential TimeTeamers we were there to see the archaeology; Neolithic through Bronze Age brochs and Iron Age round houses, Viking remains through to 17th century lairds' castles were all clearly evident and well maintained.