Jo’s Monday walk : Hetton Lyons Country Park

The choices this week were another boring beach walk in the sunny Algarve, or a quick romp in the frozen north east of England.  Well, it’s no contest, is it?  Grab your scarf and mittens, and no loitering, please!  Except to feed the swans.

There’s a crisp beauty to it, as the frost nibbles at your ears and glistens on grass and fences.  Distant dog walkers embrace the morning air.

Out past the barn, I head towards the windmills, on a narrow lane.  A public footpath crosses the fields, the frozen earth firm underfoot.  Patterns abound, all etched in white, whilst solid puddles of ice line the path.

Despite the sun, the ice persists, tingling the toes, yet some of the fields are surprisingly green.  The blades whirr noisily above my head.

Fronds of bracken huddle beneath the hedge, the occasional, lucky one gilded by sunlight.  A forbidding, firmly-locked gate denies access.  No matter, as the country park lies straight ahead, just beyond the farmhouse.

The small pond is frozen solid, but most of the lake is clear and sparkling.  A path skirts the shore and the swans glide hopefully forwards.

There is a small cafe if you need a warm up afterwards.  As we drove through Hetton I saw a sign for homemade broth.  Sounded like a good idea!

I think the sign was on Market Street, but I was distracted by the mural.  Hope you didn’t get too cold walking with me.  I still have a few warm Algarve images that I may get to share with you before I go, but this is my last walk for a couple of weeks.

Many thanks for all your wonderful shares.  Please take a little time to read the following walks, especially if it’s someone you don’t know.  You may find a new friend.  There are lots this week but I’ll be in the Algarve for a few weeks, so you can make them last.  Once I get settled I hope to be back out with you again.


Let’s start with a little stunning alpine scenery from Drake :

From a peak

And here’s a fair bit of the white stuff from Anabel too!

The Birks of Aberfeldy (and other walks)

You birders will love this!  Take a walk in the wild with Lisa :

In Search of the Endangered Slaty Becard- (and finding so much more!)

Dom hosts a regular walk feature on Wandsworth Radio.  Why not have a listen?

Walking Wandsworth Episode 6- Battersea Arts Centre

And you could munch along with Jackie while you do :

Comfort foods

“One of the most glorious landscapes I’ve ever been fortunate to have hiked in”, says Nicole :

A Magical Hike in Chile’s Parque Andino Juncal

Kathrin’s in a very happy place and I think you’ll like it too :

Hopfen am See aka my Happy Place

‘There’s gold in them there hills!”  Well, there was once, wasn’t there, Carol?

The Ten Dollar Town

You can just picture Pauline and Jack, having fun with all these folks!

Meandering in Uki Market

Lady Lee is back from her holidays.  You might be jealous!

New Year’s Eve and Day in Manila

Cornwall can still compete with most places, if the weather behaves.  In French, and English :

Hike around Lizard Point, England

And while we’re down that way, a sort of revisit, from Jude :

Garden Portrait : The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part 1

This time last year I was getting very excited about a trip to Tuscany.  Thanks for the memories, Woolly!


This year I’m just days away from an extended stay in the Algarve.  Thanks for a lovely reminder, Becky :

There’s a pig loose

And just to thoroughly spoil you, here’s that warm beach walk I know you fancied, courtesy of Meg :

An early morning walk and an act of gross disloyalty

Lovely skies here this morning but still slippy stuff on the ground.  Take care out there!  I’ll be keeping an eye an you, and I’ll let you know when I’m walking again.  Bye for now!


Six word Saturday

Has anyone dropped a stitch lately?

On the bleakest of Winter days, I still couldn’t resist a little yarn bombing, this time at Saltholme Nature Reserve.

The details are amazing, aren’t they?  I couldn’t see a dropped stitch anywhere.  I had to keep on the move too, because it was SO cold!

It wouldn’t be complete without a tea party, would it?  (Hover over the smaller photos to see the captions, or click to view them in a gallery).  Have a great weekend, whatever the weather, and don’t forget to join Debbie with six words.



Six word Saturday

Taking a step back into childhood

What to do on a grey day in January?  Why, visit a Lego exhibition, of course.  A walk through time, in bricks, at Preston Park Museum.

Lascaux cave paintings

Copernicus discovers Heliocentrism

The railway’s coming!

China on the rise

Amazing what you can do with a few bricks, isn’t it?  The captions should help if you’re bemused.  All part of Saturday’s rich entertainment, as is Debbie’s Six Word Saturday.  Enjoy your day!

Six word Saturday

A hangover from the old year

Scarcely were my feet back on English soil, last November, than I was scampering up to Durham to see Lumiere 2017.  The consensus was that, in comparison with previous shows, this one was a bit of a disappointment.  It’s hard to maintain such standards as were set in November 2015.

I’ve been so busy sharing my Algarve exploits that I’d almost forgotten about the show.  I thought it time to show you a few of my highlights, before I move on.  As usual I started my tour in daylight, curious as to what I’d find. Below we have ‘Dome and Arches’ in the Market Place.

One of my favourite light installations took place in Durham University Botanic Garden.  ‘For the Birds’ was very clever and wonderfully atmospheric, but extremely difficult to reproduce in photographs.  Softly tweeting birds, suspended on fine wires, swooped through the trees in the darkness.  Patches of dramatic colour illuminated the valley, leading you on a magical journey.

Castle and Cathedral next.  ‘Our Moon’ smiles, blinks, twitches and frowns as the faces of Durham’s residents animate the facade of the Castle.  The Cathedral complex came in for a lot of criticism.  The Nave of the Cathedral was flooded in an eerie light, while the cloisters featured ‘Entre Les Rangs’, illuminated ‘flowers’ intended as a tribute to shimmering fields of wheat.

In all there were 28 installations, scattered throughout the city.  My opening photos were taken inside St. Oswald’s Church and were probably my greatest challenge.  ‘What Matters’ features thousands of hand-blown glass pieces, depicting the birth of light in the universe.  Incredibly beautiful.

I hope any hangovers are long gone. and that you enjoyed this look back with me.  Don’t forget to share your Six Words with Debbie.


Fizz!  Bang!  Whoop-whoop-whoop!  I know they’re a dreadful waste of money, but I can’t help the excitement I feel whenever I see fireworks.  The child in me claps it’s hands, and beams at the sky.

When my Polish family invited me to Norfolk to join their New Year celebrations, I knew there would be dancing, vodka- of course!- kissing, and more food than I could reasonably be expected to eat in a week.  I wasn’t disappointed on any of these counts, but the promise of fireworks at Cromer on New Year’s Day was the icing on the cake. (and yes, there was plenty of that, too).

Impatiently, we waited for the lights to dim and the show to start, gazing across the water for signs of activity on the pier.

And then, finally, the count down.  5-4-3-2-1- whooppee!

Impossible to replicate the sounds, the colours and the pure joy.  This week Paula has asked us to Pick a Word in Thursday’s Special.  I’ve picked an easy word, Festive, to stave off the January blues.

Jo’s Monday walk : Crossing the Tyne

There’s nothing like a bracing walk on New Year’s Day to whisk away the cobwebs.  This one, in North Shields, is well nigh perfect.  It all began with Tammy, whose North Shields Heritage Trail I featured on my last Monday walk.  Shields is only about 40 minutes north of me, by car, and we usually get there via the Tyne Tunnel.  It had not occurred to me that we could get there by ferry.  What a mistake!

Yes- 700 years!  The Heritage Trail starts from the ferry point.  My husband remarked that he and his Dad had made the crossing a few times when he was a lad, but I’d never crossed the Tyne by ferry.  And here it was, pulling in!  Obviously, a slight diversion was called for.

Ferries of some description are estimated to have been crossing the Tyne since the 14th century.  Steam packets began operating between North and South Shields in 1816.  Later on, bridges were discussed, but it wasn’t until the Tyne Tunnel opened in 1967 that there was a real alternative.  Once a hubbub of activity, the river was peaceful that day.  Excitement came in the form of two huge, oil platform ‘legs’ being towed out to sea.

With half an hour between ferries when we docked, curiosity got the better of me.  Not being familiar with this area of South Shields, I was excited to discover the National Centre for the Written Word – a truly state of the art building.  A cultural venue with library and exhibition space, I became a child again in the world of Captain Pugwash.  The pirates had come to town.

Not only that, but there was an exceptionally nice strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake in the cafe.  Needless to say, me and the skeleton missed the next ferry.  Back at the terminal, the sign below puts our whereabouts in context, 3 miles from Jarrow and 8 from Sunderland.

The Heritage Trail boards are very informative and give a good sense of how life was lived when the docks here were a thriving industry, and during their decline.  I can’t begin to reproduce them all, but I can give you a flavour.

We traced them past former industrial buildings and modern emerging apartments, towards the Fish Quay.  The ‘Old Wooden Dolly’ will have a tale or two to tell.  She started life as the figurehead on a collier brig, which was attacked off the coast by a privateer in 1781.  Sailors regarded her as a good luck charm, and would cut off pieces of her to take to sea to keep them safe.

You can still get a good plate of fish and chips in these parts.  The fleet were obviously finished for the day, with nets spread, as we approached the quay.  The High Light, built in 1808, together with the Low Light down below, helped guide ships into a safe channel to enter the Tyne.  The water here looks deceptively calm but there are vicious rocks just around the headland at Tynemouth.

Fishing boats have been sailing from North Shields since 1225, when the Prior of Tynemouth granted locals the right to build 7 shiels (simple dwellings) and a quay, to improve fishing supplies and increase the wealth of the priory.  I wondered where the name Shields came from.

The sun is low in the sky already, at not much after 2pm.  Beside ‘The Smokehouses’ pub an extraordinary building catches my eye.

It looks as though it’s listing a little, all at sea.  And there, by the shore, the main reason I have come to North Shields today.  Do you remember the corten steel sculpture of Tommy at Seaham?  Fiddler’s Green is an equally mournful but brilliant piece of work, from the same sculptor, Ray Lonsdale.  A tribute to fishermen lost at sea, the last rays of sunshine settle on his stoic back.

The fisherman looks out to the remains of Clifford’s Fort with, beyond it, Tynemouth Priory, and on the far shore, South Shields.

At this point the Heritage Trail heads uphill, past the High Light.  In the 18th century the narrow strip of land beside the river became too overcrowded, and North Shields spread to the plateau 60 feet above.  The rich shipowners and businessmen occupied the higher ground while working people remained in Low Town.  Dockwray Square, a set of elegant townhouses, was built in 1763.  Unfortunately the drainage was poor and the area became less desirable.  Today it’s the site of a small park, containing a cheery statue of comedian Stan Laurel, who lived at no. 8 during his boyhood, from 1897 to 1902.

The Trail ends in New Town, where we meet another of our Wooden Dollies.  A surprise to me, this one, because it’s carved by Robert ‘Mouseman’ Thompson of Kilburn fame.  His signature mice are carved into the skirt and sleeve.  A visit to his gallery is included in this walk.

A cast of many characters, I’m sure you’ll agree, making me rather proud of my northern heritage.  I hope you enjoyed exploring the Shields with me as much as I enjoyed writing and researching this post.

I may be slow responding to comments this week, as I’m with Polish family in Norfolk.  It being New Year’s Day, you may well be slow to make any.  I hope you enjoyed your celebrations over the festive period, and there aren’t too many sore heads around.  Take your time over this week’s selection of walks and, if you like, join me next week at Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll be very welcome.


Can I start by introducing you to Mel?  She has very grand plans for 2018 :

Under the Tuscan Sun – in Hiking Boots

I don’t really like snow, but in Tish’s hands it assumes a certain magic (but it still melts 🙂 )

Wenlock Snow Walk

Jackie’s ladling out the mulled wine to warm you up!

Mulling over Wine

If you’re quick, you’ll just catch this!  It sounds great so thanks, Denzil :

A magical evening with the kids

Or you could stop by Museu d’Orsay with Drake :

Little museum walk

Ann Christine shows us that Gran Canaria isn’t just beaches.  It’s beautiful!

What I came to this island for

Too far away from me, but I do love a lighthouse :

Semaphore Heritage Walk

Some exciting stuff from Nicole, hiking with her Dad :

At the Doorstep of the Andes : A Hike to El Morado Hanging Glacier

Woolly reminds us of the 24 hour truce for Christmas, in 1914 :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk47_Christmas Truce

I’ll end with somewhere close to my heart.  Don’t miss this, from Verne :

Ten days hiking the unknown side of Algarve

Time now to look ahead, and to wish you all a healthy, happy and fulfilling year.


Six word Saturday

Goodbye to a worn out year!

A chance remark gave me this week’s six words, but I do like to leave you with a smile.  Remember my Monday walk, Yarn bombing in Yorkshire?  I had cause to return to Thirsk this week and what should I find in Market Square but these cheeky characters.

Nothing to do but smile, is there?  I’d had a bit of a walk round, of course, and discovered more of the town history on information boards.  Thirsk is well equipped for walkers of all grades. And just a few reminders of Christmas past…

I walked past White Rose Book Cafe once, but I couldn’t walk past it twice.  You’ll be expecting cake, but it was really cold and I had a warm cheese scone instead.  Heaven!  You’ll have to come back on Monday for cake, and then it’ll be a New Year.  Thank you for sharing this one with me.

I know it’s been a bad year for some of you.  We can only hope for better, can’t we?  Wishing you, as I always do, good health and happiness in the year ahead.  I hope to be in Norfolk with Polish family for New Year.  Please snow, start thawing now.  Over to Debbie for some magic!