Saturday, 4 August 2012

Day 38 begins


Day 38 begins

The sun was up early and it looked like it would be a good day for walking. A few people had passed already with their pooches and yet none had bothered me here. The sun was on the tent and it only needed a brief airing to get rid of the condensation inside the top cover. I stretched and did my call of duty in the bushes nearby, ones not twos mind.....

I set all my stuff out on the bench nearby to pack it away and the tent was the only thing left. Whilst packing the tent up a lady walking a few dogs sparked a conversation with me. I was surprised as I had already felt a connection with her and wondered if I might get a chance to talk with her at some point. This is the odd thing with intuition, knowing what it was telling you could be difficult if not trained to understand it well. It had told me to wait and here was the opportunity to share a smile and receive one, and get into conversation with a local person about their days activities.
As before I waited and then Sue, made the introduction by asking my name. She didn't seem overly surprised as do some people when I tell them what my name is, and she actually trusted me as she asked me to look after one of the dogs whilst she chased Charlie her own dog. The dog nearly pulled the arms out of my sockets as I tried to hold it back from disappearing again into the surf, I wondered how such a petite woman could have held two dogs if they pulled. Sue returned with the golden retriever and we chatted for a while. Sue was a professional dog walker and had a few local clients and another part time job too. She lives locally with her family and had plenty of good tips as to what to see whilst here at Tynemouth. Like the guys from last night, Sue was unwittingly able to boost my feelings of well being here with her smiles and affable nature. Thank you Sue and the dogs for being so welcoming to a stranger.

I was in time now to see the castle and grounds but it did rain and I had to dive for cover a few times. As I passed the old sergeants quarters in the grounds I thought I saw the ghost of a monk through the windows. I soon realised that they had a set of robes inside so people could dress up as a monk to get the total experience. Phew...
There was a lot to see here and apparently 3 kings of old England were buried here including Ethelred.
King of England
Tenure 18 March 978 – 23 April 1016
Predecessor Edward (978)
Sweyn (1014)
Successor Sweyn (1013)
Edmund (1016)

Spouse Ælfgifu of York
Emma of Normandy
Æthelstan of England
Ecgberht of England
Edmund, King of England
Eadred of England
Eadwig of England
Edgar of England
Edith, Lady of the Mercians
Ælfgifu, Lady of Northumbria
Wulfhilda, Lady of East Anglia
Edward, King of England
Alfred of England
Goda, Countess of Boulogne
House House of Wessex
Father Edgar, King of England
Mother Ælfthryth
Born 966-68
Died 23 April 1016
Burial Old Saint Paul's Cathedral
Æthelred the Unready, or Æthelred II[1][2] (circa 968 – 23 April 1016), was king of England (978–1013 and 1014–1016). He was son of King Edgar and Queen Ælfthryth. Æthelred was only about 10 (no more than 13) when his half-brother Edward was murdered. Æthelred was not personally suspected of participation, but as the murder was committed at Corfe Castle by the attendants of Ælfthryth, it made it more difficult for the new king to rally the nation against the military raids by Danes, especially as the legend of St Edward the Martyr grew.
From 991 onwards, Æthelred paid tribute, or Danegeld, to the Danish King. In 1002, Æthelred ordered a massacre of Danish settlers. In 1003, King Sweyn invaded England and in 1013, Æthelred fled to Normandy and was replaced by Sweyn, who was also king of Denmark. However, Æthelred returned as king after Sweyn died in 1014.
"Unready" is a mistranslation of Old English unræd (meaning bad-counsel) —a twist on his name "Æthelred" (meaning noble-counsel). A better translation would be Redeless—without counsel (Rede).

The tour took me a good hour, and I was hungry but not sure what to eat, so crossed the road to Woods cafe and sat and had a coffee. I had been in touch with Ben and he was going to come and see me as he passed through on his way to Belgium. His holidays had only just started and Vicky and the Girls had already gone to visit her parents there, he was collecting them and having a fortnight away. As I waited I got chatting to a man who had arrived on a brand spanking new Harley Davidson motorcycle. Adrian was originally from London but lived and worked nearby to Newcastle. The Beast was only an hour out of the shop when he had sat here to take a coffee, but a passing pigeon had christened it for him. OOPS....!!

Adrian was a very nice and chatty man who was well traveled and made good sense of what he had seen and was able to tell me about many interesting things to see in the next few days or so. I liked his easy manner and we passed almost an hour chatting until some of his friends arrived and also Ben pulled up alongside the cafe. Unfortunately Ben had misjudged the time he would need to drive to Hull so only had a bout fifteen minutes to spend, but I will be passing through their town soon, maybe in about 2 weeks time when I am in Scotland. I introduced Adrian and we sat chatting for a few minutes before they both had to leave. I was on a high for seeing Ben and talking with Adrian, who also let me sit on his new baby briefly... I gave Adrian a big hug, he seemed to accept this symbol of my affection well, not every one likes this closeness or intimacy of course, especially men. 

Ben didn't mind at all hugging, we have been very close for a very long time and not just because we are blood brothers. He has been an inspiration to me for many years for his keen eye for sharing and caring. I will miss him when he goes to Australia with his family, even if I only see him a couple of times per year.

He set off and I was alone again but looking forward to the day ahead. It looked iffy on the weather front but I have all the right gear so it doesn't concern me, providing I can get it out of the bag and wearing it if the rain comes. I decided to have a spot of lunch along the seafront close to the Cafe and just as I opened my sandwich box, down it came, the heavens opened and I didn't have time to get the coat out, only saved by throwing the bags rain cover over my head and sat eating my meager meal shivering beneath it.....ha ha ha....
Later I passed the town of Whitley bay and stopped for a siesta on a bench on the sea front. When I awoke a group of Police officers were gathered round a man on a neighbouring bench and they carted him away for some reason. I left rather swiftly in case they wanted to come back for me too...

Before long I was coming close to what appeared to be an island with a lighthouse on it. St. Mary's Island/lighthouse is no longer used as a working lighthouse but at certain tides you could walk across the causeway, which would be submerged for between 1-5 hours twice per day. The island had carried a lot of history over the centuries and people had been smugglers and even killed here. Some time ago a man was evicted from living on the island so that they could make it a serviceable lighthouse. I had a cup of tea and a cone of chips from a mobile van here at the car park and sat admiring the views of the island before finally going to have a look around it. Some bird watchers were using a hide on the back of the settlement and I wrote another couple of poems, to record my time here. 

The wind began to pick up and so I came back to the mainland and carried on along the cliff edge for a short while. I saw a campsite and went to investigate, but it was one of those Caravan Club Members only places. Pity I could kill for a shower and a chance to plug my computer in. Close by was a public house so I entered to use their facilities and hospitality. 

The Delaval Arms was a cosy place and I set myself up in the back room where only a few people were eating meals. I began to write in the hope of getting closer to catching up with the writing. I do love writing but sometimes the opportunity to meet new people has to come first, and it can often push back the recording part for a few days. I am struggling not to let it get out of hand, but facilities are not always that readily available.

A lady in a wheelchair came into the room accompanied by a man and woman. She asked me if I was here for the music.
What music,” I replied.
Oh we have a sing-along here every Saturday night and a man comes to play the piano, whilst we all sing and chat to our friends.” Said Maureen.
Susan and Peter had brought Maureen who could no longer walk well to the weekly entertainment here and were also staying to get involved. Maureen had spent many years herself being the resident pianist until arthritis stopped her using her hands properly. I told Maureen that I would be delighted to stay if that were ok with everyone. It was her birthday as it was Jacks' the pianist and she invited me to the buffet too which would be served at half time. I was feeling very glad that I had just popped in. As the group began to arrive for the evening I was introduced to a few and got chatting with them all as they were keen to know who the stranger was in their midst. I asked Jack if he would mind if I take some video for the blog and my research into what it is to be British and he said that was fine, as long as I recommended the venue to all of you, the readers.
I went to buy another drink to make sure I was not going to interrupt the goings on soon to begin. I had to ask the manager if I could put my bag somewhere else as the room was filling up and it would be in the way. He said that I could leave it in their back office which was very kind. Ian Hall and his wife Karen are the Licensees here and made me very welcome. I got chatting with Danielle and Beth who also worked here and they were very accommodating with help and suggestions about things to see locally. Danielle was keen to ask me all about the walk and my aims as are many people who are intrigued by a strange man in their environments, and she gave me lots of information about the Pub the family who owned the name and other local details. Beth said to be careful of rough camping because there were people who went out killing at nights. I thought that a bit odd, but she was talking about trappers and animal hunters I believe.
Back in the room, the group had swelled to about 25 and the pianist Jack was limbering up tinkling the ivories briskly.
As the music kicked into life I became very humbled by the joy and the kindness on the faces of all here, and the welcoming spirit that they showed. I knew only a few of the songs to any degree as most of them were possibly of Geordie origin, but the folk here were very enthusiastic about their evening of merriment. I took several videos of the singing and a couple of gentlemen, stood out amongst the group as they had a very unique duo act that everyone seemed to respond to. Alf Douglas and Norman Sheil were once part of a group called the Shire-moor Marrows and I could tell that they had great voices. (Marrows is apparently local slang for friends/mates/buddies)

Norman was also a great story teller, I was impressed by his affable way of telling a few of the yarns, particularly the one about a dog called 'Piddling Pete.' (I hope the footage can be added soon)

Every one had brought Tupperware with treats and goodies and no-one seemed to mind including the stranger in this either. The curry served later was wonderful and I couldn't believe my luck to be welcomed into this small party of longtime friends. I hope that this type of community doesn't die out with these people, as they were all more mature of years, but boy did they know how to have a good time without becoming drunk or fighting amongst themselves. The respect was tangible and evident in their every action. I say we need to learn a lot more from these people before it is too late and we live in a society where respect has totally gone out of the window in place of separatism and individuality without sense.
As the evening came to an end I couldn't believe that almost 3 hours had passed in such a quick moment. People began making their way home and I spoke with the landlord briefly before setting off to find a home for the evening despite the lateness of the hour. I made my way to the coast which was only about 400 yards away and set up off the path overlooking St Mary's Island once more. The wind was calm but cooler, and the tent went up easily, though I feared it would rain soon and had to be quick.

One last look out at smugglers island, and I zipped up for the night with a huge grin on my face. Kindness from a rare and random direction had given me food for thought.

I fell asleep with the taste of a lovely curry still on my lips, and day 38 came to an end.


  1. Fame at last in words and pictures. Will be interested to find out where you got to a week on and after another week of variable English summer weather.

    Who knows I may pass you on the way up to Aviemore over the Bank Holiday weekend not that you will have got that far


  2. Hi Adrian. I am currently on a Yatch in the estuary overlooked by Lindisfarne on Holy Island.

    I have a bottle of 10 year olod malt and no-one to share it with....shame you are going to Aviemore... I hope you liked what i said about you and I very much liked meeting with you. keep in touch and if you are anywhere near by check me out and come see me again.

    Loads of love and hugs.