A Travellerspoint blog

Romans on the Tyne

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I have often wondered what it would like to be a bird, to fly high, above all else. Today we walked higher than the birds were flying, along part of Hadrian's Wall at Fort Housestead (Vircovicium in Latin) The wind blew a chilly breeze as we climbed the hill, walked along the wall and walked around the ruins of the fort. As I looked down at one point I wondered what the black specks were in the air, then realised they were birds, way below us. It was quite a moment.
There was a group of school children on an outing who were more interested in trying to push each other off the path, or talk to their friend than look at what was around them. Here I was captivated in the experience and they were whiling away time until they could sit in a part of the ruins and eat their packed lunch, just another school day! Maybe when they are 53 they will see it all differently.
The wall is 72 to 84 miles in length, depending on which information post you read, and was built along the River Tyne commencing AD122. Our first stop, at Chesters Bridge had one part of the fort built on each bank of the river. The second stop was the auxiliary fort at Carrawburgh, The fort was named Brocolitia. Next to it was the Temple of Mithras.
There were many walkers out today walking the wall which is obviously popular given the number of walkers and then the number of youth hostels at regular intervals along the way.
To ease our load we posted the most expensive brochures and booklets in the world home this afternoon, to avoid excess baggage. I am glad I have taken photos of The Royal Mail being delivered by hand, in vans, on bikes and beautiful old post boxes, even bought a ER post box charm for my charm bracelet, as we now own half of it!
Our first night in Penrith we ate at the Indiagate Restaurant. The food selection was extensive and chatty, kind service, so we returned tonight for our final meal in England following our final ramble around streets, gardens, church yards, alleys and pathways.
We shopped at Sainsburys this afternoon for supplies for our next few stops. Two will be self catering, in remote areas, overlooking Lochs in Scotland ......something else to look forward to.
We paid a lovely laundrette today to do our washing while we went out and about.... nice!
Rob is proving to be very remiss at the moment. He seems totally incapable of assisting me to recall vital pieces of trivia I have forgotten, so I can include them in this blog! His excuse is that he can't know what I am thinking, just because I did not tell him in the first place. There is so much to see and do and he's an intelligent man, he should know I need help... ( he says psychiatric help....rude)
SO... he says is it.......
Short people....is there a correlation between shortness and northerness
Mr Lez Murdy....who was delighted to show us his name badge when we said we were from Perth
I spent £3.60 on the world's worst cup of coffee today, just so I could use the toilet. It was the most expensive toilet stop yet, beating the 50p at Tower of London. We tipped the coffee out....
None of those were IT .....I'll remember and tell you all next time. ....

Posted by DeniseUK15 19:35 Archived in England Comments (0)

Top of the Pops

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Since arriving in England we have been intrigued with the music selections in Pubs, cafes and Tea rooms.

When was the last time anyone played the Brotherhood of man hit, "Save your Kisses for Me", deliberately and not as a joke. Yet, we have heard it twice in three weeks along with such epic bands as Bucks Fizz, Lena Lovich and someone who sounds like Tom Jones drunk in a telephone box. We are OK with nostalgia but this is an epidemic of just plain bad taste.

It could be they are just preparing Britain for the Eurovision song contest. One of the most amazing things is in one tea room a boy of about 13 was singing along to the 50s music quite comfortably. We revisited the tea rooms the next day, as there were lovely staff and guess what, the same tracks were playing the next day. Maybe they forgot to lift the needle at the end of the tracks. Tonight a middle aged man was audibly in the groove with a 60s tune, one of many 60s and 70s flooding the restaurant tonight. Surprisingly the wife not only kept her meal down but left with him at the end of the meal.

It is with some trepidation as we head north that we expect to hear Andy Stewart and Moira Anderson and the White Heather Club. It could only get worse if we had our CD of 50 Great Scottish Hits blended for an1980s disco.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:16 Archived in England Comments (0)

West Cumbria

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We have two days left in England. Then we cross to Scotland.
Today we enjoyed a visit to Cockermouth, approx 1hr drive from Penrith. When we set of this morning we had already travelled 1170 miles in our now very muddy Audi hire car.
I sat back and enjoyed the scenery as we drove through the Western Dales. Once again the lambs were all bleating on the roadside, clouds were coming to meet the mountain tops and we seized photo points along the way.
It was the temptation of William Wordsworths home and the list of things to see that drew us to Cockermouth. Wordsworth's house backed onto the Derwent River and having crossed it we discovered Antique stores ranging from Treasure troves to well appointed displays. The two we spent most time in were run by people who opened up conversation and chatted freely about their life, the country and their families. Rob found a Cranstoun tie which opened up a lengthy conversation with the first store owner, who is also a Shepherd and has 4 children, one of whom lives in Perth. The second store only dealt with cash so an elderly gent behind the counter enjoyed whiling away time with Rob while I found an ATM. When we left the store, with our valued purchases, the man stood despite his crippling knee, looked Rob in the eye and shook his hand, wishing us well for the remainder of our trip.
A tour guide with the National Trust, doubling as a man servant in William Wordswoths home, presented a very honest recount of life in the Georgian times. He called it the horror stories, as opposed to those told by Jane Austin and the likes. Our appreciation grew for the hardships people of the time endured, including Wordsworth who was paid a sum by Lowther (who owned almost everything and everyone in the village at the time) to entertain and benefit Lowther's guests to the village to keep up appearances. Despite that the Wordsworth's lead a life of basic food, hygene and assistance. It was a home with a warm feel to it. The bedrooms, his and hers were adjoining and the childrens room was very basic with wooden toys and clothes of the day hanging on pegs. The rooms at the rear of the house overloked a large garden which is lovingly attended these days with rows of blossoms, annuals and raised garden beds. Rob admired the book collections housed in writing bureaus and bookcases. The kitchen has been restored using some of the original features and other pieces such as the bench table and stools that have been reproduced locally. The maid and man servant spoke freely about their roles and privileges working in the home. There was a procedure manual for all things housekeeping to be adhered to by the maid, from cleaning, careful use of fuel to setting the table with silver service for guests.
Along the street, a bakery (smelling like West End bakery used to In West Perth), served home made pasties and other pastries. There was a wide selection of cakes that we admired, but strong willed to be 'good' we left them on the shelf. A sample would have been yummy though.
We found yet another church to photograph and then spied an old castle, Cockermouth Castle we later learned, through a thick tree lined fence that is now used as a family home. Unfortunately the boundary made it impossible to see what is left of the castle so we have looked it up and discovered it was a castle there in 1134, additions were made until 1640s when it was dismantled by the order of parliiament. Occassionally it is open to the public, but is now privately owned.
Behind the castle we found Jennings Brewery. Another friendly chap talked to us and encouraged us to take a shortcut through the brewery back to the river and over the bridge to the town. It has itsniwn water well that is used in the beer manufacturing today.
Rheged Centre, 5 minutes from Penrith, looked like an inntersting place to have a peek at. It is a modern centre with shopping, arts, workshop facilities, conference rooms, playground etc that is all built underground. The roof is a grass area with a sign that asks you not to walk over the roof! We definitely prefer the old places with character and charm though.
We went to Wetherspoons pub named Dog Beck for dinner tonight and were asked to leave! Id like to say it was for being drjn6k and disorderly and dancing in the table tops, but alas no. ... they had an electrical fault and everyone had to evacuate the pub for OH&S reasons....it happens here too. So we walked the streets to find another place to cook for us.
I have not cooked a meal since 30th April.....or done dishes, or washing, or gardening and I don't turn up at work and I get paid.....I like my life!!!! To top it off, Rob and I get to spend 24 hrs a day together .. blissful.
Back in the real world, Ally has an exam tomorrow, good luck darling, Erik is busy tending the cats and the house for us, much appreciated, Am has had twin boys and the three of them are working hard to thrive, being prem. She now has 3 boys under three... and we have been having some chats with people reading our blog. Glad you are enjoying it.

Posted by DeniseUK15 20:14 Archived in England Comments (0)

A watery day in Cumbria

all seasons in one day 12 °F
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Day 18 was a watery day in Cumbria.
We went on water walks and drives. Water gushed down Aira Force, our first National Trust stop for today. The sometimes steep climb through and up sodden ground was enveloped in trees, ferns and wildlife, all enjoying the cool air and morning sunlight. The sunlight was making the water sparkle in the tiny trickles of streams as opposed to the white water being created at the larger waterfall areas as huge amounts of water pushed through tunnels, archways and over rocky areas. As we came to the end of the almost hour long walk, the sky began to open up and rain fell. Many people were arriving to see the waterfalls and the rain seemed to escalate their excitement to go on through. Later in the day we researched why there were a number of fallen logs with thousands of coins wedged in the surface. We discovered they are known as wishing trees.
Winding our way through the dales, clouds stretched down and created a blanket effect over many of the peaks. The hills, peaks, grass lands, fields and water combined created a colourful display. We followed the length of the Ullswater and then wound our way up through Kirkstone Pass to Windemere. We hung a right into Ambleside and then up past Wray Castle to Hill Top Farm, our second Trust stop.
Beatrix Potter's first propery purchase is on display showcasing the furniture and 'trinkets' she lived with. There is still no electricity to the house but the windows let in enough light to show off her collection of paintings splendily. She obviously had a love for grandfather clocks, as there were a number in her house, despite the confined space. From the top window you could see the house she later moved to when she married. Hill Top remained her get away retreat, after she married.
We headed back to Hawkshead which was in the offices of her publisher. This was obviously a C17 commercial property that was once two properties, built for those under 5 ft 8in! On display were pieces of artwork, the Potter Family collections, eg butterflies, moths, eggs, rocks, cromwelian cannonballs cabinets and of course scatterings of books and sketches.
We walked through Hawkshead, a town of slate brick cottages. St Michael's and All Angels Church was tucked on a hill at the end of a street with heating pipes running around the seating. It was built in 1597, although the organ was relatively new. As we stood in the rain outside the church, the hills stood in the distance with a mixture of rain and sunshine on them making them look like green velvet with a silvery sheen. More photos.... The church had a sarcophagus of a Victorian colonel, Graythwaite, next to the sarcophagus of a mediecal knight.
Next we headed through Hawkshead to Coniston and went South passing Coniston Water. The Gondola, a water steam boat, was making its way down the lake. Half the villages we passed had Thwaite in their name. In fact, the whole area has Thwaites galore! Hardly surprising then we turned east at Haverthwaite and then north to Newby Bridge passed the steam railway and along Windemere back to Penrith. Many showers of rain fell and at one stage hail entertained me bouncing off the car bonnet, while Rob held his breath and breathed a sigh of relief as one full size coach after the other squeezed past us. He actually had to pull in the wing mirror to avoid losing it. That's how close they were!! Earlier in the day some of the mud build up was removed from the side of the car by hedges lining the road, when we had to cuddle up to them to make way for another stream of traffic that did not fit. Rob considers B roads are named B for Bloody Awful and should not be for tour buses. He would however permit local buses. He was also voicing concern about an elderly lady who was standing on the road in our lane, watching a wide truck coming down the opposite side of the road. The look of horror on her face when she turned around and saw us matched our look of horror when we saw her, as we came around a blind bend and came face to face.
We took a leisurely stroll before dinner to the ruin of Penrith Castle, that had been home to Richard, Duke of Cumberland, who later became Richard III. A notice board at the ruin site alerts people to the fact that climbing on the ruin rocks may be dangerous as falling could be harmful!
I borrowed a few chosen words from Ian's repertoire this afternoon when I discovered the new 1T special wireless blah blah blah portable hard drive that I purchased to store all my photos on is on the blink, literally. I used the "***** useless Mongrel" line and continued to spit the dummy but Rob did a Kirsty and used logic to assured me all my photos will be able to be retrieved...If Rob is mistaken, the man at JB does not have long to live! I have 2 and a half weeks of photos on there and one of them will be my new one for my office so I can feel relaxed at work when I return....and I am now not relaxed incase I don't have the photos. Rob suggested a long walk to cheer me up (and get me away from the IT Black hole I was in). Bl**** technology.
Rob has given up and fallen asleep and I have just heard from Jenny. She has booked her ticket to Cardiff so we can do some retail therapy on 9th June.
Night everyone. Although I am heading to bed, your alarms will be sounding soon to get up, so have a good day.

Posted by DeniseUK15 22:15 Archived in England Comments (0)

A Peaceful Place

all seasons in one day 10 °F
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A peaceful place to while away a couple or so hours is between York and Penrith. Fountains Abbey, although a ruin, has towering walls, enormous arched frames that once held stained glass and a history dating to 1132 when Benedictine monks were given the land on the River Skell to build a new abbey. The monks built a medieval water mill that is still functional, using water from the river. The mill continued to operate, despite Henry VIII forcing the closure of the abbey in 1539.
The grounds offer pathways to stroll and climb, water gardens to admire, a variety of birdlife including white swans and views from many angles of statues, the abbey, the lakes and then move on to a deer park and Five ( of the original seven) bridges. The "Surprise View " looks down on the magestic grounds.
The Yorkshire Dales then took us over hills, down dales, around many a tight bend, wove through multilple sites where narrow streets with a scattering of buildings comprised a town. Bridges that were sign posted as 'Weak' forewarned drivers who dared to cross and others pointed out the obvious, single lane only! Well there was no way anyone could dispute that! Every so often Rob would find a lay bye, I'd leap out and create some digital memories, and we'd try not to lose our place in the traffic of 4 wheel drives, speeding audis, porsches, tractors towing hay or bike riders pedalling along....on may I remind you narrow roads measuring approx 1 and a half car widths. There were a few moments where we called for divine intervention.
Part of the journey went through Wensleydale following the River Ure. No cheese was purchased or consumed at this point. The sheep were noticeably long haired...to cope with the chilling wind. We noticed the trees have not regenerated many leaves yet, maybe they are waiting for warmer weather.
In Garsdale the sheep and ponies were free ranging .... including on the roads.
Having left Perth with water restrictions and struggling to keep a garden alive, to my delight springs of water can be seen simply rising out of the ground, all over fields, roads and paths. They create streams of their own. All livestock have an abundance of lush green food, our farmers would drool.
A quick right turn up the M6 to Penrith meant we arrived at 4:10, right on schedule to book into The Blue Swallow. Cynthia and Peter who run this B&B are both very warm and welcoming. Peter carried our suitcases up 3 flights of stairs to No 5, where we have an attic view. A little drizzle has fallen, but again nothing to stop us from getting out and about. We walked into town and ate at The Indiagate for dinner. A leisurely wander home again highlighted a few things we'd like to go back and see when they they are open.
Tomorrow we are off to Windemere to see a) Beatrix Potter (Denise's description) or b) the Nutcases (Rob's description) home, tourist site..... I just know I will leave with a Jemima something!!! I won't admit to Rob if I hear the animals talking to me!

Posted by DeniseUK15 19:26 Archived in England Comments (0)

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