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.

Six word Saturday

Could you entertain yourselves today, please?

I shall be busy helping my son to move home, so I thought I could leave you with a bit of fun from the Brass Band Festival in Durham last weekend. The atmosphere was great and we had a smashing time, despite drizzly, miserable weather.  It’s not the same as being there but I have videos of my favourite two bands, Back Chat Brass and Xaral’s Dixie (all the way from Portugal- small world!)

Sharing six words with Debbie will keep you out of mischief.  Go on- you know you want to!  Happy weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : Spring at Crook Hall, Durham


Stroll along the river bank with me, in the heart of Durham City, and let me take you to an idyllic garden.  I intended to visit a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral but, as luck would have it, it was closed that day.  I’m a firm believer in serendipity and, as the gentle sunshine warmed my cheeks, I suddenly knew where I wanted to go.

Crook Hall dates from 13th century and is a vision in golden ivy-clad stone.  It sits back a little from the footpath and the gently elevated position makes for majestic views over Durham. Crook is a Grade 1 listed Medieval hall with a rich and colourful history.  As all such places should, it has a resident ghost, ‘The White Lady’, and has been enjoyed by such luminaries as William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.  Today I’m going to focus on the garden rooms, described on the website as each having their own personality.



It’s impossible to ignore the constant presence of the house.  It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.

Close by the house, a secret garden has been in existence for more than 700 years.

Statuary is an integral part of the gardens.  Nymphs and maidens shake out their tresses, demurely lower their eyes, or gaze seductively out.  Monks perform solemn duties, urns cast playful shadows and a rather mischievous Puck plays his pan pipes, sheltered beneath a weathered tree.

The golden lady follows me with her eyes, and what of the lady reclining, neglected, on the bare earth?  She must have a story to tell. Ornate chairs and benches invite me to linger, admiring the pure white snowdrops.  Beyond the lake, fiery witch hazel brands the limpid blue sky.

I drift from ‘room to room’, each leading to the next, yet independent and sufficient in itself.  A mighty lion bench, breathing fire, gives me pause.

Through a gate, precisely trimmed hedges in the newest of these still evolving gardens, etched with remnants of winter shadows.

Leaving the house behind, I wander down towards the rusty maze, bereft of leaves this early in the year.  Did you glimpse the koala, dangling in the tree?  And yet another selfie!  One more surprise awaits- a softly slumbering giant!

And then I’m back at the entrance and The Garden Gate Cafe. (open all day, separately from the Hall, but there are Tea Rooms inside the Hall too) The Sparkling Afternoon Tea looked very inviting but my lift had arrived and so I’ll have to disappoint you yet again.  No cake!  How come you missed this place, Jude?  It would have been a natural for the Garden Challenge.


Down at the river bank, this scene awaits, but if you turn and walk back towards the cathedral you might just be able to catch the exhibition, Open Treasure.  And if not, Durham Cathedral is always beautiful.


Lots of walks to share this week and I hope you can spare time to visit as many as you can. Especially as I won’t be posting a walk next week.  I will, I hope, be skip, hop and jumping (or walking) in Florence.  I don’t want to schedule a walk in my absence because it’s too hard to catch up again afterwards.  So I hope you’ll forgive me if I hang on to any walks you share till the following week?  Details are all on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


Eddy was close in my footsteps last week, but his were even cooler!

Do you want owt fromt’ shops?

There’s nothing nicer than a gentle stroll with Jude.  Treat yourself!

Historic Uphill Lincoln

Anabel ventured further up the coast from me, in some delightful villages :

Fife Coastal Path

Another coastal path for you, but Eunice is over on the other coast :

Anglesey Coastal Path- the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial

Two for the price of one from Eunice this week!

A long canal walk

Imagine my surprise on seeing Ana’s post!  Right on my very own doorstep :

Strolling along the River Wear in Durham

Quite a leap of the imagination from Durham to Buenos Aires, Ana :

Beloved Argentinian characters at Paseo de la Historieta

Jackie’s having fun down Mexico way- lovely bougainvillea!

A Mexican walk

I do love Woolly’s perspective on life!

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Lady Lee is completely at home in the Philippines :

What’s in Bohol?

And Liesbet is pretty good at balancing a budget!

Laguna Beach, CA- On a Shoestring

Amy’s back, and she’s chosen to ride, but who can blame her?

An Elephant Ride

I love Yvette’s take on life, but brrrh, those Falls look chilly!

Walk with Jo in Niagara, NY (doors and windows) 

Drake is always irrepressible.  Got to love him!

Warm feet and cold nose

Isn’t it always walking weather?  Well mostly, when you’re with Susan :

Walking, Weather or Not

And Carol has a most appropriate question :

When is a Walk not a Walk?

Rounding off with a highly informative walk from Denzil.  He’s doing a grand job promoting Belgium :

Walking from Tervuren to Bertem

And Cathy, beavering away in the States, but still found time to walk with me :

Philadelphia : the south mural arts walk 

Remember- no Monday walk next week!  But I’ll try to find you some cake in Florence.  Stay safe till the next time!


Six word Saturday


Reasons to be cheerful, 1, 2….




It’s been a cold and murky old week here in the north east of England, but are we down-hearted?  Reasons to be cheerful this week include a stroll through the back streets of Durham, and a trip to Newcastle-on-Tyne to meet up with a lovely friend.  I came across a few Numbers along the way.

Share your ‘reasons to be cheerful’ with Cate at Six Word Saturday.  Have a good weekend and I’ll see you on Monday for a cool, English walk.


Jo’s Monday walk : Springtime in Shincliffe


“Where will I find a crocus walk?” I asked my garden expert husband.  “I’ve searched the web and can’t find one anywhere!”  He gave me one of those looks, and said “You can’t find one, because there isn’t one.  You’ll have to make do with snowdrops.”  Now, I have nothing against snowdrops. Most years I visit our local snowdrop walk, in Greatham village.  I simply felt a need for the uplifting surge of crocus colour.

Never one to let me down, as we drove towards Durham he said thoughtfully, “What about Shincliffe Village?”  It seemed like a good idea.  IMG_3922

We parked in Durham and walked out along the river- a direction we’ve taken many times before.  From nowhere, one of those sparkling Spring days had materialised.  Rowing teams skulled by vigorously, and the whole world seemed to have taken up sport.  A university town, Durham has no shortage of able-bodied youth to indulge in running, throwing and kicking a ball. 

One side of the river is still barriered off, following a serious landslide a year or so ago.  I was delighted to see that work has finally started on the precarious river bank.  The path will be open again to walkers.  A gentle sun filtered through bare branches, reflecting ethereally in the river.


Out beyond the extensive sports facilities, the path meets the A177 at Shincliffe Bridge.  Cross over the busy road carefully and you reach ‘The Rose Tree’- a pub with an inviting beer garden.  A sign directs you to Shincliffe Village.  As you enter the village, you’ll see the Poplar Tree  garden centre.  Always busy, I’m never sure if the plants or the tea rooms are the main attraction.  Beyond this point no-one but the inhabitants of the village seem to venture.  Which is a great shame, unless of course you are a villager and value your peace and quiet.

Did I mention crocuses?  I had a real treat in store.  And not only the crocus, but a bevy of Spring beauty.


Shincliffe is regarded as one of the most affluent villages in Durham, according to Wikipedia.  Which is a pity as I could quite see myself living there. I was surprised to find that the Anglo-Saxon origin of the name Shincliffe means ‘steep hill of evil spirits’.  The history of the village goes back to Roman times, when there is thought to have been a ford where Shincliffe Bridge now spans the River Wear.

In the Middle Ages Shincliffe belonged to the Prior of Durham Cathedral.  It was a largely agricultural community until coal mining came to the area, with a resulting expansion.  I was unaware that Shincliffe had had a railway station, but it was in fact Durham’s first. It opened in 1839, as part of the line to Sunderland, but closed again in 1893.  The closure of the colliery meant a dwindling population.  Shincliffe today is a gentle haven, seeming to have not a care in the world.


A small green leads to a row of raised houses, set back from the road.  Originally the Durham to Stockton road ran right through the village.  The post office would have been a busy place then.  Now it’s a private residence.  In 1826 a tithe barn was consecrated to become a Chapel of Ease for the community.  It proved a little too cold and draughty, and in 1866 became the Rectory.


John Wesley is known to have preached in Shincliffe in 1780, and in 1874 a Methodist (Wesleyan) chapel was opened- the pretty one in the photos. The parish church, St. Mary the Virgin, was  only completed in 1851.  Snowdrops swaddled the graveyard in a soothing white blanket.  I lingered, reading a few headstones and admiring the rose coloured church doors.

I peered through the windows of the Seven Stars Inn rather longingly.  It was already lunchtime but my husband had to get back for an appointment. Go and press your nose up against their menu.  You might be tempted.  Alternatively, try the Brambles tea rooms at the garden centre, or maybe The Rose Tree.  For me, it’s a swift walk back along the river, but not before I look for Shincliffe Hall.  A sign points to it, down a private road.  But it’s by invitation only.


There are some interesting snippets of village history, if you’re minded that way, under the link ‘steep hill of evil spirits’.  Shincliffe is easy to find from the city of Durham.  Do you know of a ‘crocus walk’ near you?  I hope you enjoyed mine.  Spring is wonderful, isn’t it?

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Many thanks to all of you who keep me company each week.  I do appreciate you looking over my shoulder and enjoying the view.  If you’d like to join in with a walk of your own, you’d be very welcome.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walks page.  Just click on the logo above.


The joy of having a son.  Ask Jesh- she’ll tell you!

Going The Distance

Anabel’s found a mural by one of my favourite street artists :

Saints and sinners : a Glasgow urban walk

Smidge had me packing my bags to head for the Borders with this post :

St Abbs, Scottish Borders

Jackie is STILL strolling around in Mexico!  Would you credit it?

Around Puerto Vallarta

Amy has some ravishing gardens for us this week :

Monday Walk : Selby Gardens

Two ‘newbies’ up next!  Please say a big hello to Liesbet :

Walking and Seeing the Real Berkshires in Connecticut

And then please meet slightly offbeat sailor Ellen!

Going for a walk in search of Wild Pigs

If you don’t mind getting awfully wet, you might like a ‘walk’ with Jaspa?

Climbing Jamaican Waterfalls

Or maybe an adventure in the desert with Drake would suit you better?

Amazing outskirts

Perhaps you’d like to see another side to Geoff?  You’ll have to go and look.  I can’t give the game away!

To the woods, to the woods

While Denzil tries his hand (or feet?) at long distance walking :

GR571 : Comblain-au-Pont to Aywaille

Paul does some amazing things with the Scottish countryside :

RAW around the edges.  A day at Loch Leven

And lastly, Lee Ann shows us some of beautiful Brisbane :

Southbank Gardens of Friendship

Hope you enjoyed all the contributions.  They’re fantastic, aren’t they?  Many thanks again for your lovely company.  Have a great week!.

Saying goodbye to Autumn


My last post, about Lumiere 2015 at Durham, is a hard act to follow.  I was tempted to just let it ride until I come back to the blog in December, but the Christmas ‘rush’ will be well and truly here by then.  There’ll be no opportunity to bid farewell to Autumn.  It’s been kind to us this year and I’m quite reluctant to let it go.  Just a week or two ago I was wandering through Durham.

On a bright Autumn day the shadows can be as beautiful as the blue sky.  I loved playing with them on my walk at Auckland Castle this week.  IMG_0777


It must have been about the same time last year that I was here, because there’s a poster advertising the Christmas Food and Craft Market on 20th November.  I well remember my ginger wine and mince pie, whilst looking at the palatial dining room, shared with you on this walk.  This year they’re going a step further, with an outdoor skating rink until 3rd January.  I might just have to come back for that.


Of course, it’s no good having a great view without a bench to admire it from.  And one bench invariably leads to another.  Let’s leave the Deer House and go looking for some more shadows, shall we?  I’d better catch up to those walkers too.


I think I’ve just about got Autumn out of my system.  And managed to share a few more benches for Jude.  It’s the last week of Festival of Leaves too and Verena has done a wonderful job.

If you do get the chance to visit Auckland Castle in the near future, don’t hesitate. It’s a beautiful setting and there are plans afoot to make it even more interesting.

That’s all from me for a week or two.  Take care of each other, please.

Jo’s Monday walk : Lumiere 2015


Are you ready for a little evening stroll?  I can’t promise you moonlight, but I think you will still enjoy the sights we’re going to see.  I’m taking you to the historic city of Durham, where Lumiere 2015 has been lighting the streets with enchantment.  This is the 4th event of its kind to take place here, and it attracts an international crowd.

I have my map in hand, and I’m starting off with light installation no. 1, but I may well deviate from the route shown in the programme.  There are so many distractions!  I’m on Framwellgate Waterside, beside the River Wear, which winds through the centre of the city.  Cloud, the work of a Canadian pair, is an interactive sculpture built from 6000 light bulbs.  Tugging on one of the dangling switches turns them on and off.  Rapt faces glow with pleasure as they look upwards and smile.

IMG_0583Behind me, flying the flag for the USA and swirling in the breeze like a merry kite, 1.26 Durham, installation no.2, is vying for my attention.  Such was the strength of the 2010 Chilean earthquake’s vibrations that it momentarily sped up the earth’s rotation and shortened the day by 1.26 microseconds.  Data sourced from NASA was used to turn this phenomenon into a 3D image, the basis for this sculpture.  Strong but delicate, it asks us to consider the interconnectedness of our world.  A specially designed app was created by a local company to enable you to change the light projected.  How amazing is that?  Far beyond me, I’m afraid.



It billowed about gleefully and I scarcely noticed the rain that was beginning to fall.  Not a good time for sitting on benches, but no. 4 in the programme, a German installation called Lightbench offered one in lilac and one in electric green.

Not a soul in sight!

Not a soul in sight!

Where is no. 3 you might be asking?  Over Milburngate Bridge and dangling on the side of a building, Big Knitting is a UK entry for which drain pipes had to be utilised as jumbo knitting needles.  Ever heard of ‘magic’ knitting?


Through Market Place and around the Castle and Cathedral a directional flow was in operation to control the crowds, but there was nothing to stop you lingering to admire a French entry, Les Lumineoles.  The gracefully gliding fish were one of my favourite installations.


I managed to capture a video of these sinuous and wonderful creatures, but alas, I can only display it sideways!  Lesson learnt for next time I use my phone camera?  Perhaps!  A short walk from here, across Elvet Bridge, you will find The Red House, created by France. The Old Shire Hall has been illuminated in warm shades of orange and yellow, with rainbow windows.  A pretty red brick building by day, at night it radiates colour.

Silver St. was all aglow with lanterns, but my next destination was Fowler’s Yard, where I hoped to see something rather special.

I first heard about Stu Langley’s Wave a few months ago when he contacted my husband for assistance in bringing his project to fruition. A giant wave, fully clad in sea glass, was designed by Stu as a tribute to East Durham’s industrial heritage.  Seaham, on the north east coast, was once home to Europe’s largest glass bottle works.  Waste from this was dumped into the sea, and continues to be washed ashore today in the form of sea glass. An artist who works in stained glass, Stu was enormously enthusiastic about his project, and the involvement of the local community.  Soon we too were gathering sea glass to cover this 2.9 metre high wave.


The sea glass had to be affixed to the wave by hand.  Definitely a labour of love.  Stu was standing there proudly beside ‘his baby’ when we arrived. He was so pleased that Seaham are interested in buying his creation for display after Lumiere. One more step in the regeneration of this former mining area, which suffered large scale unemployment with the closure of the pits.  Stu has another installation on display in North Rd.- Wheels of Industry, a Robin Reliant with themed stained glass windows.  Sadly, in all the excitement, we didn’t get to see it.

The lanterns lure us on towards Palace Green and the Cathedral, not quite sure what to expect.  The previous two Lumiere’s had featured the Lindisfarne Gospels, marching with great drama across the front face of the cathedral.   This year the son et lumiere was to be The World Machine – the story of the birth of modern cosmology from 12th century until the present day, and a collaboration of UK and Mexico.  I really can’t do it justice with photographs,  but there is a short video at the end of my post to give you a better idea.


Let’s continue into the cathedral itself.  Complex Meshes is another French installation, clinging colourfully to the ribbed vaulted arches, whilst music floods the vast space.  This was an opportunity to take a seat, and simply wonder.  IMG_0675

The cloisters , for me, are one of the cathedral’s most beautiful features.  I was spellbound by them during Lumiere 2013, but this year it was my husband’s turn to get excited.  Litre of Light is a replica of the cathedral’s own rose window, made from thousands of plastic bottles.



Leaving the cathedral, further delight awaits.  Garden of Light, another French installation, brings a hint of fantasy.  Giant illuminated plants bring a tropical vibe to a wintry English November.  Smiling faces abound, and selfies too!




From this garden of delight, you are directed down to the river bank.  At Prebend’s Bridge you find Rainbow River, a prism casting coloured patterns over the Wear.  Crossing to the far shore the path rises quite steeply and you are treated to a view across to the cathedral.


20151113_222637Just for Lumiere, fog swirls mysteriously above the river, rising through the woods .  Fogscape #03238 is a collaboration of the UK and Japan, conjuring up the spirit of St. Cuthbert in the mists.

South St. takes you past some lovely old Durham houses and back to the centre.  There are other installations in the surrounding area if time and your tired legs permit.  When I passed by Elvet Bridge early in my walk the crowds were quite dense, and so I came to miss one of the stars of the show, Mysticete by France.  This company was responsible for Elephantastic in Lumiere 2013 and amazed all of Durham.  Unfortunately the last showing was at 10.45, and unaware of this I barely managed to see the flip of the whale’s tail from the riverbank.

Durham can be subject to flooding and on the last night Mysticete had to be cancelled due to rising water levels.  I do recommend that you watch this short video, which brings to life all the 3D effects and drama that I cannot hope to replicate.

What more to say other than ‘hope you enjoyed the show’?  Terrible to think that, whilst I was there, horrific events were unfolding in Paris.  The last couple of days have been harrowing.  I would like to end on a positive note though.  The future looks bright for young Stu Langley.  He will be featured on the “One Show” in early December.

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That’s it for another week.  I’m exhausted, aren’t you?  But exhilarated too.  Please find time to visit all these wonderful walks I have to share, and huge thanks to all my contributors.  If you’d like to join me with a walk, details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page. The logo takes you there.  I will not be posting walks for the next two weeks however, as I take myself off to the Algarve.  Kettle on and here we go!


Gilly has out-bedazzled  all of us with her Autumn scenes this week.  Don’t miss!

A Stourhead Stroll

Elaine found a few leaves to kick too, and a companion!

Wendover Woods

Why not share a few beautiful moments with Drake, at St. Pancras :

Started with a kiss

Back to the South of France, where Phoebe finds some leaves in the loveliest setting :

A (short) walk for all seasons

An upbeat neighbourhood stroll next, with Amy for company :

Monday Walk : SoCo, Austin

What do trees and the Spanish Armada have in common?  Visit Jude to find out!

Ancient trees and the Spanish Armada

And you can never have too much of a good thing, can you?  Jude’s other blog :

Garden Portrait : Croft Castle Walled Garden

Jackie finds some more interesting spots to show us :

Monday’s Walk- Toronto

From Toronto to Montreal seems a natural progression, doesn’t it?

Four Cities and an Island… Montreal

In Tasmania, Ruth finds us ‘another’ Richmond :

The oldest bridge in Australia

Join the energy debate with Anabel!  Do you like wind turbines?

A walk at Whitelee

I always like a touch of the exotic.  You’ll never believe what Kaz found me for ‘lunch’ :

Summit Gardens, Vanuatu

Here we go, scaling the heights again, in Snowdonia!

Flashback Walks : Tryfan 15/11/2014

Pauline is briefly home, with some more deliciousness in tow :

New Zealand Highlights

And lovely Lisa is enjoying all that Sydney has to offer :

Bondi Beach and Sculpture by the Sea

Still Down Under, I meet a Queen’s Tree, in Perth :

A Walk in the Park

That’s it for now.  Once again my thanks to everybody.  I don’t leave until next weekend so I will still be scurrying about visiting you all till then.  In the Algarve I switch off from the world.  Take good care of yourselves, please.