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Sunday, 30 October 2011


There was nothing on the calendar this week so we were able to do what we wanted every day. The fire in the snug got lit to make sure it still worked after being taken out and put back in during the renovations. It was so lovely we lit it again last night just to make sure. It shows off the picture so well

On Friday night we went on a "Ghost Walk" set up by Hartlepool Council. It was around the old Headland area. We heard all about the history and ghosts of the past inhabitants and other members of the group were encouraged to share their stories of poltergeists and ghosts of their own. One woman had lived in the area as a child and had some hair raising stories from her childhood. In one street we were warned that the ghosts of mischievous lads might undo our shoelaces as we walked. I looked down and one of mine was already undone!!! They have never come undone before but blaming them on a ghostly prank is not my style.
The Headland is the home of the old HEUGH BATTERY which defended the port and shipbuilding areas in wars. In the WW1, German ships fired shells onto the area and the first British Military death on British soil happened just outside the gates. Many civilians and soldiers were killed during the shelling. During the Napoleonic wars a French ship was wrecked just off the coast and a monkey in a French uniform jacket was the only survivor. The locals, supposedly, tried and hung the monkey as a French spy. Therefore Hartlepudlians and their football team are referred to as monkeyhangers.

The buildings exposed to the sea are painted with black, salt resistant paint and in the evening this makes the area quite dark and spooky. When I was a child there was a West Hartlepool and a Hartlepool next to it. Hartlepool is now called The Headland and the old West has been dropped and the larger main town is now, just Hartlepool. I must admit, when I came back from Oz, I wondered what had happened to West Hartlepool.

Yesterday was a fine morning so we took the camper up to the top of the Pennines at Westgate in Weardale. Nothing but sheep about.

And some of them quite orange. There has been so much sheep rustling up on the moors and in the isolated villages (because of the rising cost of lamb) that some farmers are dipping their sheep in a dye to deter theft. At least they can be easily spotted. Large texels like these are very valuable. They seemed to be a bit self conscious, but at least they were at home.

Today's extra hour has already been wasted lying abed with tea, coffee and now juice. I might as well give up and get up.

Cheers Gillian

Monday, 24 October 2011

A Knitting Success

I haven't knitted a successful garment for a long time. I took some sock knitting to France in the camper this summer but I had to give up because it was bamboo. It was so slippery. All went well till I made a mistake and correcting made all the stitches ladder.
The fabric below is a combo of Wensleydale Longwool and Lion Homespun.It is my new winter cardigan. I got some lovely vintage brass buttons on ebay and the heavy knitting has good drape and so the collar fell into place well.

Then... I put it on. It's so very big but warm and comfy. I could pretend to be a sylph like figure below all the miles of knitted yarn but I'm not. It is soft and snuggly and will be well used if the weather turns into the winter they have forecast.

It is mild today and I have trouble believing that it will soon be cold enough to need it. We walked to the farm shop and it felt like early summer instead of early winter.

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 15 October 2011

The Circus Came To Town

It was a gorgeous day today so we did the usual and headed off to Seaton Carew. The tide was on its way out and had left great swathes of seacoal on the sands. Much of this is just gravel size.

But some pieces are worth stopping to pick up, specially if you have a coal fire or two. This is the size of piece that we gather. I have left my foot in the pic to give some scale. Today we found the largest piece we have ever come across. It was the size of a brick.

It is on the right of the collection which we brought home today. It won't see us through the winter but it will add to our pleasure when we light a fire, to know that it was "hunter-gatherer" gained. We will save the large piece for the New Year fire. I never finished the Geological Map of England jigsaw which is why you never saw it finished on my blog. I couldn't cope with all the unmarked white pieces and put it away. But this one I'm proud to say...I finished. It was a special one with a fancy edge. It was advised by the instructions (Yes Dear Reader! A jigsaw with instructions) that you start from the large centre piece and work outwards. So I did. It took three days. This pic below shows how to remove the edges when you have finished so that it is ornately self-framed.

This is the whole, finished, done thing. It comes with varnish so that you can adhere the pieces and arrange for framing. No thankyou. It is now back in its box, ready to be returned or forwarded to another afficionado.This is the first time I've loaded a you-tube clip so I hope it works and thankyou to all appropriate people. I had trouble placing it so you might like to read the rest first...or not.

The circus came to town at the start of the week. It set up camp in a field at the bottom of Brusselton Hill, just over a mile away. So we went! It was called Circus Vegas but didn't seem to have anything to do with Las Vegas except for some amazing American style trucks. When we were in France we saw a circus moving along the autoroute in the opposite direction. It seemed to go on for ever; truck after truck towing trailers and caravans all highly decorated and very garish. This was much the same but I have no pics because I forgot to take my camera.

The acts were great and in the second half "Captain Munoz" was shot from a cannon just a few feet from us, right up to the apex of the Bigtop and then landed in a safety net on the other side of the Ring. Captain Munoz was shaped very much like a cannon ball with limbs and a head, so I suppose he wasn't destined to go very much further. The finale was the you-tube clip you see above (I borrowed it from GRMAINS, who filmed it the month before in Middlesbrough) and on the night we were there THREE riders rode around inside at the same time. Two lads and a lass. WOW!!!

The only animal in the circus was the dear little spotted pony who gave rides to toddlers around the Ring in the interval. All the risks were taken by the clowns, the strongest man in the world, the girl who put herself into a fourteen inch perspex cube and the man who balanced atop a whole dining-room full of chairs without falling off. I fall off even when I climb on one chair to fix a light bulb.

We walked there and back because parking was a risky option on the ring road. Fine going there; forgot the torch for coming home, but we scuttled along briskly behind the couple in front following their chattering sounds and the faint glimmer of his pale slacks in the total darkness. Gosh! we are such urban folk, expecting street lighting everywhere.

Cheers Gillian

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Happy Birthday Transporter Bridge

The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge is one hundred years old this week and so we decided to go and have a ride on it. It is a high metal structure across the River Tees. A gondola hangs from it by long cables, just a few feet above the river. You turn up and drive your car onto the gondola. It takes about ten cars. A conductor takes your £1.30.

Then the cables tow you over to the other side. You can't even feel it moving it is so smooth, but they don't use it on windy days. So if a ship goes through all it has to do is fit under the high bit where the cables are. It isn't like a chain ferry where you get dragged across. On this one you hang from the top all the way.

Then you drive off and it fills up and comes back again.

As you can see from the pictures it started to rain as soon as we arrived so better pics can be found on other sites such as My link wouldn't work properly so you'll have to click the Whats On button. There are clips of people bungee jumping and historic clips etc. Have fun.

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Stanhope in Weardale

Another lovely day on Friday made us decide to go for a walk. We haven't been on many walks lately and we haven't been to the gym at all. I would much rather go on a walk than go to the gym so I have decided to stride out again at least twice a week. DJ agrees heartily, so we packed a flask and drove up Weardale to Stanhope. Walks are published each Thursday in The Northern Echo and this was one we had done before with the County Durham Walks so we felt confident about finding our way from the printed instructions. We walked up the escarpment behind the church, across the limestone quarries which were Stanhope's lifeblood in the industrial days of the last two centuries. The limestone was sent over the top to the Consett steel works and the rail trucks were hauled by winding engines.
The view above shows the waste heaps. Each one would have had a rail track along it for the wagons to go on, to tip the waste over the edge into the used part of the quarry.
We had finished the steepest part of the climb but were still only halfway up! We alarmed dozens of grouse and partridge and a rabbit or two as we trudged up through the heather.

Yes it is a grouse, but digital cameras are slow to start and so most of them got far away before I could aim and focus.
Lead was also mined from seams running through the limestone. This old adit would have followed a seam into the hillside until the lead ran out. It seemed to have been a bivouac for more than one person over the years.

Much of the land and therefore most of the mining companies were owned by the Church of England and so Durham Bishops and church officials were wealthy men. It was very common to use lead for the whole roof of the churches. Some still have a good covering even though the price of lead has led to increased thefts.

Stanhope still has its lead roof! And here's some I found on the way near the old adit. Pretty stuff.

Cheers Gillian

Thursday, 6 October 2011


Doris was found lurking in a corner of Watson's Auction House and nobody else wanted her! We had spent quite some time deciding how much we would pay for her and were worried that we might be led into bidding too much in our eagerness to bring her home. But one bid was enough. She has been moved three times and now seems to be happily settled in the corner next to the door. She is really Doris-the-Second on account of there having been a previous Doris in DJ's life. She will do nicely as a hat stand and will hold a few scarves and such in the winter months. She fits very well with the settle, which came from the same auction, into the new porch. The settle has a lid and will be used to store shoes. It has been lovingly and energetically re-polished. A grand entrance awaits visitors.

A previous auction purchase has been re-framed and now adorns the wall above the fireplace...

...and Cockie, one of my earliest auction treasures has been given pride of place in the sitting room because there's only so much "wow factor" that one room can contain!!!

Cheers Gillian

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Summer At Last

We headed off to Seaton Carew in the campervan and parked (early gets the front row in the car park) on the sea front for the two days of the heatwave that we got in the north-east of England. Normally, visitors can be counted easily if they all stand still long enough, but on Saturday the beach was awash with people. So many tiny ones dipping their feet into the sea for the first time! The group on the left had been out to a lobster pot (somewhere they wouldn't tell us) in their inflatable and had come back with half a dozen fine specimens to barbecue. There has been a lot of work done all summer, on the seawall. It started as a refurbishment of the terrace and the steps, but it seems now that there is some undermining of the pathway behind the wall by the drainage and this has caused serious problems.

In at least four places the footpath has caved in completely.

Large boulders are being emplaced by huge earth moving equipment. I hope it is successful and that they are able to save the seawall and path. The waves that hit this structure during storms and spring tides are really enormous and forceful and I'm just hoping that they haven't opened a can of worms.

Our very small crab apple tree produces glorious blossom and very attractive golden, cherry-sized apples. I wasn't sure if they had much oomph as a fruit so last year I let them all drop. They made a bit of a mess so this year we picked them and made a dozen jars of crab apple jelly. Guess what you are getting for xmas if you live nearby?
We had walked our favourite blackberry patch for the last few berries of the year and they made an amazing difference to the colour of the first batch. The pure crab apples produced a golden coloured jelly with a very slight peachy tinge.

Just finished dealing with the last couple of auction purchases. Shall post them soon as I have photographed them. They have pleased us both immensely. Now waiting for the shepherds pie to bake: the left overs from a breast of lamb roast from last night. A tasty and cheap cut and we shall add it to our short list.

Never having been a great success at baking cakes etc. I watched the finals of the bake-off on telly last night with awe. What amazing resilience you have to have to be a baker and a competitor all at the same time. Fabulous results. Congrats to all participants.

Cheers Gillian