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Back – again

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Now, where were we?

Right, back again after the combined effects of the lurgy, coughing fits as a result of the lurgy, hotter than normal temperatures here in the UK, internet outages and a break from it all…

Yes, a break – and during the half term holiday too!

Booked a bed in an independent hostel in Northumberland, a couple of miles away from where Caroline was sharing a caravan with daughter, son-in-law, eldest son and Caroline’s grandchildren.

Had the whole hostel to myself on one night out of the four I was there and was one of just a few people walking on the beach between Cresswell and Druridge Bay on Thursday morning.

Got back home yesterday and there’s stuff to put away, wash and photos to download too.

And an election to vote in next Thursday!

One year – the shorter trips…

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Seahouses, Northumberland

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…

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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…

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Bamburgh Castle – hand held in black & white

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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 GlastonburyRoy 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!

No fog on the Tyne…

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And none of these grey clouds either!

“What time is it?”

“About six…”

“Sugar…”

As Sunday mornings go, this was an early start.

Two cups of coffee and a shower later, it was 6.50am and we were in the car and heading up to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to see Caroline’s daughter take part in The Great North Run.

The Mission were on the car’s CD player – ideal driving music as we headed up the road for two hours and took the quiet roads into Newcastle, found a car park and went for second breakfasts.

Greggs bacon butty and coffee deal for me plus a doughnut & coffee combo for Caroline and then we hit the Tyne Bridge for a longish wait.

Some guy called Mo Farah came along on a warm-up session, then the wheelchair racers, visually impaired runners, the women’s elite and then the men’s elites – including that man (and now three times winner) Mo

And then came the pack – around 57,000 runners, all heading for South Shields. I spotted The Red Arrows before the red, white and blue smoke was activated for their flypast as the masses ran past with at least one Paddington Bear as part of the proceedings!

Caroline’s daughter found us, took the suncream and headed off. We stayed on the bridge until the last runners came along and then tried to get the Metro to the finish line.

The emphasis here was on the word tried. The first train was full and whilst we did get on the train, it was packed and standing room only so not even Jeremy could have sat on the floor to read Private Eye! Allegedly…

Whilst we boarded this train after a few stops it was packed and I’d had enough of playing sardines. So we got off the train at Pelaw and headed back into Newcastle in search of lunch at a pub I hadn’t been into for over thirty years – The Northumberland Arms, just off Northumberland Street.

With two Sunday roasts, a pint of bitter shandy and a half of cider coming to just over £13, this was a result, especially as the beef was cooked properly, unlike some pubs we could mention where it’s served pink and bloody.

Pink and bloody awful is my view on that!

Now that we were fed and watered, the going got tough as the tough went – shopping! I’ve had a £5 John Lewis gift card in my wallet for six months and this came in useful for a couple of small purchases that came to £5.20…

We didn’t find anything we needed in Lush this time around, but I did get some useful info in the Apple Store as to what was happening about imminent operating system upgrades on my iPad Mini 2 – wait for a few days or a week, see what’s being said on the forums and then make the decision to upgrade, because once it’s done, you can’t restore the old one!

After rattling around the M&S Food Hall for a while, we settled on the stuff for our Sunday night evening meal.

This wasn’t any old reduced price food, this was Marks & Spencer’s reduced price food as we’d hit the time of day when the price changes were done on food coming up to its due date. Two packs of bakes and a two for £2.50 deal on packs of cheese scones and we were sorted…

Our coffee in the upstairs restaurant was also cost effective as my customer loyalty card had a freebie loaded onto it for a free cup of coffee after 2.30pm. Two medium Americanos for £2.30? That’ll do nicely!

Once we’d retrieved the car and negotiated our way back onto the A1M for the journey back to Yorkshire, we reflected on the cost of this grand day out.

Petrol used came to around £20, car parking was £3 for the full day, first breakfast for me was £2.25 at a motorway service area, second breakfasts for two was a total of £4, Sunday lunch was a total of £13.50, a pen and pair of scissors cost me 20p once the gift card was used, our M&S food hall bill was £5.65 and that last round of coffees was £2.30.

With the total bill for the day out coming in @ £50, we reckon that that was a result, so much so that we may do the same thing again shortly!

Avoiding sport!

Yes, the Isle Of Man TT Races are almost over and it’s football time again on TV as European national teams do their best to win the trophy and keep their respective sponsor’s names to the fore.

For the fans it’s a chance to eat, drink and be merry in a friendly manner or (as in the case of an incident in Marseilles last night) start causing problems that the French police have to deal with…

It’s all part of what’s sometimes referred to as ‘The Great Summer Of Sport‘, especially as we also have Wimbledon, cricket and the Olympics (along with Formula 1 and the start of the next football season…).

Not that much (if any) of it will be watched around here, especially as I find that watching paint dry is more exciting than the stuff I’ve already mentioned – apart from the Isle Of Man TT Races.

Prep work began months ago as box sets were identified to watch on evenings when sport is being shown on TV here in the UK and there’s sod all in the way of alternatives to watch on the rest of the Freeview channels that are available to us…

So rather than watch sport, it’s highly likely that archive stuff such as The West Wing, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, Our Friends In The North, The Bridge, Italy From Top To Toe, classic Thunderbirds and the rest of the latest Young Montalbano series will be hitting the DVD player over the next few months.

Some may need the subtitles on (and no, I’m not talking about Our Friends In The North here – I lived and worked in the North East for 46 years!), but it’s all good stuff and definitely more entertaining than football or last night’s live Referendum debate on ITV!

Public hols – pain or pleasure?

It’s another long weekend here in the UK thanks to the Bank Holiday that usually occurs over here on the last Monday in May every year.

Will we be heading off anywhere? Nope. Not over this weekend anyway – we usually have a holiday weekend substitute up our sleeves where we head off from home or a campsite and do stuff over three days when everyone’s either at home, working or at school!

Caroline’s working and doing some babysitting for her daughter whilst I’m doing some sorting out at home in readiness for a tiler coming to do some work in the bathroom on Tuesday.

It’s already been mentioned in the news today that the roads will have 50% more traffic on them today as people head off for the weekend. I know to my own cost as to how long it used to take me to do a 25 mile journey over a Bank Holiday Weekend – what was normally a 45 minute journey from Skipton to home did take 150 minutes on either the Sunday or Monday of such weekends.

Those heading over to France this weekend may well have other problems as they feel the effects of the industrial action that’s taking place over there at the moment – car drivers are being advised to have full tanks before they board a ferry or Eurostar train over the next few days.

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Bamburgh Castle and beach – at a quieter time of year!

Shopping’s a virtual no-no as people flock in their hoards to wander aimlessly around malls in search of things that they may not actually need, but this scenario is expanded to happen over the next week or so as it’s the half-term school holidays next week. Any shopping we do is more likely to be for milk or bread rather than more clothes or tech stuff.

So, apart from the sorting out at home, what are we going to be doing over the holiday weekend? Caroline’s weekend is sorted through work, babysitting and a long cycle ride with her club tomorrow and I’m going to sort out some more photos for wisepacking.

With the TV offering an excellent selection of visual experiences over the weekend (NOT!), then it’s going to be a mix of listening to the radio or some CDs, watching the odd programme of interest or starting and finishing one or two box sets.

We’re already part way through the latest Young Montalbano box and have Our Friends In The North, Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads, Francesco da Mosto’s Italy From Top To Toe, Guy Martin’s Speed and the double pack of Jean De Florette & Manon Des Sources to think about.

Any that we don’t watch now will be saved for the imminent infestation of sport on TV over the coming months – football, tennis, darts, cricket, the Olympics etc.

Still, there’s one set of sports broadcasts that won’t be missed – the Isle Of Man TT races.

Even though one of the more charismatic riders is giving it a miss this year to do a very long mountain bike ride in the US of A!

One year – the answers!

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Wells, Somerset – one of the locations for Hot Fuzz – May 2015

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Ogden Water, West Yorkshire – June 2015

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Tram 28, Lisbon, Portugal – July 2015

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Padrao do Descobrimentos, Belem from Rio Tejo, Portugal – July 2015

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Torre de Belem from the Rio Tejo, Belem, Portugal – July 2015

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Centro Cultural de Belem, Belem, Portugal – July 2015

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It’s a sign! Between Estoril & Cascais, Portugal – July 2015

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On the beach near Cascais, Portugal – July 2015

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Sandeman’s Port Lodge, Vila Nova de Gaia, Porto, Portugal – September 2015

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Viana do Castelo, Portugal – September 2015

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Canal Central, Aveiro, Portugal – September 2015

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Praca 8 de Maio , Coimbra, Portugal – September 2015

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View from a room, Newcastle-upon-Tyne – October 2015

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Villa Real de Santo Antonio, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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Fishing boat, Cabanas, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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Tavira skyline, The Algarve, Portugal – March 2016

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To Swaledale – and beyond! Keld, North Yorkshire – May 2016

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Broad Haven beach, Pembrokeshire, Wales – May 2016

One year

So many places in just three countries…

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One of the locations for Hot Fuzz – including part of the end battle!

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The scene of The Great Teddy Toddle in deepest Yorkshire

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A smaller version is on the bookcase downstairs

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The view from the river

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The view from the river, part II

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Art for art’s sake?

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Hot day, cool beer – but not on The Algarve!

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And it’s still nowhere near The Algarve!

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And no, it’s not Zorro! Or the next Bond…

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A grand design?

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And not a Cornetto in sight!

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Market square heroes?

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No fog on the Tyne…

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Has someone painted the town red after hearing about Mourinho’s next job?

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Provider of local specialities?

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Spot the supermarket…

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For when you need to know where the highest pub in England is…

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One week ago

You can take some guesses as to where these are – the locations will be revealed tomorrow!

No prizes though as it’s just for fun.

All photos by Keith Rickaby on a Nikon Coolpix s3100 digital compact camera