There is a very good reason for remembering the 29th of November.
Caroline left the NHS behind and took up a new nursing role with a leading disability charity here in the UK whilst I went to work as usual and ended up in an NHS hospital.
Although I’d only had a medical three days beforehand as I’d just registered with a GP after moving to Skipton, I’d had a stroke.
Three UK registered cars drove past me as I lay on the ground, but the one that stopped to help out bore Polish plates.
The ambulance guys were great, as were the staff in Airedale General Hospital’s A and E department, the intensive care unit and the stroke unit.
I didn’t see myself in the mirror for a day or two, but the results of hitting a wall and the pavement with my face on the way down to the ground were all too obvious…
I was lucky though. I suspect I was the only non-smoker on the wards I was in and I know that I was the only one walking unaided between my bed and the TV room or shop.
Twelve years and more meds than I would like later, there’s still thanks going out to the paramedics and the staff at Airedale Hospital.
And to Caroline of course!
October 2015 saw us make the first of four visits to Northern England.
This one was a hit and run exercise – there had been sightings of the Northern Lights on the Northumberland coast, so that’s where we headed.
A quick delve into the realms of booking.com and we came up with a guest house in Seahouses for Saturday night and a cut-price deal at the Hampton by Hilton in the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Sunday.
After a fish supper, we headed to the beach path between Seahouses and the guest house and spent an hour or so on a bench staring out to sea in a northerly direction.
Guess what? No Northern Lights for us!
The following day saw us having a hearty breakfast and walking back into Seahouses for a spot of photography and a general mooch around. The National Trust shop came up with some goodies, as did the RNLI shop.
Lunch came and went and it was time to head for Newcastle.
After working in Newcastle for years, I thought that I knew the way to the hotel, especially as it was around 300 metres away from where I worked.
What I didn’t realise was the the road layouts had changed in a big way, so all of the shortcuts I used to use were closed off or open to buses only.
Still, we found the hotel, parked the car in a nearby car park (£12 a day…), went for a walk, had a coffee and then changed for a night on the town.
Not into the type of garb favoured by those wandering around the Quayside or Bigg Market you understand. No, we chose more sensible clothing to combat the colder weather being encountered…
Monday was a shopping day around Northumberland Street, Eldon Square and in the Baltic Art Centre shop. Lunch came from M&S and by then it was time to head home…
Life’s a beach…
But not for long as we were back in the North East three weeks later.
We’d got a good deal at Redworth Hall Hotel for a couple of nights, had a pretty decent Sunday lunch at a pub on the outskirts of Darlington and then headed into that town for a mooch around my old stamping ground.
Once at Redworth Hall, the bar and log fire beckoned, as did the following morning’s visit to the National Railway Museum‘s outpost Locomotion in nearby Shildon.
That was followed by a weather beating visit to the local multiplex to catch up with The Lady In The Van before a pre-pack salad plus accompaniments was bought as an BYOB evening meal back at the hotel.
Alnmouth beckoned next – one of our joint favourites in Northumberland because of the village and the beach. The B&B wasn’t wonderful, but the pub meal a few doors away was.
After a drive up the coast to Seahouses, lunch was declared and taken, but a couple of the places we’d been into before were closed for redecorating or just closed due to lack of volunteers. So it was time to hit Bamburgh.
The car park was almost empty, as was the beach which proved tempting enough to inspire a wander and provided a bit of inspiration to use a couple of my camera’s not often used functions such as the black and white mode…
Bamburgh Castle – hand held in black & white
Same castle, same day, different side, but as the sun goes down…
A nearby pub provided a good excuse to go inside to warm up as it had coffee on tap and an open fire too. Our digs for the night were thankfully chintz free, but unstaffed after check-in, so we were left to our own devices until the following morning.
Which ensured that there was just one thing to do – head to the pub!
Steak and ale pice plus cider for Caroline, Lamb Cutlets and Guinness for me plus coffees were a great way to almost end the day. The warmth in the pub and the walk back to the room along with a full day of fresh sea air ensured that our respective night’s sleep were long and undisturbed until the alarm went off the following morning.
When the Grace Darling Museum and RNLI shop were visited, along with the local butchers who did a very fine line in pies, pasties and sausage roll. So lunch was bought, drinks purchased at a mini-market/petrol station on the A1 and then it was time to head home via Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
John Lewis sold us an iPad Mini 2 and case, Lush got some more travel size shower gel and shampoo bar sales and M&S sold us a couple of ready meals to have at home.
Was that it for the year?
Nope, because rock and roll got in the way and ensured that there were a couple of good nights out.
The first was to see prog rocker Fish on his Farewell to Childhood tour at Sheffield City Hall. Tickets were booked, as was rail travel and a night in the Holiday Inn Express.
Although this was originally billed and booked as a standing gig, ticket sales had been so good that the concert had been moved into the main hall – a seated venue.
After checking into the hotel and getting a cab into town, fodder had to be tracked down. Posh nosh in a pub? Fine stuff in a restaurant?
Nope. we hit Yates instead… and it pretty good too!
As we were now fed and watered, we decided to join the queue to get into City Hall, and ended up in prime seats about four rows back from the stage.
French band Lazuli impressed with their support slot, but would Fish?
It wasn’t the best show I’ve seen him do, but that was down to a cold apparently as his between song banter revealed.
The older solo stuff was mixed with more recent songs, but the main course was the playing in full of his old band’s Misplaced Childhood album.
A sense of deja vu kicked in as I’d last heard the whole of it played live back in the 1980’s and some of the solo stuff was heard in the 1990’s on a week following Fish around on his Highlands and Islands tour.
Mind you, a week later there was an even bigger sense of deja vu in Last Of The Summer Wine country – Holmfirth.
This was a good night out seeing a guy that’s been around so long that there’s calls being made for him to do the Legends slot at next year’s Glastonbury – Roy Wood…
He’s back at Picturedrome in Holmfirth in a couple of weeks and it’s very tempting to get tickets for the show, especially as they’re just £20 each.
All the hits and more from a pretty long career were delivered with aplomb and I surprised myself when I realised how many of the lyrics I actually knew. The band were as tight as they come and the show was only marred by the pillocks trying to video it on their mobile phones…
Given the amount of Christmas jumpers being worn in Picturedrome, there was one song that just had to be played – I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day. And it was.
So a good night out to round off the 2015 year of travelling.
The 2016 year of travelling wasn’t as hectic, but plans are already afoot for the 2017 travel year as the first trip is already booked and largely paid for!
Sod it, there’s still unsold stuff in the warehouse Saturday…
Further reduction Sunday…
Time out Tuesday…
Where’s my delivery Wednesday…
Totally fed up Thursday…
Flaming delivery still hasn’t arrived Friday…
Send it back Saturday…
Somewhere in Europe… but we’re going to the country next door!
It’s Black Friday and despite all of the emails, television coverage and advertising, we have proved that resistance isn’t futile.
Yes, there is money to be spent today, but that’s going to be at the farm shop, newsagent, supermarket and petrol station.
I’ve had deal information on hotel bookings, electrical stuff and a load of other gubbins, but most of it has come in far too late for yours truly.
And that because the deed is done – the next trip has been planned, largely booked and paid for because I found our own deals for our visit to Andalucia by delving into the search engines of Skyscanner, Expedia and Booking.com last week.
The end result is a trip that’s a day longer than originally planned so we can make full use of our time in Spain and one that is currently running under budget, despite that extra day!.
Although a fair bit of research had been carried out using both the Rough Guide and Lonely Planet books on Andalucia and Spain, the time taken to book the flights, overnights and the bus travel between the destinations on our trip took a little over 24 hours.
Whilst that 24 hours also includes sleeping, eating and the other things that make up a day, it also reflects that there’s been some due diligence in checking out the various elements being used to put the trip together.
The flights we’ve chosen aren’t at silly times of the day or night (but there was a £46 premium paid for choosing our own seats and taking advantage of an ‘offer’ on priority boarding).
The hotels, guest houses and hostels we’re using are all highly rated whilst the bus travel is more cost effective than using trains – the only time we’ve paid full price for a bus ride is for our travel between Seville and Cordoba, largely because that journey is on a Saturday and no discounts are available.
With airport transfers being paid on the ground when we get to Spain, all we have left to book in advance now are the rail tickets to Manchester Airport (cheaper to get to by rail than it is to drive and park the car for the duration) and for two tickets for the Alhambra in Granada.
Will we do these bookings on Cyber Monday?
The result is in and it’s going to be interesting to see how the next four years pan out – something that was always going to be up in the air no matter who was first past the post.
In the meantime, there’s another four and a half box sets of The West Wing to get through (I’ve watched them a few time to see whether my post-stroke memory is still up to scratch, Caroline is watching them for the first time) and the first series of the Kevin Spacey led House of Cards to watch too.
Will the U.S. version be better than the original U.K. House of Cards?
You might think that, but I couldn’t possibly comment…
Especially as I’m taking another look at the original before taking a look at the relatively new kid on the block.
And waiting for my Bartlet For America t-shirt to arrive!
Took some time out today to head over to Leeds for a few things, with one of the items on the shoppingmlist being a 2017 diary for Caroline.
The name of the shop has been witheld to protect the innocent, but the reply to my question “Have you got any diaries?” was met with the words…
“What’s a diary?”
An unexpected pleasure was watching a rather entertaining documentary on BBC 4 last night – Peter York’s Hipster Handbook.
York is an astute observer and this hit the spot on several occasions during the one hour of airtime. I’d presume that the show is available to viewers in the UK via BBC iPlayer and there’s a fair chance that BBC 4 will also be repeating the programme in the next few days.
The reason for the title of this piece?
The revelation that there’s a cafe in the US serving coffee at $12 a cup…
Don’t think that I’d be partaking at that price if I was in the States, but I do wonder how much it would cost at a motorway service station here in the UK!