Saturday, 29 November 2014

Yet another American import, like Halloween but less fun and definitely not for children.
I could not join the gadgies today as I was looking after my mother who was discharged from hospital after another short stay. Thanks again to the wonderful NHS. And my wife developed a terrible cold so I donned my Florence Nightingale kit and played nurses, cook and cleaner for the day.
Brian, aka punmeister sent me a report on the walk:
Black Friday …or at least Very, Very Grey Friday 28th November 2014-11-29
On a day when people were punching each other to add to their compilation of consumer goods, three gadgies ventured out into a “dreek” November day.

There were 3 of us out, Dave, John H and Brian and we had decided to do the walk that had been washed out 2 weeks earlier.  The walks started at a free car park on the cliff’s edge at Hartley overlooking St Mary’s Island (NZ344 758). N.B be careful not to start at 345 or you’ll be in the sea.

On a much nicer day

We headed inland to Holywell Dene through which flows the Seaton Burn.  The Dene is steep sided, wooded on both sides and is home to a lot of bird life and the occasional deer.  About half a mile in there is a feeding station but the feeders were empty.  Fortunately we had brought feed with us but sadly the feed tube was broken.  Nevertheless the feed was laid out at the base of the tree and within seconds we were surrounded by Great Tits, Blue Tits and a Robin.  In a tree close by Dave spotted some Goldcrests which are Britain’s smallest bird.  Our next destination was the Northumberland Wildlife Trust ( bird hide at Holywell pond. 

The pond is a result of mining subsidence and is an attractive spot for resident and migrant birds.  It also provided Dave with an opportunity for first lunch.  The highlights of our visit was the sighting of a Water Rail and a Stoat both next to the hide (let’s hope they don’t meet)

Water Rail

Our next visit was to the public hide, about 0.3 miles around the pond.  Here, as well as seeing a goodly range of ducks, was the official Herbie stop.  John had Brunch bars, Dave some exotic sounding sweetmeat but sadly nothing from Mrs A who had been on holiday for the previous 8 days.

We then moved on along old waggonways to the road along the front of Delaval Hall* (the ancient home of the Hall family!) and back to the coast where we rejoined Holywell Dene just as it flows into the sea.  This section of the Dene is usually less interesting than the previous section apart from Brian being almost certain that he saw a Little Egret.  A few minutes later he met a friend from his badminton club whose husband is a birder in the area and hopefully will confirm the sighting.

From here it was a short walk back to the car and then to the Beehive Pub.  Their well kept ales were: Alnwick Pale, Mordues Workie Ticket and Billy Mill (which now has a roundabout named after it).
                  Much prettier than the present roundabout.
                   When I first came to work in the north east a friend was frequently heard to say:
                   I'm Billy Hill, from Billy Mill,
                  I've never worked and never will


Dave’s Pedometers                        both 6.25 (must be a first having them the same to 2 decimal places).
Brian’s Mapping Software            6.17
Contains OS data, copyright. Crown Copyright and database right 2014

 * Seaton Delaval Hall was built between 1718 and 1729 to a design of Sir John Vanbrugh. It looks out onto Blyth. The Delavals (or Halls!) came over with William the Conqueror and in later days owned mines and factories in the area. Seaton Sluice is of interest to archaeologists like Dave the Goldcrest spotter because of the sluice built in the 18th century and the cut made later the same century.

Next week – the Pie Walk???

Friday, 21 November 2014

AND ANOTHER RANT............................
       I live in Northumberland, my mother lives in Morecambe.132 miles away. She is 99, registered blind, partially deaf and suffers from arthritis but remains determined to stay in her own home.
     At about 10.30 pm on Friday October 10th I received a phone call from one of her neighbours expressing concern, as my mother’s lights were on but she normally retires about 8pm. The neighbour could get no response to phone or bell. I called the lady who acts as my mother’s cleaner, shopper and unofficial carer and requested her to call at my mother’s as I knew she could get in.
    The lady found my mother in a very distressed state. She had suffered a burst varicose vein, there was blood on the kitchen floor, the living room carpet and my mother’s clothes. The lady later told me she thought somebody had broken in and murdered my mother! The lady rang emergency services and an ambulance and police car attended my mother. She was taken to hospital.
  The lady rang me and thought I should come down straight away. My wife and I left almost immediately and arrived at the hospital A and E department about 3.30am on Saturday October 11th. My mother was being well treated, she had lost a considerable amount of blood and was given a transfusion of two units the next day.
  Meanwhile the lady, concerned for my mother, whom she sees as a friend rather than a client, followed the ambulance. Sadly she was stopped by the police for allegedly going through a red light. She was breathalysed and found to have an excessive amount of alcohol in her blood. I believe she was taken to the police station and kept there until 5am.
 On Tuesday October 21st the lady appeared before the magistrates  and pleaded guilty to the offence. The magistrates were very sympathetic, in a style rather similar to the one in Stanley Holloway’s “Albert and the Lion”, but she was found guilty of the offence.  She was fined £130 and banned from driving for twelve months.
 As a result, as she is self employed as a cleaner, she has lost her business because she needs transport to move her cleaning materials from one house to another. Unless she can find alternative employment she will eventually become a charge on the state.
  And all this because she tried to help an old lady who was in trouble.
I appreciate she has broken the law but consider that on some occasions, and this to me is one of them, the people who make judgements should be allowed to exercise some common sense.
   After a life time of admiration for the law and the police I now feel that in this case there is no justice.


Saturday, 15 November 2014

A GADGIE RANT..............NOVEMBER14th.
I could not join the lads for the weekly walk on Friday as I will explain later. However I received a report of their adventure from Brian, aka punmeister:
 Four gadgies, Dave, John H., Ray and Brian gathered about 10.15 in Brian's kitchen. (OS OL316 Newcastle upon Tyne. NZ342697) They drank tea (PG tips) and all but Ray ate a piece of Mrs A's apple and ginger cake and they looked out at the rain.  After two hours of stimulating conversation and looking out at heavier rain they had another cup of tea (PG tips). At 12.45 it was still raining and the three non domiciled gadgies left in the rain. At 4pm it stopped raining but by this time it was dark.

 I would have joined the tea drinking and stimulating conversation but..................

    My mother is 99 years old, heading for the telegram. She is also partially sighted, partially deaf and partially crippled with arthritis. After a bad fall five weeks ago she lost a lot of blood and was taken to hospital where she was very well looked after by the wonderful NHS. However she agreed that she was no longer fit to live alone, (This was her third bad fall) and decided to take up our offer of free accommodation and  excellent care from the gadgette. So when she was to be discharged from hospital I picked her up, spent a few days saying goodbye to friends and neighbours, packed clothes, souvenirs, photographs and ornaments plus several jars of marmalade and brought her to the north east.
The week before I had called at our local health centre and explained the position and that I would like my mother to register as a patient. I was given registration forms, medical questionnaires and an information pack and told that when mother was here  bring her along in the afternoon with some ID and she would be seen by the doctor who would register her. I did think registration was not the doctor's job but what do I know.
The day after she arrived I took her, the forms and some ID to the centre in the afternoon as asked and presented ourselves at reception. The lady at the desk said the ID was not sufficient, she needed more than a birth certificate and she need photo ID, bring her passport or driving licence. She has neither but she does have a Blue Disabled Parking Badge which has a photo. The young lady said that was no good, the nurse behind her said it was. The young lady said I needed a letter stating where my mother was to live. I offered to write one as did the man standing next to me. The young lady said that was no good, the letter had to be from an important person like a doctor. At this point I remembered I had a letter of discharge from the hospital addressed to GP. Although not for me I opened it and it stated quite clearly that the patient was to be discharged to her son's house and it gave my address. The clincher I thought, now to see a doctor. The young lady then informed me the doctor was no longer available, come back tomorrow afternoon. I asked if there should be an appointment but she said no, just to turn up.
The following day we turned up at the health centre about 2.15, showed the documents to another lady who told me to keep them and that the doctor would see us soon. After about an hour, mother getting fractious and me getting bored,  there are only so many times you want to read the poster for Chlamydia or see the advert for new boilers on the TV screen that also tells when it's your turn to see the doctor/nurse. I returned to the desk and pointed out how long we had been waiting. The lady apologised and rang the doctor but he had a patient. She assured me he would see me soon and please to wait a little longer.
After about ten minutes another lady came towards us, asked for names and then said that doctors do not do registrations, she did! (That did not come as a shock). She took us to a room, examined the documents, photocopied them and said she would make an appointment for us next week to discuss my mother with the doctor. All this took about ten minutes, the lady was very helpful but surely the receptionist should know exactly what to do. The NHS is brilliant in many ways but some of the non medicals...............
I once asked a receptionist for the number for patient transport. She told me I would have to go to A and E for that. I did, the reception was next door. The lady there looked at a list of numbers pinned to the wall and answered my question. Passing the original receptionist I noticed she had the same list.

This sorry affair reminded me of the great post office circular:
 Sadly my daughter's marriage broke up and she settled herself in a flat. She kept her passport in her married name, it had several years to go before expiring, but changed her name by declaration back to our family name.
She had gone away for a few days but asked me to feed the cat, it's a dad's job, and also to look out for a parcel she was expecting. If I missed the post but there was one of the Post Office's "missed you" cards would I please pick it up. She had left out her passport and declaration of name change.
Sure enough I missed the post but took the red card to the sorting office, showed the man the passport and declaration and asked for the parcel.
 He looked at the passport, (married name) and the declaration of name change (married and maiden name) and told me he could not accept the latter. When I asked why not he told me it was because it was a piece of paper. Stunned I pointed out that the passport was too but he was adamant that the PO would not accept a piece of paper. I pointed out it was a fairly legal piece of paper but he would not budge. So I asked him what would happen. He told me that the parcel would be delivered the next day. When I pointed out that she would not be in he explained that the postman would leave a card saying it could be picked up at the sorting office, with ID of course. When I said I would come again with the same ID he said I still couldn't have the parcel but they would try to deliver it the next day....................
Does anybody remember the song by the Kingston Trio about the passenger who could not get off the Boston MTA and spent his life riding round. His wife brought him sandwiches, I know how she felt

Which reminds me of the American visa
In 2003 I visited my sister in Canada. Crossing into the US at a small border post between Alberta and Montana I had to apply, on the spot, for a visa. Fair enough. My sister, being Canadian was fine, some sort of Schengen agreement I suppose but I was asked to go into the little border office to be questioned by an armed young lady. (note; We British are not very familiar with armed officers) I was also advised by my sister not to laugh but to answer the questions seriously.
She asked me if my visit was for business or vacation.
She asked me if I was a terrorist.
She asked me if I had ever been a terrorist. (Are you really going to say yes?)
She then asked me if I had ever been a member of the Nazi party between the years 1933 and 1945. I was tempted to say "Look at the passport for heaven's sake" (DoB 1944) but stuck to orders and said no. I had never joined not too keen on the uniform.( No I didn't add that bit just in case) And off we went into beautiful Montana.
Back to gadgie walks next week.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Puns and grumbles, November 7th.
It was raining at 8am, and 9am and 10am and 10.30am when six of us met at the Terrace Cafe in Wooler. A welcoming cafe, lovely ladies serving tea, coffee and bacon sandwiches. Still a light 13 stones  (182 pounds) I stuck to tea, as did two other gadgies.
By 11am the rain had eased off so we left the cars infront of a closed warehouse and set off for the day's walk.
The walk starts in Wooler: A1, A697 and park up. The map for most of the walk is OSExplorer 340, but some of it wanders onto the adjacent sheet 339 or even OL 16.

                                                It used to be a freight company yard, now it
                                                             makes a useful car park.
Crossing the A697 and Wooler Water we headed up Brewery  Lane, passing the cricket ground on the right, a quad bike centre on the left but no brewery. The road here is part of St. Cuthbert's Way which finishes at Holy Island, or Melrose if you go the other way. After about a mile and three quarters we followed the marker on the left across fields and through woodland, down a very slippy path and came out on the road which crosses the River Till by a rather fine arch bridge.
                                                          So far the path was well marked.
We followed the road to Weetwood Hall and then continued on the green lane uphill. When the lane ended we continued across fields, looking for the cup and ring carvings marked on the map but we failed to spot them.
                                          We did stop at the Trig Point to discuss the route
                                                      Herbieing at the Shepherd's House
At the Shepherd's House we called a Herbie Spot and sat on some convenient rocks for a feast of sandwiches, McVities Flapjacks, Individual Bramley Apple Pies, Ginger Whirls and a superb moist cake from Mrs A.
                                                  The bump in the middle is Yeavering Bell.
                                           Hedgehope on the left, Cheviot in the cloud. Wooler below.
Dave pointed out the hills occupied by the opposing Scottish and English armies at the Battle of Humbleton fought on September 14th, 1402. The English were led by good old Harry Hotspur.
 "From that hill," said Dave, "the English archers peppered the Scots."
"Was that an assault?" asked Brian politely, "or a peppering?"
Lunch over we continued across Doddington Moor to Wooler Golf Course, a sea of well trimmed green in an ocean of brown bracken. We paused at the club house.
                                             No golf at Christmas,it's Noel
Reaching the road we turned left and went to the village of Doddington. Should you visit the North East of the sceptered isle try some of Doddington's Ice Cream. Delicious. I think the farm started to make it in the last outbreak of Foot and Mouth when they were not allowed to ship milk and nobody told the cows to stop producing it. Comes in several flavours, my favourite is chocolate.
The village of Doddington has a 12th century church and a 16th century bastle, or fortified house, lower down the scale than a pele tower which in turn is lower than a castle.

 The church of St. Mary and St. Michael in Doddington. Note the lancet windows, early English.
From the village church we walked down a lane and across fields until we came to a bridge across the Till. The original single arch bridge was crumbling so a replacement had been built.

                                The Bridge on the River Till.
Immediately over the bridge  a marker directed us west and we followed it before coming to a barbed wire fence. Turning south we crossed several more very flat fields. I had the nerve to suggest to John H that this was the boring part of the walk, the land being flat and featureless. He agreed and also began to enquire why we seemed to be heading away from Wooler, the end point. Brian the leader silenced him. Eventually we came to the dismantled railway we hoped would bring us back to base  but the bridge crossing the Humbleton Burn had been destroyed, the stream was too wet to cross so we headed south round the edges of more fields until we hit the A697, turne left and walked back to the car park.
Surprisingly we called in at the ever welcoming Anglers Arms, Weldon Bridge. They served Tim Taylor's Golden Best, Directors and Speckled Hen. We look forward to the next AGM!

The matrix    MMXIV   U
                                                                       steps               miles
HiGear                                                           19514               8.86
Pink One                                                        25310              11.97
Dave's 3D                                                       23389             9.96
Dave's USB                                                    24247             10.42
OUTDOOR GPS                                                                    10.7
Brian's GPS                                                                            11.25
John C's                                                                                   11.53

Gadgie distance 397miles

Take a map, study it carefully, watch for markers don't follow us.
It was a good day for the bird watchers amongst us, and animal lovers too.
We saw fieldfares, long tailed tits, blue tits, crows, finches, ravens, buzzards and what we thought was a merlin. We also saw some deer running across fields towards the end of the walk and near Weetwood Hill we spottede a fox, the second one I have seen this week. (The first a large healthy looking dog fox in Gosforth Park Nature Reserve, Newcastle upon Tyne.) And we saw a bear near Doddington. There are few of these creatures in England.

                                                          Fantastic Mr Fox
                                           The magical merlin
                                               The Doddington bear. Looks a bit sad to me
                                           Maybe somebody ate his porage.