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. What a lovely post! I found myself smiling as I read and then dreaming of new places to visit like the Yorkshire Moors, Portugal, and Barcelona. The list only grows – and I’ve made peace with that!
    Take care, Renate

    1. Thanks, Renate. Sorry- I just spotted this! I was knee deep in some research for my Monday walk.
      I glanced back and realised that this page needs a serious update but it still holds true. I wish I could make peace with the number of places it is beyond my capacity to visit! Many thanks for the follow. 🙂

      1. Oh, no problem at all. The page seems lovely as it stands but I completely understand. I find myself more and more updating old posts. Interesting, isn’t it, how we think a post is just right and then after a few months or years, we see it in a new light and want to freshen it up!
        I love that!
        Ciao! Renate

  2. The breaking wave dwarfing the lighthouse, those sexy snowmen and angular shapes in the statue photo a contrast to the swirling shapes in the aerial view.
    The station was very good the way the composition all came together with the red ticket sign placed perfectly.
    I get a lot of enjoyment from your photography and pick up ideas of how to improve mine.
    Thanks Jo.

    1. Heck, that’s flattery, Jack! I haven’t updated this page since I don’t know when. I had half a plan to switch to a different theme but I get so involved in my posts there never seems to be much time spare. Thank you so much for your and Pauline’s continued support. It’s appreciated. 🙂

      1. It was not meant as flattery Jo.
        It was meant to show I appreciate good photography.
        Also in your busy life you still find time to share.
        Pauline and I try to find the time to comment on what we like.

    1. Morning, Paula! I just skimmed through here. I do witter on a bit, don’t I? Certain aspects of the blog probably need overhauling/updating but when is there time? Perhaps I should start again (and make different mistakes 🙂 ) Thanks for your lovely company and good wishes.
      I’ve drank my first coffee- an adventure awaits!

  3. Home is always where the heart is and I understand your feelings for Hartlepool and the surroundings so well, Jo. A few years ago Tall Ship Races took place in my hometown, no need to say any more. It ‘s a lovely post, goes right to heart. Great job to link with the former posts, you have given me few fine ideas now, thank you! 🙂
    Have a lovely evening!
    Dina x

  4. Bonjour Johanna

    Thankyou so much for following as it gave me the opportunity to find out more about your part of the world through these gorgeous photographs.



      1. Johanna

        That is the fastest response l’ve ever had – know what you mean, l seem to spend more and more time on the blog. But some people are so nice it’s just a great pleasure reading and looking at their stuff – yours particularly – that it makes it worthwhile.


  5. Wonderful, wonderful pictures. The purpleman is awesome – & what a great twitter plug 🙂

    I loved the coastal seas though – and the waterfall. Stunning 🙂

  6. Hi Jo, thanks for following my blog, The Hazel Tree.
    Love the photos and descriptions of your many travels!
    Regards, Jo

  7. Fascinated me… I loved your photographs… They are all so beautiful and I wanted to jump into them… Thank you dear Johanna, love, nia

  8. You are indeed a traveller at heart hon. Love the photo’s! “Dewarucci” and the Castle are my favourites! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

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