Northumberlandia~ February 2018

After Sophie and I had finished in Druridge Bay, We travelled back towards home via Northumberlandia, The Lady of the North.

The History Bit

Northumberlandia is a  human landform sculpture of a reclining lady.  Made of 1.5 million tonnes of rock, clay and soil, she is 100 feet high and a quarter of a mile long. Her creation was part of the planning application made by the Banks Group and Blagdon Estate when they requested to create what is now the largest surface mine in England, Shotton Surface Mine. It’s made out of the left-overs from the mine nearby.  Designed by American landscape architect Charles Jencks,   the sculpture was built on the Blagdon Estate, owned by Matt Ridley, a journalist, businessman and author of “The Red Queen: Sex and the Evolution of Human Nature” which I’ve not read, or ever heard of. I’m not sure if it’s a panacea to locals whilst the ground beyond is torn up for the opencast mining of coal, but it cost £2.5 million, paid for by the Blagdon Estate and the Banks Group, who carried out the construction work. and it will last a lot longer than the mine.  Locals didn’t want the mine but Northumberlandia should bring in tourists so that’ll make up for it apparently. 🙄  The mine will eventually dry up in a few years time and they’ll landscape it over.

So here are some pictures of it, I wish I had a drone for this!

She’ll have backache keepiing that position up.

 

Panorama from the head end.

 

Going up to the head_ no nasal hairs spotted

 

Hole in the ground- the opencast mine

 

Ready to roll

 

View from the top looking towards her feet

 

bottom right corner-nose tip/ middle rounds-tits/ top left- hip/ top right knee

 

her right hand, palm up

 

left hand palm down

 

hand sculpture pointing to the eye of the universe (which I didn’t know had been discovered!)

On the way back to the car I took a few photo’s of her over the lakes next to her right hand side, populated by blue billed tufty ducks, which has to be the best named duck species ever.

 

 

 

Blue billed tufty ducks

It’s a place that will change over time, so there’ll be a re-visit now and then. There’s a large carpark which is free to park in, with a couple of recharging posts for the rechargeable car brigade. There’s also a visitor centre and cafe though we didn’t go in this time. Although walking/ running /being pushed in a wheelchair or perambulator is acceptable, bike riding is prohibited.

Full album HERE

stay tooned for our next trip to Herrington Country Park.

 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind~February 2018

Or… Eat for England, The Cramlington Spoon.

Sophie and I are back on track for 2018 and off out at weekends again with our cameras. On Saturday the weather was predicting dry/cloudy/sunny/blowy but no rain expected, so we decided to head up into Northumberland, to Druridge Bay as our last trip there got rained off. We were also incorporating a trip to see Northumberlandia, The Lady of The North on our way back home.  But first I had a surprise in store for Sophie as we would be passing the location of the Cramlington Spoon, which she didn’t know about, and I had seen in passing on a website.  The location of it turned up easily enough on google maps, so I set the satnav and off we went.  When we got to the point where it should have been, the road I thought we would go up to see it was closed- “private Estate” but old eagle eyes Sophie had spotted a public walking path that ran up the side of the fenced off ‘Estate’. (note to self- do research BEFORE the event, not after 🙄 ).  So we parked up the car and set off along a muddy path up the side of the field. Then we turned right up the side of another field. We still couldn’t see it but kept going, and eventually, after a left turn, we were walking towards the spoon.

Eat For England art installation by Bob Budd (Cramlington Hospital in the distance)

Anyone for mud pie?

What the (expletive deleted) is THAT doing there?  I hear you wonder.  Well dear reader, it was erected in 2006 as part of a Lottery-funded art installation trail and its position was “very logical” for the artist, who explains that the fields are the very origins of food production. Hmm. In spite of it being there for 12 years now, it’s rarely visited and not well known at all, which isn’t a huge surprise as its IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE and it is a royal PIA to get to, at least on muddy days.

Dig in!

At about 15ft (4.5m) high it is quite big for cutlery, and Mr Budd calls it a “carrot” to entice people into the countryside. You’d think he of all people would know the difference between a spoon and a carrot, but I’m not convinced of his sanity so we’ll leave it at that.  When interviewed by the BBC, Newcastle University’s head of fine art, Andrew Burton, said he believes  there is “always pleasure in unexpected discovery. There is an excitement or frisson about placing a work somewhere where it will really have to be sought out, so that the hunt becomes part of the overall experience,” he says.  I can certainly attest to it being an experience.

So why is Close Encounters of the Third Kind the title of this post? I hear you doing more wondering. So I’ll tell you.  When we got to the spoon there was a man standing opposite it. He was quite young, in a grey tracksuit, and had a small GoPro camera attached to a short tripod, also opposite the spoon.  He spoke to us, with an unidentified accent, possibly East European, not sure to be honest.   “If you wait 10 minutes a plane will come over and you can get a shot of a plane going over the spoon”, he said.  ” Um ahha” I said intelligently, “I’ll look out for one”.  Sophie spotted some birds swarming (not sure birds swarm, but they were far away and looked a bit like bees so swarm will do) and we got our zoom lenses attached and tried to get some shots of them.

Swarm of birds.

You can click to embiggen that so they look more like birds than bees if you don’t want to take my word for it. There was no sign of any airplanes “Two came along in 10 minutes before you got here” said the Gopro man. We’d just about finished taking our shots of the spoon, and still had to get back to the car and a drive to Druridge Bay, so I said we couldn’t wait for planes any longer and would have to go. ” Do you know anywhere else good near here?” he asked, “In walking distance?” which perplexed me as we were IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!  “Umm ahha” I replied intelligently, and got out the satnav on the phone,

no, really, we ARE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE!!

“not really, sorry”.  As Sophie and I turned to leave, the chap took off his track suit and did a perfect handstand by the spoon, which was a bit of a surprise, and both Sophie and I managed to get a shot of this feat.

photo courtesy of Sophie Cormack

looking for carrots?

He then jumped up on the spoon for what purpose I can only leave to your imagination.

Commune with the Spoon. photo courtesy of Sophie Cormack.

On our way back to the car, we discussed the strange encounter with this chap.  Why doesn’t he know where he is? how did he get there? is he Eastern European? none of our questions had answers  of course, so naturally we decided he’d been zapped there by alien technology and consequently would be zapped back up after he’d done whatever he must with the Spoon. A definite close encounter with a third kind.

stay tooned for a trip to Druridge Bay

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