Saturday 4th June 2016
In the run up to our Summer holiday, i hadn’t been feeling too well. A heavy cold was still lingering, and was threatening to become a chest infection. I had managed to persuade the doctor to give me some antibiotics, but they hadn’t really done the job of clearing my chest up.
This, coupled with my feeling rather low anyway, wasn’t a great way to start the holiday. We were heading back to Beadnell in Northumberland, in fact back to the very flat where we stayed when we first visited the area back in March 2010. We can’t believe that it’s been 6 years. That was the first time we had rented a property rather than camping, and i don’t think that we have used the tent since then. We have stayed in a variety of flats, apartments, cottages and houses since then in various parts of the country.
We had vowed to take as little as possible with us this time, as we always do, and always we find that we use/wear about half of the things we take with us. The problem at this time of the year is that you just don’t know what to expect from the weather. It may be hot, it may be cool. It may be dry, it may be wet. At least when we go in March, you can pretty much rely on the weather not being that great, and so it is much easier to know what to take.
In the end, we weren’t too bad, and easily managed to get everything in the car, even having space for one of my guitars. The journey up was fairly uneventful, just very long. Stopping for a quick drink just South of Newcastle, and then hitting heavy traffic on the roadworks on the Newcastle section of the A1(M) meant that it took us about 5 hours to get to Beadnell.
The flat was pretty much as we remembered it, but it has to be said that in the six years since we were last there, the standards have slipped a little. It was far from dirty, but would have benefited from a “proper” clean rather than the quick “once over” it obviously gets between guests. The worst was the oven, which was very much in need of a good scrub. A few things had changed in the kitchen, and the new fridge/freezer had a door which opened the right way which made life much easier! The whole place needs a bit of TLC, but i suppose that if people keep renting it, there is little incentive for the owners to spend the money on doing this.
Once unpacked, which didn’t take very long, we did our good deed for the day when an elderly gentleman came over to me as i was locking the car up. He and his wife had just arrived and were a little confused as to which flat they were staying in, as they aren’t that well labelled. I quickly worked out that they were in the flat next to ours but upstairs. Then we couldn’t find the key box for their door keys. In the end he phoned the letting agents and they told him where the keys were hidden.
We would say that they were both in their late 70’s, maybe early 80’s. The lady couldn’t walk very well, so staying in an upstairs flat perhaps wasn’t the best idea for them. In the end, Sally and I carried their (very big and heavy!!) suitcases upstairs for them.
This good deed done, we decided that a trip to Seahouses was in order for fish and chips for our dinner. Seahouses is only about two and a half miles away, and after so long sitting down during the day, we elected to walk there. In retrospect, this was a big mistake. The walk there was fine, a nice safe footpath runs alongside the road, the route was fairly flat, it wasn’t too hot, and we arrived in the town in plenty of time to go the Neptune fish and chip “restaurant”. It was very busy in there - it was the end of the bank holiday/half term week, and plenty of people we still in town. We had to wait a short time before being able to get a table, and while i was queueing to order the food, Sally got chatting to a man who worked there. It turned out that he came from Coventry originally, and now lives in Newcastle. He and his wife live in a caravan during the Summer and get work in Seahouses. It is a small world.
The haddock and chips was as lovely as it always is at the Neptune. Fresh and tasty - it’s never quite the same when you have it away from the coast for some reason. As we have only ever been to the area in March before, when a lot of places are still closed, or close early as there are so few people about, it came as a bit of a shock to see the town so busy.
The walk back to Beadnell was when the “mistake” of our decision to walk became apparent. We were both suffering a bit. My back was already aching after sitting in the car for so long, and this 5+ mile walk on top of that really didn’t help this, and my hips started to ache too. By the time we got back to the flat, we were both in a fair bit of pain. Despite this, we were determined to have a quick visit to “our beach”.
Again, when we have visited in March, usually it was just us and a couple of dog walkers to be seen on the beach. So, to find so many people on the beach even fairly late into the evening, came as a bit of a shock. We wanted to shout at them “Oi, this is our beach, get off it!!”
We had a short walk along the bay, before heading back to the flat and a well deserved mug of tea. I timed the walk from the flat to the beach at under 80 seconds while “sauntering”, so i reckon i could do it in just under a minute if i walked at my normal speed. I could live with that!
Sunday 5th June 2016.
We awoke to a lovely sunny day. We also both awoke in pain. Yesterday’s evening route march coupled with a softer bed than we are used to found us both suffering with bad backs and hips. We needed more milk, and a few other minor provisions, so we walked to the village shop, which is just over half a mile from the flat. This shop has always been closed when we have been before, and it seems that it only opens during the holiday season, and probably gets most of its trade from the campsite which is just across the main road from it. This makes sense.
Whilst walking to the shop, we stopped and chatted to a local who was mowing his grass. We had a nice chat with him about the village and what it is like to live there all year around. He told us that it gets REALLY cold in the Winter as the wind blowing off the sea comes from Siberia. I can imagine that it does - it’s bad enough in March!
Shopping done, we headed to the beach, which was fairly packed, and walked all the way along the bay to what is called the Long Nanny. This is a large stream which cuts across the beach and means that you have to go inland and cross a bridge to get to the other side. At this time of the year, this other side of the beach is basically out of bounds as it is home to a Tern nesting and breeding site which is managed by the National Trust. I had the binoculars with me and we were able to watch them for a while. We had first seen this on the Robson Green TV series about the area recently. You could clearly see the tents that the NT volunteers sleep in to stay there 24/7 while they protect the site.
There were some surfers braving the cold water. We had a brief paddle, and i can report that, despite the lovely sunshine, the water was ruddy cold! We headed back to the flat for lunch and an afternoon chill. In the evening at about 7pm, we returned to the beach and repeated our walk of earlier. It is a mile from where we entered the beach to the Long Nanny, and it is surprising just how quickly you walk that distance on the sand. As long as you avoid the soft dry sand, it is really nice to walk along.
It was also very interesting to see how the beach changes as the tide and light changes. It was still sunny in the evening, but much cooler now. We got some nice photos as the light was much more suitable for photography in the evening. There were not many people still on the beach at that time, and we saw the remnants of the sand castles that children (of all ages!) had built during the day. These would not last the night of course, as the high tide would take them away.
Monday 6th June 2016.
Another glorious day awaited us once we finally awoke. Despite the bed not being very comfortable, we both seemed to have little trouble in sleeping quite late. This is most unusual for Sally, who hardly ever has a lie in. Perhaps it was the sea air?
Sadly, today i had a visit from my “Black Wolf”, and i was very down for some reason. I wish i could have pinpointed just what set it off, but i can’t. It couldn’t have been an easy day for Sally to deal with, and i can only apologise to her for this.
We decided to head to Druridge Bay, which we had also seen on the Robson Green TV show. It is a nature park, with a lake with walks around it, and also a large sandy beach quite similar to the one at Beadnell.
I managed to get us “lost” twice on the way there, which didn’t help my mood any. Still in quite a lot of pain also didn’t help, but we elected to walk around the lake, which was very pleasant and gave us views of various birds. The binoculars came in very handy again. After this we had a short walk along the beach there, but i really wasn’t in the mood to enjoy it. Sorry.
Back at the flat, in the evening, we went for our usual stroll along the beach, where we saw some beach “art” someone had done of a mermaid drawn in the sand.
Tuesday 7th June 2016.
An overcast morning, which gave way to pleasant sunshine as the day wore on. A morning walk on the beach this time, which was fairly empty today. We walked to the Long Nanny, and then crossed the bridge to get closer to the Tern’s nesting site. Here we found quite a few bird watchers equipped with huge spotting scopes and cameras.
We toyed with walking to Low Newton for lunch, but neither of us felt up to the 3+ miles each way walk. By now the sun was out fully and it was very warm. We spent some time just sitting on the beach, enjoying the weather and the sound of the waves on the shore.
In the evening, we went to High Newton (by car) and had dinner at the Joiners Arms. We had booked a table, which turned out to be a good move, as it was quite busy in there. Their tiny car park was full, as were all the roads around it, so we parked in the Low Newton carpark and walked the half a mile or so to the pub.
Sally had gammon, and i opted for the burger with pulled pork topping. This made a change from the enormous piece of fish that i usually have when we go there. We both had an ice cream sundae for dessert.
We ended the day with another walk on our beach before bedtime. It was cold and a bit windy, but a lovely way to end a lovely day.
Wednesday 8th June 2016.
Another late morning, followed by a drive into Seahouses to have a quick wander around the shops, and top up on provisions. This was followed by a walk around Beadnell village and tea and cake at the cafe in the village. This was a mint tea that was quite nice, but a bit too strong all at the same time. The cakes were lovely though!
We walked around the village a bit more before ending up on the beach again.
The evening was spent watching Game of Thrones on DVD.
Thursday 9th June.
Another overcast start to the day, which became sunnier as the morning went on. For lunch today we drove to Low Newton to the Ship Inn, where we both had the kipper fish cakes with stottie and salad. Absolutely lovely as always. Despite getting to the pub only just after it opened, it was very busy. It’s a good job that we didn’t leave it any later than we did.
The afternoon was spent walking along our beach where we saw some kite surfers (it was VERY windy and so ideal for them) and then walked around a bit more of the village.
The evening with Game of Thrones and a quick walk along the beach at almost 10pm. It was lovely and quiet then!!
Friday 10th June.
Our last full day. Lunch at Neptune in Seahouses. Fish and chips again. (we drove this time though!) followed by a wander around the shops and a brief visit to the amusement arcade.
An afternoon walk along the beach to the Long Nanny and back. It was dull and the weather was looking a bit threatening. It was also fairly windy and a bit cool.
We had noticed quite a few people on the beach near the harbour during the walk, and i did think it may have been something to do with the local sailing club, as a yellow canoe was much in evidence and appeared to be the main focus of interest. Walking back, Sally asked me if i had any idea what was going on. She had heard someone say something about the Police being there.
I hadn’t brought the binoculars with us on this walk, and was kicking myself a bit. Then i spotted someone holding a white board at an angle. I thought it was maybe a reflector as used in photography or something, and then i spotted someone with one of those large furry microphone things on a pole. Sally persuaded me to go and have a look with her, and boy, am i glad she did!
As we got closer i thought i recognised a man’s voice that i heard, and then when i saw a woman in a long brown rain coat and floppy hat i knew i was right. They were filming for an episode of “Vera” and the woman was Brenda Blethyn in character as Vera.
We stood and watched for well over half an hour while they practised the take, before doing it for real. Over and over and over again. We were taking some photos, and the actor playing Vera’s DS saw me and waved.
Brenda and her sidekick played by Kenny Doughty came over to talk to a couple with two children who were near us between takes. We listened into the conversation, and it turned out that the family were going back to Manchester later and one of their school friend’s was in hospital waiting for a new heart and they were going to try to cheer him up. Brenda said that she would be back in a minute, and returned with a hand written sign on a piece of A4 paper with a message to their friend and invited them to have a photo with her and Kenny. This seemed to me to be real class on their part, and was a really lovely gesture.
Kenny told us that it takes 4 weeks to film each 2 hour episode of the series, and that the new series should be shown early next year.
It was surprising just how many people are involved with the filming. There were at least 2 dozen people involved with shooting just this one scene which will probably only be on screen for a few seconds when it is all done.
This was a great way to finish our final walk on the beach. The evening was cold and windy, and starting to get a little damp. It was also the start of the Euro 2016 football championships, so the evening was spent watching the football and packing ready for an early start the next morning.
Saturday 11th June 2016.
Up early for a change. The car was packed quickly, and we headed off at 9am. It was raining, and did so for most of the journey home, which was uneventful apart from a rolling road block on the M1 near Sheffield for no reason that we could see.
Five hours later, and we were back home. It is good to be back in some ways (the comfy bed, a clean house, our usual surroundings and things), but it is also sad that we can’t be on the beach in a minute. Maybe one day??
We are already planning our next visit, hopefully later on this year.Sorry that i haven’t got more to say, but as you will have guessed we didn’t do a huge amount apart from walking on the beach this time!!