It’s forest o’clock!

OK, I’m really struggling these days when it comes to imaginitive titles. After my massively expensive shopping trip yesterday, it was time to do something entirely different, and that was to spend the day walking around Hamsterley forest. This time, I’d be with Gary (aka Flav), and, once again, Jamie S would be in charge of the transportation.

Unfortunately, the first thing I noticed on Thursday morning, was the fog. It’s the thickest it’s been in a long time. Thankfully, Hartlepool is on the coast, and Hamsterley Forest is many miles inland. I’d be hopeful that the mist would burn off. After a quick stop off at the town so Jamie S could pick up some Primark Plimmies, we headed off to Port Clarence to pick up Gary. Now, I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of this particular place, but it does have one of my favourite pieces of graffiti…

FUCK OFF

Awesome. It’ll always remind me of getting the No. 1 bus to Middlesbrough for jury duty.

The first step was to the petrol station. It was only fair that we helped fill Jamie S’s car up a bit. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a mortgage application form to hand, so I just handed him a tenner and hoped his car would get away with breathing fumes.

The journey there was brightened up with the discovery of the best placename of the day…

North Bitchburn. Awesome. Jamie S had to hold up traffic slightly while I took that photo. Unfortunately it was in the wrong direction for us, so the only thing I can say about the place is it has a wikipedia article that really should be tidied up.

Shortly after, we arrived at Hamsterley Forest. The car park was literally nothing more than a few mounds of earth and a bit of gravel. Saying that, it looked newly constructed, so they’ll probably put grass over the top of the mounds to make it look a bit more attractive. The question is, what route were we going to take? There was the blue route, which was a piece-of-piss 1 mile journey around Bedburn Beck. There was also the orange and red walks, which were longer. Of course, what’s the first thing three blokes do when entering a forest? No, not that, you pack of pervs. You go and have a play on the swings of course….

To be honest, I actually want one of those swings. They’re pretty awesome. One thing I don’t want, however, is a fireman’s pole, though Gary appeared to thrive off them…

Riiiiiiiiighty-ho. Moving swiftly on, we began to follow the orange path. According to the signs, it was a decent length, and would have taken a perfectly acceptable amount of time. Of course, there were distractions and diversions….

The biggest distraction had to be when we accidedentally walked off the beaten track, and found ourself in the middle of a mountain bike course…

Eventually, we found our way onto the correct path, mainly by chance. Something came darting out of the trees near the bottom of the path we were heading. I think my first reaction was “Woah, what the fuck was that?” It took me a few moments to notice it had a red collar on, and was a dog. Eventually, the orange path just sort of fizzled out. It headed into some fields with picnic tables, with no clear path on where to go next. Therefore, we just made up our own way back. We knew which side of the ‘river’ we needed to be on, and thankfully, there was a gravel path leading back in the general direction.

We were right, it was indeed the correct road, and we ended up back at the swings. Jamie S was so delighted by this, he surprised us all with a beutiful rendition on the tubular bells…

Truly haunting. Jamie S and Gary continued to make use of the “obstacle course”, with hilarious results. It had been a good walk, and it’s only thr second time I’ve been able to use Endomondo properly…

endo

Well, I say properly, it would appear I’d had it set on “running” instead of walking. Never mind.

We headed back to the car, and discussions on food were next. We’d passed through a village that appeared to have a nice chippy, so off we jolly well went. and could we find it? No, is the definitive answer to that. We passed through all manner of villages and small towns, looking for a location that would serve us deep-fried potato chunks. Eventually, we ended up in Durham city centre. A bit of a way out, but hell, there was bound to be edibles there.

At this point, Jamie S informed me of his purchase at the Metro Centre the day before. He had bought a bottle of… “scent”. I don’t know what you call it. It’s not aftershave, it’s not deodorant, but either way, it was presented in a large box, and price-tagged at £25. My jaw initially dropped at the time of purchase, but by jaw dropped even more when it explained what was in the box. A blue, glass bottle, no bigger than his inhaler, with 30ml of expensive guff inside of it. That was just under £1 per millilitre….

So, I got ripped off with onion rings, he got even more ripped off with… I don’t know. Our thoughts turned away from small bottles of smelly, and we walked around Durham looking for an eaterie. We ended up, ironically, at Burger King. The irony is, that there has been plenty of discussion recently about my refusal to eat burgers. It seemes foreign to some people that you can live a life without eating a burger. I’ve managed 31 years so far… I do have to wonder, if I’m the only person to ever enter Burger King and not actually order a burger… instead, I ordered large fries, and a portion of onion rings… which cost a third of what they cost me at the Metro Centre. They weren’t as nice, however.

After screaming at traffic on the way out of Durham, we headed back home. After all, he had to get changed for the night out…

Yesterday turned out great

My word. Considering I was claiming it was going to be a shit day, it actually went really good.

No sooner had I pressed “Send” on my previous post, Daddykins awoke, and came downstairs. Before I even had a chance to plead with him to take me somewhere, his first words uttered to me were “Get your shoes on”…

“…why? Where are we going?” I replied. It seemed a bit of an odd statement considering he’d only been awake a few minutes.

“Don’t know yet” was his reply.

I was shocked, and delighted. Me and Daddykins were going on a proper day out for the first time since at least 1997. Sure, we’d been places before, but not for a proper Father/son type thing. There had always been “complications”. OK, I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t got the new car, but I’ll not use that as an excuse. I’m sure my dad took me out because he loved me… yes, that must be the reason.

Needless to say, I took my camera. My dad must have had some idea where we were going, as we headed in the direction of the North Yorkshire Moors. Well, when I general, I mean DIRECTLY, even taking the necessary shortcuts Daddykins had picked up during his many years working around that area.

This narrowed it down to a few places… three, in fact. Whitby, Grosmont, or Goathland, the real-life village which is the setting for Heartbeat’s “Aidensfield”. Whitby was quickly ruled out, which is just as well, as it’s expensive, probably crowded, and there’s nowhere to park easily. I remember this from when we used to go to days out to Whitby as a child. We (being me, my mother, nanna, and any other freinds/relatives who tagged along) would get dropped off, then my dad used to disappear somwehre with the car, sometimes taking half an hour to return, after parking it in some obscure back lane for free.

So, Grosmont, or Goathland. I was indeed correct. Daddykins took one look at the parking situation in Grosmont, and thought “sod that”… I didn’t quite work out why, either the car park was full, or it was too expensive. Either way, we kept going, along the same road, through Grosmont, and onto Goathland. As we approached the centre of the village, our path was blocked by a policeman. Daddykins rolled the window down (or rather, pressed the button that brings the window down). and asked him what was going on…

“Oh, they’re just shooting a scene”, he replied. “Won’t take long… they’re averaging about 3 minutes per take”. Woooo! They were filming, there and then. I could hardly believe my luck. Daddykins got chatting to the copper.

“So, where’ve you came from?” The copper asked, to start conversation.
“Hartlepool… West View”, daddykins replied, quite correctly.
“Ohhh, West view Road?”, the copper replied.

Turns out that the guy’s grandparents lived on West View Road, near the Brus, and he used to eat in the (now demolished) Brus Cafe. What are the chances of that happening? It’s not quite as amazing as the time I stayed in a hotel on the Isle of Wight, and the owner knowing Eric Wilkie who used to drink in the Queens, and a good friend of mine and especially my dad. Even Coatesy knew him. Eric, you may remember, is whose front room I spewed up in on the Millenium night.

Er, anyway, I’ve swayed way off topic there. Back to Goathland. The take eventually finished, and we were free to go on our way, to the car park. It cost £2 to park up for the full day, which I consider entirely reasonable, though in previous visits, we parked for free on the edges of the road, but these are all now yellow-lined. Bugger. Either way, we parked up, and headed for the site of the filming…

Here’s one of the takes…

After I took this photo, I was told by some anonymous woman in a Hi-Vis jacket that I couldn’t take photos while they were recording. That, to me, doesn’t make much sense. 1) my camera is silent when taking photos, 2) I was in a public place.

I’ve always wondered how the law stands on such matters. I must admit, I was 100% compliant with her request – personally I just enjoyed watching the recording, and was happy in the knowledge that between takes, I could photograph what I wanted, most of it appearing very similar to what I could have shot during the takes – same people, same equipment, slightly different stance, maybe. It’s all a bit academic anyway, as I only took 6 photos while watching the filming. Ah well.

That was an added bonus to the day I wasn’t expecting in the first place.

We spent a big portion of the day at the train station, as they have steam trains there, and Daddykins loves them. As expected, the whole place is kept in a retro style, with old fashioned advertising placards dotted around.

The first thing we did when we got there was get some refreshments. Daddykins can’t function without his morning cup of coffee, and considering we’d went straight out, he never had chance to have it. I was surprised he’d went as long as he did without collapsing into a caffiene-deficiency related coma. Either way, we watched a total of 3 trains come in and out…

… each of them looking like that one. It’s a shame there’s only a few of these things running anymore, as they’re certainly impressive. And huge. And noisy.

During the wait between the trans approaching, we went for a walk up the side of the hill, which formed the valley that the station was in. Before you leave the station, however, was this gate…

Penalty for leaving the gate open, £2. I’m sure that this sign was added when two pounds was actually a lot of money, and actually a bit of a deterrent. Never mind though, as everyone who went through it did indeed close the gate. It wasn’t a hard walk, and the view for reaching the top was stunning

There was no mobile phone signal, however, even at the top of the big hill, which I was a little surprised about. I wasn’t planning to call anyone, it was merely an observation.

After we watched the trains, it was time to take a last walk around the village, and take in the scenery.Something which is clear with this place is that they will never need anyone to mow the lawns, as there’s sheep everywhere…

I thought it was great personally. Although this was a novelty for me, being an outsider, I could imagine that the residents would get really rather sick of their fluffy white prescense…

As this point, I went into Ye Olde Gift shoppe, and bought Daddykins a little momento of the day, as a thanks for the day out – another model car for his collection. 20 years ago, the roles would have been reversed – he’d have been the one buying ME the toy car, but he collects them. And he has a lot of them.

On the way back, I took more photos, and finally managed to get a decent shot of Roseberry Topping

And that was pretty much it. On the way home we went to the chippy, only to find that it was completely packed. Therefore, the day was completed with a trip to the Brus Chippy. The chips were very nice, if a little expensive, and a little unforgiving with the portions.

The full set of photos can be viewed here.