Thursday, July 31, 2008

31st July 2008 All the way to Whitley Bay

We woke to find a bright and vaguely sunny morning, but the fog was starting to creep back in.
This time we decided to have a drive south and popped into Boulmer first for a cuppa and photographed the single fishermn digging bait on the deserted beach, before heading down to Alnmouth, stopping just before the village to photograph the ox bow bends in the river after a brief drive round Anmouth we continued following the coastal drive to Newbiggin where we had a short walk round. the sea front looks OK and there are two sculptures on a framework on the rocks in the bay, of a local man and woman three times life size: very different!
We carried on through Blyth and into Whitley Bay, which was very quiet at the Norther end (as usual) but surprisingly it was packed at the southern end. I wonder why?
We found a free parking area to eat our packed lunch before coming home along the A1 for an afternoon nap.
Conditions for photography were far from ideal, consequently I only took just over a dozen in total on both cameras.
We got back just in time before the rain started, so it's time for a nap and hope for better weather!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

30th July 2008: Sunshine, St Abbs, Dunbar, North Berwick: quite a day!

For the first time this holiday we woke to sunshine, and all thoughts of an early return home went out of the window!
We were away early up the A1 to the Scottish Border, and along the coast road to St Abbs for a cuppa in the upper car park before walking round the wonderful harbour.
Space prohibits showing more than a couple of shots here,hopefully they will capture some of the feel of this wonderful place.
Continuing our journey north we dropped into Dunbar with its busy harbour once a major herring fishing port, less widely known as a major exporter of potatoes!
On again and a 300 mm tele shot of the Bass rock with the millions of seabirds making it look as if it is painted white. The amazing resolving power of the Fuji bridge cameras lens picks out even single birds at this extreme distance. amazing!
Into north Berwick itself where we were lucky enough to get parked overlooking the beach and ate our packed lunch.
Soon it was time to make the journey back, but not without dropping down the 1 in 4 hill with hairpin beds into Burnmouth, the last little fishing village before the English border, where a single row of houses under the cliffs and the harbour are very attractive indeed!
It was an extremely enjoyable day out after we had been disappointed so often by the constant fog or previous days: a very welcome change!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

29th July 2008 Foggy to start, better later

Could have been the weather forecast for the day: we went first to The Oxford farm shop for naughty fruit scones, home made strawberry jam and butter (plus tea of course) before going on to Berwick to the Morrisons to shop; then inland to Kelso seeking to escape the fog, and to a degree we were successful as at least the fog thinned down to a distant mist, though it was cloudy.
We enjoyed our visit to Kelso, sitting on the benches in the town square to eat our packed lunch, then journeying back through Kirk Yetholm and the narrow side roads to Wooler and eventually back to camp for an afternoon snooze.
When we woke to our delight the fog was starting to clear and the sun was coming out, so we drove to Low Newton and for the first time in days we could see the beautiful beach and Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance, after taking a couple of photos our next stop was Beadnell, and a walk round the harbour and back across the beach.
This change in the weather has quite raised our spirits!

Monday, July 28, 2008

28th July 2008 Pats 65th Birthday and Alnwick Gardens

Once again we woke to the sound of fog horns on the Farne Islands, but no matter!
On asked what she wanted to do on her birthday Pat answered "Alnwick Gardens!"

So thats what we did, a short trip inland and we certainly enjoyed the famous Alnwick Gardens.
As soon as we hit the A1 the fog started clearing leaving a low level of mist behind.
It was a good thing that we got there early, as with the coast being foggy, everyone else in Northumbria seemed to have the same idea!
The gardens are certainly impressive, though expensive at £2 to park and for Adults £10 entry (£6:50 for pensioners) and the prices in the cafes there were sky high, hence we didn't have lunch there!
The first thing you see when entering the gargens is the giant hillside cascade, which is a big attraction, and to the right you can go through the water sculpture areas where fountains of various kinds keep kids of all ages entertained. above them are the rose gardens and there's certainly a huge variety on show here.
Right at the top of the hill are the more formal gardens with flowers from all over europe, then it's time to walk down the side of the great cascade, and this is where they spring a surprise, for on the hour and every half hour the multitude of spouts and fountains play out one of four different routines. This involves the displacement of a huge amount of water, delighting the kids of course as much of it ends up in the crowd!
It also came as something of a surprise to the family taking pictures at the bottom!
At the bottom of the hill the Poison Gardens are controlled by tour guides who show people round and regale them with true and false tales about the many dangerous plants presented, and of course stop them from sampling any!
On the lawn in front of the visitor centre I spotted a child plating with a Radio controlled plastic Dargonfly model with flapping wings that actually flew quite well.
I was frankly amazed that after all these years an ornithopter has become practical: Astonishing!
Our final surprise was the enormous tree house, said to be one of the biggest in the world and it isn't hard to believe that could be true: there are through the treetop walks, and a great delight are two very unstable feeling suspension bridges gas buckly and sway alarmingly as you cross them!
On leaving the gardens we found Alnwick was very busy indeed (no doubt due to the fog on the coast? so we drove through to Rothbury to have our lunch in the cafe there, before we headed back to the foggy coast.
We popped into Seahouses and Trotters Bakery for a couple of Quiches and a giant Custrd Ring for tea:Pat said she had had a very nice Birthday!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

27th July 2008 The Sea fret still rules!

Yet amazingly only a mile inland the sun shone all day: however there was a mist everywhere which rather ruined any chance of decent landscape photographs. The temperature was fine 18 to 22 centigrade, and there was no wind, so we had a tour around inland using all the back roads till it was time for Sunday lunch at the Oxford Farm Shop.
We were lucky as there were only two spaces not previously reserved.
Feeling rather full we went on to shop at the Morrisons at the exit from Beerwick north bound on the A1 and it was rather busy.
We had thought to visit Lindisfarne but it rapidly became obvious that the coast was fog bound and it wasn't worth going, so we took a leisurely drive back to camp, where we had a lazy afternoon and a light tea before sallying forth again.
We looked in at Beadnell but it was still fog bound, so down to Craster next, it was too!
This first shot is to give an impression of one of the better areas!
Ah well, returning to camp we decided to go the extra couple of miles into Seahouses and found to our surprise that it was clear and sunny there (at least as far as the end of the harbour!)
So naturally we had a good walk round, and Pat sat for a while looking at the harbour, while I brought the car down to pick her up (knee playing up again!)
It was a mixed sort of day in that we enjoyed out time inland, but felt thwarted by the fog on the coast and in the distance inland making photography either difficult or not worth while.
Never mind, we'll give it a couple more days and if it doesn't improve either move on or go home.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

26th July 2008 Warm and foggy too!

The sea fret persisted on the coast so we decided that Cragside would be a good bet today, and accordingly drove inland through Alnwick, stopping for a cuppa at our usual viewpoint above Edlingham Castle.
As you can see even this far inland the mist has robbed all detil from the sky, but the temperature was steadily climbing.

As we were a little early, so we descended the hill and walked round the castle ruins, with the amazing "leaning tower" held up by cables sunk into the masonry.
The Tower was the last expnasion of the house and date from 1340 or thereabouts. Despite it's size this was only a fortified Manor House, necessary as the area was notorious for border raiding by the Rievers (Of which one prominent family was the Bells, ancestors of mine I'm afraid!)
At Cragside we headed for the formal gardens and enjoyed the summer flowers, very different from the spring varieties of our earlier visit.
I make no excuses for simply photographing the flowers, they were so pleasing. After walking round the gardens we waited for the shuttle bus to take us round to the visitor centre (and cafe) and I got into conversation with the driver who was interested in the two cameras I was carrying. It turned out that he was a local Professional Photographer who runs courses and does portarit photography: while I was showing him the bridge camera I took out the compact Flash card and found it wouldn't go back in.
Looking closely I noted that one of the central pins inside the camera was bent: not a problem as a little careful use of Pat's nail file soon bent it straight, but for a while I wondered what could have happened.
Then it dawned on me! you can't put the card in wrongly as it's on guide rails, but it only needs a speck of dirt to block one of the tiny holes in the card, and next time when you put it in, one bent pin will be the result.
There must have been something on my hand that got transferred: I shall check the holes carefully in future!
Later in Rothbury we saw his advert in a shop window, and the images looked first rate.
We finished the visit with a fine meal in the cafe, and watched the picnickers on the tables by the lake as the sun had come out by this time.

On returning to our camp on the coast we were surprised to find it still wreathed in Fog!

Friday, July 25, 2008

25 July 2008: On to Beadnell, Northumberland, and Garfields 15th Birthday

We got packed and away for 9:30 and enjoyed a relatively traffic free run up the A19 and through the Tyne tunnel, arriving on site at noon: after a swift setting up it was into Seahouses for a slap up fish and chips dinner and an ice cream, plus of course a visit (first of many to the Farne Gift Shop: for those of you who are not familiar with the area, this is an amazing shop where for a pound you can but things that simply aren't available anywhere else.
Purely co-incidentally he also stock the full range of Lindisfarne Fruit wines and of course Mead at a little less than you will pay for them anywhere else
down in the harbour the fishing fleet was out as sea as it was low tide, but the stalls were still selling Farne Island trips for all they were worth, and we could see one of the boats returning from a trip.
The Farne tourist trips have been a great boon to the economy of Seahouses, which once relied entirely on fishing for a precarious living. In the forty years we have been visited we have seen it change completely.
Originally there were no pleasure boats to speak of, you had to ask one of the fishermen if they were prepared to take you out and haggle a price.
After such a big lunch we had a sandwich for tea and drove along to Bamburgh so I could take some photos', but the fog was lurking around, so I only took a few, including this splendid effort on the part of a modern castle builder!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

24th July 2008 A fine Museum, and a not so fine FOG

We woke in a mist which cleared quickly, so as we needed some shopping we went down into Hartlepool and the supermarkets, then across the busy dual carriageway to visit the free Museum of Hartlepool, which featured among other things the old humber ferry Wingfield Castle: before the Humber Bridge this paddle steamer used to ply between corporation pier and the New Holland Pier and Railway Station on the opposite bank.
First view is from the dockside looking from the front of the ship: what has changed is the colour scheme, if memory serves the Hull used to be white with a blue band at the water line, and of course there were two sister ships, the Wingfield and the Tattersall Castle.
Our first view aboard is from aft looking towards the bridge:this is the area where we used to park our cycles when on a ride to Market Drayton in Lincolnshire, and it used to be packed with pedestrians looking forward to picking up a train at New Holland Station, taking then either to Cleethorpes or Skegness.
In the Summer Time there used to be evening cruises along the river as far as Grimsby, and Jazz dances called "Riverboat Shuffles" where top line bands like Acker Bilk, Chris Barber and Kenny Ball would entertain a happy (and often drunk!) appreciative audience.
The bar was hugely popular and a trail of bottles (no cans then) followed the ship for miles!
The bridge itself was of course "off limits" so it was nice to be able to go up there at last!
and enjoy the splendid view forrard:you can see how wide the boat was, and it made a great open air dance hall!
From the Bow looking back looks equally good and brings back happy memories of jazz dances of long ago.
Late autumn each year there was a memorial service for those lost at sea during the world wars, a voyage that actually took the boat a mile or two out to sea past Spurn Head: this was pretty rough and a lot of the passengers were glad when the time came to cast the memorial wreaths on the sea and head back to the relatively smooth waters of the Humber.
While we were enjoying ourselves a couple of stokers were hard at it feeding the three boiler furnaces in the bowels of the ship.
Ever popular was the view through these side windows into the engine room where you could watch the big ands and connecting rods rise in the slots between the divisions in the floor, and the engineer in charge used a long pole to flip open the oil reservoirs on top of the big ends, and use a long nosed oil can to spray some lubricant into them as they rose to the top of the stroke.
Quite often the paddle steamer would run aground on a sand bar in the middle of the river (strange but only on warm summer days) and the bar would open till the next tide..........
Ah me, oh so long ago it seems now...
Last picture is a rear view of the Frigate Trimcomalee, the second oldest ship still afloat: we are going to see that on another visit.
We had intended to go for a run up the coast, but the dreaded sea fog closed in, so back to the caravan and a rest write our postcards, and a good read were the order of the day after that.