Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Day 35 begins


Day 35 begins

I knew that there would be cyclists and even twitcher's this morning so got up and packed away relatively early. The day was warm and the sun was about to break cover of the clouds. I would be in Durham by evening I concluded, so set off to find a breakfast and tea. I had been going for only about 30 minutes when I met a group of youths and leaders coming along the path towards me. I spoke briefly with Paul a leader and Carl a young man, about where I was going and what I was doing. Paul a keen walker for charity causes too was amazed and said as much to the young man with him. I think that they were working at building confidence in people to get them back into work environments. Paul said that it was a council based training plan for locals. I hope that I explained this well. He had to go to keep up with the main group but he took my details to hopefully check out Imagine.

Now I arrived to Station Town and was soon out the other side into another village Wingate, that was joined to it. I asked a few locals for a cafe but none knew of one open. I went into a shop to buy a few pieces of fruit and asked for a cafe. They told me it was next door in the side street and was actually the same business as the fruit/butchers/whatever shop. Robinson's cafe was lovely and they didn't mind me plugging in and writing some of my blog. I had paid for a small breakfast and tea, but what came was a massive pile of food, and it was delicious, though I had to pack some of it away as I couldn't eat it all.
Before long a lot of people kept filling the place and I kept checking that I wasn't occupying seats that could house other paying customers. I love to be in these busy environments but I try not to do the owners out of customers who would like to sit and eat.
I got into conversation with Hy, who's car had broken down. She was out for the day with her daughter Fran and granddaughter India. They were waiting for the AA and she told me that this had happened before, last time they went to a cafe. I said you need to stop going to cafes then... It was a joke obviously and I diagnosed that it was a faulty battery that had stranded them. Hy offered me a lift to Durham as she said it was a bit of a bore to walk all that way without much to see. I took her word for it and gratefully accepted, more for the intuitive side of it than the walking. I also got into conversation with the lady who ran the cafe Margaret, her husband Trevor, and one of their customers, Annabelle. They were interested what had possessed me to walk all the way around Britain. I couldn't really put my finger on it, more than to say that I was trying to remove my ignorance of what it is to be a British citizen and know my own countries. I hope that they follow my blog as they were about to offer me something I am sure,, maybe a bed for the night but I was due to be leaving when the AA man had fixed the car of Hy and her possy.
On the way to Durham I discovered that Fran and India actually live presently in Singapore, a place where I have not been for a long time. They were amazed that I had been born there, they knew the place much better than I do, as I was a babe in arms when my parents returned to the United Kingdom. I was glad to have taken the ride with them as it meant that I arrived here with time to look for the accommodation that had been heralded to me by several people now. I gave my friends the customary farewell and Fran a hug for being such a great insightful person, no dead wood here....(private joke)

The cathedral loomed on the top of the hill as I crossed a river and climbed steps to the south side. I met Harry Potter on his (her) broomstick. A group of people a family from Germany were on the lawn in front of the Cathedral a girl was wearing Harry Potters gown and Quiddich outfit and trying to fly the broomstick. I helped out by taking a picture where her feet were off the ground as she sat astride the broom. She went on to tell me all about the college and the castle and that fact that it was indeed open as a bed and breakfast during the summer months when students were away. Apparently over 100 students live within the castle walls during term times, only the state rooms are free. I sadly didn't get miss Potters name, but went off in search of a room with a view.

The Castle do indeed do bed and breakfast. I asked for the chance to stay here and the man on duty said that he would ask his superior, a lady called Wendy, if she could do me a deal as I was also walking to raise funds for 5 charities. Wendy came down to speak with me and I told her all about my project and the fund raising angle and they did indeed do me a very reasonable offer. I wanted this unique opportunity to spend a night in an actual working castle where the seat of education had ruled for many centuries. Durham is the third firmly established University in Great Britain, behind only the two famous biggies, Oxford and Cambridge. It boasts many unique avenues of learning too, and what with this spectacular accommodation it must be one of the best places in the entire country to have been schooled. (Ask Jeremy Vine, B.B.C Radio and television show host)
I nearly fainted when she said that I was also included in the breakfast arrangements for the morning in the great hall. I walked to my room on a cloud even if it was in the dungeons and below the views over the river. I dropped my things had a shower and set out to explore the town and the grounds to the castle. The great hall was like something from Harry Potter. It was very reminiscent of the great hall at Hogwarts though smaller. And I was sure Dumbledore came up the steps behind me. It was beyond awesome, it was a treat on so many levels and I felt incredibly humbled to be here, in a building used and inhabited for over 800 years continually.

The Cathedral was also open and surprisingly again it was free to enter. I had the great luck to be able to attend the evensong, (vespers) and was inspired to write several poems whilst in the Cathedral. I was struggling to take it all in, and later on the walk around the grounds and Cloisters saw that in fact it had featured in the Potter movies for part of the filming on location.

At 6.30 I had arranged to meet Duncan the night watchman he was going to let me use the washing facilities for the students during term time. It was in my kind of budget too....Thank you Duncan. Thank you Durham Castle.

Out in the town I saw a lot of people, and briefly met a few that I had seen at the Cathedral earlier. Santosh and Mini were a from Newcastle and they were here visiting as Mini's brother was over from Dubai with another friend. They like me had been swept away by the wealth of history and character of this inland Cleveland town. The town was very small really, at least the heart of it.
I found my way around easily and even though there was much to see, I compacted it all in to walk around discovering the sights. I ended the night in the pub called the Swan and Three Signets, which was above the river by the main old bridge into town. The walk back to the Castle was sweet even if it was all uphill. The mood of the town/city was very warm and friendly and I marveled at my good fortune to be staying here in this old historical landmark. Duncan the night porter who had earlier shown me to the washing facilities of the students was still on duty and we chatted easily for a while before I said my farewells and went to rest my very weary head. I had noticed from various photographs that I had seen in the Pub that some of the features of the town and castle were altered. The galloping horseman in the town center for example was facing downhill now. I was told that it had been altered about 2 years ago, though not given a real reason why. Also the castle had a doorway now in the courtyard that had not been there several hundred years ago. (I would learn more tomorrow about this and other things on the castle tour.)
I settled in to my very comfortable room and let the castle walls protect me as I slept soundly, not a real prisoner but down in the depths of the castle keep.

Day 35 came to a most spectacular end. Thank you Durham Castle and staff for your kindnesses.

Day 34 begins


Day 34 begins

When I woke it was to the sun peeking out from behind clouds but the day was already quite warm. I lazily packed everything away and surveyed the route to go. I wasn't entirely sure now that I was actually on marked footpath as there was not much evidence of people having walked here recently except for one faint trail which could have been made by animals to be fair. I had faithfully followed the signs from the village and taken to only logical next path at the opening to the previous field. I was wondering just to what extent the farmers here seem to 'lose' the signs across their land.....
Still I set off following the trampled grass and saw it dip into a deep cavernous hole where a river passed below. I came out looking like the bog monster as so much undergrowth and brambles were hanging off me, but I had at least survived the climb down and up the muddy banks the other side. A field of cows to my right, luckily were not close enough to me to get access to this field and I set off across the short grass around the edges of this one. The only exit was under a barbed wire fence, and over a wide dyke. I used the poles to help me vault the expanse and landed at the wire so to speak. Millimeters from lacerating myself but at least on the top of the bank. I had to take off the bag and pass it under the fence before I could get through, but the field (the one with the cows in it) was covered in sh....something that rhymes with hit.....so had to hold the bag from falling into said product whilst I eased under the fence at the same time. If you could have videod this you surely would have gotten the £250 quid from Jeremy Beadle/Lisa Tarbuck. What a pulaver...I tell you...
Still I was still sh.. free and walking away.... as the cows came to have a looky look. The next hurdle was likewise a test of my skill, I felt like I was on the Krypton factor.... Up a tree stump and over the fence without catching my trousers on the barbed wire, wahey... Several more barbed wire fences later I was on the side of the A19 dual carriage way and traffic was heavy now. Trucks whistled past and blew me all over the place as I tried to follow the road north. Soon enough I came to the foot path, the one I probably should have exited on if I had found the proper signage.
Something odd was afoot here as I looked for the other half, the paring of this footpath the other side of the highway. It was nowhere to be seen. Strange. If you can imagine, the main road having been built let's say about 50 years ago, then the footpath would have preceded it by several hundreds of years, but it had now vanished from view. I spied one or two options across the road, but found no real evidence of a pathway. It surely couldn't have vanished and there was access across the carriageway by openings in the Armco fencing, that suggested a footpath ahead. I followed the road North until I found an old lay-by, that now served as a restricted access to a farmers land. I walked up the drive expecting to see a style or other evidence of a path, but all I saw were warning signs about prosecution for trespassing. Some people should read the law and not be scared off by such obtuse warnings. I am not suggesting that anyone should ignore signs, no not at all, but at least know your rights out here in the countryside.
A large posh and shiny Range Rover casually rode alongside and the occupant looked at me with the window down, as if to inquire as to my trespassing on the apron of the land. I'll give her her due she was very cordial and polite and waited for me to explain my investigations in full. She happily explained that the footpath was not actually here but to the north some way along the carriageway. But I sensed her almost inform me that I could pass as there was a route at the back of her land. In the end I took the hint not to get savaged by roaming dogs, as a clue as to my decision henceforth.
I took the road north and found the track alongside the next field opposite another path the other side of the dual carriageway which was its twin, and so not the partner of the previous path some ¼ mile south of here. I was alongside a petrol station service area and used the services and got a cup of tea at the cafe.
When I set out along the path half an hour later it was about to rain, but I had no intention of putting my bag off again to get my coat. I figured I would reach the tree line before that and so made speed across the deep grass following the proper pathway. The day was full of omen and yet I couldn't tell what it was saying except, straying of the path could be hazardous to my health. At the corner of the field the sign was deeply buried beneath tall grass, as it had been 'nudged' almost flat by a passing large object. (Lets say it could be only one of a few possible choices as the field is closed to public vehicular usage, and the wind is not likely to have pushed over a post this short......
(What do you say Holmes? Elementary my dear Watson, elementary...)
Something about the choice here seemed to say I wanted to go right, but the sign pointed the other way, and back to the tree line at the back of the Range Rover driver's property. To the right a house with lovely views over the fields, to the left, muddy paths. I went left but all the while hated the choice. I heard a few voices as I neared the bottom of the field and a huge dog came bounding along the track towards me. He was very happy to see me and made no attempt to bark or bother me. A couple out walking were at the gate as I arrived, holding a second dog by the collar. We greeted one another and began chatting. I told them I was looking to get towards Durham and they said that I needed to go via a route that would indeed have led me almost to the back of the woodland property above. They also confirmed what I had noticed about the signs here, that they miraculously disappeared on occasion and were often lost in the trees and brambles.
I said that they could let the other dog go as I wasn't scared of dogs, and got on with most dogs without any trouble. They explained it was a dog recently patriated here and was a bit of a naughty boy this past few days and had need of a bit more control from them. I shrugged my shoulders, he seemed a harmless creature but they said he was not keen on eye contact, so I looked away as if that were true then my card was already marked. As they came through the gate they had found a piece of bale twine to hold him on. We introduced ourselves, as they approached. Nicola and Andrew who lived at the house behind me, the one I had felt drawn towards, said that I could follow another route across their garden and out onto open fields alongside, to rejoin the best paths to Durham.
I moved to shake hands with Andrew and as I turned the dog he was holding lurched towards me and snapped at the back of my leg. I didn't feel anything, or notice it happening, but as Andrew pulled the lead the dog had torn a hole in the back of my North Face walking trousers and narrowly avoided biting my skin by millimeteres.

Andrew was full of apology, even though they had given a warning of the dogs behaviour, and asked what I wanted him to do. I mean what can you say to someone who's dog has just ripped a hole in a very expensive and practical pair of trousers? I wasn't about to make a big deal out of it, life happens and you have to deal with things in context. I said that I could repair them later, and not to worry at all. He said we must be able to do something, so I suggested they offer me a cup of tea at their house which they very graciously did. They put William, the problematic dog away and invited me into their home. James the better behaved of the two was allowed to stay without problem. They made tea and offered me cakes and before I left they gave me a bag of supplies, fruit and other goodies. This was a very kind thing to do and it restored my faith in the universe to provide just when all my other resources were depleted.
Out in the garden again we said our farewells and they showed me where I was to head for, across the fields to reach the footpath and guided me towards a few things of note along the route. It was heavy going as the fields that weren't sown with crops were long wet grass that was heavy to wade through. I came out eventually onto the proper path, but it had not been walked in so long the grass was deep and tiring me out after only a few minutes. I guess the ramblers haven't been here for a long time, and the farmer wasn't bothering to keep any of the gates, styles or pathways marked or clear. It took me about an hour to do a short mile or so. I came to a style out on the face of a hill that had several new houses built upon and rested my knees and back. I had also been reminded to play some of Richard Ashcroft's music, since hearing Rocky play one of the songs yesterday. I had been carried away in the solace many times by this rousing and thoughtfully spiritual man's music. And walking these tough grassed paths had needed some spirit building accompaniment.

At the top of a small hill I met a man called Dave Peacock. He was about 70 years of age and incredibly fit and agile, and was a keen walker and treasure hunter. He told me all about how he had found many noteworthy things in his time using a very inexpensive metal detector, and how he had gotten a lot of the local peoples trust to use their land to search for things. I also learned that even four hundred years ago and possibly for longer than that, forgery had been a very lucrative way to make a living. He had found a coin once that was too shiny to be pure silver, and he found out that it was a copy from the other side of the waters, possibly Holland. It was subsequently worth more as an artifact because they were rarer than the silver originals. He walked with me for a while and we chatted about many things. I liked listening to this man talk about how history had shaped things, and how many unknown facts were possibly the cause of much ignorance in our culture. He was keen to share much and before we knew it we were at a bridge over the main road. He asked me where I was headed and it appeared that we had gone in the complete opposite direction. I said I knew that, but was enjoying his company far too much to worry about such things as walking back the other way along the same pathway. We were talking about ghosts and spirits and old pathways that had disappeared over time, along with much history. He was a mind of information and happily shared a great deal with me for free. Again we said our farewells and I began the trek back towards where Andrew and Nicola had suggested I go. I half expected Dave to have vanished as I turned to see him go, he was an unusual friendly and charming man, like a character from a film I had seen, who was in fact a ghost. I couldn't see Dave either, but was sure that he had been real.
The walk towards Station Town was a pleasant but long hike, what with the added mileage I had walked with Dave the treasure hunter. I think he was a treasure himself. I found a place to sit for a while overlooking the fields back towards Middlesborough. I was messing about with my camera and made a comedy video I hope that you enjoy when I get a chance to upload it. It helped to relax the mood and the strangeness of the afternoon. Omens indeed.

Along the path I bumped into a lady, out walking a small dog and made sure to keep my distance, even though the Yorkshire Terrier looked as harmful as candy floss. Molly Anderson was herself a mature lady and began chatting all about how life here was much different to where she had come from in Hartlepool just a few short miles away. She lived on the banks of the reservoir I was looking to find, and was a keen walker, though Fergus did a lot of sitting around in the middle of the path instead of the usual foraying in the undergrowth like most other dogs would. He was an island for all the cyclists who came along, he just sat staring cutely at them. Molly asked if she could walk with me to the bench where her husband had sat this morning and seen a Peregrine Falcon over the water near to the benches.
It was a beautiful spot, and I envied them a little being so close to this much nature. We talked about the ways things had changed over the years, more so for her than for me, and she made me laugh when she told me about the Craft and Chat club that she went to in the village here. She had to be told it was not CHAT and Craft, but the other way round. And when someone from an outside agency came to talk to them about bullying in their small group they had fell about laughing. Someone had also come along to talk to them about goal orientation and task focus, but again, most of them had been alive well over 70 years and one even well into her 90's, so again they fond this, amusing. The person telling them this was young enough to have been a grand daughter of most of the women. I was glad to have seen this ladies way of explaining the past, it gave me a whole new perspective on many levels. She went on to explain that work situations in a place like Hartlepool were endemic of bigger cultural flaws not being dealt with effectively. Apparently up to 4 generations of people in that place had been unemployed and didn't know how to work or see themselves as ever being gainfully employed. Molly had worked in social care and seen many things first hand. One girl, a pregnant single mother said that she wanted a big house and all the mod cons, as her grandfather had once worked and paid his social payments. Make of this what you will, like myself I am baffled as to what we have been showing this community to have these ideas fixed in this way. It could just be an isolated case, but from what I hear thus far it is much deeper ingrained than that.
I thanked Molly for her time and great stories and made my way along the banks of the reservoir. She had to get back to her dinner and I had to find a place to camp out. I hadn't gone far when I found the ideal spot, overlooking the Hurworth Burn Reservoir. I set up where I could watch the fisherman on the banks of the field opposite and catch the evening sun shine across the west side of the waters. Many Canada geese were sitting on the waters and plenty of other types of birds kept whizzing by me as I sat contemplating life at one of the many picnic tables.

A lot of cyclist had gone by during the past hour or so, but few were passing now. The tent sat low and was not seen until you were almost upon it, so I didn't think it would bother anyone, and I was going to be the only one to be here enjoying the setting sun.
A man on a bike stopped to chat with me. Andrew from a village some 8 miles away, High Hesseldon was keen to know all about my project and the results of my research so far. We chatted for a long time before he suddenly realised he had to ride back. He said that he was also working in Durham, and gave me a lot of tips about what to see and how to get there.
Then a man from the next village stopped to chat with me. Don from Station town was out having an evening stroll. I apologized for having my tent up here, but he said it wasn't a problem, as long as I didn't bother the wild life, which of course I never do.
I was tired now and when Don left to walk home I ate my small reserves and thanked the universe for so many lovely experiences today.
As the sun set on the waters, shimmering in golden light, I slept as a lucky man.

Day 34 came to a splendid end.

Day 33 begins


Day 33 begins

I was up at about 7.15 as I didn't want to be in the way when the children woke up and needed feeding and whatever their routine was. I used the bathroom and showered and shaved and made myself a cup of tea to wait for the family getting up. I imagined that it being a Monday there would be a lot going on. After an hour or so Ian, Joan's friend got up and I made him a cup of tea too. Ian has lost the sight in both eyes due to Macular degenerative disease. He was happy to tell me all I ever needed to know about life here in South Bank, its proud community histories and even some of the tales of the misdemeanors of his youth. Ian was a Scotsman who had lived here and worked in the drinks industry most of his life, as there was a big need for his services then. In the days when people drank to be sociable and to relax from the hard days work in the foundry or the coal mines or other associated industries, and not from desperation of no prospects and a society built on tearing down old industry without replacing it with anything else. I liked Ian too and he was very cordial and gave me very clear and concise answers to my inquiry. I mean to judge no-one of course, but did want to know what was behind the drinking culture here and possibly in all areas of the United Kingdom. After a further hour of waiting, I realised that Alan was really shattered and catching up on a long overdue sleep, and neither of the children had stirred either. Joan was sleeping in but Ian had a nurse calling to give him some medications and so the reason for his being up now. I made myself ready to leave, I had wanted to say my farewells but wasn't going to wake anyone to do so. I would send Alan a message later and thank them all very much for their kindness.
The walk back to Middlesborough was different now as I chose a new route on the south side of the town. I had a cup of tea at a cafe near to the Albert park and got chatting to several people briefly who gave me ideas as to where to go and what to see next. I was going to be heading in the general direction of Durham today. Several people recommended Durham Cathedral and the Castle. I admitted my ignorance and knew had nothing of either, Durham has a Cathedral? I thought you had to be a city to get a Cathedral?

On my way through town today I met a young guy called Rocky, playing guitar on a bench in the center. We had a chat between songs as I listened to him play some of my favourite's, including the legendry Richard Ashcroft. I called in at the offices of Radio Tees to see if anyone there would be interested in helping to promote my walk and help raise money for the 5 charities I am supporting. Kate was very helpful, and said that she would pass on my details to one of the D.J's. (As of yet a week later no-one has called or emailed me. The Olympics I guess are too important and my walk is not going to be at the top of the list of priorities)(That reminds me, has anyone heard me on B.R.Y.L. Radio yet?)

I made my way out to the Transporter Bridge as it should be running today and oddly enough I was still here since Saturday. Sure enough I got to see it working and ride on it across the Tees river. It is something like 200 years old and still working well. It carries only up to 9 cars at a time but that seems to be enough to make it pay. It is an impressive structure and a rare treat that I was able to find it running when I arrived today. I also helped me cross to the north side of the river where I was heading towards Durham, hopefully across country on the network of footpaths. 

I was soon in a village called Cowpen Bewley and later crossed the main road to leading to the north at a village called Newton Bewley. The pub here was still closed it was a small village and only opened its doors evenings for meals etc, by the look of it. I worked out that I had some supplies to eat so could manage until tomorrow if I found a nice sunny little spot to set my tent down this evening. 

Walking in the sun was sapping my strengths a little, and when I arrived at a corner in the track between two fields I sat leaning against my bag to have a rest which quickly turned into a nap. I woke some hours later and now felt as though this spot was the very place I had been looking for so set to work erecting my shelter. The sun was still very warm on my skin and the evening seemed to last a very long time. I wasn't able to write as the computer battery was nearly dead but I found some very interesting views to record and the grass here was also very communicative. Sometimes we miss what nature is telling us, by not having time or the inclination to listen, but tell me she did, and I relished the late evening warmth and knew that I would sleep well tonight.

Tent flaps closed and the light fading helped relax me into dream academy.
Day 33 came to an end.

Day 32 begins


Day 32 begins

I woke at a reasonable hour for a change, but it was because of having a nightmare. I couldn't make head nor tail of the dream only knew I had woken in a sweat. A girl in a green jacket I had wanted to speak with and a woman in a blue dress with a blue cloth hanging down over her face that I hadn't. 

It was around 7.30 am and as I got out of the tent I surveyed the area I had slept in. I couldn't believe my eyes for a moment, I was on a field behind the Cleveland Police station, head quarters. No wonder I had heard so many sirens throughout the night....
Well fortunately they hadn't seemed to have noticed me either so that was a good thing. Better out here than in there.
I packed up quickly and set off into the town to discover what it had to offer me. I hadn't traveled far when I found the other bar Carl had told me about, the Isaac Wilson. It was open for breakfasts, handy for me and it was also a Wetherspoons, so free internet. I was getting behind with my blog so decided this would have to be my days task, at least before I caught up somewhat. I spoke briefly with Nathan who was one of the managers and he didn't mind me sitting quietly to use their facilities in the corner of the room. (As you read this I am currently a week behind. (29/7/12) Sorry guys...I am rubbish at typing and have not met any secretarial volunteers yet...x)
I had a small cooked breakfast which was 'uber' cheap and lots of tea to keep me going. I got a text from the gang from South bank after a while and rang and spoke with Alan who was now back from Staithes with his friends and sister. He invited me over to meet his mum and some of his family, and I couldn't refuse the offer of more kindness now could I?
I caught a bus this time and they met me at the stop. It was a nice huggy reunion and they were glad to see I had survived the past few days safely in Middlesborough. I told them about where I had slept last night and it appeared that one of the boys had also been sleeping there, though not out on the green. Something to do with Daz's missing Ipod and the Police, had brought him here by Police taxi.
I was warmly welcomed by many friends keen to ask all about my walk and catch up with Alan and Joanne and Becky and all about their brief holiday to Staithes. Joan, Alan's mum was happy to make me tea and fuss over me and I felt like a very welcomed guest. Later I joined in for a while with the cider and beer drinking, but explained that I was not a huge fan of alcohol, or drinking through the day time, but I went to the shops later to help provide something towards my hospitality, that was happily received by the group.
I met two of Alan's children, and many friends of his from all around the area. I was flagging a bit by the time the party slowed down and was glad that I had been offered the sofa to spend the night on. Joan gave me all I needed for the couch and said I was to help myself and make myself at home if I wanted anything.
I wasn't entirely comfortable with being given so much freedom but it did tell me one thing. They trusted me and felt comfortable with me in their home. I am not used to being treated so well by complete strangers, but over the past month I had been treated like this on many occasions, by the Goslings in their home in Lincoln, by Ang and the owners of the George Inn, Barton upon Humber, Mac from Hornsea, and by Matt from Scarborough. And now Joan, and Alan from South Bank, and of course all the other lovely people who have been mentioned in the blog so far.
Alan had apologised that he had been partying hard for several days and now he was ready to hit the sack and thanked me for coming over to see him again. I liked Alan, despite any cultural differences between us. He was a real character and had lots of positive energy to share, I just hope that he could find a job and restore some of his personal pride, lost surely by so long on the dole queues at the job centers. He and many here in Teeside alike may have little to keep them hopeful of any changes in the near future. Alan wanted to work and said that he would do practically anything offered if it meant getting a better future for his kids.
I'm no great judge of these things, all I see is that desire has waned in many people because they feel deserted by the system that they believed was there to help them.
I had a bit of a chat with Joan before she retired for the night, and settled down in the luxury of the sofa and was out like the lights.
Day 32 came to a pleasant end.

Day 31 begins


Day 31 begins.

I was awoken by the sound of dog walkers shouting commands to their respective 'best friends'. I smiled at the humourous retorts they followed each comment up with. Here boy, --- Do you want a smack, ----you'll get no dinner...
The day was cloudy but warm and I packed up quickly but needed to wait a while for the tent to aire and dry off the condensation as the ground here had been a tad wetter than I would have liked, it was flat and no high spots. I was somewhere I guessed on the grounds of an old estate, the gate house in the middle of field had once been a grand entrance to the drive up to a proud mans house. I passed the Mausoleum again and followed the road towards what I imagined would be Middlesborough, and soon came by a set of rather plush and gaily decorated Alms houses.


William Turner again had been the man responsible for them and apparently left money in trust for their continued maintenance and use. The people who lived here were living in the lap of luxury, it was a great little complex of 21 houses. The wrought iron fences and turreted castle like end walls set it off nicely as a regal place.
I crossed the road and began following the road edge and almost immediately saw a grand looking building to my right hand side. It looked almost disused from the road here, like the stable type block I had passed last evening, but I wandered up to take a look and found that from the other side it was a museum come gallery of arts. This was the Kirkleatham Museum Redcar, part of the William Turner estate and a very nice way to spend the next few hours. 

I learned all about a Saxon princess buried in her bed close to this site and also a lot about the local area. Luckily there was also a display by a local Calligraphic group who had reworked some lovely poetic verse in wonderfully rich artistic styles. I was suitably impressed by their work and hope that they might respond to the letter I left in their comments box. 

I sat for a few hours writing poetry myself as the exhibit had inspired me to write and that is always the best time to write I find. I chatted to a few people randomly in the pavilion cafe and watched children enjoying the chance to have the sun out and share company with their friends. Loads of people had taken advantage of the better weather, and the cafe was rammed to the seams.

Later when the heat had dropped a tad, I set off to walk into the city. I came into blah de blah, and sat at the memorial stone in the center to have lunch, then through Normanby and the fabled South Bank. (Not sure what it was fabled for exactly, but it was a pretty rundown part of civilization) There were streets that only had houses one side and some that had been flattened altogether. There were many boarded up and burned out shops and pub like buildings. 

I walked towards the river Tees and was just about to walk on a new path I had found, called the Teesdale Way when I met a very nice man called Carl, from South Bank, who began to tell me all about his beloved hometown. He was a man who had worked his whole life in the steel industry and was very happy go lucky, despite the state of things at present. He said that because he had worked hard and made his way up the ladder he was now able to have a decent standard of living and it was all down to dedication in his case. Others he had known had not stuck with a job and gone off to do other things only to find that they were now unemployed with no further prospects. He obviously liked talking to strangers and he loved the chance no doubt to show me the features to look out for here in this part of the country. He said I must see the Transporter Bridge, which had featured in Auf Wiedersehen, Pet the series about the Teeside and Tyne industries and people. 

He showed me where to see the football stadium and also one or two pubs. We covered many topics including the local gypsy populations which he believed was ruining the area to some degree with their lifestyle and their dislike for the authorities. I noticed that there were lots of cameras on poles, with cages surrounding them down here near the dock road too. He said that children had been shooting at them with air-rifles.
He had been out for the afternoon to meet friends and had to get home, so we said our parting comments and I set off to avoid the gypsies and find the Navigation Inn along the banks of the rail line close to the Riverside stadium. Shortly I did find the pub and had a chance to see another aspect of the area. It was a large pub and in good condition, but it seemed to be in the middle of nowhere, again huge tracts of land lay desolate, an odd huge building here and there. The man behind the counter said that it was mainly frequented at lunchtimes, because it was in a quiet location and also on match days as it was close enough to walk to the stadium. I asked how much the rolls were as I needed to think about my evening meal. He kindly gave me a couple for free, and I feel daft for not having asked his name though I did thank him all the same. Sometimes it is difficult to get all the details and I find that some people may not want to allow me to share some of those either. But maybe I should have remembered to ask.

It was late in the evening now, about 9pm when I got to the Transporter Bridge. 

I had passed the Stadium and the old docks where a new building for the Tees college was situated.

 A large piece of modern art bedecked the key side too. The bridge was closed now, it only runs through the day and not on Sundays. I thought it a pity as it looked like a ride worth taking. I had some phone calls to make so I sat and caught up with some friends, whilst being watched by constant police patrols driving by. I couldn't see anything here that would need this much protecting, especially from one guy with a heavy bag and walking poles.
I moved away from the bridge and went towards the town and came into a field on the north side. All around here was more dilapidated buildings and burned out pubs and houses with metal shuttered window, obviously awaiting demolition. There were some gypsy horses at the top of the field and I began to see that one or two of the abandoned houses were actually being lived in, whether legally or by squatters I couldn't tell, but cars were parked nearby.
I decided to choose a spot that had three grassy banked sides as my evening home, that way I would be out of sight and out of mind. The streets here were blocked from driving through by the grassy banks and huge rocks across the Tarmaccadam.
The shield of the banks meant there was little draft or winds and I slept the instant my head touched down.
Day 31 came to the end.