September 19th, 2011

Wanaka tree

Northumberland and beyond - part one

This is the first batch of photos from my few days spent in Northumberland and the surrounding areas last week. I had a fantastic time, away from the daily grind. I know this whole area fairly well from previous visits, but I hadn't been there for a long time, so it was like visiting an old friend after a time apart.

I set off on Monday morning at about five o'clock in the morning. Even though I had all day to get there I wanted to be clear of Birmingham and all the traffic it generates before seven. Then I knew it would be an easy steady drive north through the industrial heart of England towards the quiet, more peaceful and serene north.

As it turned out I was right to set off early. The area I was heading for was in for a windy couple of days with the fag end of 'Hurricane Whatever It Was Called' crossing the country. Even though it had crossed the Atlantic, it still hadn't blown itself out and I was led to expect winds of 120kmh in exposed places. Well, there are a lot of exposed places in that area and I was going to be exposed with them. This became very real when I was driving through Cumbria heading for the highest stretch of motorway in the UK, Shap Summit. I rounded a bend in the motorway to find a lorry blown over and lying across two of the carriageways. Luckily there wasn't much traffic around and it was easy to avoid, but it was a moment where I understood what I might be letting myself in for and what to expect.

I crossed into Northumberland at about 11.30 and headed for the small town of Corbridge because I had a parcel to post. I took some photos of the fabulous old bridge there which crosses the River Tyne. Then I headed for Morpeth, the county town, where I got some lunch and worked out what I might do for the rest of the day. Obviously, having driven over 600km already, I didn't fancy anything too strenuous, I was tired enough already, so I decided to head to the area I would be staying in and just have a bit of a mooch around there.

I ended up at Newbiggin-by-the-sea (which it was - can't get them under the Trades Description Act there). The wind had really got up and there was a serious danger of the lens on my camera being sand-blasted and all my photos being fuzzy, but that wouldn't stop me!

At Newbiggin there is a breakwater, designed to keep the harshest North Sea waves from eroding the sandy beach, and on top of it there are statues of two people looking out to sea. They look really life-like and, from my photos, it's easy to imagine they are real people - though in fact they are more than four metres tall.

I feel that these pictures aren't up to the usual standard, but I certainly got back into the swing of things as the week went on, so please don't give up on me!

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