Sue and I had been talking for a while about going up to Northumberland and visiting Holy Island, Alnwick, Bamburgh and Seahouses, to look at the castles & churches and to take a walk along the beaches. The few days we chose weren’t very friendly weatherwise but at least it was just overcast rather than persisting it down.
The trip across to Holy Island was relatively uneventful and we had a decent walk around and lunch at one of the local hotels. After lunch, a visit to Bamburgh Castle completed the day. Next day we went into Alnwick and went around the Alnwick Garden which were well presented. We decided not to venture into the castle as well but to go into Alnwick to look at Barters, the huge second hand book shop there – amazing! We then dropped down to the coast to walk on the beach at Alnmouth. On the final day we went to Howick Hall gardens and had a wander for an eternity. Some lovely woodland walks, a big pond, church and a small private garden reserved for the Lady of the House – but open that day.
Good luck to Rob and Tegan at the St Aidan’s Hotel in Seahouses – great sea views and lovely breakfasts. Shame we missed their bistro but it’s only open from Thursday evening through the week-end and we were only there Monday till Thursday morning.
Here’s a few images from our little break :-
I had a great week-end down in Woodhall Spa with my f4 pal Dave Robson and girlfriend Tina Cranfield. I’d done some stuff solo because my foot was still playing up, but joined them at the Petwood Hotel for lunch and re-enactment later. The rain was persistent but armed with brolly and camera, I braved the high street to take some images of a beautiful selection on lovingly cared for vintage motor cars (and a bike). I’m looking forward to next year already but will take a longer lens for the planes – they didn’t get down the High Street like last year so a bit of a disappointment really.
I won’t bore anyone with the reason I’ve not posted for a while, suffice to say I can almost walk properly again so can get out with the camera.
My f4 Photographic chums and I went for an evening to RAF Holmpton to Visit the Bunker. To quote their website “A simple bungalow hides the entrance to an underground nuclear bunker. Descend the stairs and venture along the 120 metre long tunnel, pass through the blast doors to find yourself immersed in the once secret world of cold war defence.” The bungalow certainly hides what lies beneath – there are 59 rooms, all dedicated to the defence of the Country and it was absolutely fascinating. We were well looked after by John, Carl & Sylvia who gave us an insight into what happened there. It is WELL worth a visit – we’ll be back again, thanks guys.
We hadn’t been with NCL before so took a break with them at the end of March for Sue’s birthday, departing and returning to Barcelona. We tagged on an extra night in Barcelona as we hadn’t been there before and we took the opportunity to use the hop-on hop-off bus to get around. To be fair, we used the bus in a few places to make the most of our time – they’re excellent value and a great way of doing justice to what is really a very short time on shore in any one place.
The pre-cruise was interesting as I was laid up in bed unable to walk – this led to me using a stick to get around Gatwick airport the evening prior to departure and only on the morning of our flight did my foot let me put reasonable pressure on it. However, it improved quickly enough for us to be able to walk up to 8.5 miles a day. I came back lighter than we went.
Norwegian Spirit is an old ship and some things are good, some not so good – best thing is to read comments on Trip Advisor and make your own mind up. There are things you learn which help but you’re not told about in advance, the most annoying thing being the amount you’re charged for shuttle buses to get you from shoreside to city centres – $15 each return – absolutely disgraceful. You’re pretty much consigned to having to use the shuttles as a number of the places we went to, we were berthed at least 5km away from the centre so either you’d have used up a lot of your day just getting there, or alternatively, some of the older folk not as healthy as us wouldn’t have even got there. Anyway, we have learned from that.
Here are a few images from the cruise :-
Champagne Charlie’s Norwegian Spirit
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Marseille – Rue de la Republique
Florence from Piazzale Michelangelo
Valletta street shot
Palermo – one of the quattro canti
Susie and ice cream – Palermo
Arch of Constantine
Marching Band – Valletta
Main Atrium – Norwegian Spirit
Rome – St Paul’s through the keyhole
Florence – street artist
Palermo Cathedral – A mio padre by Vincenzo Muratore
Rome – Circo Massimo park
Palermo Cathedral – Santa Rosalia Chapel Silver altar
Marseille – Boy chasing bubbles
Reflections – Marseille
Palermo – souvenir shop
Reflections – Marseille
Valletta – ship’s berth
Palermo – Teatro Politeama
Henry’s Bar, Norwegian Spirit
Palermo – Piazza Pretoria
Rome – The Colosseum
Florence – Il Duomo
Florence – Piazza della Repubblica
Florence – melonmobile
Church – Valletta
Notre Dame Cathedral, Marseille
Bou – modern sculpture at Es Baluard, Barcelona
Susie plays netball on Norwegian Spirit
Rome – Temple of Apollo Palatinus
Barcelona Sail away
Cathedral – Palma Majorca
I’d forgotten about this. There was a newly painted Fire Engine launched in January in Trinity Square to celebrate Hull City of Culture 2017. Martin Green, CEO and Director of Hull UK City of Culture was present, as were a number of personnel from the Fire Service and news coverage from Radio Humberside.
I took a trip down to Hull yesterday morning to see what all the fuss was about. It’s BIG. I hope it doesn’t slip off the stand, it’ll ruin the new paving. The Blade is something that looked as though it was drawing comment from the scores of people standing looking, so from that point of view I suppose it can be considered as art. I heard one elderly lady comment to a friend that rather than dismantle all the bits and pieces that they had to in order for it to be manoeuvoured into place, they’d be better spending the cash on getting the pavements fixed. There are all sorts of opinions on this so I’ll just leave you with my favourite image of the morning which managed to get itself aired on Look North last night. Peter Levy thought it was a winner – Thank you Peter.
The first major event to start off the Hull City of Culture 2017 was “Made in Hull” – a huge projection in Queen Victoria Square, projected simultaneously on the City Hall, The Ferens Art Gallery and The Maritime Museum. Sue and I went into Hull by train to save parking problems. We got the last two standing room only places on the two carriage train for the 10 minutes ride into Hull. There were people left on Cottingham station as the demand was that high – they would miss the 4pm start but as the show repeated itself until 9pm, they wouldn’t miss a thing.
The story of Hull and its people, over the past 70 years, started off with the projections in Queen Victoria Square and followed a trail, leading down Whitefriargate, through Zebedee’s Yard, Humber Street, Scale Lane, High Street underpass, The Deep and back to Humber Street. I have to say that the visions of wartime Hull, which was the second most bombed City in the Second World War, with 90% of its buildings destroyed, were extremely moving, as were the visions of sailors sinking to the bottom of the sea following the awful losses of trawlers from Hull.
We didn’t stop everywhere – not enough time, so concentrated on Queen Victoria Square and The Deep. Here are a few images :-
Having chosen our spot at Goxhill, three of us arrived early at 6pm in order to park up and wait. The first 50 or so folk were already there, braving the freezing cold wind blowing straight in our faces. This was going to be difficult. We sat in the warm car for a couple of hours and waited until shortly before 8pm and then ventured along the river bank for some considerable distance until there was a clear spot. I think there could well have been 500+ people along the bank. Many tripods, many head torches, much anticipation.
Anyway, here are a few of the images.
We decided to go to Grasmere again and stay at the Wordsworth Hotel and be looked after by the excellent team there. On Christmas Eve we walked around Grasmere itself accompanied by four of the Grasmere staff who served mulled wine, prosecco and cake halfway round, before the heavens opened for five minutes, then we walked the last bit back and got dried out.
Christmas Day was full of good cheer and so were we. The camera stayed put and waited until Boxing Day where I wanted to capture the famous Wordsworth Duck Race. As my ducks from 2015 still hadn’t finished I was a bit loath to have another bet but as the proceeds all go to charity I relented – not to worry, they didn’t finish either. I was given instructions by good friends Martin and Maxine to make sure I got a half decent shot of the ducks going in. Then I hotfooted it to the end but missed the arrival of the first duck. Never mind, more prosecco, mulled wine and food to warm us all through. I felt sorry for one of the guys stuck in the water fishing out the ducks – he looked nithered. I said to him cheerfully “never mind, at least you’ve got your waterproof trousers on” – to which he replied “I’ve found out they’re not waterproof” – poor lad. I was impressed with Alex who was serving on the buffet – dressed in his suit, no overcoat and still serving prosecco the correct way.
On Boxing Day evening we were treated to a Dinner/Dance, started off with handbell ringers and carols and finished with a disco. The food and wine in between was lovely.The next morning we decided to do a last short walk, so we headed off towards Wordsworth’s cottage and instead of turning towards Rydal Water, we turned up the old coffin road and then left again up towards Alcock Tarn – I mean, how steep can it be? Answer – steep. The view from the top when we eventually got there was spectacular. Being overtaken by fit young 20somethings didn’t bother us, we took our time and used the stops to take photos.
All in all, a lovely break but our legs were pleased when we got home.