Aln Valley Railway – July 2019 – Part 1

While Sophie and I were visiting the Stephenson Heritage Railway, (post on that HERE) a gentleman saw us taking pictures, and came over to tell us we might like to visit the heritage railway that he was involved in, the Aln Valley Railway.  Great idea we thought, and we decided to go when they also had a war re-enactment thing going on. The aim of the volunteers is to reopen the Alnwick to Alnmouth railway line.  The original station in Alnwick is now home to Barter Books so a brand new railway station and visitor center has been constructed by…

Cragside – Rhododendrons June 2019

It’s cold here in the UK, the summer flowers have gone and the autumn leaves blown away, so let’s take a walk through the estate at Cragside and remember warmer times. “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” Rachel Carson   “Plant seeds of happiness, hope, success, and love; it will all come back to you in abundance. This is the law of nature”. Steve Maraboli “If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” Laura Ingalls Wilder “Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”…

Stephenson Heritage Railway – June 2019 – Part 3

Part 1 HERE  Part 2 HERE After we finally gave up going for rides, we got to look around in the workshops,with the lovely gentlemen explaining things to us. Some fab old tool boxes in use They had had some Thomas the Tank faces made for the front of the big steam engines to make the kids smile, but the people who own Thomas the Tank wouldn’t let them use them, so they just hang in the workshop. I mean, what harm would it do really? ‘Bait’ up here is Geordie for lunch They let you drive a train up…

Stephenson Heritage Railway – June 2019 – Part 2

Part 1 HERE Sophie and I enjoyed the train ride so much we went on it twice 🙂 as the ticket covered you for as many goes as you liked. They are still renovating the carriages, so they do look a bit shabby, but it didn’t matter to us, it was easy to ignore that and imagine being in Brief Encounter 🙂 Of course we and all the other kids ignored that! On the return journey we were just in normal class as someone got to our first class carriage before us (gits 😀 ) Good job we didn’t need…

The Bowes Museum – May 2019

The Bowes Museum can be found in Teesdale, in the market town of Barnard Castle, and houses a phenominal herd of treasures and art works collected during the lifetime of John and Joséphine Bowes. Shall we do the History Bit? (Rhetorical question 🙂 ) John Bowes  (19 June 1811 – 9 October 1885) was born in London, to a commoner called Mary Millner. Mary went to work for the 10th Earl of Strathmore & Kinghorne,  (14 April 1769 – 3 July 1820) a Scottish nobleman and peer, at his stately homes in County Durham, and ended up having a long…

Watersmeet & The River Tyne

Any Geordie native will tell you he/she has the waters of the River Tyne running through their bloodstream, and I think it’s conceivable that after 15 years of drinking the tap water up her, that I have too. The Tyne has been romanticised in many a song, who can forget Jimmy Nail & Big River, or Lindisfarne’s Fog on the Tyne, or the beautiful Sailing to Philadelphia by Mark Knopfler and James Taylor. It’s even mentioned in a song by the country singer Gretchen Peters, in her song England Blues. When I first moved up here 15 years ago, I…

Haydon Bridge Church

Haydon Bridge Church is hidden away in a copse of trees, up the side of a hill overlooking the little town of Haydon Bridge (pop. 2000) Yet again it is one of the places where those long suffering monks carting St.Cuthberts corpse around for a hundred years ended up to have a rest. (For more on ST.Cuthbert see HERE) .  There is a great deal of doubt as to when this little church was originally built; if the bones of St. Cuthbert did rest there, it must have been in existence before the saint found his last resting place in…

Allen Banks – part 2 – May 2019

Part 1 HERE So we’ve had a little rest and Sophie decides we’ll cross back over the bridge and walk along the upper paths to see if there are any bluebells there. To get to the upper pathways at the top of Staward Gorge, there are stairs in the side of the bank. These stairs are just the first section, and there were many more to climb, twisting and turning up the gorge. I have to confess that a) I’m not fit enough for this shit, and b) I whinged the whole way up. Sophie, of course, is used to…

Allen Banks – May 2019

Allen Banks and Staward Gorge is the largest area of ancient semi-natural woodland in Northumberland, and back in May Sophie and I decided to do a walk there along the river Allen, looking for bluebells again! Now owned by the National Trust it was originally part of the estate of Ridley Hall.  In the 1800’s the Hall was bought by Mr John Davidson of Otterburn for his wife Susan Hussey Elizabeth Jessup, granddaughter of the 9th Earl of Strathmore.  Susan  laid out 65 flower beds in the formal gardens and organised the system of paths, rustic bridges and summerhouses, not…