365 ~ 7th ~ 13th March

No more selfies for a while but now we are into ‘style’ and this week it’s all about street.

Day 66 ~ Choice. Street photography records everyday life in a public place and usually involves the taking of candid photographs of strangers.  This week our goal is to include street photography in our daily photos. Challenge yourself this week to get out there with your camera and snap a photo of an unsuspecting stranger or two that you find interesting.   As you’re out and about today, photograph a stranger or scene that you think tells a story.

I went on my daily walk around our estate to go to the local shop hoping to come across a stranger. I took Phil with me in case no one was about and I could cheat and use him, but I didn’t need to. I sent Phil to get the stuff and I sat outside on the wall and waited for someone to come out. This chap obliged and he’d bought a newspaper. Stop the press! ‘Man buys Newspaper!!!” Not the most enthralling story but it’s all I got 不 And I must say, I don’t see what ‘Choice’ has to do with any of it, but I may be dim.

Choice

Day 67 ~Signal. We are in Street Photography week and it’s Macro Monday. This is going to be a challenge.  See if you can notice people signaling to each other. Or a sign that serves as a signal or warning. A traffic signal. A turn signal. Get creative. You can also stay back and crop in close to get your macro effect. The reason we take macro photos is to notice details. Look for details in your street photography. Get in close.

This was a work day for me and I got home late, so had to do my photo in the dark after dinner. We have a pedestrian crossing on the edge of our estate so I went up there with my tripod and did close ups of the crossing man and bike. They turn red for don’t cross and green for OK to cross so I turned it into black and white so you don’t know if you’re coming or going 不不 There was a fair amount of traffic so I’m glad it was dark and I couldn’t see the WTF?? look on anyone’s face. Also I think the little man is going to do a Charlie Chaplin waddle.

Day 68 ~ Interesting. These days, I am not out and about taking photos where there is much of interest going on.  The streets I see are limited to those in my neighborhood that I travel on my morning runs.  Though I do encounter quite a few others out for morning exercise, I am not comfortable taking photos of them.  I am, however, quite comfortable photographing people’s trash piles! As you are out and about, look for an interesting object on the street.  Photograph it such that we want to know its story, its history.  You may be surprised by the interesting things you find.

Another work day so this one was a bit naff for me. I decided to do a photo on the way home from work so I wasn’t in the dark again. The lady who did this prompt has no knowledge of Wardley, everyone keeps their trash in bins and not in piles on the street. I dread to think where she lives. In fact there really isn’t anything madly interesting in Wardley, but I noticed up one of the side roads, the council must have planted rows of daffodils and purple crocuses in front of the bungalows there so I took a photo of them. I like that they do that all over South Tyneside, on the verges on main roads, side streets, anywhere there are spare bits of grass, so lovely to see them everywhere as spring starts up. Not sure if that’s ‘interesting’, but it’s very nice. I’m sure my council tax payments could be used for social care and the like, but damn it’s good to see spring!

Interesting

Day 69 ~ Dull. The meaning of the word dull is either:lacking interest or excitement or lacking brightness, vividness, or sheen. So, let us go with the second meaning.  As you know, street photography is meant to have candid photos of people.  This can’t always happen. If this is where you find yourself today, use who you have around; but, do include a person as this gives the photo an interest. Converting it to black and white for today’s prompt word will help, to not make it bright but dull looking!

It was chucking it down when I finished work and there was no way I was going out in it.Luckily I had some post to do at the Post Office, so after I’d done that I sat in the car and waited for people to come along and then take sneaky pictures with my phone. At first I was using the windscreen wipers to get a clear shot, but then I tried shooting through the rain and liked it better. Dull it is though.

Dull

Day 70 ~ Simplicity. Street (candid) photography is an art that features chance encounters and random incidents within public places.  Though people are usually featured directly, a photograph can also be taken that is absent of people and can be that of an object. Take a walk and find a simple street scene of objects that tell a story.

My days off now so I took my usual walk up to the shop and back. Our estate has some small grassy areas for kids to play on, though no equipment like slides or swings. This one is a little bigger than the others and has a single goalpost in it. Reminded me of the simple joy lads and maybe girls these days have kicking a ball about, not much else is needed other than a ball and goalpost.

Simplicity

Day 71 ~ Coin. Find a penny, pick it up and all day you’ll have good luck! You might be hard pressed to find a coin since change has become a novelty. So as we continue on with Street Photography lets also be on the look out for circle shapes. You might find that lucky penny but if not maybe an architectural feature, some colorful street art or a cool manhole cover? Show us your lucky street find today! 

I had no lucky street find today. Wandered about the place looking for circular things, but all I could find were these manhole covers for the underground drainage system. Neither colourful or cool I’m afraid. Sigh.

Coin

Day 72 ~ If you find that you have no mountains high enough to climb in your neck of the woods, maybe take a drive and see if you have a road or bridge that brings you high enough to look overa beautiful view. If you feel inclined, add some song lyrics to your photo. It’ll be like we are taking a road trip with an awesome playlist to listen to all day.

Argh. This was a trial of a day. Firstly I thought I’d pop over to South Shields and take the view from the top of Marsden Lane which has the sea at the bottom. It took me nearly half an hour to do 2 miles. Roadworks, diversions and the sheer volume of traffic which reminded me of those disaster movies where everyone packs up the car and trys to leave before the meteor hits/aliens land/tsunami arrives/zombies get them. I turned around as I got quite fed up and peed off at the knobs on the road. Came home, had a cup of tea and then decided I’d walk up to the nature reserve as that’s at the bottom of a little hill and you can see the lake from the top. This was not a pleasant walk, and whilst it looks all sunny blue skies, it’s been raining for a few days and I just missed a hailstorm before I left the house. So much mud! I hate mud. Mud and clarts everywhere.

This is why I don’t have a doggy.

So I took my shots from the top of the hill and this is the best one.

Enough

On the way back I had a biting cold wind at first head on, and then from the right and my poor ear got battered. I couldn’t figure out what ‘enough’ had to do with anything but realised it works for me as I’d completely had enough by the time I got home! That’s the end of Street week, though really I don’t think it’s very streety, I know street photographers and these are not in that league. Never mind, maybe next time!

I had to choose a song lyric for the last picture, I think that was what the enough was for, so my lyric is as follows

I am enough just as I am
Feel right at home anywhere that I stand
Hold out my heart in the palm of my hand
And I live my life like nobody else can
I am, I am, I am enough

The song is called, “I am enough” not surprisingly, and is sung by Daphne Willis, here it is with a very cool video.

Stay tooned for next week, adventures in Yellow . 打

365 ~ 28th Feb ~ 6th March

Here we are into March already, and this what the bumf is on this month.

Let’s see where March takes us. Will your photography change as the month progresses? Will you be more creative or inspired? Will your photography blossom with the buds? We lost all of our seasons in 2020 when our world turned upside down in March. I am hoping and praying that this March sees us coming out of our cocoon transformed. Will we look at things differently? Will we appreciate freedom and new growth. If 2020 was a metaphor for slowing down and noticing more, maybe 2021 will be a metaphor for transformation, appreciation and gratitude. Maybe we will appreciate the things we do have and grumble less? Something you might consider doing this year, if this is not your first 365 adventure, would be to compare monthly photographs from last year to this year and see if you notice a change in creativity or attitude. There may be a pattern, or not. You might actually find that your photographs were more creative when there was little else to do. Let’s see what our photography says about us this month. I believe it will be wonderful!

So positive these ladies who run the prompts. I am definitely coming out of the cocoon transformed ~ by about 5lbs extra and it’s not easy to shift it! I don’t expect I’ll grumble less though. So on with the show Fraggle!

Day 59 ~ We are back to self -portrait week, gah, and with reflection as the main theme, so the first one is our reflection. Well my reflection obviously, not yours.

reflection. me. again. sigh.

Day 60 ~ Delight. Today you are encouraged to share a glimpse of your day with this month’s “Where I Stand” prompt. How can you be creative with your POV to show us where you stand today? Don’t forget to try include this week’s theme of reflection. What delightful place are you standing in today? Show us your world today!

Yet again thwarted by being at work all day. I was so busy I just didn’t get a chance to do the photo at work, so had to do it at home instead. Nothing I did turned out OK, and by the time I realised that, it was dark. I ended up sitting on my bed in front of the mirror and tickling Vinnie when he came to see what I was doing, I suppose Vinnie can be classed as a delight. This is such a s**t photo I’m embarassed to post it, but hey ho, warts and all. 打. I am beginning to hate selfie week, whereas before I just didn’t like it.

Delight

Day 61~ Button. Figuratively? Button. Button Up. Button your lip. Button your mouth? Or… Literally? Buttons on your coat? Buttons on your pillows? A collection of buttons? I am working on buttoning my lip. Sometimes it’s more important to retain relationships than to speak your mind.

The lady who posted this prompt put an accompanying picture of herself with a button over her mouth. I had a total WTH am I doing here moment and nearly gave up there and then. Another work day but I got home knowing what I would do so managed to get a shot before the light went. My favourite button.

Button

Day 62 ~ Exhilaration. ~ Exhilaration is defined as “a feeling of excitement, happiness, or elation.” As we continue thinking about reflection during this Picture You week, we can also approach reflection in the sense of how we see ourselves, i.e. personal reflection. What makes you feel excited or happy deep down inside? Look inside yourself today. Reflect on what brings you a feeling of excitement and happiness. Photograph what exhilaration looks like foryou.

This one had me stymied, as getting exhilarated at work is really not an option. Luckily Morrison’s Supermarket came to the rescue again! I think it might be my muse! I found that Cadbury’s have re-launched their Old Jamaica Rum & Raisin Bournville Chocolate bars. It used to be my Mum’s favourite and she would share it with me. They stopped making it in 2010. My Mum died in 2004 ( not because of the chocolate) so seeing it on the shelves again made me think happy thoughts of her. I was so exhilarated I bought up all the bars on the shelf! 不. You might notice that I am not in the photo because it isn’t a literal reflection but a figuritive one, even though I’m still meant to be in it I think. Talking of literal, I have noticed that other people following the prompts don’t always do all of the prompt. Prompts come in 2 or 3 bits, the theme for the week, i.e self portrait, landscape etc etc, but each day has a different title, i.e Segment, Delight etc etc. Sometimes there’s added stuff like reflection this week on top of Selfie. The more enlightened just take what they want from the prompt, so long as a bit of it is in it seems to be fine. I’ve been taking the prompts prescriptively instead of using them as a guide, so I’m going to be a bit more free with my interpretations!

Exhilaration

Day 63 ~ Street. Its amazing how the simple name of a street can be a reflection of who you are, where youve been, and even where you are headed.Some of us have lived on too many streets to count, while others just a few. How is a street in your life a reflection of you? Im looking forward to seeing the streets from around the world today!

Well this one got me thinking about all the places I have lived, 7 counties, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Bedfordshire,Hertfordshire and Tyne & Wear, RAF camps x 2, apartments x 2 rented and bought houses, it’s been a bit of a journey! I got out my box of old photo’s and found some of the streets I lived on, and had a pleasant trog down memory lane (Pete will be impressed ) for a couple of hours.

Street

Day 64 ~ Positive. As water reflects the face, soone’s life reflects the heart – proverb. Positive thinking is when we consciously cultivate positivity in our minds so that we think we canget through anything. It’sbeen scientifically proven to improve your work life, physical and metal health, and relationships. The covid19 pandemic has certainly caused us all to reflect.Sometimes it is hard to not choose negativity. Get outside today and see if you can find yourself in a reflection. Look at yourself in that reflection and find yourself. If you can’t get outside, find yourself in a mirror or a window. Have a look and make a positive commentto yourself because you are awesome!

I walked my awesome self up to the shop and looked for puddles along the way as we’ve had a fair bit of rain (surprise~not) lately. I found a really nice one so plopped the camera down, stuck it on a 10 second timer, ran to the end of the puddle and did a little happy dance of positivity and hoped no-one was looking out of their window, and if they were, a second hope they didn’t call for the men from the funny~farm. I took one shot and legged it. Shame about the wheely bin, but moving it may well have resulted in a disgruntled audience. Or the police 不

Positive

Day 65 ~ Hobby. Do you have a hobby? Afavorite pastime? Something that you enjoy in your downtime? Somethingthathelps you relax? Adiversionjust for fun?As we reflect on Picture You Week, show us what piques your interest when you have a little extra time to spare.

Well this was a bit of a gift for me. Time to show off the mosaics. Although Winnie got in on the act so no doubt she’ll get all the attention.

hobby Winnie

So that’s another week done! Stay tooned, ‘street’ photography is next week’s theme. That’s going to need a fair amount of outside-the-box interpretation!

Newcastle Upon Tyne ~ September 2019 ~ 1

We actually had a sunny day back in September last year, and Sophie wanted to go to an open day at All Saints Church in Newcastle. So off we went on the metro, but before we get to the pictures, we must do

The History Bit.

The current All Saints Church stands on the site of a previous medieval church called All Hallows, founded between 1150 and 1190. It is the only elliptical church building in England, a Grade 1 listed building, and the third tallest religious building in Newcastle. The original church was pulled down at the end of the 18th century after architects had reviewed the old church and found “That this decayed building cannot be repaired but at as much expense as building a new one. If one part is taken down the rest will follow. The south wall was in danger of falling by the pressure of the roof; one of the pillars of the steeple had considerably shrunk, and the steeple itself inclined to the south. The stone of the groined arches under the bells was decayed, the timber and bells in great danger of falling in, the stone in several windows decayed, the walls were rotten, and the lime had lost its cement and become almost dust”. David Stephenson, a renowned North East architect designed the new building, and after a couple of adaptations, the new building was completed in 1796, having cost 瞿27,000. Unfortunately in demolishing the old church most of its old monuments, windows, and other interesting relics were not preserved; they either perished or were carried away during the operations.

Interesting factoid (1):- During the Civil Wars (16421651) when the Scots captured Newcastle, they commenced, in their fanatical zeal against Popery, to deface the religious monuments. They began at ST.Johns church and destroyed the font there, as fonts tend to be the first thing you come across in a church, and on seeing this, Cuthbert Maxwell a stonemason of Newcastle, got to both All Saints, and St.Nicholas and hid both the fonts before the Scots could get to them, replacing them after The Restoration. The one in St Nicholas is still there, but when the old All Saints Church was demolished the font there was given to given to Alderman Hugh Hornby, an enthusiastic collector of antiquities. It is now housed in St.Wilfreds church in Keilder. Will be going to photograph that at some point I think.

In January 1802, a 30 yard section of the churchyard wall collapsed. Coffins and their contents fell into Silver Street. Repairs to the wall and a nearby house cost 瞿249, 12s and 1d (just over 瞿8000). The church went through restorations in 1881, and remained a church until 1961, when it was deconsecrated.

Interesting factoid (2):- In July 1854, John Alderson, the Beadle of the church, was found guilty of opening graves and stealing the lead from the coffins. According to the Newcastle Guardian and Tyne Mercury, Alderson broke open no less than five vaults, reporting that nine leaden coffins enclosing shells in which dead bodies were deposited had been forcibly removed. Alderson, along with his wife and mother, faced 18 months imprisonment. His bell-ringer and accomplice, Hewison Marshall, received 12 months. Alderson became known as Jack, the bad Beadle. (thanks to Icy Sedgewick)

In 1983-84 it was turned into offices/auditorium as the Town Teacher initiative. Following that, it was used by the Royal Northern Sinfonia before their move to The Sage, Gateshead in 2004. The Church of Saint Willibrord with All Saints used it for a while and it has also hosted musical events. Over the winters of 2009/2010 and 2010/2011 flood damage was caused by blocked roof drains leaving the building in a state of semi-disrepair. In 2015 it was placed on Historic England’s Heritage at Risk register. In 2019, the local congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales signed a 150-year lease for All Saints. After a comprehensive restoration project, worship services as All Saints Presbyterian Church began in October, 2019.

When we arrived at the heritage open day in September we were, or at least Sophie was, thinking we would see the restoration complete, and would have a tour of the whole place. But it didn’t happen that way. We got there and waited for the first group to be taken round, and then a gentleman gathered those of us waiting our turn and off we went. The outside of the building had a lot of scaffolding and fencing around it, not very photogenic so I took a picture of this couple waiting with us instead

Inappropriate shoes!!

and the young church people helping out.

Sensible shoes!

Inside we stood in the main auditorium and were talked to by one of the Presbyterian people about what they were doing. I took some pictures of the interior.

Think there’s an altar table under the cloth.

Marble floor tiles being laid.

Tantalising glimpse of the upstairs and lovely woodwork at the rear exit.

Next group being talked to.

And that was that. Had the talk, walked through the lower part and shown out the rear exit. Quite disappointing really. It must be all finished now as they started doing services the following month.

refs:-
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_Saints%27_Church,_Newcastle_upon_Tyne
http://www.icysedgwick.com/all-saints/
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/no-series/newcastle-historical-account/pp302-322

So onwards ever onwards, Sophie had spotted an interesting building roof whilst travelling on a train at some point and we went off to find it, it couldn’t be far she thought. We’ll pause here, but stay tooned for our intrepid travels through Newcastle next time.

A Geordie – China connection.

After our washed out morning at Dunston Staiths,we crossed the River and went to visit St.Johns Cemetary. We came across some Chinese tombstones, not a usual find when we’re traipsing through graveyards. So I did a little research…..

Back we go to the late 1800’s and to the later part of the Qing dynasty, which, as I’m sure you all know, was presided over by the Empress Dowager Cixi, a formidable and capable lady who had a fascinating life, having started out as a lowly concubine, but ending up as head Missis to the Emperor. The Chinese had four modernized navies during this period, and the Beiyang Fleet dated back to 1871, when four ships from the southern provinces were shifted north to patrol the northern waters. Initially considered to be the weakest of the four navies, that all changed when one of the most trusted vassals of the Empress, a chap named Li Hongzhang, decided to allot the majority of naval funds to the Beiyang Fleet thereby making it the largest of China’s navies.

What has all this got to do with Newcastle I hear you ask, so I shall tell you. You may remember my visit to Cragside last year, which was built by the engineer William Armstrong. You can read about him on that post HERE for it was he who had built a shipyard at Elswick in Newcastle, on the River Tyne, and Li Hongzhang populated his new navy with ships from Germany and Britain. Two of these were built at the Elswick yard, steel protected cruisers, fast and with big guns, the Zhiyuan, and the Jingyuan.

The Elswick Shipyard Mid 1890’s.

Zhiyuan

Jingyuan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A delegation was sent to Newcastle from the Beiyang Navy. Sadly, 5 of the sailors died of an unspecified illness, whilst waiting to sail the ships back to their base in China. Yuan Peifu, Gu Shizhong, Lian Jinyuan, Chen Shoufu and Chen Chengkui. They were buried in St Johns Cemetery in Elswick, and over the past 100 years or so their tombstones had deteriorated, collapsed, and sunk into the ground.

Crew of the Zhiyuan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2016 a student from the Royal College of Art in London posted photos of the cracked tombstones online and quickly attracted the attention of the China Foundation for Cultural Heritage Conservation, a nonprofit organization. The president of the foundation, Li Xiaojie launched a global crowdfunding thingy and raised the money to pay for the tombstones to be restored.

Zhang Rong was the engineer sent by the Foundation to fix the tombs. He flew to Newcastle and met with the council to have a conflab on how to go about it. “We went through each item line by line, trying to find common ground and iron out any differences,” Zhang said. “It was worth the time because we learned so much during the process, especially about improving our standards.” In China, repairing tombstones is quite basic, glue the pieces back together, whereas in Britain, you also have to insert steel rods to make sure they keep standing and don’t fall over on top of people.

Together with Joseph Richmond & Son Memorials, Zhang and his team completed the restoration of the tombstones in December 2018. The graves were originally purchased by the Chinese Government for 瞿5 each, (equivalent to 瞿5000 nowadays). The Chinese didn’t have much foreign cash at the time, and this would have been a great sacrifice for them.

The rededication ceremony was in June 2019, with Chinese and Newcastlese dignitaries and the like all saying nice things about each other, which is kind of sweet.

The five sailors can rest peacefully knowing that even after all these years, people back home still care about them. This is a project full of human warmth and love. said Li Xiaojie.

When China take over the world we up here will be alright I think

Refs:- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beiyang_Fleet
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2017-02/06/content_28118091.htm
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/14/c_138144321.htm
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/china-watch/culture/chinese-graves-restored-in-newcastle/

Dunston Staiths – July 2019

On a wet day in July Sophie and I went to the outdoor market held once a month on Dunston Staiths.

 

The History Bit

The Staiths are believed to be the largest timber structure in Europe, maybe the world, but who knows? It is also a Grade II listed scheduled monument and is owned by registered charity Tyne and Wear Building Preservation Trust (TWBPT). The structure is made of North American pitch pine timber, no longer available, from the once unlimited forest. Most of the timber used was 20 metres long, 14 inches deep and 14 incheswide.The total weight of timber is 3,200 tons. The Staithes are 526 metres long with 4 railway tracks, 6 loading berths (3 on each side), with two chutes to each berth.

The North East Railway Company opened the Staiths in 1893, and it’s purpose was to facilitate the loading of large quantities of coal from the Durham coal fields onto the waiting coal ships, (known as colliers) which then transported the coal to London and abroad. At it’s peak, the coal industry moved 5.5 million tons of coal each year from the staiths. Waggonways were used to transport the coal from the North Durham coal-fields, of which there were quite a few. The coal waggons were pushed by steam engines up the gradient, to the Staithes. It was a very skilled job to shunt the wagons onto the Staithes, as the driver worked “blind” from behind, and had to make sure they were on the right track. The men had their own signals, maybe a touch of a cap, or some other gesture, but there was nothing written down, so the driver had to depend on them. If hedidn’t gauge the end of the track just right, the trucks could fall over the edge.

Once on the Staithes, and at the berths, the “teamers” and “trimmers” were waiting in the colliers to level the coal, as it came down the chutes, to keep the ship level. The empty wagons rolled back to the Railway siding by gravity. It was not a pleasant place to work, as it was noisy, oily and very, very, dirty. There were occasionally some very serious accidents, because of the poor lighting. They worked by candlelight until electricity arrived in 1930. Some of the men lost their limbs, some were crushed between the ship and the Staithes, however, it was still considered a privilege to work there. Trimmer’s and teamer’s jobs were nearly always handed down from father to son, or some-one in the family. They were the “elite” of the Staithes, very well paid, as in 1930 they earned around 瞿8 to 瞿10 per week, I don’t think anyone knew how much they really earned, (not even the Tax Man).

Interesting factoid:- In 1912, a dug-out canoe was found at the West Dunston Staiths, it dated back to Neolithic times, (New Stone Age circa 5000 BC). Not sure where that ended up.

The coal industry declined at the end of the 19th century, and so too did the staiths, no longer needed, it fell into disrepair. In 1990 though, the Newcastle Garden Festival was held and extensive restoration work carried out, with the Staiths taking a leading role as a key installation with performance space and an art gallery. But then a fire broke out in 2003 damaging the Staiths extensively, and it was put on English Heritages ‘at risk’ list. It has been subject to a few arson attacks too sadly. Somehow the TWBPT raised the funds to recommence the restoration, which is still ongoing, and the Staiths is once more a visitor attracton, with a Saturday Market open once a month on a Saturday, which is when we visited.

So on with the show!

Firstly, on the menu..

who doesn’t love a Carpathian sausage??

Not the biggest market really

Wine tasting always welcome!

Father and son disunion

The structure is quite amazing

We went topside to see what the view was like. Looking back towards Newcastle the fire damage was evident and that part was cordoned off.

Fire in the hole

Looking the other way, a sea fret was rolling up the river

It passed over, we got wet and then we got a better view.

It was a good spot for people watching

Mr.Text

Mrs Smile + 1

and it was a perfect day for umbrellas

Leopard print and bubble style

Spotty dotty

3 + hoody

We didn’t stay very long as the weather just kept getting worse, but did go and visit St James Cemetary nearby in the afternoon, which has some interesting gravestones. So stay tooned for that

all pictures by moi and you can embiggen them with a click.

Some more fascinating images of it HERE

refs: http://www.dunstonstaiths.org.uk/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunston,_Tyne_and_Wear

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.

Stairs of Hell

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 me and my aversion to going uphill so just ‘there there’ ‘d me until we got to the top.

The views were worth the pain

and in the distance we could just see Ridley Hall, to which these woodlands once belonged

Ridley Hall

Originally a 16th century house, owned by the Ridley family, it was acquired by the Lowes family in the late 17th century and was replaced in 1743 with a new Georgian Mansion. In 1830 it was purchased by John Davidson (High Sheriff in 1839), a cousin and beneficiary of the will of William Cornforth Lowes. He made substantial improvements to it and married Susan (see part 1) who landscaped the estate. It’s now a conference and residential centre.

We came across a victorian summerhouse on the upper path

which had four viewing angles when inside it- this one was my favourite as you can see for miles right across the Gorge.

it had a cute roof too

This looked like a really old boy,

Justified and Ancient but no ice cream van.

And finally, we found some blubells!

Bluebells an wild garlic.

To be honest we were not that impressed, I think the bluebell woods in Durham last year spoiled us for anywhere else!

So we finished our walk and went off to the nearby hamlet of Bardon Mill

The pottery at Bardon Mill

and there we stopped for lunch.

Diners

After lunch I took Sophie to see a hidden Norman church, so stay tooned for that next time!

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 to mention the work in the woods by the River Allen, managing and developing the estate for the next 35 years, and a cracking job she did.

Susan died without having had kids, so passed the estate on to her cousin John Bowes, the illegitimate son of the 10th Earl of Strathmore and in 1942 Francis Bowes Lyon gave the estate to the National Trust.

We started out from the carpark and walked along the lower path next to the River Aln.

The River Aln

It was so peaceful and the gurgling of the river was a lovely soundtrack to our meanderings.

The woodlands are well known for carpets of wild garlic

Allium ursinum, known as wild garlic, ramsons, buckrams, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic, is a bulbous perennial flowering plant in the lily family Amaryllidaceae. It is a wild relative of onion, native to Europe and Asia, where it grows in moist woodland.

The garlic lined the pathways and covered the banks so our walk had the aroma of an Indian Takeaway!

There were places where we could get right down to the river and have a splash.

Someone had been before we got there, and someone got left behind on the rocks

Hope they came back for him.

It’s known as an ancient woodland, and the tree roots we came across certainly gave evidence of that

gnarly old roots

We stopped to photgraph the flora and fauna along the way

We got to a bridge and crossed it see what was on the other side

 

There were people having a Bar-B-Q in a field, I think they were staying in this holiday cottage

So far we hadn’t seen any bluebells, but did find an orchid.

Early Purple Orchid.

I think we’ll stop for a break now, sit and listen to the river and the birds, and come back next time for the other half of our walk.

Stay tooned!

 

Embleton Bay ~ April 2019

Sophie and I are both members of English Heritage and the National Trust (saves a heap of money as we visit so many of their places) and so we receive emails from both advising us of events and so forth. Consequently we were quite excited to get an email from NT exhorting us to visit Embleton Bay and see the bluebells that festoon the dunes there. Wow, we thought, bluebells next to the sea, how cool, lets go! So off we went on a sunny spring day to shoot the flowers.

To get to the bay you drive past the village and up to Dunstanburgh Castle Golf Club where there’s a free car park. You then walk past some sheep in a field and then across the golf course.

We are noticing Northumberland flags everywhere we go this year, this is a new thing!

A little trout stream, known as the Embleton Burn, begins in the inland moors, makes its way through an area of the old barony, woody denes, and channels, before reaching the centre of the bay.

Embleton Burn

We were not the only ones out with our cameras, and we stopped and had a nice chat on with this lady who had come over from the west coast to shoot Dunstanburgh Castle. But she wasn’t happy that there were no clouds so the sky was too boring.

Found some interesting seaweed that wouldn’t look out of place in a sc-fi/horror movie!

Codium Fragile (Deadmans Fingers)

A couple of lovey dovies

or maybe The Embleton Strangler!

The bay itself is really long and beautiful.

Looking North

Those little dark boulders at the bottom of the photo above are whinstone. Whinstone is a term used in the quarrying industry to describe any hard dark-coloured rock. Examples include the igneous rocks, basalt and dolerite, as well as the sedimentary rock, chert. There is also a whinstone reef which you can’t see as it’s under the sea

Looking south there is the rear side of Dunstanburgh Castle,

Dunstanburgh Castle and the boring sky

Apparently there is a large sandstone rock known as The Vanishing Rock. As the tides come and go and the sands shift to and fro, so this feature moves into and out of view, as befitting its name. Nothing unusual in that, you may think; but this particular rock has the name Andra Barton chiselled into its surface, in rough but distinct lettering. Sir Andrew Barton was High Admiral of Scotland around the turn of the 16th century, who, acting under the protection and in the name of the Scottish Crown, made something of a nuisance of himself to the Portuguese and the English upon the high seas. In short, he was considered a pirate by non-Scots, or a privateer, at best. He was defeated in battle with the English in 1511 some reports have him slain in the fight, others that he was captured and beheaded. The loss of Barton did not go down well with the Scots one of many grievances which led, eventually to the clash at Flodden in 1513. I have no idea why his name is on the rock.

However the rock was last seen in 1974 and it didn’t reappear this day!

Visible rocks

You may have registered that the last three photos are taken from a high point of view, and that’s because we were walking the length of the dunes looking for damned bluebells which had also vanished, if they ever existed.

We did see other things of interest though.

Peeping WW2 pillbox

A pillbox is a defensive concrete dug-in guard postwith slits for guns to poke through (known as loopholes). About 28,000 pillboxes and other hardened field fortifications were constructed in England in 1940 as part of the British anti-invasion preparations of World War II. About 6,500 of these structures still survive.

Consolation flowers!

Some of the dunes were really steep, this chaps two mates had run down before him whooping and hollering, but he made a right meal of it!

Sophie and I went the long way round

Apart from the disappointing lack of bluebells it was nice to be beside the seaside . We only did an hours walk but then went off to see Embleton Church which has some interesting features and we’ll visit that next time, so stay tooned peeps!

Cleadon – March 2019

After Sophie and I had finished looking around Souter Lighthouse we decided to go and have a look around Cleadon Village, but before we do lets have a quick look at the Lime Kilns just across the road from the Lighthouse.

These mahousive kilns were built in the 1870’s. Limestone from the quarry and coal from the colliery were fed into the top of the kilns and heated to produce lime for use in agriculture and in the steel & chemical industries. The lime was loaded onto railway wagons known as the Marsden Rattler, and transported to the docks at South Shields. They are a scheduled monument now.

So off to Cleadon then!

Cleadon is a village on the outskirts of South Shields, and it’s where all the posh people live . There’s been a village there for over a thousand years and it has a village pond that is a remnant of an ice age lake and dates to Roman times (as do most things!) so we went to see it.

Cleadon Ice Age Duck pond.

Ice Age Daffodils

We also wanted to see Cleadon Grotto (just because there are no other grotto’s we know of ) and went off to Cleadon Park where we thought it was. Except we wandered around the huge park for ages and couldn’t find it.

But the park was nice to walk in, here are a few shots of it

Crawler Tree

Bread Tree

I’d told Phil we were going to Cleadon and he said to look out for a huge rock in the park.

Phils Rock

Sophie resorted to Lord Google and found out we were in the wrong park to see the grotto 五so back in the car and finally found it.

An 18th century garden ornament that originally overlooked a formal pond in the grounds of Cleadon House. There isn’t a house there now, nor a pond.

And here it is..

Grotty Grotto.

Not very enthralling I admit, but still a little slice of history.

Stay toonedfor next time when we’re off to Embleton Bay.