Tall Ships

Jo’s Monday walk : A Tall Ships Treat

A visit from the Tall Ships is always a special occasion, but when it coincides with a significant birthday there is an opportunity to make it very special indeed.  When Thursday dawned cool and grey, I thought I might’ve made a mistake with my husband’s birthday surprise.  But, the tickets were bought, and I’d even purchased train tickets to Sunderland.  He could drink without driving, and not worry over parking.  The pattern of the week had been overcast skies till about 3pm, when magically the clouds rolled back.  Here’s hoping!

To host the start of a Tall Ships Race is a great coup, and Sunderland has made the most of the opportunity.  Leaving the station it’s only about 10 minutes walk to the riverside, and from there you have a choice whether or not to cross over the River Wear.  The ships were berthed on both sides of the river and are nothing short of majestic.  As ticket holders we stayed on the near shore and followed the trickle of people heading down to the quay.  The East End of Sunderland is still undergoing changes to bring this historic area into the 21st century.

The Tall Ships will race over a thousand nautical miles in 3 weeks.  The first leg races from Sunderland to Esbjerg in Denmark, then to Stavanger in Norway, and finally to Harlingen in the Netherlands.  You can see the full line up of over 50 ships on the Tall Ships website.

Despite grey skies they were an awesome sight as we made our way along the quayside.  Various entertainments were on offer, and we paused for a few minutes to observe Martin Lewis of the ‘Money Show’, taking questions from the audience.  On the far shore, next to the National Glass Centre, a full scale fairground was in progress, and some of the ships had entertainment on board.

No time to linger at this stage.  We had a destination.  Unbeknownst to my husband I had booked a 2 hour sail on a Tall Ship.  Until we checked in I did not know which.  Enjoying a drink at the bar, we waited for our number to be called.  Half an hour later we were boarding the beautiful  Wylde Swan from the Netherlands.  The largest two-mast topsail schooner in the world, she was built for speed.  The story of our voyage was the subject of this week’s Six Word Saturday so I’ll simply say that it was magnificent.  The crew demonstrated their proficiency, hauling on ropes and tying sails, yet still finding time to engage with their passengers.  The camaraderie as they worked together was a joy to see.  As we returned to port the sun, which had been hovering behind the clouds, finally broke free and we were bathed in golden sunlight.

It was a long walk down the quayside and I had spotted a pub with a bird’s eye view of the festivities.  Naturally this involved a number of steps, but the sun terrace of the Boar’s Head was worth it.  Built in 1724, beside Youlls Passage where press gangs were reputed to work, the pub was later frequented by Laurel and Hardy.  Peggy Potts, a local brandy smuggler, lived just 50 metres away, and her family are said still to be patrons. We basked in warm sunshine and friendly chatter with the locals.

More strolling was required after our lunch, and there was plenty still to see.  Entertainers were either resting or setting up for a performance, and many of the crews were at ease.  Further along the quay the ships grow smaller, the industry of the port an interesting backdrop.

Our feet were tiring by this stage and there was still the walk back to the station.  A convenient icecream van was just what we needed.  The event was rounded off with fireworks each evening, and on Saturday a Parade of Sail, as the ships left harbour to begin the race.  If they didn’t manage to find a Cooling breeze or two, I don’t know who would! (do join Leya for this week’s brilliant Lens-Artists Photo Challenge).  And how could I forget Cathy?  I love what she’s doing over at Wander.essence!

The walks I share are all so very different in style and content.  Please find time to visit as many as you can, especially if it’s a blogger you don’t know.  Many thanks to all of you for sharing and for your wonderful company.  Kettle on?  We’re good to go, here at Jo’s Monday walk!

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Self-realisation is a wonderful thing, especially if you can share it with Elaine :

A quiet walk

When I said to Drake that I always wanted to visit Annecy, he came up with the goods!

Pure idyllic transitions

South Carolina!  There’s another dream for you!  Salt marsh, I’m familiar with from the Algarve :

A walk on the wildlife side

I can’t resist Meg, and her close scrutiny :

Sunday bushwalk

Lichens, fungi, grass, tree bark and herbal cures… you’ll find them all at Meg’s :

Weekend strolls

I’m not a great cook, but Lady Lee could tempt me with her chicken and cashews :

Food, glorious food!

But if all else fails, Jackie has a good idea :

Picnic

Who doesn’t sing along when the Bee Gees are on?  And maybe strut your stuff?  With Carol, of course!

Born to Sing

Or you could try a bit of gold digging?

Gold Fever

Meet Melanie and say hello to Captain Cook, while we’re Down Under :

Melbourne- It’s a Walk in the Park

This sounds a bit like a radio programme, but take a turn with Anabel.  You’ll love it!

Ambles from Ambleside

I don’t know anyone who writes better garden posts.  Another beauty from Jude!

Garden View: Bonython Manor Gardens

Seeing the title I thought Amanda might have a ship or two.  Far from it, but this is a wonderfully lyrical post :

Walking Around in Whitby

And finally, Cathy surprises me with a lovely swathe of bluebells :

Riverbend to Great Falls : the Bluebell Path

That’s it for another sweltering week.  Hope it’s fine where you are, but if you need a drop of rain then I hope it lands.  Take care till next time!

Six word Saturday

Riding the North Sea in style!

Click on the gallery to read the story of our adventure on the high seas.  A very special person had a significant birthday and we celebrated in style.  Our Tall Ship, ‘Wylde Swan’ from the Netherlands, was a beauty and the crew worked hard to give us a wonderful experience.  Even the weather cooperated, after a very grey start.  All was smooth sailing.

Is anybody counting?  Debbie keeps tally over at Six Word Saturday.  Have a wonderful weekend!

Jo’s Monday walk : Tall Ships Regatta at Blyth

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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Starting with a bit more of Toronto from Jackie this week.  Quite a big bit, in fact!

High Park

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!

Carvings

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!

Rome again

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!

Transport

The simple kind

The simple kind

Ready to go!

Ready to go

As far as you can take me

As far as they can take me!

Edited by Viveka Gustafson

Or maybe something grander?  (Edited by Viveka Gustafson)

With a little more style

With a bit more style
And panache!

And oozing panache!

Some elegant wood carving

Perhaps some elegant wood carving

And a figurehead to charm the world

And a figurehead fit to face the world!

Jake has asked the question this week- how do you like to travel?  You might have noticed that I’m very partial to boats- all shapes and sizes.  How about you? The last five shots were taken when the Tall Ships Race came to Hartlepool in 2010.  My lovely friend Viveka admired them but it wasn’t a bright day and one of them needed a hint of brightening up.  She was kind enough to do it for me, unasked.  Isn’t that what friends are for? I think my husband may have taken some of the Tall Ships.  My memory’s not so good these days! But I do remember to join Jake in his Sunday Post challenge whenever I can.  The subject this week is Transport.  Come take a look!

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G is for Grażyna

Grażyna is the daughter of Dad’s oldest living brother, my Uncle Włodek.  He lives in Zgorzelec, and this post just seemed to follow on naturally from that one.  Grażyna was born in Zgorzelec, but when she contacted me, one of the first of my 26 Polish cousins to do so, I was astounded to find that she was living here in England, in Norfolk, with her husband and 3 sons.  Jarek is a boat builder by trade, and has built his own beautiful little sailing boat, so whenever they can, they go sailing on the Broads.

Mariusz, learning boating skills from an early age

And having fun with younger brother, Arek!

Norfolk isn’t exactly on our doorstep, but it’s much closer than Poland, so we’ve had the opportunity to get together a few times.  They came to the North East for Dad’s 80th birthday, soon after he was reunited with his Polish family.  We went exploring Norfolk with them the following year.  And their visit when the Tall Ships were here in 2010 was a fabulous occasion never to be forgotten.

Alexander von Humbolt by Tony Dowson

Last night fireworks by Tony Dowson

We met up again in Zakopane, in Poland, for the occasion of Adam and Marta’s Silver Wedding.  That was my first opportunity to properly meet Grażyna’s brother Wojtek and his family, who live in Wrocław.  We had great fun entertaining the six youngsters in the hotel gardens in Poronin.

They don’t have too many opportunities to get together, but last year Wojtek and son Mateusz came to Norfolk to celebrate Grażyna’s two youngest boys First Communion.  We arranged then that my niece Basia, Wojtek’s oldest daughter, would come and stay with me here in Hartlepool this summer.  Of course, I got to stay with them in Wrocław first.  More than a fair exchange!

After the First Communion, Grazyna, Rafal, Mateusz, Jarek, Arek and Mariusz

Dad, the priest, and Grazyna’s family

So that’s how we came to be together again with Grażyna, just briefly, this August.  She came to collect Basia for her first visit to Norfolk, and return home to Poland. Our get togethers are always very emotional, but we have a lot of fun too.  We all love the sea and boats, and we have an excellent free museum, perfect for those not so sunny days.  The Museum of Harlepool was the source of lots of mirth, as well as painlessly imparted knowledge.

We went to the beach first, but rain stopped play

Not before we’d created the SS Polska gunboat though

So, the Museum of Hartlepool it was :

Father Mariusz and Father Arek search for suitable gowns for their mission

A nautical look might be better for Arek, affectionately known as “Blondie”

We weren’t sure if this was a good look, but Mariusz liked it.

And there was no way to keep Arek out of the act!

They were more themselves in a boat, of course

Grażyna is a loving and wonderful mother, and she makes the most delicious cakes.  She brought a huge carob cake with her this trip and it was gone in a blink.  She is also the most affectionate of cousins.

It has been a privilege and a pleasure to watch this new family of mine growing up.  If you’re not familiar with Dad’s story it’s told in more detail here.

This post is part of my personal A-Z of Poland.  The idea was Julie Dawn Fox’s and I am indebted to her for the opportunity to share my Polish story with you.  If you would like to join in, you can find the details on this link, or the banner below.