Friday, 30 November 2012

Walking backwards near Christmas*

November 30th.
 This walk has been done before, in August,   (Canadas, Coots, Grey Lags and Grebes) but the days are short and we don't want to travel far so we are off up the A1, left on the A697 near Morpeth and turn left for Ingram just after Powburn. Cross the bridge and there is a carpark. .A map is useful, the walk is covered by OL Explorer 16 and 332 Alnwick and Amble. Two maps! Copy and laminate.  and the car park is at GR017163.

There are six of us out on this cold but bright  Friday, the last day in November; route, pun, vogel, halfmarathon, music and blogpie. Naturally we stopped for breakfast at the Village Tea Shop and Emporium near Powburn and ordered the usual bacon butties and tea. The bacon was slightly too salty for my taste but the others thought it fine. The bun was a little too soft and the tea arrived in two large pots, one a Chinese Willow Pattern which I haven;t seen I last had tea at my grandmas in 1949.
All older people had them, they came out on Sunday with the ham tea and tomato. (Yes that is singular).  The village tea shop and emprium was awarded 4 flitches.

                             Getting ready. A sure test of fitness for a gadgie is the ability to
                             put his underpants (shorts to you US guys) on without holding on
                             to anything for support. The route meister can do it but admits he
                             can't manage to put his socks on this way. I can do both.

 As I said this walk has been done before, several times but today we are walking  it in a clockwise direction i.e. backwards so that we come to the small nature conservation area first and get the best of the light and see what birds are on the ponds.  We left the car park and turned right on the road, crossing the bridge and walking about a mile in an easterly direction until we came to a long footbridge  over the river Breamish at Brandon.
                            The Breamish at Brandon, not to be confused with Branton.
Across the river we walked a few yards down the road and entered the conservation area by the gate on the left. These two former gravel pits have been transformed into a reserve for water birds and there are some otters too, although we never saw any today. The ponds were quiet although there was a number of ducks and geese on the water including teal, golden eye, goosanders, widgeon mute swans and a heron. The hide had little to offer, possibly because a number of people were out walking their dogs and disturbing the birds.  As we completed our circumnavigation of the water a skein of greylags appeared and noisily settled on the ponds.
                                All quiet on the western pond.

 Leaving the area by the gate we entered we crossed the road and climbed the stile into a field. The footpath went straight across it and so did we  until we turned left at the marker and contoured round the side of East Hill  until we arrived at Fawdon Farm. Because the sun is low but bright the old ridge and furrow systems are well picked out.

                                         Ridge and furrow. Experts like the vogelmeister can
                                         tell whether they are really old or merely medieval.

We followed the path through Fawdon and ascended Old Fawdon Hill, site of an ancient settlement but also giving a fine view of a settlement to the south east, complete with two types of ridge and furrow.

             Unnamed settlement to the south east of Old Fawdon Hill, r and f in the background.
             Ingram Valley was wellpopulated and a centre for agriculture centuries ago.
The trig point on top of the hill was declared a Herbiespot. I have reverted to my winter diet of Cornish Pasty and I am working on a lightweight microwave so I can heat and eat them. And yes, pork pie and ginger biscuits were on the menu plus Morrisons Apple Pies. Well done punmeister for guessing the make correctly.

Lunch over, and with a sun getting lower in the sky we followed the track in a south west direction down the hill to Rocky Burn. Across the burn, up the path to the track and then north west over Cochrane Pike. There are some strictly out of bounds area round here and it is advisable to stick to the official paths as there is quite a bit of game shooting going on. Over the Pike  we followed paths round the perimeter of a plantation before turning north east on a good track which led us back to the farm at Ingram, although we walked carefully as the temperature had hardly crossed the zero mark all day and there were patches of ice underfoot.

                             Not gloomy gadgies, but gadgies in the evening gloom.
The road past Ingram Farm led us back to the car park.
 Once changed we headed for a favourite watering hole, the Anglers Arms at Weldon Bridge where we were given the usual warm welcome and offered Directors or Abbot. We all drank Abbot except Harry who was driving and had coffee and a plateful of biscuits which we ate for him. Five barrels.


Hi gear is now in real danger,

                                                        steps                                miles
ASDA slim                                    20873                                 9.39
Daves Asda slim                            21083                                 9.90
LIDLUSB                                      20304                                  9.60
OUTDOORS GPS claimed 9.8 miles and Ben's bragometer 9.4

* In the late fifties and sixties a favourite British radio show was The Goons. Three ex servicemen, Harry Secombe, Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers (Yes Dr. Strangelove and the Pink Panther) had us all in stitches with their surreal humour.
One of their songs was "I'm walking backwards for Christmas

Monday, 26 November 2012

The GABBAS 2012

                                                                THE HAPPY PIGS
Welcome   to    the   GABBAS
The GABBAS* represent a new standard in the British Bacon Butty industry and are awarded annually by a select group of gadgies. This is the first year the GABBAS have been awarded  but it is hoped to make it a regular event. The gadgies had hoped to invite Miss Piggy to present the prestigious awards but she is busy at this time of year and has had to decline, without so much as a prerecorded message . That’s superstardom for you.

The gadgies have devoted much of their time visiting cafes throughout the north and testing the bacon sandwiches on offer, taking in to consideration the amount and quality of the filling, noting the welcome and friendliness of the staff of the establishment, the choice of bread available, the price of the butty and the ambience of each establishment.  Establishments are awarded “flitches” to a maximum of five.
And so, in time honoured way, the envelopes will be opened in reverse order as the GABBAS are presented;

At number five:
As the name says, more of a restaurant than a tea room.  On Bridge Street in the Northumbrian town of Rothbury.  Has a table licence too, but not for breakfast!  Interesting tables with drawers stacked with colouring books for children, or gadgies. The waitress apologised as she could only offer wholemeal brown bread, the baps were not ready.Bacon butties should come in a bap, and for this reason we felt we could only award four flitches. However we have had a promise, delivered by the magic of email that baps will be ready next time. And there is a bunkhouse for overeaters.


At number four:
THE ALLENDALE TEAROOMS.   (SEVEN GO OFF TO ALLENDALE)                 The Allendale Tea Room, not surprisingly, is in the small Northumberland town of Allendale, not too far from County Durham. A lovely small café with a very friendly staff and a tasty bacon butty. It fell down on the choice of bread, either a white bap or sliced brown bread and so the committee felt the establishment could only be awarded four and a half flitches.
At number three:
It is getting more difficult! The Coffee Shop is in Belford, a north Northumbrian village. Charming place and friendly staff. We ordered our breakfast with brown baps and unfortunately they came in white, but with an immediate apology. And we were offered refills for the tea pot. For this reason we awarded the coffee shop five flitches and a recommendation.

And at number two:
This first class café is in Craster, a Northumbrian fishing village, famous for kippers. The room was spacious, the breakfast menu very tempting and the bacon butty, served without question on a bap was generously filled and came with a small pot of sauce, brown or red. The staff were friendly and offered extra hot water for the tea pots.  Well worth the five flitches they were awarded.

And finally the winner, fumbling over opening the envelope,
The Keswick Coffee Lounge is on the edge of the first car park you come to driving into Keswick from Penrith. Simply furnished but with a welcome from Big Eric, this establishment consistently serves the best bacon butty. A choice of bread, a generous filling and a small salad. And tea of course. So good is it that it is impossible to have a north lakes walk without starting at this establishment. Although the last two cafes have also been awarde five flitches this one simply has the edge. So thanks to all the pigs that have made this happen, the bakers for their sterling efforts and the waitresses (and Eric) for their service.


More bacon butties and walks appearing at a blog near you soon.


Saturday, 24 November 2012

Bacon, Bays and Birds................November 23rd.

I must go down to the sea again, the lonely sea and the sky,
I left my shoes and socks there, I wonder if they're dry.

                           The lonely sea and the sky........................with socks.
Many of us rewrote John Masefield's famous poem when our English teacher forced it on us but most of them preferred  The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes because it contained  a whole week's English lessons in one poem. Metaphor,simile, alliteration, onomatopoeia and probably an oxymoron or two, not to mention rhymes and rhythm..

I have been looking at a rival blog; Walks from Richard. It is a lot more professional in appearance, something I shall look into and is to be recommended. Richard's blog uses more photographs to illustrate the walk but he doesn't have the punmeister, the pub or bacon butty reports.

There are only four out today, winter takes its toll. Pun, vogel, route and blogmeister.

Back to today. We have chosen a coastal walk that has been covered before but there will be more pictures. It is a linear walk so a bit more organisation is required, either a car at each end or a bus ride. If you opt for a bus ride you need Service X18 from Newcastle to Berwick via the coast. Pick up the timetable, "coast and castles" at a bus station or look it up on the Nexus site. We are starting at Craster, to drive there take the \A189 Coast and Castle route to Lesbury and follow signs to Craster.
There is a small car park next to the Visitor Centre at a very generous £2 for a day.The car park is at GR256198.
You can do this walk without a map as it follows the beach north but if you require a little help and a chance to look at the lovely names of features you pass  buy Explorer 332 Alnwick and Amble and Explorer 340 which is nameless because I haven,t got it.

 Craster Visitor Centre, not necessarily open in winter, although the toilets are which is  important for gadgies as they get older.
  Before we started we called in at the Shoreline Cafe, opposite the Jolly Fisherman pub for breakfast.
A brightly lit little restaurant with friendly staff a good range of breakfasts and quality tea. The bacon was excellent, the amount generous, sauce provided on request in neat little bowls. Five flitches were awarded with very little discussion.
                                           The Shoreline cafe inside..............
                                                         .................and out.

The walk: (at last)

We headed north from the cafe through the tiny fishing village of Craster, which is famous for kippers, a smoked herring with lots of bones.

              Boats and lobster pots in Craster.
                       A sad looking gull, possibly suffering a broken wing.
Once past the last of the houses a gate opens onto fields that lead to the very familiar Dunstanburgh Castle.
This magnificent fortress was built on a site where Iron Age and Roman remains have been found. It was started in 1314 by Thomas,Earl of Lancaster. Later work by John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster. The British sovereign, regardless of sex, is the Duke of Lancaster to this day and Lancastrians are permitted to say "The Duke" when they give the loyal toast.
                                  Dunstanburgh,s massive,  if ruined,  gatehouse.
                                       The Lilburn Tower at Dunstanburgh.

                                                  And a view looking back from the north side.
\Beyond the castle the walk follows the arc of Embleton Bay, which is a popular walk at any time of year. On the left is Embleton Golf Course so there is always the chance of being felled by a sliced drive and on the right the famous geological sample.

                                                       Here we have an anticline, look how the layers of rock have
                                               been curved under pressure, particularly on the right.

                     Embleton Bay.
On the left of the footpath there is a reminder of World War II in the shape of a concrete bunker:

                                   A Dad's Army outpost.

At the north end of Embleton Bay is the tiny village of  Low Newton by the Sea which has a pub, a few cottages and a bird hide overlooking a pond which we made into a Herbiespot.
Lunch was slightly different today as someone had forgotten to buy pork pies, but we did have mince pies and some of Mrs A's delicious muesli biscuits.

The pond was busy; we spotted  Whooper and Mute swans, Canada Geese, Teal, Potchard and shovellers and a flock of lapwings. Hovering on the far side was a kestrel and the pun meister suggested that should we stay until dusk we could observe "Oh Kestrel Manoeuvres in the Dark." Good one.

                    He is conducting "Swan Lake"
                                    As the audience leaves
Leaving the village we followed the coastal path across a couple of fields.A Sparrow Hawk flew by causing much concern among the smaller birds of which there were many feeding on the beach and rocks but he whizzed through without catching anything.
After passing a low brick building which has something to do with coastguards or MI6 the path descends to the beach again to follow the arc round Beadnell Bay. There were quite a number of sanderlings running like clockwork toys on the edge of the water, turnstones and in some gorse on the dunes a stonechat.
At one point it is necessary usually to take a slight detour inland to cross the Long Nanny Burn by bridge, the alternative being a plodge* through a couple of feet of water. There is a bird sanctuary on the beach by the burn. In summer a colony of little and arctic turns take over, their real enemies being marauding foxes. A local nature organisation often keeps a twenty four hour vigil to protect the young.
Still guarding after all these years.
Another souvenir from World War II is a row of concrete blocks designed to prevent landings,or at least make them difficult. There are a lot in the area, the theory being that an invasion could come in this part of Enland where the country is at its narrowest, the enemy could drive across to the west and split the homeland. So I have been told.

The lime kilns of Beadnell are clearly visible as the walk approaches the village. Lime was burned in the kilns to produce  a  fertiliser for the local and not so local farmers. On other days they have served as Herbiespots but today we walked through the village,past the chip shop (it was closed) and back down on to the beach for the last stretch.
As we walked through Beadnell the punmeister said that if he wanted to see godwits, bar tailed or otherwise, this would be the place, and behold, on the beach were the very birds, plus curlews..
                              Beadnell Lime Kilns
Soon we were in Seahouses, fish and chip capital of Northumberland and the place from which to take a boat out to the Farne Islands. In summer these islands, which are National Trust property, teem with puffins, terns, kittiwakes  and the sea is home to seals. Well worth a visit.
But before the fish and chips we called in to The Old Ship, a proper English pub serving several real ales in a friendly atmosphere, apart from the local yob who was rude to Brian.
                The welcoming lights of The Olde Ship,
which served:Theakstons Bitter, Speckled Hen, Ruddles County, Directors Bitter, Farne Island and Black Sheep, plus guest ales Red Dust, Pullet Please, Alnwick IPA and Coast to Coast. No wonder it was busy!
Some of us indulged in fish and chips too but then we all caught the X18 back to Craster and drove home. Brian the driver had made a very listenable, singalongable compilation: Abba, Bob Dylan, The Proclaimers and more.
Another great day pout.

The Matrix MCVII

                                                        steps                                   miles
Higear is going to have to be careful, recorded well from the bird hide

My ASDA slim                              24448                                  11
Dave's ASDA slim                         23521                                  11.3
LIDLUSB                                       22680                                  10.7

OUTDOORGPS said 11.01 miles but claimed an ascent of 1643 feet!

*plodge  Verb; to paddle in water, especially the sea.
               Noun a walk in the water, especially the sea.

Book of the blog: Map Addict by  Mike Parker, published by Collins
If you think of maps as being more than just a tool for walkers you will find this very interesting if not fascinating. Mike Parker rambles through a history of maps, particularly the Ordnance Survey and brings out their oddities, changes , jokes and so on. My only complaint is that on the cover it says
"A Tale of Obsession, Fudge and the Ordnance Survey" I am very fond of fudge, especially Scottish Tablet and I have not found anything about it in the book.

                                    From Craster to Seahouses

 Designated driver  : Brian

Saturday, 17 November 2012

To the Boathouse................................................. By North Carolina Foxx. November 16th.

  Ebchester is a small village in County Durham. If you have been paying attention you will remember that a place in England ending in chester/caster had Roman connections. Ebchester was once a services (Vindomora) on Dere Street, the Roman road to Hadrian's Wall. Most of the fort has been converted into slightly more modern buildings, including the church which is dedicated to Saint Ebba. It does not have a tea shop for bacon butties.

 Ebba was a 7th Century princess, daughter of Aethelfrith, king of Northumbria,  who lost his throne, only to have his son regain it. His daughter, Ebba, was so pleased she founded  a nunnery in what is now called Ebchester. She also set up a religious house at Kirk Hill near present day St. Abb's Head just north of Berwick. This house eventually evolved into the religious house at nearby Coldingham. St. Abb's is a good walk,watch out for it. St  Ebba is patron saint of tidal fishermen .Like many a dedicated nun she was pursued by a suitor and to protect her from his attentions the tide did not go down for three days so he went elsewhere to press his suit.
 A quintet of gadgies are out today; Pun, vogel, route, who devised this walk, blogpie and Cornish Johnny.
 To get to Ebchester we caught the 46 bus from Newcastle Eldon Square at 10.10 am and got off at Ebchester post office and bureau de change. These and other buildings sit on top of the Roman fort so there is little to see there. St. Ebbas Church is across the road, Norman with possible earlier foundations.

St. Ebba's church, silhouetted against the morning sun.
                                A plan of the fort Vindomora, possibly.

The walk:   A map is useful on this walk and as a true gadgie walk it needs two OS sheets;
Explorer 307 Consett and Derwent Reservoir
Explorer 316 Newcastle upon Tyne.
You can of course photocopy the relevant sections and, if you are prepared to put up with the sarcastic comments of your children, laminate them for future use or just put them in one of those transparent pockets students use for their essays before filing them away.
The walk starts at the Post Office, bureau de change which is at GR103555.   We walked south west past the post office, turned right and continued down the road until we crossed the River Derwent and found, on the right hand side of the road a footpath that enters Park Wood. This is a deciduous woodland, very different from the coniferous plantations with their regular rows of trees, and although it is late  some of the trees still have their autumn colours.
                                  Autumn in Park Wood.
We followed the footpath through the trees, well marked but muddy, in a north westerly direction until we came to a gravelled track where we turned right. After a couple of hundred yards we turned off the track on the left and continued the walk through Westriding Woods until we emerged on a minor road, turned right and walked uphill to Hedley on the Hill. An information board just before the village pointed out the distant hills like the Cheviot, Simonside and so on and there was a well made stone bench that made an excellent Herbiespot. We had the usual, sandwiches, Melton Mowbray pork pies and Sainsbury's apple pies for afters.  Not quite as sharp as last week's from Morrisons. Perhaps we should start a new category awarding apples for pies!
                      A happy  Herbiespot at Hedley on the Hill
  Lunch time discussion again vacillated between the ridiculous and the serious.At one point the routemaster announced he would give up talking about politics as he had become too much of a cynic. The punmeister claimed to be able to help him recover as he had a sinecure.

Lunch and witticisms over we walked through the village. It is another pretty Northumbrian village.
The pub, the Feathers organises a beer barrel race every bank holiday Monday when teams of two are invited to run a 1.5 mile course carrying an empty 9 gallon beer barrel up the hill to the pub.
After a mile walking on the road,always the worst part of a walk, we turned left at a small plantation that partly hid a water tower, crossed a couple of fields, skirted Hyons East Wood until we came to a rough track, turned right and followed the track to a minor road. (Moor Road). Across the road there was a polite notice advising that although the land was private we were welcome to cross provided we stuck to the footpath. The next stretch was through Low Guard Wood on more muddy winding paths that eventually took us into Stanleyburn Wood, a really well  maintained walk, footbridges over the stream, steps up the hills (not very high!).                                                                              

In Stanleyburn Woods. And we saw a heron
 Having crossed the road Stanleyburn Bridge we continued down the right hand side of the stream,past the golf course, under a high road bridge until we emerged near Bradley Hall Farm. Should you follow this walk go straight through the farm yard, not past the "Overeaters Chip Van" and John Deere tractor (Type 551) and find the stile to the left of a gate. Once across the stile we went through a gate, downhill across a field and through a short stretch of wood, another field and came out on the road, turned left and walked to paradise.

                  The Boathouse Pub, Wylam.
  This pub had fourteen (14) hand pumps. Granted two of the beers were not on but the remaining dozen include:
Tyneside Blonde, Alnwick Ale, Cumberland Corby, Sonnet (2 types), Anarchy sublime Chaos, another from the same brewery, Everards, Fair Comment, Coast to Coast and Stoker.It sells food too!
I enjoyed a pint of Tyneside Blonde, Anarchy and Stoker, because the last one was brewed  in Oxenhope, a village near Haworth in Bronte country where I spent many a happy holiday as a child.
And I had steak ale pie and chips. Forunately the railway station is next to the pub so we were able to catch a train back to Newcastle and buses or metros home. A grand gadgie day out and at least 5 barrels.
 The Matrix MMVIII
                                                         steps                  miles
Higear misbehaved again
New ASDA slim                            23998                   11.27
ASDA Curvy                                  19230                  8.8
LIDLUSB                                       24721                   10.9

OUTDOORS GPS said 9.9 miles and it has been measured by the vogelmeister at 9.6

ps. At the moment I have more American readers than from the UK and coming third,much to my surprise are the Russians! I would love to hear from some.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

We're going to Blanchland..............November 9th

  Blanchland is a pretty village in south Northumberland, almost on the border with County Durham, land of the Prince Bishops. In 1165 an abbey was founded for Premonstratensian canons,sometimes called  Norbertines after their founder Norbert who established the first abbey at Laon in France. Norbertines are often called White Canons after the colour of their robes.
 The abbey, like many in the north of England was bashed about a bit by the Scots and finally dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539. The building became a house and the village grew from the other monastical buildings. The village church St.Mary the Virgin was built from the ruins of the monastic chapel and has a 12th century chancel, 13thc transept and tower and 14th c belfry plus 18th and 19th c repairs. That;s nearly all the history for today.
 A quartet of gadgies out today, pun, vogel, route and blogpie.  Blanchland is not far from Newcastle along the A69, turn off at the A68 going south, drive through Riding Mill, Slaley and at the end of that stretched out village turn left for Blanchland. There is a car park with an honesty box, £1 for a day. As usual we started the day with bacon and tea at the White Monks tea rooms. I may well be wrong, I often am according to the gadgette, but the tea room seemed to be in the old village school and was very attractive, inside and out. The bacon arrived in a toasted flat panini style bread and was good, as was the tea, but expensive for retired gadgies; a score of three flitches.

The walk; a map is useful and I used OSLR sheet 87 Hexham and Haltwhistle. The car park is at GR964504.
Blanchland. The walk starts by turning right at the end of the row of houses on the right.

                             The church of St. mary the Virgin, Blanchland.
Leaving the car park we walked down the village street and turned right. Almost immediately a footpath took us across a football field and along to Beybridge. Passing through this small community we continued to Newbiggin to admire the large house there and its topiary.
  The green deer of Newbiggin Hall. Too far away for a decent photograph.
                                              Newbiggin Hall Remodelled in the 18th c from an earlier house.
 The footpath is well marked and crosses fields and goes through plantations where we watched a kestrel hunt until we came to a dilapidated farmhouse at the end of a grassy track. The ruin is called Riddlehamhope and one of its outbuildings provided shelter from the wind as we indulged in one of our favourite pastimes, namely eating at a Herbiespot.Lunch was the usual, sandwiches pork pie but as another little pre Christmas treat William Morrison's Bramley Apple Pies, and pretty good they were too.
The punmeister entertained us with his Christmas Cracker joke*  that a man who travelled the world studying earthquakes was probably an international tremorist which was almost as bad as somebody else's  story about Sherlock Holmes;
Dr Watson observed the master painting their front door on Baker Street a bright yellow.
"Why are you doing that Holmes?" asked Watson.
"It's a lemon entry ," answered Sherlock. Dreadful.

                                        Ruined Riddlehamhope.

                                   Herbiespot in a hemel**
Lunch over we continued westward in the wind and light rain for a short time before going through a gate (Just as a check it has a sign saying Heatheryburn) and almost immediately found a signposted style on the right of the track. This footpath is difficult to follow as it meanders across moorland past the remains of some mine workings and glacial scenery until it joins a more solid track, the Carriers Way. After  a short walk we came across a small, stone hut which is a shelter for grouse shooters.The beaters sit outside with a bottle of Guinness as the hunting party tuck into veal pies, whiskey and the beneath stairs maids. We sat inside and had another snack as we admired the military style map for beaters on the wall.
                                         Chez Grouse.

We thought this could have been a military map drawn up by Jonesy the Corporal in Dad's Army***
In truth it is for the beaters working on a grouse shoot.

Leaving the hut we continued on the track leading slightly east of north. If you follow this walk take care, you need to take the third signed path on the right and follow the track south east until you come to Pennypie House. Legend has it that when this track really was a carriers way the farm sold pies for a penny. Not today, unfortunately,or we would have stopped again.

                                               Pennypie House.
From the house a well made road leads down a wooded valley to Shildon where there are the remains of a lead mine. The area has been mined for its metals since medieval times and the remains are an 19th c engine house and chimney stack

                    Shildon Castle and stack. Once a Cornish style engine house, then flats and now a ruin.

From the castle it is less than a mile to the car.park.
Changed we headed to Edmundbyers and the Punchbowl Inn. This pub had Deuchars, Farne Island and Wacky Dracy on offer, plus a welcome log fire. Five barrels.
Designated driver; me

The matrix MCVII

                                                       steps                               miles
LIDLUSB                                       20122                             8.88
ASDAPED                                      18514                             8.88
LBN                                                 18393                             8.56
HiGear was so badly behaved it is in danger of being cosigned to a drawer.
OUTDOORS GPS claimed 9.4 miles which is exactly what Brian had said when he set the route up on MemoryMap. and Dave measured it on his 1:25000 spliced map (but not laminated) as 9.36 miles.

* For overseas readers not too familiar with life on our island. At Christmas we pull paper crackers which go pop and release a tatty paper hat, weird plastic toy and a dreadful joke.
** A hemel is a farm outhouse in the north of England,usually with several arched openings.
*** Dad's Army was a much loved British comedy show about a small group of old men charged with defending their town in World War II.