Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Geordies, mackems and monkey hangers

Its getting colder - the wind is blowing outside and its tie to turn up your heating. So sit down, take a pew and relax - if you have nowt to do for 5 minutes, carry on reading....

After leaving Gareth and Chris with Emma and Tracey in Skegness me and Buffy headed to Wales. A few weeks before mum died, we had booked ourselves a weekend in remote location in Snowdonia. The idea at the time was to have a totally relaxing weekend away from the rest of the planet - and after the previous few weeks we couldn't have planned our getaway at a better time.

Our little hideout was in fact two 'shepherds huts', located about 49 miles south of Llandudno in the welsh hills. These two huts were located in an area with no Internet, no mobile phone signal, no TV and no electricity apart from lights and a shower powered by solar panels.

The huts
 But, I ask you wonder - why two huts? Who were the neighbours? Well, I answer - there are no neighbours - one hut had a large comfortable bed and wood burning fire, while the second hut housed a caravan style toilet, the solar shower and a lovely extra room containing a wood burning sauna!

We had the laziest weekend in months - moving no more than 50 feet from the huts as we sat in the sauna drinking wine, lazed by the wooden fire playing scrabble, read books and cooked a steak dinner and sausages, bacon and fresh eggs (supplied from the farms own hens) for breakfast, on the gas range that sits behind the huts, next to the stream. For 36 hours we were unreachable from the rest of the world and it was the perfect little break away from the traumas and taskings from normal everyday life.
Bathroom and sauna

middle of nowhere!

 A couple of normal weeks at work followed - which was again - exactly what was required at the moment - a couple of normal weeks, nothing special happening and a chance to try and get back to normality after the tragic summer which we have all had in the family. Its not a time that we
 will ever forget, but the worst of it is all behind us and we can now head forwards as a family again.

The next big thing on our calendar was a trip to the North East to meet up with a few old mates from my army days and in particular to attend Sid and Claires wedding party after they got married earlier this month in Las Vegas.

Buffy and me decided to head off a day early and take a look around some of the sights up that part of the country
first stop was a really unusual little collection of old telephone boxes that are kept in a small village in North Yorkshire -we took some photos and moved on to Middlesborough.
Old boxes

However its not the most exciting city in the world and so after an evening in the quiet and frankly depressing city of Middlesborough, we spent Saturday looking around the area. First stop was the famous Middlesborough Transporter bridge. A really unusual bridge in the fact that it isn't actually a bridge. Its a ferry - that also isn't actually a ferry - Its the strangest but coolest way to cross a river. It is in actual fact a hanging gondola, underneath a bridge shaped frame. The gondola hangs underneath the bridge frame like a big swing and slowly carries vehicles and passengers across the river. The idea is that the river can be crossed, but large boats can pass by at any time without waiting for a swing bridge to open!

We were a little upset when we arrived and saw that the bridge was undergoing an upgrade and was closed, but we did spend a while taking photos and performing a few jumps as we have done around the world.   

For the rest of the day we drove up the north east coast, through Hartlepool and along the coastal road stopping for fish and chips in South Shields. Then a drive along the south bank of the Tyne river to see the Tyne Bridge was followed by a stop at 'Angel of the North', the stunning Anthony Gormley statue that stands staring down from Gateshead along the A1 corridor towards the south. Its one of the best and most spectacular sights you can see in the UK and one we both really enjoyed seeing.
Heres a few photos....

 Saturday was a great night out - We met up with Sid and Claire to celebrate their wedding and also got to catch up with some mates I haven't seen in years. Gaz and Dom among with their other halves - Hannah and Mel. We had a lovely mellow evening chatting about the old days and sharing a few beers. It was great to catch up with everyone.

Sid doing a speech with his bride!

Claires dad doing his best elvis!

Finally, on the way home from Middlesborough, we decided to take a diversion and stop off in Whitby - a lovely, picturesque little seaside resort on the North Yorkshire coast.
We only spent a couple of hours there, but had time to wander along the seafront stopping to look at the fishing boats, the steam powered bus and to walk to the end of the pier, before driving across the harbours little bridge and up to the old Abbey that looks down on the town from the top of the opposite cliff. Great views and a lovely afternoon - if a little bit spoilt by the blustery wind that bucketed us around as we wandered.


Steam bus.

Buff watching one of the fishing boats

The old abbey

Looking down on the town
 That was the last stop of our weekend in the North East. We are now back home and back to work  - looking forward to our next trip away - to London next Saturday!! Blimey we get around.......


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