You might know that I couldn’t stay away from a Tall Ships return to the north east of England. I spent 4 happy days admiring them when the race came to Hartlepool in 2010. This time it was the turn of Blyth, on the Northumberland coast. I didn’t think you’d object to coming along and having a look over my shoulder. I can promise you a little fun, and a pirate or two.
Although it’s only 50 miles north of me, and the birthplace of my late Aunt Isa, I have seldom visited Blyth. I was surprised at the amount of information it generates in Wikipedia. The name Blyth comes from the river of that name which flows through the town, blithe being an old English adjective meaning ‘merry’ or ‘gentle’. Isa would have liked that. Back in her day the town thrived on the industries of coal mining and shipbuilding. During the First and Second World Wars the local shipyards built many ships for the Royal Navy. Among them, the first aircraft carrier, HMS Ark Royal, in 1914. Like many another, the town has struggled to reinvent itself for the changing times. A visit from the Tall Ships is a real coup.
What a thing of beauty they are! I knew my Dad would be bursting with pride at the Polish representatives. Dar Młodzieży, The Gift of Youth, is a Polish sail training ship and the largest of the ships present. It made me smile that comparatively tiny Fryderyk Chopin is the youngest of the Polish Tall Ships. Let’s stroll along the Quayside and take a closer look.
The British contingent was headed up by Lord Nelson, the flagship for the Jubilee Sailing Trust. Their mission is to promote the integration of people with disabilities, enabling them to meet the challenge of sailing tall ships on the open seas. Quite a formidable challenge it seemed to me, as I looked up at all the ropes and pulleys.
Next in line I found Oosterschelde, the last remaining representative of a large fleet of schooners that sailed under the Dutch flag in the early 20th century. The name comes from the eastern part of the River Schelde, which flows through Belgium and the Netherlands on its way to the sea.
Now I realise that not all of you share my fascination with ships. Let me just introduce you to a pirate ship and then your attention can wander. The Shtandart is a replica of the 1703 frigate built by Peter the Great, in St. Petersburg, Russia. You can imagine the excitement that this one generates, with its swashbuckling appearance. I think it had the longest queues for boarding. And where there’s a pirate ship… “arr, Jim lad!”
In addition to the amazing vessels themselves, every effort has been made to beguile and entertain. There are fairgrounds, trading stalls, and a grand stage. An invitation to observe the activities of Port of Tyne includes a wind hub and renewable energies centre, looking to the future. A band marches smartly past, and I cease the opportunity to ‘guess the number of Lego bricks’. A minibreak to Amsterdam surely has my name on it!
Strolling on into Ridley Park, I’m glad to see that the children have not been neglected. Magicians perform their tricks, eliciting broad smiles from the parents and the usual serious attention of the youngsters. I applaud the dexterity, and cheer along with the crowd.
But it’s impossible to ignore the presence of the great ladies. Their masts loom on the waterfront and the crowd sways toward them. Some of the ships are open to the public for a few hours each day. The Polish ships and Lord Nelson have already closed but I still have one option.
My Dutch friend comes with a bonus. Tethered just behind her is the clipper Morgenster. When I have looked my fill I can clamber over into the smaller ship. I’m helped aboard by a smiling crew, and just look at this little beauty!
See what I mean about all those ropes and pulleys? Morgenster has an interesting history. She started life in 1919 as a herring lugger named Vrouw Maria. In 1927 she was motorised and given her current name. She worked as a fishing boat until 1970, when she was sold and used for sport fishing day trips. Certification problems led to her being sold again, this time to a Rotterdam singer, who apparently wanted to use her for ether piracy. Prosecution was unsuccessful but the ship was allowed to degenerate into a terrible condition. Happily she was bought in 1983 and lovingly restored. It would not be until 2008 that she made her way back to sea. The life of a boat! Many such facts are found in the event guide.
Nothing more to do now than absorb the atmosphere of so many people having a good time. At the main stage the Irish Dance music has toes tapping. Mine too! It was a reluctant farewell from me.
I hope you didn’t mind my little bit of self indulgence. The event guide has full details, just in case you can make it in time for the Parade of Sail this afternoon. Torrential rain caused car park difficulties on Sunday but the skies are clear again today. A cuppa now, I think!
Many thanks to all of you who read and encourage me each week, not to mention those who walk with me. As always I have some great walks to share. If you’d like to join me at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page. You’ll be very welcome. Just click on the logo above.
Starting with a bit more of Toronto from Jackie this week. Quite a big bit, in fact!
Walking with tigers could be dangerous! You’d better stay on the bus :
Periyar Tiger Reserve
Violet Sky has some quirky carvings for you this week. You’ll like them!
Kathrin has a beautiful time spotting elks, and admiring ferns :
Fern Canyon, Humboldt County
This city has been waiting for me eternally! I’ll get there one day, Biti!
The rough with the smooth with Drake this week, and some superb shots :
Quiet flows the River Rhine
A perilously placed chateau caught my eye, over at Denzil’s place :
Modave: A Chateau and a Country Walk
Not so far away, Susan check’s out Amsterdam’s rival. A good-looking city!
Walking Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Make time for a canalside stroll with Adam and Harriet? I’ve done some of this one :
Kennet and Avon Canal – Bath to Bradford-on-Avon
And Becky just barely scraped in! I haven’t even had time to read it yet!
Returning to Wells for an ecclesiastical stroll
Wishing you all a very happy week, and if you can make it to Blyth today I can highly recommend it. Take care till next time!