My Blog List

Friday, 24 June 2011


The Northern Echo publishes a walk every Thursday. Often they are proper hikes over high parts of the dales and moors but occasionally they are gentler rambles around pretty villages and along river banks. Yesterday's was one of the latter. A gentle three and a half mile saunter along identifiable paths and through some of the prettiest countryside and villages around. We parked in the remarkably pretty village of Hurworth-on-Tees and walked down to the river, past cottages and gardens to die for. It was a lovely day and the weather added to the total picture.
There were signs up warning people about the dreaded GIANT HOGWEED. If you get the sap of this plant on your skin, sunlight will react with it and cause painful blistering. Fortunately it is a really giant plant with big white flowers on top and is easy to see.

I climbed down the bank and clung to a tree branch to show you this outcrop. The photo doesn't show its true enormity, believe me!

Just as DJ took the picture the branch I was clinging to snapped off and I began to slide towards the triffids. I gave a genteel squeal and plunged my hands and knees into the mud and attempted to brake my downward movement. I managed to stop but then I had trouble climbing back up again and nearly got the giggles as the hysteria threatened to get out of control.

Deep breath and back to the top of the bank and I stayed on the path for the rest of the day.

It was a lovely tour of the river bank, farms, golf course, Rockcliffe Hall Hotel, the mainline railway to London, a man training his gun dogs to retrieve (they were so splendid to watch), and village real estate to lust after. We love our house and wouldn't change it but could happily transplant it onto the green at Hurworth-on-Tees.

We took ourselves into the Croft Hotel for a sandwich at the end and they were having OAPs bargain lunches. Oh Yes Please! Two courses each for £15 the double. And it was delicious. We shall return.

If you are up this way it is a must to visit.

Cheers Gillian

Saturday, 18 June 2011

A Mobile Conservatory!

The latest acquisition is this campervan. At the moment we use it like a mobile conservatory. We pack up a picnic and go park somewhere with a lovely view. We don't have much of a view from home and there are so many lovely places near us that we shall never run out of picnic spots.

This the view from the carpark to the south of Hartlepool looking across at the lovely old houses on the Heugh. There is a super toilet at this spot. It is free, automatic, clean and has an all-in-one hand washer. You put your hands in the hole in the wall and first they get squirted with soap and then they get sprayed with water and then warm air blows on them. Don't leave them in too long though, like I did the first time...hoping for some more warm air to finish the drying process. I just got washed from start to finish all over again!!!

We took ouselves further afield to places in Northumberland. Some of the loveliest castles in the world are within a few miles of one another. We passed within spitting distance of Warkworth Castle, admired Dunstanburgh Castle from a mile away, promised Alnwick castle that we would come back soon, camped overnight within view of Bamburgh Castle (except that we got the spot behind the barn) and then dared to be amongst the first few to cross over to Lindisfarne as the tide ebbed. This enabled us to walk out to the castle in the sunshine. Sadly the rainstorm hit us with still a mile to walk back to shelter. It was cold and wet.

Then we visited Chillingham Castle and got warm and dry and well fed on scones and homemade cake before another squall hit us on the way back to the carpark.

I haven't been too well since then. Quite a severe chill took over for a few days, but there may well have been something viral in it too because DJ is feeling a bit snuffly today just as I feel better at last. Isn't it always the way.

We also took the mobile conservatory to the Penshaw Monument and climbed to the top for a picnic and a grand view of north east Durham. Plans are afoot for outings to North York Moors, Seahouses and the Farne Islands to see the puffins and a trip to France later in the summer.

Once again I wonder how we will fit it all in. Today is wet and drizzly so I can catch up with some knitting and start another jigsaw.

More sunshine please.

Cheers Gillian