Jo’s Monday walk

Jo’s Monday walk : An adventure with Gilly

The raw energy of a city is compelling, even if a little intimidating.  Riding into Warsaw on the airport bus, my eyes were on stalks, collecting impressions on every side.  Such a bustling, modern city, the buildings twisting and turning to point to the blue sky overhead.  Anxiety was swept away by excitement.  I was here!  And I stepped from the bus into the warmth of Meg’s arms, those lovely eyes twinkling at me.  All angst was neatly deposited in Meg’s backpack- my tour guide for a day, found!

Turning from her momentarily, the beaming smile of Gilly reached me from across the square, as she descended the steps of the Palace of Culture and Science, arm in arm with her friend Lindy.  Gaggling like geese, we blindly followed Meg as she led us from the centre to a restaurant.  Puzzling over the menu, we laughed when the wicker basket of knifes and forks arrived, bearing chopsticks in an elegant green wrapper.  My efforts to eat my noodle laden broth produced more smiles, along with the slurps.  Two thirds of the way through our meal, a mighty crash of thunder and coin drops of rain pounded our table.  The wide, creamy umbrellas over the tables were scarcely adequate.  More merriment and we scrambled indoors.

In no time, the sun was blazing through the open windows again.  Meg was recovering from a heavy cold, and starting to wilt a little, having been tour guiding all day and shown the ladies lovely Stare Miasto in the morning.  Lindy was struggling too, which left me and Gilly to get up to mischief.  Arrangements were made for early next morning, and Meg deposited us at our hotel.  A swift cuppa, and it was time to hit the streets.  Already it was 6.30 on a warm Warsaw evening.  Fortunately, Gilly was not at all critical of my reckless tour guiding style.  Of course the bus would take us to the river!  And so it did, with just a little walking involved.

The road stretched ahead, seemingly endless, the traffic buzzing past, the architecture varied and interesting.  On the horizon we could see a stadium, which we knew to be on the other side of the river.  Praga was not advisable after dusk, I was informed, but reaching the river the greater challenge was to get down to the riverside.  With the agility of a monkey, Gilly swung around the barrier and scrambled along the bank, hand over hand along the railings.  I followed, more sedately, concerned for my pretty, navy city shoes.

Nobody seemed to notice, and I was immediately at home, with a young crowd blithely enjoying the throng of beach bars, deck chairs and food stalls.  Boats bobbed serenely, while overhead trams clanged past and bikes dominated the footpath.

Appetising smells beguiled my nose, but a drink seemed more pressingly urgent, in the sultry evening air.  Dusk was beginning to fall, the warmth felt heavy with insects and an awareness that we were far from home.  How to get back on the bridge presented something of a challenge, but I dared a few words of Polish and waved my arms at the bridge.  The two young men politely gestured to where the steps were hidden.  Gilly and I agreed that we would not have chanced it after dark.

What else?  Hop another bus to take us nearer to the centre, a little judicious food purchasing and a bit of naughty jay walking.  Subways can get tedious, can’t they?  But please don’t tell.  I’d hate to be in trouble with the authorities.  The bottle top on my cider didn’t look promising, but it did unscrew.  I had no spoon for the delicious yogurt though.  Collapsed in my room with just my diary for company, I really didn’t care.

I hope you enjoyed our adventure.  I really didn’t intend to post today, but realising that next Monday I will be on my way to the Algarve, and that I have a fine collection of your walks ready to share, I thought it best.  Meantime, I’ll be off to see my daughter in Nottingham on Thursday.  And yes, I did manage to get those tickets reprinted.  Thank you all for your concern.

Where will we find Lady Lee this week?

In the country

A treat or two in store, from lovely Sherri.  Anyone else get to the Bash?

Surprises, Diana’s Dresses and the Annual Blogger’s Bash 2018

A bargain ‘two for one’ from Anabel, and both just a short walk apart :

The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel

A glimpse of ‘that’ wedding and lots more food, from Jackie :

Beer Money

When Sue shows willing, you simply have to sit up and take notice :

A stroll around Chartwell

‘Join the fun!’ says Jesh.  You know you want to :

Rounding up May

Suzanne delights me with fossils, shells and a little Autumn gold :

A walk to Shelly Beach

The end of Autumn

Calvi and Honfleur- two of the most scenic of places, shared by Drake :

Backdrop but scene too

The sunny side

Remember my lovely rhododendrons?  Eunice has found me some more :

A quarry walk with a difference

And Carol turns up some interesting treasure of her own :

From Trash to Treasure

How do you think of New York?  Jane’s wonderful photos show us it’s calmer side :

Hudson River Ramble

And a wonderfully scenic hike with Cathy ends in tears, but don’t worry- she’s ok!

The Mt. Sanitas hike in Boulder, Colorado

Not too very sure when I’ll be posting again.  Life does seem a little hectic.  Meanwhile, enjoy the sunshine, thanks for your company, and I’ll visit you all as soon as I can.

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.

Jo’s Monday walk : A Garden Extravaganza

This isn’t a walk so much as a wallow in flowers at an Open Garden event last weekend.  I did propose a walk to nearby Witton Castle, but ‘someone’ was feeling lazy, so we opted to loiter instead.  Hillside Cottages are in the quintessentially English village of Low Etherley, a few miles from Bishop Auckland, in County Durham.  A look over the garden wall will show you the lie of the land.  Calm and pastoral.

I love nosing around a garden.  My plant knowledge isn’t huge, but I do enjoy identifying a friend or two.  Small explosions of colour lure me into the borders.  Rich plum, ‘poke you in the eye’ orange and soft pink mingle with the green.

There are two gardens, side by side, quite different yet so harmonious that the division between them is little more than a gap in the adjoining hedge, which I initially fail to spot.  The first swathes gently down the hillside, beds and borders speckled with colour.  The lady owner is obviously a lover of tulips, with all their nuances, subtle or flaunted.  Poker straight or curling seductively.

I can hear the sound of pipes, and rounding a corner I come upon the culprits.  I don’t pay them the attention that I should, because I am beguiled by the rhododendrons.  In the most glorious colours, the sun sparkles through them, bathing me in radiance.

This is the very best time of year, and life burgeons all around me.  I almost miss the delicate lemon magnolia, opening to the sun’s caress, high above my head.  Tea is brewing, alongside an array of homemade cakes, but first we must round the pond and slip through the fence to next door.

A sense of humour prevails in next door’s garden, where another pond winks at me in the sunlight.

This garden feels much more enclosed, and you wander beneath tall pines, seeking out quirks and fantasies.  By a summerhouse the owner lounges benevolently in a deck chair, chatting to some older ladies.  Probably they supervised the baking.

Don’t you just love the dog’s expression?  And what might these two gardens have in common?  Wait for it…

Scintillating rhododendrons, of course!  I’ve never been able to resist them.  I hope you didn’t mind me taking it easy this week.  This is the time of year when traditionally I share a few gardens with you.  I have a much more energetic one lined up for next week.

Wait a moment, I can hear you saying… what happened to the cake?  I can assure you that my rhubarb cake was moist and delicious, but there were no seats left, so I had to eat it perched upon a wall.  Not conditions that are compatible with cake photography.  Sorry!

Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk?  It will be a Bank Holiday in the UK, but I’ll still be out and about.  After that I’ll be taking a break for my visit to Poland.  Many thanks to you all for your walks and for your great company.

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Although I’m a sun worshipper, I love a moody sky. Enjoy a cliff top walk with Suzanne :

Standing vertical in the storm

Jackie never needs any encouragement to eat and drink.  Join her for a cuppa?

Coffee Break

I’m offered all kinds of walks.  Janet has some beautiful sculptures to share :

Monday walk… sculpture in old Scottsdale

And Drake, often one to surprise, takes us to a tobacco museum!

Smoke in the mountain

Adventures in sand, water and caves with Liesbet.  This lady likes variety :

Highlights in Southern New Mexico – A Long Weekend Away

Or take a stroll with Pauline and Jack.  They make such delightful company :

Out and about in Stanthorpe…

And speaking of delightful, a certain Mrs. Farrell has been busy on our behalf :

Following in the Footsteps of the Green Man

Denzil offers easy walking, not far from Brussels.  Sounds good to me :

A walk around Leefdaal

It’s surprising what you can do, if you really try.  Georgie was walking in a good cause :

Walking the Wight – how I walked 15 miles…

Meanwhile Eunice has taken a leaf out of my book this week, with a really beautiful Open Garden :

Hornby Castle Gardens

Finally, an Australian Autumn, where Rosemay finds what it takes to tire the grandbairn out :

Autumn at Araluen

Yet another lovely morning here!  I’m starting to take it for granted.  Let’s see if it holds for the Bank Holiday.  Meantime, have fun, and take care.  See you next week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Vindolanda Roman Fort

Knee deep in history this week, I spent a fascinating day out at Vindolanda, on Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland.  Come and walk with me, in Roman footsteps.  Can you believe, this tiny child’s boot, found here on this site, is from Roman times?

At the edge of the Roman Empire, the Wall was to stretch 73 miles across Britain, from coast to coast.  A formidable undertaking!  The garrison at Vindolanda was the first of a series of bases enabling the Wall to be built, and then defended.  The name means ‘white field’ or ‘white moor’, and I can testify that freezing conditions are often to be found at the border in winter.  On a warm Spring day, the beauty of the surrounds was what struck me first.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s build the suspense a little.  What might I find here?

I had, of course, heard all about the Vindolanda Tablets– telling scraps of bygone lives, written in ink on wafer thin slivers of wood, they are the oldest surviving hand written documents in Britain.  But what would they look like, and how did they come to be still intact after almost 2000 years?  This UNESCO World Heritage Site has ongoing live excavations, and it was incredible to watch history being unearthed before my eyes.

Meet Graham, and his merry team, and let him enthrall you with tales of some of the finds from the 14 years he has been helping to excavate this site.  The twinkle in his eyes can’t disguise the passion he has for this very special place.  The stories will give you goosebumps.  It was from Graham that I first heard the explanation as to how well preserved everything was.  The first 4 forts here were made of wood, but over time they were demolished and 5 new stone forts were built over the top.  Each layer of new building sealed the previous levels, creating anaerobic (oxygen-free) conditions, effectively preserving them from decay.  An unbelievable 6000 items have been recovered so far.  As they continue down they hit further pockets of discovery, adding to the already amazing haul.

Throughout the site information boards help you to reconstruct what once stood there.  The Romans were very resourceful, channelling water from nearby streams in stone aqueducts or timber pipes.  They had underfloor heating systems, steam rooms and communal but comfortable toilets.  It was a well-ordered society with a recognised chain of command and luxurious, for the times, quarters for the Governor and his guests.  It is believed that the Emperor Hadrian himself once stayed here.

On the Vindolanda website there is a detailed timeline and enough information to keep you reading for a considerable time.  I can only skim the surface here.  The Romans arrived in the mid AD70s and were here for more than 300 years, building and rebuilding a sequence of forts and, from AD120, Hadrian’s Wall.  When the Romans withdrew from Vindolanda it continued to have a life for a further 400 years, before falling into decay.

It is a spectacular site, built on a hill, and would have been easy to defend.  Follow me down to the reconstructed Temple of the Nymphs, in the valley below.  The Romans worshipped a number of gods, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury and Neptune among them.  The wall paintings inside are based on examples at Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The museum is in a beautiful setting, in what was formerly Chesterfield Cottage.  It was purchased by Vindolanda Trust in 1974 and has been extended and modernised, and includes a very friendly little restaurant.  If you can make it here, I cannot recommend it highly enough.  One of the collections that I found extraordinary was the shoes.  I had no idea that the Romans had so much choice in the range of footwear available to them. (especially if they had plenty of money)  Coloured socks are believed to have been worn with the latticed style, to highlight the pattern.  The soles were studded to prolong wear, children’s shoes being a smaller version of adult footwear.

Whatever attracts or interests you, I’m sure you can find something to marvel at, be it fine bronze armour, worn by the legionaries, oyster forks, a range of keys, painted glass from the Rhineland or the military standard and horse brasses of a cavalry troop.

Goods were made locally by craftsmen but were also trafficked throughout the mighty Roman Empire.  Leather for clothes, shoes and tents for the military was produced at Vindolanda, and woodworking was an essential craft.  A workbench belonging to ‘Atto’ bears his carved name and the punch marks from his tools.  Another compelling recent find is a pair of ancient ‘boxing gloves’, probably used by a soldier during fitness training.

In a darkened corner I finally find what I’ve been looking for.  Described as ‘postcards from the past’, the Vindolanda Tablets inspire awe.  I peer into the illuminated cabinets, trying to decipher the writing from a world 2000 years ago.  Defeated by language, I gaze numbly through the glass.  Many hours have been spent transcribing these events from everyday life, and many more could be spent reading them.

Finally I pull myself away, and head back outdoors.  Clouds have scudded in and I feel the chill that must once have settled on Roman bones.  I linger just long enough to climb one of the wooden forts, hoping to find a degree of shelter from the wind.  Looking down on the remains of a bathhouse, I shiver and then march briskly, back to the car.

I hope you enjoyed this venture back in time with me, and can only urge, if ever you have the chance, that you visit.  The rewards are rich.  Full access details for Vindolanda and the Roman Army Museum (to follow) are on the website.

Another bumper crop of walks to share with you this week.  Many thanks to everyone for their efforts, and for many hours of pleasure.  Join me any time on Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll be very welcome.  Definitely time to put the kettle on!

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Drake was swift off the mark with a bit of fun this week :

Garden party

Closely followed by Lady Lee, with a garden of her own :

The moon, apple blossom and our garden

And then Lisa took us all the way to Israel :

From Crocodiles to Tarantulas

Always fascinating to see where someone lives.  Let Suzanne be your tour guide, with quiet atmosphere:

Morning walk

And, not to confuse you, a very different Suzanne takes you on a forest walk :

A saunter down GRAND AVENUE

Grab a coffee next, and go look at some books with Janet!

Monday walk…book walk

Then check out life with Jesh :

Between bricks or rocks

And a few thoughts on life from Geoff and friends :

Walking Talking Reminiscing…

My good friend Pit takes you on two, quite different, sculpture walks :

Sioux Falls/SD : A stroll along Sculpture Walk

Galveston 2017 – Impressions #2 (Tree Sculptures)

Wonderful to find yourself alone in one of the world’s most popular cities- a lovely photo walk with Jaspa :

The Calli, Campi and Canali of Cannaregio, Venice

And talking of popular cities, I wish I could join Susan in this one :

Walking Lombard Street in San Francisco

Two Susans this week, and it’s so nice to have this one back :

A Jane’s Walk in Douglaston, Queens

I love a lady with wanderlust, and you can certainly describe Pauline that way :

Reasons to return : Preview…

It’s always pleasant to see a bit more of Belgium with Denzil (and a daughter too!) :

Walking around Lavaux-Sainte-Anne

And what is it about villages with a stream running through?  Join Eunice on a sunny day!

Bank Holiday walk round Barrow Bridge

It’s another sunny morning here in the north east, and I shall be making the most of it.  Have a great week, everybody!

Jo’s Monday walk : YSP revisited

Not sure that I’d want to meet this tribe on a dark night, but on a semi-sunny afternoon at Yorkshire Sculpture Park they seemed harmless enough.  I had hoped to find some Spring colour and a whole heap of rhododendrons, but it didn’t look too promising on my arrival.

The sheep were oblivious, despite the antics of a small boy.  I was happy to find that many of the sculptures had been replaced since my previous visit, so off we went, on a mission of discovery.  Over the bridge and upwards, a carpet of bluebells cheering us on.

The ‘rather cool’ tree sculptures, nourished by decaying leaves, had obviously been there for some time.  Up on the tops it was cool and breezy, but you could see for miles, rapeseed fields lighting the horizon.  And then it was down to the Longside Gallery, and a coffee stop.  No, I’m sure you don’t want to see a photo of my chocolate fudge brownie, but I’d earned it.

The small boy was worried at the appearance of a shaggy Highland Cattle beastie, directly in our path to the gazing head.  With scarcely a glance in our direction, it lumbered into the mud and better grazing.  The head, eyes closed, I found very beautiful.

The lake was huge, families strolling peacefully in pursuit of culture.  I could have wished for more information on the sculptures, but it wasn’t until our walk was over that my husband offered the leaflet he’d picked up.  What was that, lurking on the field?  Unarmed warriors, it appeared to me.

I was sure there was meaning.  Fortunately the YSP website explains all.  British-Trinidadian sculptor, Zak Ové, is responsible for Black and Blue : The Invisible Men and the Masque of Blackness.  He seeks to “reignite and reinterpret lost culture using new-world materials, whilst paying tribute to both spiritual and artistic African identity”. In this work, the sculptor uses graphite to explore what he describes as “future world black”.

Ai Weiwei’ s Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads has been touring the world since May 2010.  The 12 bronze heads have a historical reference, but Weiwei intends them to be playful and accessible.  I ceased my perusing to head for the Camelia House.  Their beauty was easy to understand.

I kept looking for that telltale splurge of colour, but green predominated.  Returning to the entrance, I was sorry to see that the reflective silver sphere I loved last time was being replaced.  But there’s often light at the end of the tunnel, and so it proved to be.

A dazzling display of soft pink, rhododendron wonder.  Exactly what I was looking for.

Have you been following Cathy’s extraordinary new venture at Wander.essence?  More energy, enthusiasm, attention to detail and pure determination to get it right you will not find in the world of travel blogs.  I have Cathy’s permission to include my walk on her Photography Invitation.  I hope she likes it.  Do join her on one of her many adventures!

It’s a Bank Holiday here in the UK, so hopefully you’ll have time to read and share my walks this week.  Many thanks to all of you for taking part, and for your continued support.  Join me any time- the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Janet is delighted to lead us into Spring this week.  It’s been a long wait in her part of the world :

Spring walk

I usually have to force my brain to come up with poetry.  Frank makes it seem effortless :

Round the lake (rtl)#1: sea above

Seems Jackie had a bit of a narrow escape the other week.  But, undaunted, she shopped, and ate :

Love food

Drake shares some captivating street art, this week.  A walk in the Black Forest :

Streets with inspiring content

While more of Warsaw’s fascinating history is revealed, in this post from Meg :

I don’t know everything

If you’ve never been there, be guided by Andrew’s wonderful descriptions.  Or even if you have!

Naples, Walking The Back Streets

Another place I’ve been to on my travels, Candy takes a whistle-stop look at Beja, in the Alentejo :

A walk through Beja in Portugal

And here, a sculpture walk very different to mine, from Cady Luck Leedy :

Last Day in Columbus, Georgia

Another poetry walk, and an ‘out of this world’ experience with Suzanne :

Walking in two worlds 

Memories of my son’s childhood recreated for me by Irene :

Railway Garden

Jude, you might enjoy this?  Your neck of the woods.  3rd of 3, with Ceri at Woman Walking :

To the Lighthouse, and other stories

And Emma, simply not letting PTSD affect her progress around the Gower coast :

Gower Coastal Walk: Tor Bay & Oxwich Bay

Another glorious morning here!  I would tap dance my way into the garden, but it doesn’t work with carpets.  Have a wonderful week, all!

Jo’s Monday walk : Bede’s World

It was last Summer when I first came upon Bede’s Heritage Trail, quite by accident, in the sleepy hamlet of Whitburn, on the north east coast.   A 12 mile walk, it links the church of St. Paul’s in Jarrow with St. Peter’s, down the coast at Wearmouth.  I had inadvertently arrived, right in the middle.

Benedict Biscop, a Northumbrian nobleman, had travelled to Rome 6 times and was inspired by the Christian life he found there.  In 674 he approached King Ecgrifth of Northumbria and was given a large estate on which to found the monastery of St. Peter’s, in Wearmouth.  It’s twin, St. Paul’s, was begun 8 years later, further north at Jarrow.  They were among the first stone buildings in Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, and St. Paul’s contains the oldest church dedication stone in England.  Part of the Anglo-Saxon monastery survives today as the chancel of St. Paul’s.  A good place to start, I think.

The Venerable Bede was educated in the monastery from the age of seven, and became the most important European scholar of his era. (born 673- died 735)  The founder of medieval historical writing, his works give a unique insight into life in the monastery.  The two buildings were regarded by Bede as ‘one monastery in two places’ and ‘bound together by the one spirit of peace and harmony’.    Monks would have traveled between them on foot, or by boat, using the small tributary of the River Don, which links to the Tyne.

I had scribbled details of the first part of the Heritage Trail on a slip of paper, intending to follow the route of the monks for at least a little way before returning to explore the museum dedicated to Bede.  As so often happens, a signpost created confusion.  Perhaps I should have ignored the cyclist.  In any event, Bede wouldn’t have had to tackle flyovers and underpasses.  And certainly not graffiti!

It was something of a relief to return to Jarrow Bridge, spanning the Don, alongside of St. Paul’s.  Gyrwe, the Anglo-Saxon name for Jarrow, means ‘place of the marsh dwellers’.  Arrows pointed me in the direction of Bede’s World, and from there I couldn’t go wrong.  A wealth of information, pleasingly displayed, I found the museum imaginative and entertaining.

Benedict Biscop was keen to build in the ‘Roman manner’ and spared no expense, importing skilled masons and glaziers from abroad, to accomplish this.  Over 1,000 fragments of coloured glass were discovered during excavation of the site of the monastery.  The Jarrow Figure was reconstructed using glass found under a collapsed wall.

The community of monks was very industrious during Bede’s lifetime.  One of their most notable achievements was the Codex Amiatinus, a complete Bible in a single volume.  It weighed over 34 kilograms (75 lbs), being made with 2060 pages of vellum – calf skins washed in a bath of lime, stretched on a frame and treated with pumice.

Bede Museum shares the grounds with Jarrow Hall, and the lovely old building provides light refreshments in its cafeteria. (and cake, naturally!)  With the sun shining brightly, it was time to take a stroll through the Anglo-Saxon farm.  Curly-coated pigs, Dexter bullocks, goats, ducks and chickens share the 11 acre site with reproduction thatched farm buildings.

A gentle green path, fringed with primroses and blossom, leads to a mound topped by a cross, and a viewing point over the industrial River Tyne.

It’s a nice green space in an urban setting.  I hope you enjoyed it with me.  I’ll take you to St. Peter’s another time.  Meanwhile, this leaflet contains details of the whole trail, and here is a link to Bede Museum.

Great to have so many of you sharing walks with me again this week.  I really appreciate it.  Please find time to visit each other.  I know it’s a struggle sometimes but it really is worthwhile.  Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk.

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Starting with a fabulous hike in Japan, with Celia.  The vistas are wonderful :

Spring Hiking at South Takao

Much flatter, but still full of interest, join Anabel in Holland :

A walk round Utrecht

Coffee and Leonard Cohen – I find both irresistible.  And where there’s Jackie, there’s always food!

Turkish Coffee

Where would you expect to find an English garden?  In Munich, of course!  Thanks, Lady Lee :

A morning in English garden

Standing stones are always fascinating, aren’t they?  Suzanne has found some most unusual ones :

A Mystical Destination – AVEBURY

Drake finds me an idyllic piece of Greenland to share this week :

Covenant with nature

And Gunta has immense Redwoods and Trilliums!

Hike to Trillium Falls

A city I’m to visit soon, but just in passing.  I wish I could take this tour with Meg :

Warsaw street art

Emma is tireless when it comes to the Welsh coastal footpath.  Her love for it shows in her paintings :

Pennard Cliffs & Three Cliffs Bay

Something I’d really love to do.  I wonder if Susan would like company?

Walking the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco

From one iconic sight to another!  Hit the heights with Rosemay :

Hong Kong – A Walk Down The Peak (The Morning Trail)

That’s it for this week!  Distinctly cool here, but in England there’s another Bank Holiday coming up.  I’ll be taking you to some wide, open spaces next Monday.  Take care till then!

Jo’s Monday walk : Arbeia Roman Fort

Meeting friends for coffee in South Shields, nothing was further from my mind than a Roman Fort.  Remember Crossing the Tyne when I took you inside the National Centre for the Written Word?  It has a nice little cafe with a view (and strawberry and rhubarb cheesecake), and this particular day there were Monsters in the exhibition space.

It’s a good starting point for an amble south of the river and, once outside, my eyes lit up when I read on a signpost ‘Arbeia Roman Fort – 1 mile’.  Now that’s a destination you won’t find every day!  Farewells were bid.  I was on a mission.

The area was once a hive of industry, rich in pubs for slaking a good thirst.  A well placed mural brings it all back to life.

The Metro now runs across the High Street, a straggle of shops, pubs and restaurants with a few allusions to the past.

I almost missed the clue, but a left turn took me in the direction of the river, and a few minutes later I was staring at the reconstruction of the West Gate of a Roman fort.  Slightly incongruous, but impressive, in the midst of a South Shields housing estate.

Arbeia Roman Fort, standing above the entrance to the River Tyne, guarded the main route by sea to Hadrian’s Wall and was thus of great strategic importance to the Romans.  It was a key garrison and military supply base to other forts along the Wall.  It  surprised me to find that this reconstruction, on the exact site of the original fort of AD160, was recreated 30 years ago.

There are numerous information boards around the site and, within the West Gate, models of how the fort once looked and an Armoury.  You can climb to the turrets of the gate to look down upon the ruins, and north to the Tyne and Wallsend. (Segedunum in Roman times)

In addition to the West Gate there is a Commanding Officer’s house, partially rebuilt using some of the original floor and foundations.  It includes a palisade and summer dining room, with lovely frescoes on the walls.  The Barrack Block was built using traditional Roman techniques from the 3rd century.  Soldiers usually lived here, 8 to an apartment.

I was very lucky to get inside.  It was still pre-season, but a school party were paying a visit.  Excavations have been ongoing at the fort since the 1870s, with significant finds enabling us to piece together the life of a Roman soldier.  The website gives details of opening hours and how to get there.   It was a lovely afternoon as I headed down through the park to the mouth of the Tyne.  On the far shore, Tynemouth Priory and, looking south, far along the coast, distant Souter Lighthouse.  The day had not turned out at all as I expected.  Extraordinary, in fact.

I hope you enjoyed accompanying me along the Tyne.  Our heritage is fascinating, isn’t it?

Lots more walks to share this week, so pop the kettle on and have a good read.  Many thanks to all of you for keeping this going.  Join me any time.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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How’s morning where you are?  Come and sit harbourside with me and Drake!

Idyllic maltese mornings

You really wouldn’t want to hurry if you could spend time in Bhutan, like Ann Christine :

Walking Home – Slow Contemplation

My mother always loved lupins and Lisa’s are in a lovely location :

Return to Lupin Hill

Marsha takes some rather odd walks, don’t you think?

What you Should Know about Alligators : Instructions at Gatorland

Kathrin’s post epitomises sunny California.  Spot the ‘hidden’ beach!

Point Lobos State Reserve

Let Dippy-Dotty Girl brighten your day.  I can promise you a smile :

A Day in Lund

Never a dull moment with Jesh, either.  Anyone identify the flowers?

Enjoying The Park

I may be giving away secrets, but I hope Emma won’t mind :

Walking the Gower Coast : Pwll Du and Hunts Bay

You’ll be ready for food after all that walking.  Where else but Jackie’s place?

Luscious Lemons

Save some for the ducks and swans, with Lady Lee :

Swan Lake

Time spent with Pauline and Jack is always interesting.  Check out their sketches :

Time in Tenterfield : Road trip day 3

And day 4 takes us adventuring with boulders :

Into the Mountains : Day 4 of the road trip

When a photographer finds me, I have to reciprocate.  Meet Avirup at Walk of Life :

Photowalk at Territy Bazar – Kolkata

A sad little place?  Take a stroll with Irene :

Never Ending Trail

Now, for something completely different, a walk with my favourite beaver.  And Carol, of course!

Into the Blue

And here’s Carol, all alone (well, not really because Glen will be about too) :

Taking a Break

Still on the beautiful Australian coast, a walk with Karen rounds us off :

La Perouse Headland Walk

No complaints this week.  The amelanchier is blooming beautifully in our garden, and any chance I get, I’m out there.  Wishing you a week full of sunshine and blossom.