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Sunday, 21 February 2010


Today we walked from Spennymoor town centre to Sunderland Bridge and back, via pretty Tudhoe Village. When we started out it was snowing and when we finished it was still snowing. We didn't see much of the scenery or lovely views and ate our picnic lunch sitting on a fence with our hoods, the best bit of the day (apart from the hot bath in the new bathroom on return) was this!

The carpark at Spennymoor town centre is opposite a branch of ALDI and because we were early we popped in to check out the generator on sale for £60, and came out with this tool caddy instead.

I couldn't wait to get home and transfer all my art bits into it. I love containers that hold all the useful bits of pet projects. I'm so excited, I had to tell you all Dear Readers, so that you too can avail yourself of one from your nearest branch. Me? I'm going back for more tomorrow before they all sell out at £3.99.

Cheers Gillian

ps. the snow is now coming down thick and fast and is a couple of inches deep.

Thursday, 18 February 2010


A few miles up the road is Cockfield Fell. It is the "largest scheduled ancient monument in England...almost 350 acres in size.The fell has a rich historic past, which includes Pre-Roman settlements and industrial evidence that dates back to the fourteenth century." This comes from a pamphlet issued by the local history trust.

We love it up there. You can see for miles (20-30) on a fine day. The place is riddled with historical sites and cushioned with lovely scenery and the only sound is the bubbling of the waters of the Gaunless River and the calls of the birds. We can catch a bus to the top with our free bus passes and then walk the miles home, downhill and on good paths.

So we did that a couple of days ago. The footpath along the riverside follows the path of the Haggerleases branch of the Stockton to Darlington railway, which enabled coal, coke and stone to get to the markets to the east.

Sir Thomas Bouch designed and built the tragic Tay Bridge, which collapsed in a gale in 1879, a year and a half after it was opened, killing 75 people. In 1862 he had designed and built the viaduct (shown below) over the Haggerleases line which linked the rail network of northeast England to the northwest of England (Blackpool etc.) via the Stainmore Gap.

Until after WWII a double rail-track ran across this viaduct but during the 1960s it was all "de-commissioned" and not only was the railway removed but the GIANT PILLARS which supported the line were blown up.

It needed no gale this time. Apparently the Territorial Army was "given" the viaduct for ordnance practice. They did a thorough job and it is now impossible to go to Blackpool for a holiday by train, from the north-east of England. So many of us have relatives who remember that excursion as an annual holiday and on a recent walk along the old West Auckland rail-line we met Alf Robinson who used to live in one of the engine-drivers cottages in our street and drove (as engineer) across the Stainmore gap.The whole area is riddled with iron and coal mines, with coke ovens and works, with railways, tramways and even an attempt at a canal.This pic shows the layers, exposed near the river, of mining rubbish. Yellowish colours are rusts from the iron mining and waste, red colours are too but they also indicate the old clay layers between the coal layers which made the local red bricks and the cinders from the coke works.

On the left of this pic are the pillars which were not blown up so you can see the immensity of them. The whole line has now been closed and all the mines in this area have too. The A66 has replaced the Stainmore Gap railway line and the greenness has taken over. But these enormous, brick pillars remain on the northern side of the Gaunless at Lands Viaduct and piles of bricks and rubble lie to the south.

We walk on for a few miles before we reach the floodplain of the Gaunless and approach home.

Often via the Blacksmiths Arms which still does a friendly face, a crack and a pint of Sam Smith's "Old Brewery" bitter, for £1.40 with no muzak, TV or food!

Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 11 February 2010


There are a couple of pubs near here with names worthy of a google search. One in Bishop is called the "Tut and Shive" and another in Darlo is called "The Tap and Spile".
So I herewith announce "The Sock and Tile".
First up is the "Tile". Recently adhered to the wall and if all goes well, to be grouted with Ivory tomorrow. Ivory seems to be the default colour when white isn't right.
Also the first sock got finished. This is not an FO because it is only half of what's needed. But...E, I do get things done in the end and DJ said you were expressing concern. Well, lets call this half full, not half empty, and if I continue to go well, there should be many more by xmas. See you soon.
Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


I can now have a wee in the night without traipsing to the far, cold corner of the house. Here it is, sitting in its own little corner, all new and clean and lovely. To the side is the Shattaf, nicknamed the Shitoff by the tradies. It is the new way of including a bidet. No-one in Bishop, Darlo or Stockton had any idea what we wanted. I think some of the plumbing/bathroom outlets still think bidets are something to do with your feet. Eventually we tracked down a good one, with hot/cold mixer, on the internet and it came with fully illustrated instructions for installation, which was greatly appreciated by our plumber
It can do you backwards and frontwards and the little circular control fixes the temperature and force of water. The plumber informed me that it came out fast but was reluctant to demonstrate. It is quite a talking point and the electrician and painter have also been round for a look.
You can look too and even use it if you come to visit!
Cheers Gillian

Monday, 8 February 2010


Here's something other than house renovations or incomplete knitting (WIPs....or works in progress).
Not a new subject to this blog but a cute cat always goes down well with readers.
Pic 1 is Tigger a couple of hours ago, asleep on the couch in the snug while I checked my emails (no-one wants me to send my bank details to Nigeria to claim hidden millions but my sister sent me the Global Trivial Pursuit Challenge...Boys versus Girls...and of course us girls are winning).
I shall try to add the link here .
Then I went into the sitting room and turned on the telly and five minutes later is Pic 2.

This is the evening position, in the Asda cat-bed.
I'm now going to go and watch EastEnders but I might as well not until the 19th when "Who killed Archie" will be revealed LIVE. An oxymoron of a statement, if that is possible.
Sorry if you don't watch it, but you are probably glad.
Cheers Gillian

Sunday, 7 February 2010


The middle landing used to be the bathroom. Some space had been stolen from the bedroom on each side for the toilet and bath. The toilet space has been reclaimed by the main bedroom. A window-seat is being built across the window, to hide some plumbing, to provide storage and to fulfil a childish whim to have a window with a window-seat to sit on, all curled up and reading a favourite book whilst peeping out at the real world now and then.

The other bedroom will be turned into two rooms, hence the two doors. The one on the right will be the dressing room because it has no windows and cannot be a bedroom. It has plenty of ventilation because there is a fireplace in there with a chimney which will assist airflow. The new boiler has been installed in this room.

And so has everything else with no home yet!!!

The other half of the old bedroom is being transformed into a bathroom. I stood on the bath/shower platform to take this picture looking back towards the landing and showing the sink and space for the toilet.
No toilet, sink, bath, shower, central heating or hot water... together with the constant banging and sawing, created a major sense of deprivation. This increased as each day passed and was not much ameliorated by staying in the motel down the road at night. On our return the bath plug system was found to be faulty and the bath would not empty. Another day of waiting ensued before we could rely on a bath, sink, central heating and hot water.
But we have been very fortunate in our tradesmen. The joiner came in on Saturday to skim the bathroom so that he can put tongue and groove panelling behind the toilet space so that the plumber can install the new toilet. There is an old one which flushes with difficulty in what was once an outhouse.
It will be wonderful not to have to descend two flights of stairs and cross two rooms for a wee in the small hours. A toilet in a warm and convenient spot will do much to restore my sense of humour.
I made more marmalade, which restored my sense of achievement and we walked to the village of Byers Green along the Auckland Way on Saturday, through the fog, for lunch at the Royal Oak. A round trip of about 6 miles. And last night we ventured to Darlington for a concert at the Civic Theatre. The Grimethorpe Colliery Band lived up to their reputation and exhilerated us.
February is therefore the month of refurbishment. I'm hoping it will be well seen to by March.
Still no progress on the sock even though I took it to the motel each night and it is up/down to the toe! Just one room renovation causes turmoil, a whole floor causes major upheaval.
Cheers somewhat cheerfully, Gillian