This is my original blog – all my blogs  since I started in 2009 - are here including those from The Ale Archive – all the beers I’ve sampled at home and on our travels since 2012.

Since 2012 most of our travel has involved a caravan. I now have a specific caravanning blog called (Get Your) Legs Down which documents all our trips and includes product reviews and pubs! It too is on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, 31 March 2018

An Eastern Adventure Part 5

IMG_20180327_073823Yep, another blog post has made an appearance which on this trip can only mean one thing - it’s raining. After a wet and windy night we had a bit of respite in the early hours, but now the wind and rain is back with a vengeance. The site - we’re still at Old Hartley in Whitley Bay - is damn near full and while it’s a annoying for us, it must be really frustrating for the many that are out for the first time this year. I do hope they can make the best of it.

Anyway, we’ve had a good few days prior to the weather turning. Here goes:

Nothing much of note to report on Tuesday. With Part 4 finished and put out we went for a pootle, first through Whitley Bay then on to Tynemouth. A lot of development work going on in Whitley particularly on the coast and the old Spanish City building was getting quite an extensive makeover too. Tynemouth looked as lovely as ever.

Whilst the mornings rain had just about vanished visibility was poor and the camera stayed in the car. It’s an area we’ve explored before anyway so weren't too bothered. After a brief trundle past the site up to Blyth we paused for pint on the way back at the Kings Arms in the delightful spot that is Seaton Sluice.

I managed my first proper walk of the trip in the late afternoon. A pleasant if slightly muddy 30 minute amble along the cliff past the site to the aforementioned Seaton Sluice. I’m trying the 1000 miles in a year challenge and have slipped well behind target but every little helps.

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Dinner was taken at the Delaval Arms - just a couple of minutes walk from the site. If you’re slow. A friendly local with real ale and decent good value honest pub grub. Very enjoyable.

Wednesday saw us back on the road and on the sightseeing trail with a day at the Beamish Museum. We’ve passed the signs many times on our trips up and down the A1 and it’s been a recommendation by many. I can now see why too - what a fantastic day we had. Going back in time to the North East in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries we walked around the town visiting the dentist, the hardware shop, the Masonic lodge, the bank and the pub. Though, believe it or not, not stopping.

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The old station was delightful although there were no engines running until the weekend sadly.

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The pit village was next with the school and the church getting a look in before the mine itself.

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We had a brief foray into a drift mine - and experience I would highly recommend but much easier if you’re less than five foot tall. It gave you a taste of the conditions the miners had to work in - and as you can imagine it wasn’t pleasant.

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We got to see a steam winding engine working too - the machine that lowered the miners and raised the coal - demonstrated by a wonderfully enthusiastic and knowledgeable chap. Something which was repeated by all the role players throughout the day, be it by the dentist, the baker, the school teacher or miner and the experience was made all the more enjoyable for it.

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There was a steam train running - and a traction engine too at the Pockerley Waggonway and some very pregnant sheep taking it easy at the farm.

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We didn’t have time to do everything sadly and returned to the car just before the heavens opened. But with tickets valid for a year we very much hope to be back. A new 1950’s town is under construction too.

20180328_191710On recommendation from more than one source grog and grub was taken at the Kings Arms - and again it was sound advice. The Pesto Chicken for yours truly and Mince & Dumplings for Trev were superb and we both agreed it was some of the best pub grub we’d ever had. It would have been rude not to stop for one at our ‘local’ the Delaval Arms on the way back, so we did.

Right, it’s a bit of a short one - and it’s not the first time I’ve had to say that - but hopefully the photo’s will make up for it. Stand by for part six soon where we let the train, or more accurately the rail replacement bus - take the strain…

Cheers for now

Rich & Trev.


Wednesday, 28 March 2018

An Eastern Adventure Part 4

A change of site - we’ve moved on from Berwick-upon-Tweed - and a change in the weather too. Our journey 69 miles south yesterday to Old Hartley Caravan & Motorhome Club site near Whitley Bay was bathed in sunshine and the views were equally as stunning. However this morning it’s wet. Very. Which is why I’m sitting here at the laptop rather than out and about poncing about in my long leather coat…

Anyway, it was a great final few days in Berwick. Here’s what we got up to:

Friday started wet and there was still the occasional spot of rain as we arrived in Alnwick, twenty something miles down the A1. So we did the only sensible thing and found a café. We’d called in Alnwick all too briefly on our last trip up to Northumberland but were short of time and didn’t stop so were glad of the opportunity to have a longer look. And we both liked what we saw, solid attractive architecture and cobbled pavements and parking areas that was easy on the eye if not winklepicker clad feet. Like so many places it would look so much better without the motor vehicle perched on every corner but as we added to their number thanks to Northumberland's excellent disc parking system we can’t complain too much!

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The town was attractive enough in it’s own right but the scenery surrounding do really make this a gem of a place to visit. The views looking back across the countryside towards the castle were divine.

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On the edge is Hulne Park - we only had a quick look but again, the ride to and once there was very picturesque. This whole area is a photographers dream - I don’t class myself as one but I’d be  out with the camera every week If I lived here I’m sure.

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If you were to find a downside to Alnwick it would be that it doesn't have a railway station -that Beeching geezer took care of that. However the building remains and is now home to Barter books - one of the largest second-hand book shops in Britain and it is an absolute delight for book lovers. Comfortable reading areas with open fires, murals, a popular and well priced café and children's room too. I don’t read nearly as much as I would like but could have spent hours here. Barter Books is also the home of the original ‘ Keep Calm & Carry On’ poster.

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We wouldn’t necessarily known about Barter Books had it not been for a fellow caravanner and Twitterer Catherine who we were next door to on site. A cracking find Catherine - thank you.

More proof that social media can be genuinely social came later on on our way back from Alnwick when we took a detour to capture some dashcam footage for another caravan site arrival video.

Another fellow caravanner  and Twitter Michael made us aware of the Union Bridge in one of his videos - a link to which you can find HERE. The bridge spans the river Tweed on one side of which you are in England and on the other in Scotland. Notable just for that but it’s such a pretty spot too. The welcome you get when you cross to Scotland is sadly not reciprocated going back….

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On Saturday we returned to what was one of the highlights of our last trip to the North East - The Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The weather was kind again and we had a great couple of hours just ambling around taking in the gorgeous views and soaking up the calming atmosphere that seems to envelope you as you cross the causeway. We missed out on the castle last time due to the tide coming in and us needing to get back. We had no better luck this time thanks to extensive renovation work that would see it closed until April. Nevertheless though it was another very enjoyable visit.

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On the way back we paused at Cocklawburn beach - not a five minute drive from the site - to sample another part of the wonderful Northumbrian coastline.

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Dinner was out - though not where we’d intended. The Brown Bear closed in 2016 when owners Enterprise Inns having starved the pub of investment sold the pub at auction. A local businessman bought the property to save it and a group go together to re-open it. Sadly arrived too late to eat but had a pint anyway and it looks a great boozer. We ended up instead at a hotel just down the road - mainly because by this time my stomach though my throat had been cut. The pizzas were tasty if a touch soggy but overall good value.

Our last full day saw us stay closer to home - or ‘van - heading across the river to Berwick-upon-Tweed for a wander around the ramparts. We’d done this before - back in 2015 when we met up with friends Tony & Jane who were staying in near Edinburgh. The weather was once again kind to us, the chilly breeze notwithstanding, and the camera shutter got a good workout too. I really have grown to like this town.

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And that was our time up. The week flew by - a sure sign that you’ve had a good time they say and we certainly had. I have a feeling we’ll be back. Soon.

Until Part 5 then,

Cheers & Beers

Rich & Trev