Friday, September 29, 2006

29 September: Coast walk

We went up the Northumberland coast yesterday for one of our favourite walks, from Craster to Low Newton by the Sea. It was warm enough for shorts and T shirts, but a surprising number of walkers had zipped up their waterproof jackets. From the 40 photographs I took, here are a few - first a view southwards along Embleton Bay to Dunstanburgh Castle in the distance:

We walked on the beach north to the village of Low Newton by the Sea, where we had lunch at the Ship Inn. They have real ale on hand pumps, and serve local seafood, including Craster kippers and lobsters. They were busy.

Returning south along the path through the dunes, we came across this seat, built from driftwood and other jetsam:

In some places, the waves had made patterns in the sand:

There are lots of pools among the rocks near Dunstanburgh Castle, which are well worth investigating - carefully, though, as nobody wants to fall over and break a kneecap! My "rock pool of the day" contained this rock with its wig of weed:

We returned to Craster and sat by the harbour and drank coffee from our flask. The tide was in and the smokehouse was kippering. On the drive home the traffic was very heavy, as usual, from the Tyne round to the Team Valley. DH did all the driving, and I had a nap on the way home.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

26 September: Sizergh Castle

A trip to Sizergh Castle, just South of Kendal.
The tourist entrance is at the back, but this used to be the front of the castle, with terraces leading down to a lake.

The castle itself has rooms from different eras of building, from a medieval-ish banqueting hall, with spiral stone staircase in the thickness of the wall, through Stuart oak panelled rooms, and a beautiful inlaid panelled room, to a Victorian type drawing room with flock wallpaper in a depressing dark turquoisey colour. As usual, the visitor only sees a small fraction of the building, and is left fascinated by the doors that are marked "Private".
Lots of my favourite 17th century tables, chests, and cupboards. Plus some huge pewter plates that needed some TLC and a good scrub with horsetail. And, as usual, no details about the embroidery.
The large gardens are lovely, and there are lots of places with sheltered seats. This one has a wonderful view across to mountains, which were too misty for a picture yesterday.

And this one has a view down an avenue of cherry trees (note the inclusion of a cherry twig for reference!).

The obligatory tour of the shop yielded a bar of wool fat soap, which I discovered on Saturday to be marvellous for felt-making; and a couple of plants (a helenium and a double white Japanese anemone), which now have to be found spaces in the garden.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

21 September: The iPod generation

DH has bought an iPod.
He's spent weeks recording some of his LP (vinyl) collection onto the Mac, via the hi-fi system and CDs, and now some of that music has been transferred to the iPod.
He doesn't seem to have got as far as the folk songs or the rock 'n' roll yet - the playlist includes Schubert, Haydn, Miles Davis, classical guitar, classical Indian ragas, Playford tunes, and Buddhist scriptures and ceremonies.
And the photo collection is taken directly from the photo file on the Mac, where I keep only incoming e-mailed ones and the pictures for the blog - so his photo album presently contains an awful lot of knitted hats, and a pan of blackberry and apple!

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

19 September: Hail Sharon Gayter, World Record Holder!

Sharon Gayter, who has just broken a world record - the Running from Lands End to John O'Groats world record. That's 837 miles in 12 days, 16 hours and 23 minutes.
Read more about it HERE.
Today's paper mentions that a group of cyclists set out from Lands End at the same time as Sharon - she arrived before them.
Wonder what she could do if she didn't have asthma.....

Saturday, September 16, 2006

16 September: Callers

Had a few unwelcome callers this week.

The opticians sent me a card, telling me it was 2 years (2 years? it CAN'T be!) since my eyes were tested, so time to get them checked again. The following day the phone rang - somebody from the same opticians reminding me that it was time for an eye test. This company is apparently desperate for business, but I told the caller that hassling me was more likely to make me go elsewhere than to return to them - after all, there's plenty of choice where opticians are concerned. She replied that she wasn't hassling me, but making a *courtesy call*, totally oblivious of possible different interpretations of her call. I do regret my subsequent brusqueness - she's only trying to earn a pittance.

Later the same day I was in bed - I should mention that I don't normally nap in the afternoon, except at work, but a head cold meant I hadn't slept much the previous night - when the doorbell rang. I opened the window, and the young man on the doorstep started on about a telephone company, and seemed reluctant to give up, though I'd have thought it was pretty obvious I wasn't interested.

Do these people really think that as soon as they knock on your door you are going to think "Hey, this is just what I need"? Or do they expect to be able to bully you into buying whatever it is they are pushing?

Another caller was a silent and miserable looking young man, who handed over a dog-eared card with a story on it about him being a Polish student trying to sell pictures. There have been a few of these recently.

Are these sales methods successful? We make a point of never buying at the door, and in fact would probably never deal with a company that used this sort of tactic.

But then, advertising seems to miss me, or at least strike me sideways. Why else would I be convinced that Renault cars have wobbly back ends, or that the Nationwide "doesn't work like that"?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

13 September: Outings

The hedges are heavy with them, and after an expedition one afternoon now so is our freezer.

The rowan tree is also lighter, as the blackbirds have been feeding on the berries. Have you ever watched 4 young blackbirds trying to hover?


DH and I had a walk round Houghall woods the other day, and then we went along the river bank into the centre of Durham for a cup of coffee and an enormous cream bun.

And last night DD rang and asked for some photos for a project at DGD's school, so off I went among the albums, seeking out seaside holiday photos. There was the famous one of me, aged 4, scowling as I picked my way across the stones at Swanage. The mood was not lightened by the scratchy gingham beach/swim suit my mother had made for me.
My mother on the beach at Clymping (do you like Clymping? I don't know, I've never Clymped) back in 1934, in an early bikini; her parents in deckchairs at Ventnor in 1939; and a wonderful photo of my mother and her parents in swimsuits at Torquay in 1932, all as glum as can be sitting in a row on some steps.

The photos of Dad's family at the seaside were all too small and murky to copy, but there are some gems there - Uncle Bill in a natty pair of knitted trunks, with a white belt round the waist ; an Aunt in a seersucker swimsuit, and my Dad on the beach at Southend in his school cap and tie, with his father in collar and tie, jacket and cloth cap.

And another reminder of the flying of time - I've just sent off my application for my State old age pension.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

6 September: Meanwhile, back in the garden

The garden is looking a bit tired after the hot summer.
In front of the house, a handful of blue geraniums and some self-sown lobelias and heartsease give spots of colour, while the sedum spectabile is steadily turning pinker day by day.

The back garden still has some flowers - white japanese anemones (with a few pollen beetles) around the rowan tree, which is heavily laden with berries.

A few late roses by the fence and on the pergola, which also has the wonderful spiral mopheads of the clematis seeds. There's a sprinkling of verbena bonarensis, a couple of calendulas, flashes of colour in the scabious, penstemons and verbascums; touches of colour still on the buddleias; a brave dianthus with a second flowering; tiny self-sown pansies in yellow and pale purple; a splash of pinky mauve from an un-named alpine; a scattering of cyclamen under the liquidambar tree, which is turning the same browny-purple as the Japanese maple.

Nasturtiums still brighten a couple of corners, thanks to Ruth's gift earlier in the year; and the potted gingko trees are starting to turn yellow - they are always the last trees to start and the first to finish.
The ice cream van's back to "Match of the Day".
The schools are back, and so is the traffic. Summer's over.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

3 September: Scraps

Is it possible to watch BBC News 24 for more than 10 minutes? By that time, they've been through the 3 news items at least 4 times, repeating apparently endlessly - one report from their correspondent, followed immediately by "going live" to the same person, who repeats what they just said on tape, then a brief interview with somebody who doesn't have a clue what's going on (or who knows only too well, and isn't saying!), and then a short piece of film looped so that it repeats and repeats the same (usually harrowing) scene.


A comment from kaz on NOT DEAD YET! reminds me that one of the things I have thought about doing when I retire (less than 16 weeks now, not that I'm counting) is to dye my hair the sort of colour that's totally inappropriate for work - purple or green.
I mentioned this at a Growing Old Disgracefully meeting once, and it was pointed out that it costs some people a small fortune to keep their hair the colour that mine is naturally, so I should be grateful I don't NEED to colour it.
Any ideas about this?


And at last the Muppets are getting a major exhibition in London - HERE.