London, Day 2

Well, seeing as I’ve received very little / no feedback on Day 1, I can see that you’re all really enjoying reading these. Never mind, I intend to keep going, with the help of more photographs and Google Maps.

Anyway, I awoke on the 2nd day. This was to be the main day we were there, and the only full day. We had intended to visit Brick Lane market at one point during the trip. Unfortunately, due to it only being open at the weekend, it was closed, so that was off the radar. There was, however, Borough Market just a short tube ride away, somewhere near London Bridge. We got there, and it was rather “foody”.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a market that’s got a dedicated “Turnips” section. Admittedly, I did spend rather a long time debating whether I should buy a small tub of Scorpion Chilli powder, but seeing as there was no prices on anything, I decided against it. I’m one of those people who’ll take something to a counter, ask how much it is, and then begrudgingly buy it even if it’s more than what I expected to pay.

It’s probably still there on the shelf now. On the plus side, I didn’t have to carry it around all day.

Accomplice bought a “weird” bacon sandwich, and while I was tempted to buy a sausage sandwich, I didn’t…. my word, the excitement I get up to, eh? No wonder nobody is reading this bloody thing.

We walked around the nearby area, and happened to stumble upon one of the replicas of “The Golden Hinde”.

It was a short walk to London Bridge tube station, so we headed off in its general direction. As you pass under London Bridge, there’s a tannoy that plays a creepy music-box rendition of “London Bridge Is Falling Down”. That’s rather worrisome, especially as you’re going under it as the time. No matter though, as I’m sure it’s built with far more sturdy materials than when that particular tune was written. It’s an old folk tune anyway, so it was probably written about polio anyway.

One of the sights I wanted to see while I was in London was the Olympic Park, in Stratford. It sort-of fitted with the other things we were going to see that day anyway (or so we thought), so we headed off in that general direction.

It seemed we were going out of the more popular area of London, as the tube carriage emptied further and further we went along the line. This had me feeling already that there wasn’t going to be too much there.

Well. After getting out of the tube station, you’re greeted with a shopping centre. Nothing much wrong with that, but it just feels a bit like “You’ve come all this way to see something. Great! Now spend some money!” And, spend I did! I bought myself a sausage roll from Greggs (yes, they have them down there too) and a bottle of wahter. And the sausage roll was *terrible*.

It was a short walk to the Olympic park from the shopping centre. Well, it would have been had we gone the right way, but instead we ended up walking around the not-very-decorative loading bays for the shopping centre. Oops.

Onto the stadium itself. The words “underwhelming” spring to mind. Maybe it was because they changed the shape of it since it was used for the Olympic Games, but I was expecting something much grander.

The athletics championships had just finished a couple of days prior to us going, and there were still traces of the signage left standing. Unfortunately, as the stadium had begun the transformation from an athletics track into a football stadium (which has to be done manually, and takes 15 days), nost of it was fenced off. There were still signs up for the athletics though, including a sighting of my new second-favourite fictional hedgehog, “Hero”…

After that, we were “Gone, Gone, Gone!” Next stop would be Abbey Road. It was a mere couple of stops on the DLR…. or WAS it?

Judging by the presence of that sentence, you’d be right in thinking it isn’t. At least, not the famous one, anyway.

We got off at the appropriate DLR station named “Abbey Road”, and made our way to the bridge that leads out on the road, only to be presented with a sign filled with really crap Beatles puns, something along the lines of “Are you looking for the Beatles’ Abbey Road and are in need of a little Help!? Well, you’ll need to get a Ticket To Ride to “another station”.

Accomplice had pretty much given up on the idea of seeing it. I clearly hadn’t. Therefore, we travelled the 34 minutes on the tube, followed by about another 10 minute walk, just to see a zebra crossing. And it’s not even the original zebra crossing, which was a little further up the road. But nothing stands in the way of a good photo opportunity.

OK, it’s entirely the wrong angle, but I wasn’t going to get Accomplice to stand in the middle of road and hold up traffic. I’d have known what the response would have been.

So, the whole premise of going here and seeing the non-touristy sights were going really well. There was one place I wanted to go that even the hardened tourist wouldn’t have thought of.

Part of my job involves entering data about London streets from emails into a database. It’s all very old fashioned, and something that could be automated very easily, but because of this, I became aware of a street called Chandos Place, upon which stands a Nandos. Therefore, we headed there andhad Nandos in Chandos. I wonder how many other people have done the following just for that very reason. Yeah, probably nobody.

As we were still in an “upmarket” part of London (Covent Garden, to be exact), it seemed only right to go and do something even more upmarket. It was time to take my very first trip to Harrods. After all, I’m sure I’d fit in, with my purple Slazenger polo shirt and Sports Direct walking boots. I’m sure it was the type of clientele the shop regularly does business with. Mind you, nobody in their right frame of mind actually buys anything from there. I mean, £1.80 for a bottle of coke? Come on, I’m sure there was a Tesco Express around the corner.

I bet you didn’t know that the carrier bags for Harrods used to be made in Hartlepool? I don’t know if they’re still are, but I always remember going to infants school with my PE kit in a Harrods carrier bag. My nanna worked for the company that made them. Obviously, I didn’t get the significance at the time, but I’m sure it’d raise a few smiles these days, wandering around this lovely little fishing village with a Harrods bag.

I was considering buying a music system, but even if I put together all of the money I have ever earned from all of my jobs, and not spent anything else ever, I’d probably still not come close on buying this…

It was at this point my Nandos started moving, and I thought it’d be a nice little thing to say I’ve had a cack in Harrods. If you’re a bloke, don’t bother. There’s bogs on every floor for women, and one bog in the entire place for blokes, and there was a queue a mile long. There’s one thing I absolutely detest in life, and that’s following someone into a cubicle It’s happened too often where I’ve dropped an absolute panblocker, and someone’s went in straight after me. One day, I know the tables are gonna turn, but not this time. I kept hold of it until we found somewhere else.

And that somewhere else was apparently “the only pub on Sloane Street”, known as The Gloucester. Finding the bogs was like playing something in The Crystal Maze (which has returned to our TV screens! Hurrah!) – go up some stairs, through the doors, disable the laser, though some other doors, etc. While we were in there, I also had a pint of “Camden Pale Ale”, which was a nice smooth pint. I have blocked the price of this from my mind. Accomplice would watch out of the window as the shiny and expensive cars would go by, and comment on each of them. I would simply nod politely and pretend I knew what was being said. I didn’t have a clue. When it comes to cars, you might as well speak Swahili to me.

We downed the pints and emerged once more into the setting sun. Apparently, we walked up Knightsbridge, Kensington Road, then onto Exhibition Road. Lots of large colleges around there. Walking around there made me feel like I was back in Berlin or Vienna. It certainly didn’t feel like London.

Another quick ride on the tube took us to Victoria. A station I believe I last frequented in 2003. We walked down Victoria Street. Another street lined with modern buildings and shops, and of course, some not-so-new buildings. It was, at this point, it became clear that all of my hopes of doing the non-touristy stuff came to an abrupt halt, as unbeknownst to me, the road led to the Houses of Parliament, and of course, Elizabeth Tower, a.k.a. Big Ben.

It was a mere five days before the big bell would stop sounding for four years, so I suppose it was nice to be one of the last to hear it in action one last time.

We made our way across Westminster Bridge, and headed down the river towards London Bridge, taking in the sights, stopping off for the odd sit-down along the way…

I’d avoided any type of curry, so I don’t know how that possibly could have happened.

As we were walking, something became apparent. My feet weren’t holding up as well as I thought they were going to. I’d pretty much avoided the problems with my left foot (more on that later, probably in the next part), but instead I was having problems with my right foot…

And, right on cue, just as we’d passed the ITV studios (home to none other than ITV’s “This Morning”, as you can clearly see), I felt a massive blister go. Oh, this didn’t feel like it was going to be good.

I struggled on, desperate for a sit down somewhere, but we kept on, and eventually made it back to London Bridge. It was about 9PM at the point, but that music-box thing I mentioned earlier was STILL playing. Creepy.

It was still relatively early, and we’d made plans to go somewhere and catch something to eat, but my feet decided not to play ball, so we headed back, calling in at McDonalds on the way, as it was just a short journey from the hotel. My word, if you know Hartlepool, you’ll know you always get your flurry of harmless chavs hanging around. It’s warm, it’s dry and it has free Wi-Fi. What’s not for chavs to love? Well, in London, it’s like that, but the chavs seem a little more… sinister, like if you look at them the wrong way, they’d stab you. I felt like the guy sat next to me was going to jump me, or something. Then a guy sat next to me, carrying a Primark bag, having a full-on conversation to himself.

“Right, that’s it, we’re going”…

We arrived back at the hotel at approximately 9:30. I nipped downstairs to the hotel bar to see what it was like. Not very good to be fair. One lager of dubious origin on draught, and a price tag around the £4.50 mark. I managed to have one before they ran out. I then had a 330ml bottle of Stella and paid about the same. If I’d have thought, I could have nipped to the pub across the road. Though if I thought @the Maccy D’s was rough, I dread to think how rough that pub might have been, especially on my own and with a Northern accent. Yeah, best to stay in the safety of the hotel I reckon.

As I was unwilling to mortage Mercury Towers for another small beverage, I headed back to the room in preparation for the 3rd and final day in the Capital…

Flying, Fishermen and Flames…

A few of you know why I’ve not been looking forward to this past week. I’m happy to report that it hasn’t been as bad as I imagined.. the last few days should be pretty interesting too.

Anyway,Sunday saw me with Jamie S, Gary, and at a later point in the afternoon, Andy the Iridium Fan, who as usual, will be abbreviated to ATIF, for typing purposes.

Jamie S arrived at mercuryvapour Towers at 8:27, donning a pair of sunglasses and brown chinos. Gary arrived in the Flavmobile, some 11 minutes later. The festivities didn’t start until 10AM, so this gave us 90 minutes to get to Sunderland. Normally, it’s a 20-minute journey, but we had to account for traffic. It was bound to be *packed*.

It took us 25 minutes. Bugger.

We were one of the first to arrive at the Park ‘n’ Ride thing, located near Haversham park. I didn’t actually know this at the time, I just Google Map’d it.

Anyway, we were lucky enough to have a ride on one of the Red Arrows. I felt so priveleged!

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By the time we arrived at the airshow properly, it was about 10AM. We walked along to get money at a nearby Morrisons, after all the cost of anything here would clearly be extortionate, things like this always are. First plan of the day was where to have dinner. Sure, we could rely on the burger vans and stuff, but Gary knew where there was a pub with a carvery which would serve food even though the air show was on. Jamie S spent about a week talking to someone about joining the TA. I can tell that he’s really interested in doing this, as the information she gave him is still in *my* bag!

After buying some books at a charity stall (50p for 2!), we headed up to the carvery… I must admit, the meal was excellent.

Suitably stuffed, we walked back along the seafront and headed onto the beach to watch the first show of the afternoon, the parachutists landing. Now, there was one reason why I mentioned Jamie S’s chinos. they would make us easy to spot in a crowd. And, they did! Andrew D didn’t know we were here at the time, yet he still managed to photograph us…


(It would appear this image is broken. Bugger. If I’m not lazy, I’ll redo it. At some point.)

Jamie S wanted to go to Morrisons again, so me and Gary watched the spitfires from what could possibly the the best vantage point… in the middle of a raised roundabout!

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The view was short-lived, however, as a marshall moved us on a few moments later. Awwww.

Jamie S had exited Morrisons at this point, and we began to make our way down the promenade. The displays continued around us. I used my A480 to record some video, and I gave control of the 450D to Jamie S, in the hope that some good shots of stunt planes flying by would turn up…

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Yeah, thanks. You want a job doing properly….

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the worst picture of me taken on the day. There are worse, much worse. At approximately 3:15, I received a tap on my shoulder. Presumably, it was someone asking me to get out of the way, after all, the seafront was pretty packed. Instinctively, I turn around, only to receive a camera lens in my face…

Yup, ATIF had turned up! Now, the odds of us both meeting up were very slim, due to the size of the event, and apparently a million people there. He even let me borrow his telephoto lens! Otherwise, photos such as these would be impossible…

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Of course, with Andrew being there, there just had to be another embarrassing photo of me taken. Deep down, I quite like this one…

I don’t know why.

High Force, Part III

(This was originally written for a walk that happened roughly two weeks ago…)

Wow, that was a walk and a half. I’ve lietrally, just in the last hour or so (probably more when I get this published) got back from Walk #something in the series of epic walks around the North East with Gary and one of his dogs, who will, for the rest of eternity, replace the omni-absent Jamie S. This one was particularly entertaining, as it was my first trip to High Force in several years. This time, however, it involved an 8-mile walk.

It was one of the locations originally discussed when we first started talking about doing walks. I knew there were walks around High Force itself, as in my previous trips, we could see people over the other side of the waterfall. Just like any waterfall, it has two sides. One is a very short walk though a “gate” which you have to pay £1.50 to enter, the other is free, and takes you to the other side via a bridge roughly a mile away. The only difference is one side has fences, but the other side doesn’t.

Gary had thankfully memorised whereabouts we were going, with the help of Google Maps and knew the distance was about 8-9 miles. We parked the car up in the Bowlees visitor centre, and headed off along the road roughly a mile and a half. We walked past a feild of cows while on the B6277. Rex got a bit too near, and started barking at one of the cows. Suppose you could say it was “Close Encounters of the ‘Herd’ Kind”…. Gary moooved him away quickly before he started barking at anudder one…

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I’m cracking awful puns before we even got to the steep gravel patch that leads you to the official start of the walk. The first thing that greets you is a bridge and a not-so-steep incline. At this point, you’re pretty much at the beginning of the Pennines, so from the odd patch of bright purple flowers, there’s nothing but gorse bushes and sheep for company…

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White noise is the next thing that hits you. It’s clear you’re only a few hundred metres from the biggest waterfall in the North East.. the closer you get to it, the louder it gets.

I’m not normally scared of heights, but when I reached it, I just didn’t want to go to the edge. Maybe my mind was subconsciously warning of this incident where a man tragically lost his life after falling over the edge. Maybe I just didn’t want to risk getting my camera wet. Actually, I seem to recall msyelf being more concerned about Rex going close to the edge!

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We carried up the river. Natural beauty suddenly comes to an abrupt end a few hundred yards past the waterfall, as there’s a huge quarry nearby. To say it sticks out like a sore thumb is an understatement. In fact, you could say it sticks out like a quarry in an area of outstanding natural beauty… if you wanted.

After an uphill climb, we stopped for a quick break. My day was instantly brightened at the discovery of Chilli Doritos in my bag. I’d forgotten about them. Lovely.

The uphill climb was annoying, as I knew we had to cross the river again, meaning we had to go back down. At this point, the weather closed in, and it pissed down for a short time. We were, at this point, exactly half way. The walk downhill was more of a terror drop. We let Rex off the lead, and he happily ambled down the side of the hill, while me and Gary struggled down, managing to cover 100 yards in 6 minutes.

After walking past a farm, we could hear a familiar squalk. I don’t know much about wildlife, but what I do know, thanks to the Osmotherley walk, is that the squalk was coming from a pair of lapwings… Unfortunately, these particular avians had chosen to place their nesting site close to the footpath, meaning our prescense was less than welcome, especially with a dog in tow…

We crossed the bridge that led over the Tees, and started the 4-mile journey back to the car. Gary slipped while trying to avoid a cattle grid and twisted his ankle. Unfortunately, it happened again further up the road, so we needed somewhere to stop off. This abandoned building seemed the perfect place. there was a few steps so Gary could rearrange his footwear, and enough space for Rex to wander on his extended lead. I’d explored the area, and noticed a drain without its cover. As we were ready to leave, Rex started sniffing around the drain. I announced to Gary that “I wouldn’t let him drink out of there, it’s a dra*SPLOOSH*”…

Yup, before we knew it, Rex was up from his tail to his chest in what could only be described at the time as sewage. Gah. We walked the rest of the journey with a soggy doggy who’d fallen into a boggy, and at this point, fucking stunk. A footpath diversion took us down to the river where we could at least get the worst of the pollutions from the clumsy canine. Gary led him into the river while I went in and sploshed water over the dogs’ back.

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Unfortunately, it didn’t do much, as it turned out the offending liquid was oil. Gary informed me over facebook that there are now “black marks around the house and over carpets :(“, but on the plus side, Rex has suffered no ill effects from his trip down the drain. One of the reasons why I delayed the post for so long is that I wanted to make sure Rex was OK.

On the way back, we passed a field with some sheep in it. Not uncommon, considering this was technically the middle of nowhere, but there were two particular lambs in the field. Originally, I started filming one with a busted leg. I planned to film it, and add some type of caption such as “Lamb for the Chop”, “Don’t fancy that leg of Lamb”, “Rotten meat, coming to a kebab shop near you”, or something equally as ‘shan’… instead, my ears and eventually the camera turned to the cries of another ursine… poor thing, it must have had the most pathetic “baaa” I’ve ever heard in my entire life…

And so, a short distance later, we arrived back at the car. The next stop was for food. Now, I’m all for saving disk space and bandwidth, so instead of taking a new photo of where we stopped, I’ll recycle this from 2007…

Acer Image
Acer Image

Gary was apparently less than impressed, but I found them delicious. Bloody southerners, don’t know a good chip when they see one, especially when I bought them! For a good part of the journey, we were between sunlight and rain, meaning there were interesting rainbows for a good part of the journey. I supposed it balanced out the smell of sewage-soaked canine.

Pics or it didn’t happen

Well, I must admit, at 11AM this morning, I didn’t expect to be typing this blog. It’s the middle day of my 3 days off (in fact, I’ve got 9 days off, consider this a 12″ extended version), so me, Gary and Jamie were due a walk. As can be expected, Jamie pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances (for the third week in a row, might I add), meaning that Gary and I were left to do the walk on our own.

With the help of Google Maps, I’d chosen the location. I remember Ste, from Employment Palace, telling me there was a nice walk in Guisborough, which isn’t too far away. Despite being out the night before, I awoke, fresh as a slightly decaying daisy, reeking of alcohol and vindaloo, complete with an occasional burp which tasted of Jagerbomb. Joy.

Anyway, prior to Gary picking me up, I headed of to Lidl, to pick up some water for the trip. Let me just say that I got as far as the petrol station… in fact I’ll let my Facebook status tell the story…

Andrew D isn’t far wrong – I took a stash of bog roll in the camera bag, just in case!

Gary picked me up, and along with his dog Boris, we headed along the A19, A174, A172, A171, and just a smidgeon of the A173, we arrived. Once thing that was instantly noticeable compared to our other walks, is that spring had definitely sprung. The trees were starting to grow leaves, and the whole area had a much greener hue to it compared to the rest of the walks. The first photos were taken, when Gary discovered a small tunnel. Unfortunately, we didn’t get chance to emulate Jamie S’s epic troll photo as the tunnel was full of flies.

Immediately after this photo was taken, disaster happened. As I was putting the camera back in its bag, it left my grasp a little too soon, and went hurtling to the uneven, gravel-stone ground. Fucking hell. The crunch it made was enough to make me bring a little bit of sick up. “Oh well, the lens could do with an upgrade” was my instant thought. Imagine my surprise when I picked up the camera to find absolutely no damage to the lens glass, or the camera mechanics. Upon closer inspection, there’s a small chunk removed from the lens body, and a small scratch near the shutter button. That’s all. My luck for the month has now been used up.

The walk continued. It was all uphill, but it wasn’t as uphill as the challenge we were about to set ourselves. We reached a junction in the forest paths. While I took photos of daffodils again (oh, come on! they’re only out for a few weeks every year!), Gary looked through the trees, and noticed how close Roseberry Topping was. It was literally half a mile away.

Roseberry Topping is a place I will always hold dear. I’m going to ramble on here, and for that, I don’t apologize. It’s one of my favourite places on this planet. It was always visible when we went to places for days out such as Whitby. It’s the prominent focal point for the whole of Teesside. I seem to remember Cleveland County Council using it in their logo for a years, even though it’s technically in North Yorkshire. Anyway, as a child, being 11 years old, I always remember having a dream about it. being visible from Hartlepool. A few days later, on a walk home from school, I stopped dead in my tracks on the coast road. There it was. Roseberry Topping was indeed visible from Hartlepool. I couldn’t quite believe it.

In January 1992, Daddykins took me and him to climb it. This was 20 years ago, there was no path at the time. There’s a photo somewhere of me, climbing up the side of it, grabbing onto frost-covered ferns for dear life, as we attempted what seemed like the impossible.

Again, there are photos of me and Daddykins at the top of the hill – we made it up there without further incident or injury. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a clear day, so Hartlepool wasn’t visible. On the way home, to give you an idea of how long it was ago, I heard “Twilight Zone” by 2 Unlimited for the first time, and went home to play Bubble Bobble on my Commodore 64.

The next time I climbed it, was with Wayne, and his dad. By this time, it was the summer of 1995, and the pathway to the top had been laid. It was still a bitch to climb. Unfortunately, there’s no photographical document of this walk, but after we’d came back down, we went to see Judge Dredd at the Showcase… my one and only trip to this particular cinema.

Back to the present day, and I left you with me and Gary, stood in the middle of a forest, wondering which way to go. I’d already had a few miles in my legs by then, and I was reluctant to do the Roseberry Topping bit. Gary convinced me it was a good idea. I don’t know how he managed that.

At the bottom, I took a video. It’s pretty clear just how uncertain I was!

Oddly, I arrived at the top, and my exact thoughts were “Woah… was that it?” I think, the only difference between my previous trips up Roseberry Topping and this one, was the fact I’d notuched up 55 miles of walking in the previous month, and I had a bottle of water. I’d hazard a guess that they both helped.

I almost lost the contents of a testicle when I noticed I could see Hartlepool, and could easily make out Steetley Chimney with the naked eye. The image below is a cropped image, but the original can be found here

It would have been more prominent if the buildings attached to it weren’t demolished several years ago.

We reached the top, and made contact with an elderly couple who had also made it to the top. Apparently, they make the trip to Roseberry Topping every hear for his birthday. He was 83, and she was 80. Bloody hell. If I look a day older than them when I’m their age, then these walks have done their job. They walk all over the local area, and even gave me a couple of ideas for future walks. As they were about to leave, they asked me to take a photo for them on their camera. They were even apologetic over it. I hope I convinced them that I really, really didn’t mind at all!

OK, so there needs to be some evidence that we made it up there, hence the title of this posting. Glen posted the “pics or it didn’t happen” comment, on my previous posting, as he knows for a fact, I don’t go anywhere these days without some type of digital picture recording device

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So, there’s me cared for… as for Gary and Boris… You’d think they were waiting from a lift from a nearby plane…

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Something visible from the top of Roseberry Topping is a structure. I have no idea what it is, or what its purpose is…

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It was enough of a mystery for me to want to go down and investigate it. Thankfully, Roseberry Topping has several paths leading from its top to its base, and one of them leads you along this path. In fact, it’s the main path to continue if you don’t fancy attempting the big hill. Along the way, we found, of all things, a discarded lightbulb. Gary suggested that it would be a good idea to move it from the beaten path, to somewhere a little more safer. Although a perfectly acceptable idea, it meant that I ended up carrying it for about half a mile before dispensing it in the afore-mentioned little buildong…

Neither the walk over there, nor the photos clear up the mystery of this strange little building in the middle of nowhere. It’s either a folly, or some type of hunter’s refuge from years ago, if things suddenly turned shite.

The three of us (including the dog) didn’t fancy going back the way we came, as we’d have to complete the bottom third of Roseberry topping again, therefore we took a chance, and headed through what we think was private land. There were no signposts, and the gates were opened by hand, so if the landowner happens to view the endomondo link at the end of this post, and notices we trespassed, I’m sure the lord’s prayer has something about forgiving trespassing ‘n’ shit. I didn’t eat any of your crops, though if you get a ladybird infestation, this could be the reason why…

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It’s rare enough in 2011, to see ladybirds. It’s even rarer to actually see them “doing it”. Therefore, this video should be considered ultra rare I would have considered doing a voiceover / soundtrack featuring 70’s porno music, but as we were probably on private land, I didn’t want to draw attention to myself.

We rejoined a path. Thankfully, it was the correct one. It led us back through the forest, and after a detour following an obstacle course which we both avoided, we arrived back at the car park.

It seems a perfect opportunity to post the Endomondo link, therefore…

Does the link work? (EDIT DEC 2016…. Yep, it does now)

If it doesn’t, I’m not going to apologise, it’s not my fault. I can’t change the privacy on my walks at the moment, because whatever scripting they’re using to show the buttons, has died, so I can’t change my default view. Whoops. Gary’s calculation also left something be be desired. I’m not sure why, but it showed us in several fields. My link is much more accurate, yet I have no idea why. There’s an obvious alien invasion about to take place.

The last paragraph in this post saw me ripped off, and it was entirely my own fault. On the way home from the walk, we pulled into a Tesco service station. I was already feeling the pain from the walk, and after noticing it sold beer, picked some up. After all, it would have saved me walking down to the offy in agony. I’d headed to the till with the following:-

4x Stella, 568ml @ 4.39
4x Stella, 440ml @ 4.99

There was other stuff I’d purchased, but that was the fucker. How did I not notice I’d picked up two different sets of volume, and prices? The receipt will forever be a testament of what a cock I really am…

Scribbler’s had a big juicy walk

Once again, the walks are going to dominate the blog. It’s the only thing worth blogging about at the moment, and it’s made me get the camera out, which isn’t a bad thing. I’m going to try to compress two walks into one blog post, seeing as I’m so far behind on talking about them. therefore…

6 days ago, I completed the impossible. Well, OK, I did it, so it wasn’t impossible, but to me, in my little ol’d head, it was. for you see, I managed to walk the entire length of the Hart to Haswell walkway. this is something that I have always wanted to do, but have never had the motivation to do it.

Oddly, the walkway doesn’t go anywhere near Hart (the small village on the outskirts of Hartlepool), and it doesn’t touch Haswell neither. If you’re travelling to the start of th walk by car, your best bet is to park at Crimdon, and walk over the footbridge at Hart Station (which is at least a mile from Hart). This gives you the opportunity to pass my most favourite signpost ever…

Unfortunately, the weather for this particular walk was abysmal, therefore there are very few photos. It was foggy and cold.

Probably the highlight of the day was this photo…

It’s Gary. Punching a horse. Oh, okay, he wasn’t really punching it. It was just a combination of low light and camera settings. Made me laugh though. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of the huge beast of a horse in the same field, scratching its chin on the wooden fence.

In order to keep this short, I’ll but the rest of the informalities, as I’ve now got two other walks to write about. Unfortunately, the fog didn’t lift. It’s hard to explain how I felt after completing the walk. Exhausted, achy and absolutely overjoyed that I managed the whole thing. I’d been along some of the journey many times before, but never the entire 10 mile stretch.

Endomondo – Hart to Haswell (EDIT: You should be able to view this now – had the privacy set incorrectly!)

I’d be happy to do this walk again when the weather gets just that little bit better. I’m sure there was plenty I could have taken photos of, but thanks to the weather, I never really got the opportunity.

I got the chance, however, to prove where we were…

I’d like to finish, as is traditional, with a photo of a streetlight. It turns out, an old flickr photo of mine is No. 1 search on Google for “Revo Lucidor”. As these are becoming more and more rare in numbers, I was happy to find a few of them living on in Haswell.

That’s your lot. Next stop, Wynyard.

Internet is up…

Like a phoenix rising from the flames of abject failure, I’m happy to report that my internet connection came up shortly after I’d posted the previous posting. Something that happened BEFORE the internet failure was a trip to Newcastle. I totally forgot it happened before the internet failure, meaning that all of the witty introductions for this post I’d thought of, are completely ruined. Fucksticks.

Last Monday, I’d offered to ‘rip’ some records Andy the Iridium fan, (who, I’ll refer to as ATIF, as usual… it’s easier to type), so on Monday evening, he came, clutching a bag of vinyl, all comprising of LP’s from Knotty Ash’s favourite funnyman, a certain Dr. Kenneth Arthur Dodd.

I was totally unaware that the comedian had released so many LPs, and only being familiar with his track “Happiness”, I was even more surprised to find that most of his tracks appeared to be depressing ballads that would make Roadiohead sound like a Black Lace record played at twice the speed. ATIF even went through the records, and also couldn’t come up with a happy track! It really did surprise me.

I was off work for the Tuesday, so plans were made to do something with the next day. Newcastle seemed like the perfect place. I’ve been to Newcastle quite a few times, but have never taken my Canon. I’ve also never been over the lower deck of the high Level Bridge, and I’ve never walked over the Tyne Bridge. 3 things had to be accomplished.

After converting some of the LPs to a digital format, ATIF left, and we planned to meet up at 9:30 at the station. Hartlepool’s station has sort-of went through a bit of a rebirth over the last few years, mainly thanks to the tall ships, however, it’s still a place I don’t like spending too much time on my own in. I arrived a little early, at 9:22. At least half an hour later, I was still wating outside. Thankfully, he arrived in time for the 10:02 train!

On the way into Newcastle, I started ‘Endomondo’ – an app/website that records your GPS location, then publishes it to their website. Here’s a view of what it recorded…

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The starting point is in the very bottom left (I was in the train at this point, probably should have waited until I got off), and the ending point is “outside the law courts” in the middle-right of the photo. I had to stop it then, because it didn’t occur to me just how much the afore-mentioned GPS app drained the battery.

However, it gave me enough information to track the journey. Unfortunately, the old record shop I’d visited a couple of years ago was no more. this was probably the most devastating part of the trip. Admittedly, I didn’t expect it to be there, but I’d have loved to have spent an hour flicking through its stock. A sign of the times, I suppose. There is a large square at the “2” marker on the above map. This was when we began to look for the entrace to Eldon Square, as ATIF needed to drain the main vein. We didn’t find one, as can be seen in the screenshot, we just sort of walked around it. Eventually, we gave up, and ended up in a branch of McDonalds pretty much where we started.

The next stop, and the first time for me to break out the camera happened by chance. I realised we were on the same road as the “High Level” Bridge. It’s two bridges on top of one another, for those who don’t know. Train tracks on top, road underneath. Also featured in “Get Carter”. I always wondered how you got onto the lower road deck. Was there a tunnel taking you to it? Seriously, not even Google Streetview could answer this question. Thankfully, my own photography can, and even though I took this on my mobile, it answers the question comprehensively…

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At the end of the bridge were three things. Someone had apparently finished off a bottle of cheap vodka and tabs. Could this be someone’s last goodbye? Wait, it’s Tesco vodka. Probably not.

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The second was the sad sight of an abandoned “Golden Tee 2005” arcade machine, in an old taxi office…

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Admittedly, I’ve not actually played that particular game, but I’ve heard that the Golden Tee series is really popular.

Next stop was Tyne Bridge. Although I’ve been over it many times in a car, I’d never actually walked across it, something that only occured to me whilst actually walking over the structure itself. For those unlucky enough to check the flickr profile, you’ll note I took loads of photos up here, but only a handful turned out to be any good. I showed Chris this one the other night, he ended up with vertigo from it.
Apparently, that must be one of the things I’m immune to!

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We walked around for a bit – stopping off at a shop for some refreshments. I was delighted to find a paper shop within shadow of the Tyne Bridge that sold refreshments at a reasonable price. Bottles of cherry tango for a cut-down price, and Walkers “Max” for a reasonable price. YES.

Off to dinner we went, sat on a stone bench outside the law courts. ATIF single-handedly rose the share price of Greggs by 1.7%, and came out with a bag of food that would put me on a good day to shame (Admittedly, I stopped going to Greggs when their prices rose every time I went in there). while I munched my crisps, and Mr. Iridium Fan devoured half the stock of the afore-mentioned bakery. We were joined by a “special” guest… Limpy the Pigeon.

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This was, as you guessed, a pigeon, whose left leg had became totally mangled in “something”. It apparently had no movement in the limb, and would attempt to walk on it, with very little success. It’s one of those “HAHAHAaaaaaawwwwww” moments. It’s probably dead now.

What’s that dripping sound?

Why, yes, it sounds like my masculinity draining away, as I admit that for the past two days, I’ve made an effort to walk several miles, just to take pictures of some flowers. No, really.

OK, I suppose there’s a bit of a reason behind it. They’re not just any old flowers. these are sunflowers, and for the second year in a row, a small portion of Hartlepool has been dedicated to growing these. Last year, I didn’t know where they were located, so I never got a chance to photograph them. This year though, I recognised the location from other photos, and was able to photograph them.

Both days, I recorded the journey via tweet. N particular reason, other than it felt pretty lonely walking up there on my own, especially when it was still relatively dark.

It took almost an hour to reach the field. On my way, I found a golfball. I was so happy, I tweeted about it.

Just found a golfball. Dog could have weed on it but never mind 5:52 AM Sep 3rd via txt

It was found some considerable distance from the nearest golf course. In fact, according to Google Maps, it was roughly 433 yards away from the golf course. So, someone’s either got a massively errant swing, or it was deposited there by some other means. Either way, it ended up in my back pocket. I pick pennies off the street too, scruff that I am.

Er, anyway. I made the twisty-turny journey up Worset Lane towards the field, only managing to twist my ankle once on the failing road surface. That’s a bit of a record for me.

After walking past the pile of decaying shit, which I described back in June….

Super farmy     12 June 2010 04:01:01  via txt  

… it was still there, the smell less pungent, however. Maybe because it was still early.

I was happy to find that the field was “welcoming”, as in, it wasn’t gated off, or anything like that. In fact, they encouraged you to ‘appreciate’ them, complete with A4 laminated sheets, explaining what they were being grown for.


They were certainly appreciated. Not just by me, there was some red van driver who happened to be going along the road. I heard him suddenly stop, and put the van in reverse, just to take some photos on his mobile of the field, and the sun coming up over it. I’m a little bit annoyed with myself, as for this first journey, I didn’t take my main camera thinking it wouldn’t be necessary. This means that this shot really isn’t as good as it could have been…

One thing that the little Canon is good at, however, is macro shots.

The walk back was all downhill, so thankfully, there were no almost-twisted ankles. On the way back, I found a football. “If found, please return to 7 sumthing”. I did find it, but as there was plenty of streets nearby with a door number of 7, I didn’t return it.

Although not really visible in the photograph, this ball also had other words scrawled on it, such as “Elish”.

“Elish” was a word that appeared to me in the early 90s, and somehow still survives to this day, as a slang word for something good, and is presumably a mis-spelling of the word “hellish”, as the nHartlepool accent is known for dropping its H’s, therefore a localization of words such as “bad”, “sick”, “wicked” meaning something good.

For instance, if some kid came into school with a new item of clothing, the conversation would go…

“Like my new [garment]?”
“Yeah, it’s elish.”

I went earlier today, and the football had vanished, either returned to “7 Sumthing Close”, or picked up by someone else that lives at a number 7. This time, the walk included my good camera. It was the same journey, though this time it seemed more uphill. Maybe because it was a little later in the day, therefore a little warmer. One thing I did notice is that when I walked past that decaying shit pile for the 2nd time, it was a little more fragrant…

Walking past the shit pile. Wretch. 2010-09-04 08:02:58

It took me exactly the length of “Tunnel of Love” by Dire Straits to walk from the edge of the golf course to the first opening of the sunflower field. I don’t see any reason why that would be relevant to anything, ever, but I thought I’d mention it. The sunlight was much better and brighter than my initial walk the previous day, and in the 48 minutes I spent in that general area, I managed to grab 80-odd photos.


In a rare decision, I won’t post the whole lot of photos on flickr, as not all of them were excellent.