Home and Abroad

Hartlepool Headland

Hartlepool, on the north east coast of England, isn’t the loveliest place in the world, but for many years it was home, and I guess it grew on me.  It’s very different now to the Hartlepool I remember as a child.  The development of a marina changed the town’s fortunes to the extent that in August 2010 they were able to host the final leg of the Tall Ships Races.  Never have I felt so proud, and the camaraderie on our streets for those 4 days is unlikely to be equalled.

“Dewarucci” in Hartlepool Victoria Dock

I love to walk and whenever I possibly could, I’d get out along the coast.  There are some superb local beaches, though you wouldn’t always want to put your toe in the water (brrh!)  Just down the road, the Yorkshire Moors roll off into the distance, and further afield there’s beautiful Wensleydale. (cheese, Gromit lad?)

Beach on Hartlepool Headland

Durham is the County town (well, she was once, but that’s another story) and is good for all weathers.  The county of the Prince Bishops has some lovely corners too.  

Tunstall Reservoir, near Stanhope, Co. Durham

The city of Durham is a great place to be in November.  “Lumiere 2011” was a feast of light installations :


The snow dome

The snow dome, Lumiere 2011, Durham

“Lumiere 2013” was different, but just as wonderful.


The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

The frocks shimmered in the dark and then began to change colour

It’s a lovely city, with plenty of historical sites to explore :


Durham Castle keep, Richard Widdison for Wikipedia

A first visit for me to the Grassington Dickensian Festival, down in the Yorkshire Dales, made a wonderful festive day out :


The procession

The procession, Grassington Village

And then I spent a little time with my daughter in Nottingham :


Lovely Newstead Abbey, Byron’s family home

Not too far from home, on the north east coast, I uncovered another Byron connection, at Seaham :


Rough seas at Seaham Harbour, Wikipedia

It’s a developing community these days, getting over its mining past.


Seaham's burgeoning marina

Seaham’s burgeoning marina


Of course, Hartlepool is often in the blog.  The marina was great fun with Flat Ruthie :

A sunny Summer day had me up the clock tower in Church St., looking out to sea and down on the town centre.


Hartlepool, viewed from Christ Church tower, on a sunny day!

Hartlepool, viewed from Christ Church tower, on a sunny day!

You can’t have too many steam trains, can you?  The scenery of the North York Moors is especially beautiful :


 The Diamond Jubilee was a great time to be British!  Elwick Village went all out at their Scarecrow Festival in 2012 :


In 2013 I managed the Scarecrow Festival in both Elwick and Castle Eden villages.


Snowmen at the beach- that's definitely madness!

Snowmen at the beach- that’s definitely madness!

The Yorkshire village, Robin Hood’s Bay, is a real beauty spot if you’re in the area :


Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire

While the city of York always provides plenty of entertainment :


Richmond in North Yorkshire is another of my favourite places, especially in Autumn :


But come Winter, there’s no nicer place to be than St. Mary’s Church in Whitby :


A traditional display

A traditional display2013 began with a very special event for me- my daughter’s wedding at Thrumpton Hall.  I think you’ll agree, it’s grand!  And so was she.


Lisa, with (left to right) Jema, Amy and Eva

Lisa, with (left to right) Jema, Amy and Eva

Northumberlandia was a revelation, as well as providing the opportunity to meet a lovely blogging friend.   But chilly wasn’t the word!


An aerial view

An aerial view

Now that you have a good idea of the north east, I’d better tell you a little bit about “Abroad”.

Since leaving home for London as an 18 year old, I’ve always wanted to be “somewhere else”.  I loved the big city, but I soon realised that there was a lot of world out there.  Over the years I’ve covered a fair bit of ground, though never as much as I would like.  Isn’t it funny how some people are “home bodies”?  I’m married to one!  When we were younger he was happy to hop around the Greek Islands with me.  We both had a love affair with Italy, and it was so easy to feed our small son pasta.  A couple of trips to the States were followed by Canary Islands and Madeira. Having a Winter birthday, but loving the sun, these islands had a strong pull for me.

I’d always watched “A Place in the Sun” and the idea of retiring abroad had huge appeal.  On a first ever visit to Portugal, an impulsive decision was made.  My husband is in no way an impetuous person, but something about the gentleness and old-fashioned values of the Portuguese made a big impression on him.  My research had led me to Tavira in the Eastern Algarve, and I was delighted to find that we both loved it.  My Personal A-Z of Portugal will introduce you to some of the beautiful places we’ve found since.

Life can be very strange sometimes can’t it, and we hadn’t made any serious plan to move abroad when something quite extraordinary happened.  I discovered that I had aunts and uncles, of whom I knew nothing, living in Poland.  Not to mention 26 cousins!  The story of my family and travels in that country are the subject of My Personal A-Z of Poland.

I sometimes wish I could curb the wanderlust, but it’s very much a part of me.  Just occasionally I manage to persuade my husband that an exciting trip is necessary.  Imagine the thrill of Barcelona!  I loved that city so much!  Gaudi and the Sagrada Familia will always have a special place in my heart.


This figure looks down on the city- with compassion?

The trip far exceeded my expectations and I have written numerous posts about it, including a day trip to delicious Girona, with its bridges and many cloistered arcades.  If ever you go, consider the Flower Festival in May.



I neglected to keep this page up to date, but I’m reluctant to delete it.  In April 2018 we made the monumental decision to sell our UK home, and move permanently to the Algarve.  By November we were packed up and gone.  After 3 months we obtained resident status.  The story continues to unfold.  What next?  I’m just beginning to understand the potential.

I hope you’ll find something within these pages that you like.  Feel free to browse, won’t you?


  1. I just discovered your blog and I can totally relate to your wanderlust spirit. I have done quite a bit of traveling these past few years and plan to retire soon so not sure where that will bring me. I love your photos and it makes me want to revisit my trip to England from a few years ago.


  2. Love the snowmen!! And when I saw Whitby, I thought of the other Whitby… in New Zealand, named after Captain Cook of course! I am in awe of that bow on the Demarucci. I have not seen a ship like this myself! Gorgeous decoration.


    1. I’m hoping the Dewarucci will be at Sunderland with the Tall Ships this week, Amanda. It’s Michael’s 65th on Thursday and we’re going up there. Hoping the weather lasts. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. You photos are stunning. I laugh when people here (Bletchley/Milton Keynes) lament being far from the sea. I spent the my last 8 years in USA 1000 miles from the sea. This is a morning drive for a lovely day.


    1. Thank you! I’m not a photographer but my camera is very kind to me, and I like to tell a story or two. I would struggle to live far from the sea, but maybe mountains and lakes might do. Thanks for your company over here. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hello (posh) Johanna, thank you for dropping by my blog. I am delighted to have come across yours and look forward to following you in your many adventures home and abroad 🙂 Cheers. x


  5. One of these days maybe you could do a post about what sort of camera you use, how you use it and how you managed to train your eye to produce such magnificent compositions. I’d love to take picture like yours but I know I never will, I haven’t got the eye, I’ll always get that pole stuck coming out of someone’s head, or a wayward piece of debris hogging the foreground.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t know how to answer this Mari. I have a small Canon Ixus 1915. It’s very battered because I’m a clumsy sort of person. Mostly I can see what I want to capture when I look at a scene but I do use an enhancing photo edit which makes the best of what I have. Thank you for your enjoyment of my photos. That’s all I aim for xx


  6. This is such a lovely post, Jo. It really showcases you! Your photos are stunning and more than that I enjoy the way you weave your tale. Not a bit braggy or proud, but genuine and kind. Thank you for being one of my blogging friends. 🙂 Marsha 🙂


    1. Bless you, darlin, that’s so kind! 🙂 🙂 I had to go back and read through it because, as you can tell, it was written soon after I started the blog. Six years? Crikey! But I haven’t let fame go to my head- tee hee! 🙂 🙂 It could do with a serious update but I’m glad you liked it. Thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for reading (and sharing 🙂 ), Allane! This page needs a serious update but sometimes I struggle to keep up with life. I need an ‘online secretary’ to do all the bits I can’t, or am not clever enough for. 🙂


  7. I love the celebration in this walk. Tall ships always fill me with a sense of joy, they are so majestic and elegant to watch. Thank you for taking me to a new place.


    1. Hi Lita 🙂 Again, it’s a long time since I read through this page, and it needs a serious update, but it’s too long already. I’m really happy that you’ve joined me and we can enjoy a few adventures together.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.