England

Six word Saturday

Kynren – an epic tale of England!

From one local extravaganza to another!  Last week, the Tall Ships.  This week, I give you Kynren.  Performed by a cast of locals and volunteers, in the grounds of Auckland Castle, Bishop Auckland, I was enormously impressed.  A history of England, the action was fast-paced.  I apologise that many of my shots are blurred.  Please follow the captions.

A dramatic sunset heralds the performance

For an hour and a half the action unfolded before our eyes, building to a crescendo of lazer beams and fireworks.  It was beautifully done.

2,000 years of history, myth and legend, performances run until 15th September.  Meanwhile, Debbie has some exciting news to share in her Six Words this Saturday.  Why not join her?  Have a happy weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : A Tall Ships Treat

A visit from the Tall Ships is always a special occasion, but when it coincides with a significant birthday there is an opportunity to make it very special indeed.  When Thursday dawned cool and grey, I thought I might’ve made a mistake with my husband’s birthday surprise.  But, the tickets were bought, and I’d even purchased train tickets to Sunderland.  He could drink without driving, and not worry over parking.  The pattern of the week had been overcast skies till about 3pm, when magically the clouds rolled back.  Here’s hoping!

To host the start of a Tall Ships Race is a great coup, and Sunderland has made the most of the opportunity.  Leaving the station it’s only about 10 minutes walk to the riverside, and from there you have a choice whether or not to cross over the River Wear.  The ships were berthed on both sides of the river and are nothing short of majestic.  As ticket holders we stayed on the near shore and followed the trickle of people heading down to the quay.  The East End of Sunderland is still undergoing changes to bring this historic area into the 21st century.

The Tall Ships will race over a thousand nautical miles in 3 weeks.  The first leg races from Sunderland to Esbjerg in Denmark, then to Stavanger in Norway, and finally to Harlingen in the Netherlands.  You can see the full line up of over 50 ships on the Tall Ships website.

Despite grey skies they were an awesome sight as we made our way along the quayside.  Various entertainments were on offer, and we paused for a few minutes to observe Martin Lewis of the ‘Money Show’, taking questions from the audience.  On the far shore, next to the National Glass Centre, a full scale fairground was in progress, and some of the ships had entertainment on board.

No time to linger at this stage.  We had a destination.  Unbeknownst to my husband I had booked a 2 hour sail on a Tall Ship.  Until we checked in I did not know which.  Enjoying a drink at the bar, we waited for our number to be called.  Half an hour later we were boarding the beautiful  Wylde Swan from the Netherlands.  The largest two-mast topsail schooner in the world, she was built for speed.  The story of our voyage was the subject of this week’s Six Word Saturday so I’ll simply say that it was magnificent.  The crew demonstrated their proficiency, hauling on ropes and tying sails, yet still finding time to engage with their passengers.  The camaraderie as they worked together was a joy to see.  As we returned to port the sun, which had been hovering behind the clouds, finally broke free and we were bathed in golden sunlight.

It was a long walk down the quayside and I had spotted a pub with a bird’s eye view of the festivities.  Naturally this involved a number of steps, but the sun terrace of the Boar’s Head was worth it.  Built in 1724, beside Youlls Passage where press gangs were reputed to work, the pub was later frequented by Laurel and Hardy.  Peggy Potts, a local brandy smuggler, lived just 50 metres away, and her family are said still to be patrons. We basked in warm sunshine and friendly chatter with the locals.

More strolling was required after our lunch, and there was plenty still to see.  Entertainers were either resting or setting up for a performance, and many of the crews were at ease.  Further along the quay the ships grow smaller, the industry of the port an interesting backdrop.

Our feet were tiring by this stage and there was still the walk back to the station.  A convenient icecream van was just what we needed.  The event was rounded off with fireworks each evening, and on Saturday a Parade of Sail, as the ships left harbour to begin the race.  If they didn’t manage to find a Cooling breeze or two, I don’t know who would! (do join Leya for this week’s brilliant Lens-Artists Photo Challenge).  And how could I forget Cathy?  I love what she’s doing over at Wander.essence!

The walks I share are all so very different in style and content.  Please find time to visit as many as you can, especially if it’s a blogger you don’t know.  Many thanks to all of you for sharing and for your wonderful company.  Kettle on?  We’re good to go, here at Jo’s Monday walk!

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Self-realisation is a wonderful thing, especially if you can share it with Elaine :

A quiet walk

When I said to Drake that I always wanted to visit Annecy, he came up with the goods!

Pure idyllic transitions

South Carolina!  There’s another dream for you!  Salt marsh, I’m familiar with from the Algarve :

A walk on the wildlife side

I can’t resist Meg, and her close scrutiny :

Sunday bushwalk

Lichens, fungi, grass, tree bark and herbal cures… you’ll find them all at Meg’s :

Weekend strolls

I’m not a great cook, but Lady Lee could tempt me with her chicken and cashews :

Food, glorious food!

But if all else fails, Jackie has a good idea :

Picnic

Who doesn’t sing along when the Bee Gees are on?  And maybe strut your stuff?  With Carol, of course!

Born to Sing

Or you could try a bit of gold digging?

Gold Fever

Meet Melanie and say hello to Captain Cook, while we’re Down Under :

Melbourne- It’s a Walk in the Park

This sounds a bit like a radio programme, but take a turn with Anabel.  You’ll love it!

Ambles from Ambleside

I don’t know anyone who writes better garden posts.  Another beauty from Jude!

Garden View: Bonython Manor Gardens

Seeing the title I thought Amanda might have a ship or two.  Far from it, but this is a wonderfully lyrical post :

Walking Around in Whitby

And finally, Cathy surprises me with a lovely swathe of bluebells :

Riverbend to Great Falls : the Bluebell Path

That’s it for another sweltering week.  Hope it’s fine where you are, but if you need a drop of rain then I hope it lands.  Take care till next time!

Six word Saturday

Riding the North Sea in style!

Click on the gallery to read the story of our adventure on the high seas.  A very special person had a significant birthday and we celebrated in style.  Our Tall Ship, ‘Wylde Swan’ from the Netherlands, was a beauty and the crew worked hard to give us a wonderful experience.  Even the weather cooperated, after a very grey start.  All was smooth sailing.

Is anybody counting?  Debbie keeps tally over at Six Word Saturday.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : Cragside

I’m interrupting my Polish stories to take you briefly to Northumberland.  The reason being that it is rhododendron time of year at Cragside, and if we don’t go soon you’ll have missed them.  I managed to capture them in the last week of May, when they were looking truly fabulous.

Cragside is rightly famous for being the first home in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity, and makes a fascinating tour.  My interest, however, lies in the acres of woodland walks and the formal gardens which surround the house.  Former owner, Lord Armstrong, is described as a landscape genius, and I saw nothing to make me dispute that claim.

To get the lie of the land you can take the 6 mile circular carriage drive around the estate.  On a sparkling blue sky day it is a sight to behold.  Within that there are a selection of waymarked trails and over 40 miles of signposted footpaths.  Enough, even for me?

As always I am magnetised by the water and my first stop is Nelly’s Moss, where there are two lakes to walk around.  Craggy boulders split the woods and some of the trail is made up of solid stone slabs.  No-one to disturb, but a curious duck or two.

No doubt you can tell I’m besotted by the rhododendrons, but the pleasures don’t end there.  In fact, they’re just beginning.  There’s even a Trim Trail, should you wish to test your fitness levels.  Perhaps I shouldn’t define that as a pleasure.  I’m content to drive back to the Visitor Centre, fronted by lovely Tumbleton Lake.  Parking and restaurant are close by, or you can simply picnic beside the lake.  Some folk like to travel in style.

The Armstrong Trail follows Debdon Burn, past the Archimedes Screw and the Pump House, through woodland leading to the Iron Bridge.  From here you can climb through the sea of azaleas and rhododendrons up to the house, or you can take a detour to the formal gardens.

I don’t remember these from my long ago visit, but the setting is superb.  On a truly radiant day, with the valley below rolling down to Rothbury in the distance, you just want to sit on a bench and breath deeply.  No such luxury for the gardening team, but they seem happy in their work, rooting out disobedient weeds.  I linger over tubs of tulips, beside a bedraggled rose and among the cool greys of the fernery.

Irridescent colours gleam at me, and it doesn’t really matter that many of the flowers are past their peak.  I can still luxuriate in their finery.

I hope you enjoyed sharing Cragside with me.  Full details are to be found on the website.  Meanwhile I’d like to share another great selection of walks.  It’s been a busy but wonderful couple of weeks and I won’t be posting a walk next week.  Instead I’ll be taking life a little more easily in the Algarve.  Among other things I have a wine tasting session that I need to attend.  Time to put the kettle on now, and settle in for a good read.

I always know it’s going to be a great week if it starts with a walk from Debbie :

Wandering around the park at Hellbrunn

Cheese anybody?  And don’t miss Jackie’s recipe for Slow Mongolian Beef :

Cheese platter

Let’s accompany Janet to the mall next, for some high end?

Monday walk…The Americana at Brand

Jesh is someone who doesn’t take beauty for granted, but often paints it, beautifully :

DON’T TAKE BEAUTY FOR GRANTED

And speaking of beauty, the happiest of memories brought back for me, from Lady Lee :

#SoCS June 9/18- “start with a noun”

Drake brought back more fond memories, of a long ago week at the Austrian lakes :

Idyllic Austrian colors

While Jaspa unintentionally brought back some not so happy memories of a Greek crisis for me :

Early Morning at The Parthenon, Athens

And Irene brought just a little more heavenly light :

Beams of Light

This post from Denzil gives you a choice of 4 walks and a lovely castle.  Not bad, hey?

Four walks starting from Horst Castle

Cathy hopes to be fit for the Camino in September, but meantime shares some fabulous views of her native America :

A hike above Wedding Canyon

As always, thanks to you all for walking with me and for sharing such wonderful companionship.  I need a little time out but I’ll be back as soon as I can.  Take good care till then.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : A lady and a folly

We’ve got our work cut out today, but I hope you’ll enjoy it.  We’re off to see a Northumberland garden with an Edwin Lutyens touch, but first I need to take you back in time.  It’s a warm, muggy day, totally unlike my last visit here when the biting winds cut through me and hailstones peppered my umbrella.

I was meeting a lovely lady, a poet and a craft worker whom I’d many times chatted to on the blog.  Though living in Brittany, Viv had a daughter in Northumberland and had suggested we might meet on one of her visits home.  Her choice of venue was Northumberlandia, at that time newly opened to the public.  In a particularly bitter March it wasn’t an inviting place, but the company was great and we valiantly struggled up the domes.

I wrote about that encounter with a smile on my face, little knowing that we’d never meet again.  In July 2016, Viv died suddenly, and my thoughts were full of her when I returned, to a much sunnier Northumberlandia, last week.

I hadn’t planned to visit, but the garden I had come to see belonged to the Blagdon Estate, who donated the land for this project.  The Ridley family have owned the estate since the 17th century, and Northumberlandia is in part an attempt to give back to the community some of the profits made through Shotton Surface Mine.  The story of the landscaping is a fascinating one, but now I’m going to leave the lady sleeping quietly and turn my attention to the magnificent gardens, just across the road.

You know you are amongst the landed gentry when the drive sweeps past a private cricket pavilion, with perfectly manicured lawn.  In the distance, russet coloured cows graze, the house sheltered from prying eyes by a stand of ancient trees.

Something entirely magical was about to happen.  Strolling beside the beech hedges which run the length of Lutyens’ canal, a rustling suggested a presence beyond the hedge.  Imagining the gardener not quite finished his chores in time for this Open Gardens event, I barely had time to register what was happening when out from the undergrowth burst a deer, in full flight mode.  With a graceful leap, he was beyond the canal and disappearing again into the woods.  I stood transfixed.

Nothing to do but continue into the formal garden, but I found it hard to concentrate.  My eyes were trained on the woods beyond, watching for movement.  Finally the walled garden distracted me.  Hard to ignore a couple of the beauties there.

But the fun was just beginning.  Behind a row of cottages, the Dene tumbles down to a stream.  Wild garlic carpets the banks and, following the tangled path through the undergrowth, your reward might just be a jewel burst or two of colour.

The path continues beneath the bridge, rounds a corner and there before you is a stately old viaduct.  A lovely fragrance surrounded me and I stopped to admire the vivid yellow blooms.  A gentleman asks do I know what they are and, with reasonable confidence, I declare them to be azaleas.  A lady disagrees, assuring us that these American rhododendrons are the only ones to have fragrance?  Jude is my expert.

Through a gate designed to keep out rabbits, the quarry lies in wait.  A sign declares that 6000 tons of stone were excavated in the 18th and 19th centuries to construct buildings on the estate.  I love the way it has been turned over to nature, with just the odd quirk or two.

The gardens were extensively remodelled in the 1930s by Sir Edwin Lutyens, whose daughter Ursula was married to Matthew White Ridley, the 3rd Viscount Ridley.  Some have stood the test of time, while other areas are a little unkempt.  It must be an enormous task, taming a 27 acre estate such as this.  One more treat in store, before we retire for that hard-earned cuppa in The Clockhouse .  A figure of eight walk takes you around the lake and across the stepping stones.  A chapel folly peeps through the trees, and in the distance a Grade II listed temple.

I hope you’ve enjoyed our walk this week, and I’m sorry if it was a little lengthy .  There are some extraordinary photos of Northumberlandia you might like on the Blagdon Estate website.

No walk from me for the next 2 weeks, because I shall be in Poland and then visiting my daughter in Nottingham.  I’ll try and keep up with you where I can.  Meantime I have lots of lovely walks for you to browse.  Many thanks to you all!

Lady Lee was very swift away this week :

Skywatch Kew Gardens

Melodie has some quite beautiful walks.  I’ve selected this one because I haven’t done it and I love coastal walks :

Hike Whitehaven to St. Bees, Cumbria, UK

Suzanne finds a quiet corner of England for us to join her for a wander :

Neighbourhood Walks : Windlesham Arboretum

Debbie travels to the most interesting places, and we’re very lucky- she takes us along :

Arty Wanderings in Hongdae

Susan has a knack for taking me just where I want to be :

Walking Golden Gate Park, San Francisco

Short and sweet, with Janet :

Monday on the Riverwalk

Lots of recipes at Jackie’s place, in case you’re hungry :

Baked goods

You never know what you’re going to find at Jesh’s, and that’s part of the fun :

City Walk

Another city, and one that’s always full of action.  Let Indra be your guide :

Hong Kong…..Walks

Fast or slow, you can’t go far wrong with Drake :

Quick steps in Strasbourg

I was followed recently by Tamar at Hike O Therapy.  Doesn’t ‘a Cornish gardener hiking through Northern Spain’ sound interesting?  Take a look!

Urkulu : A nature reserve and lake in the heart of the Basque Country

I have enormous respect for long distance walkers.  This week I had the pleasure of meeting John, for a friendly drink.  Cheers, John!  :

Nimrod

Eunice has a scalded foot so walking must be painful, but still she takes us to a lovely spot :

A local walk to Smithills Hall 

This one from Candy just scraped in before I hit the Publish button :

Serpa in the Alentejo

And this is a lovely way to finish, hand in hand with Pauline and Jack :

Surprises on the way home….

Enjoy your last day of the Bank Holiday if you’re in the UK, and to all of you, enjoy your walks!  Take care till the next time.

Six word Saturday

A grey day on the Quay

On Tuesday our luck ran out on the north east coast, and grey replaced the blue.  Was I down-hearted?  Not at all!  The Blacksmith’s Needle in forged steel still looked great, but when it started to rain I hot-footed it over the Millennium Bridge to Baltic Centre of Contemporary Art.

“Missing Time” by Serena Korda is inspired by the healing potential of sound and the Dark Skies of the Northumberland landscape.  You are invited to sit on a chair and listen to ‘the sound of the stars’.

Idea of North explores the sense of community, place and collective belonging, connecting historical moments with individual stories.  Partly inspired by Peter Davidson’s book, “The Idea of North”(2005), it poses some interesting questions.  Debbie’s a little slow with her Six Words this week but I’m sure she’ll be along later.  Meantime, enjoy her great photography and have a happy weekend!

A Bishop Auckland Revival

There’s a new bustle to Bishop Auckland these days, and it’s not before time.  It’s been a sad little place for the last many years, but finally someone has taken pity on it and started to breath new life into the dejected streets.  There’s still an impoverished look to the shops, in common with many of our high streets, but change is afoot.  In the vanguard, No. 42 leads the way with it’s fiercely pointy roof.  Describing itself as a gateway to both past and future, upstairs the Pod provides studio space to encourage artistic creativity.  And look!  The yarn bombers are about.

It all began with Auckland Castle, and a vision to turn it into a faith, art and heritage destination on an international scale.  Jonathan Ruffer, Chairman of the Auckland Project, has never lacked for ambition, but what is being achieved in Bishop Auckland is remarkable.  Back in 2014 I took you on a walk through the beautiful castle and grounds, with their distinctive Deer House.  A highlight of the post was the story of the paintings by Spanish master, Francisco de Zurbaran.  Auctioned for in excess of 15 million pounds, they were bought by Ruffer and the Trust he set up, to enable them to stay in Bishop Auckland.  They are soon to feature in a state of the art Spanish Gallery, opposite the new Mining Museum, on Market Square.  The castle is closed to the public and the gardens a bit of a mess until they reopen in December this year.  Meantime Kynren, a spectacular action show, taking you through 2000 years of history, will enliven the grounds again this summer.  I need to book a ticket.

The town isn’t lacking in history, having strong links with the Prince Bishops of Durham.  Surrounded by the mining industry until its decline, the town was once a railway hub and has an enormous entry in Wikipedia, for those who might be interested.  I’ll leave you with that happy chappy, Stan Laurel, who lived in the town as a child.  “Another fine mess you’ve got me into”.

Speaking of which, I didn’t have my camera that day, and had to improvise with some shots taken on my phone.  Scratches head!  You’ll get a better look around, and a peep at the paintings, on my original Auckland Castle post.