Tuesday, 14 April 2009

A Canny trip

Well I'm back from my trip up north and a good time was had by all. Sadly though due to pressing social engagements didn't really have time to go birdwatching, but still managed to clock up a respectable 50 ish (l'll post the results later as I've mislaid my list) while out and about doing other things.

Quite funny seeing this picture, as although I came from the North East, I never knew anyone who was involved with "the coal industry", so it was quite nice to learn what went on at Houghall Colliery, especially as in 1981-2 I attended Houghall Agricultural College as a spotty youth, and never knew there was a former pit next door...... too busy having shandies and chasing Sophie Kearns, where is she now eh? Mind you it was good to go back for a walk around the area, as at the Farm, a Tree Sparrow made a pleasant surprise.

By the way if anyone is reading this from my time at Houghall, this is Silage writing - remember me, get in tough if you do ....... and for anyone else, this is a very long story, I'll not even try to explain why I had that nick name, even with the lecturers.

And how this for a canny view of the best Cathedral in Europe, click to enlarge..... after all this is why it's become a World Heritage Site. This was taken from the Observatory Hill and I have to say I don't think I've ever seen this view of Durham Cathedral before on any brochures. A great way to spend a Good Friday, walk the Wear with friends, spot of food to follow and then an evening of social chit chat over a glass or two of vino d grape.

I do have to admit to doing some bird watching, actually I was off to see a mate and stopped at Boldon Flats for 15 minutes, nothing spectacular here, though some gloriously bright Yellowhammers, until I spied these two Wheatears just as I was about to get back in the car. Great find and a welcome sign of the gathering migration. Shame they weren't nearer mind you for a better photo.

Most of the weekend however was spent at the SAGE in Gateshead at the Fiddles on Fire weekend. I had a spell of playing the Fiddle a while back, but gave it up through lack of time; however going here made me really think about getting the old instrument out and twanging a few tunes out again. I think the SAGE is fabulous as a building, so on Sunday evening while waiting to see the Blazing Fiddles concert, I took a fair few artistic photos, while also watching the Kittiwakes which nest nearby. Maybe a painting in here one day, though I have already painted the Sage for my father.

Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham on Saturday night were excellent, but I have to say the 49 fiddlers from the Workshops, plus the 18 from Folkestra and then the finale of Blazing Fiddles kicking up a storm with 3 guest world class fiddlers, were absolutely fantastic. Mind you I'm getting old, a long walk on Friday followed by two late nights and the drive back yesterday, I'm a shadow of my former self. A red shadow as got sun burnt on Sunday as well.

And then you come outside to go home and greeted by the Millennium Bridge in all it's finery. Anyone who says the North East is grim should visit.

More on the Easter Challenge during the week, hope you all had a good time whether taking part or not.


  1. Like the canny atmospheric shot of Durham Cathedral. A place which has been on my 'to visit' list for many years but have never got round to it.

  2. Hi Andrew,

    Nice posting, glad you had a good time while you were away, I liked the cathedral shot.

    I look forward to seeing your list. Sounds like I might have got a similar score to you. I sent you my species list in an email by the way. You will also recieve a second email which has one more confirmed species to add to the list.

  3. hi andrew, some nice arty shots.

    your easter challenge a paltry 62
    best bird gargany

  4. I hate to say its not the best cathedral in europe nor in Britain.

    Up there though. One of my faves may be appearing on the blog next week!

  5. Hi Midmarsh John, you'll be amazed when you finally visit, it's a brutal cathedral, built as a fortress, but has an austeer beauty about it. And of course Bede is buried there.

    Thanks Joe, list on the blog later today, and results over the weekend.

    Hey ST that's better than my 50 ish.

    Hi Pete, I'll look forward to seeing what this fave Cathedral of your's is. I'm intrigued. I guess it's in the eye of the beholder, but as Durham was my "local" it has a special appeal to me. Like I said to above I like the fact Durham is massive and brutal and dominates the river, there's nothing pretty about it though.