The Great Escape and an Ode to Tea

Hello All

Bags are again packed and I am off on a small adventure:

I am going Interrailing to visit (find!) my father’s home village in Germany, Klein Sperrenwalde. Thank you to my friends who waved me off both physically and virtually.

But this is me and I like to begin with baby steps. Clever little bods them babies. So I have started with a couple of days in Newcastle. Dodging a swarm of beer swilling blokes who appeared confused navigating the ticket barriers I walked through the big and beautiful concourse to see Newcastle Upon Tyne for the first time. And I was a woman on a mission.

My goal was to find a wool shop in which to purchase the first ball of wool for my European trip. I was looking for Woolly Minded and bingo found it really easily. I am used to cosy little wool shops with quaint and often quirky signage Woolly Minded is a large shop with a very modern frontage impossible to miss.

Despite the helpful assistants I sadly couldn’t find anything really local but instead I settled for King Cole DK. They are based in Skipton and that’s the North!

In case you are wondering my plan is to crochet a shawl or scarf using a ball of wool from each town or city I stay in. This seemed like a good idea when I was cooking it up in my head as it means I will not have to carry all the wool for the project but only a ball each time I stop, hopefully having already worked the previous yarn into an ever growing shawl-scarf-thingy. As the weather is turning chilly I also hope that I will have something warm and snuggly to use when I return. Let the crocheting commence!

On walking a wee bit further into the centre of Newcastle and reaching The Monument a tall …. erm … monument to Earl Grey – local politician and possibly the father to my favourite tipple Earl Grey tea – I took a brave ‘pill’. That being a metaphorical pill you understand no pharmaceuticals nor mind-altering substances were taken. Suffice to say I embraced the Newcastle Metro system.

My hotel the Best Western New Kent in Jesmond was only a few stops down the line and I was thankful to reach its welcoming reception staff.

While someone quickly made himself comfortable. Cheeky! I was just glad to put down my rucksack. Backpacks seemed lighter when I was 18….

But after a good night’s sleep- refreshed and fuelled by a veggie English Breakfast – I was ready this morning to visit Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields. A short hop – well 16 stops but by now I am such an old hand I am not even counting – on the wonderful Newcastle Metro service.

It was easy to see when I was getting near to Arbeia.

When I arrived I really hit it lucky as today is the last day of the season at the Fort and I managed to earwig a fascinating impromptu tour which included a description of the famous Regina tombstone (its the one on the right as you look at the photograph):

It was commissioned in the 2nd century by the late lamented Regina’s husband. Fascinatingly Regina was from a southern British tribe the Catuvellauni and had been sold as a slave to Palmyrian (Syrian) trader Barates who freed her and then married her. What I love is that she is clutching her distaff and spindle rather like any of us would hold our knitting of an evening at home in a comfy chair while poignantly at her feet is her stash of wool ready for projects she never got to finish.

Sniffle! Pulling myself together I took a turn about the site and was thrilled to have the reconstructed gatehouse all to myself;

From the top I got a good view of the majority of the archaeological remains together with the reconstructed barracks and Commanding Officer’s house:

Let’s look through the keyhole (no doors let alone keyholes but bear with me). Who lives in a house/barrack like this?

A Centurian! Rather bijou.

Being the last day of the season there were also re-enactors from the Cohors Quinto Gallorum – an auxiliary unit garrisoned to the fort in the 3rd Century – showing visitors ceremonies, food and the equipment of infantry soldiers. These are brave men. I mean it. Some of those children turned quite vicious when hurling spears at them!

A short walk around the herb garden,

And I was ready for a stroll back towards the Metro.

One of the nice things about tootling and having no particular timetable is that you come upon unexpected pleasures. Today mine was the Victorian Pantry at South Shields Museum and Art Gallery on Ocean Road.

I had a lovely light lunch (I managed to resist a High Tea…goodness knows how!) served by waitresses complete with white pinnies.

The poem by an unknown author on the front of the menu sums up life for me:

When the world is all at odds,

And the mind is all at sea,

Then cease the useless tedium,

And brew a cup of tea.

There is magic in its taste,

The laden moments vanish

Somewhere into space.

And the world becomes a lovely thing!

There’s beauty as you see.

All because you briefly stopped

To have a cup of tea.

About time I was brewing up!

Until next we meet,

Moke xxx

P.S. Those of you playing spot the Meerkat (Terence to his friends), it will get harder!

P.P.S. Apologies to anyone who caught a quick glimpse of an earlier post announcing the start of my travels. It was a draft which I prematurely published! Sorry for any confusion caused. Mx

High Days and Roman Holidays

Hello All

Being born on 24 July in the 57th year of the last century means that I have just turned 57 myself. A pleasing symmetry.

After an early morning birthday call from No1 Son, No1 Daughter arrived to take her old mum out for the day. Off we set in glorious sunshine for the pretty Lancashire village of Ribchester.

No1 Daughter knew the perfect place for lunch DSCI0326

Steamingly hot no one was sitting inside said glass house but outside under cheerful parasols or broad brimmed hats thoughtfully provided by the proprietors. I snaffled a jaunty blue number. I thought I looked tres chic. I can’t imagine what that girl of mine was sniggering at.

What a friendly and convivial setting for a happy birthday lunch.

The cafe is part of an eclectic mix of little businesses which are set up in small summer houses dotted around what is also a delightful rambling garden centre.

A special treat. But the day was not over.

Lying on the banks of an expansive stretch of the River Ribble – on this hot day filled with squealing children trying to cool down – Ribchester is a picture postcard village. It has a 13th century church, St Wilfred’s DSCI0337

 

cottages quaint enough to feature on top of a biscuit tin lid DSCI0332

 

and comes complete with an 18th century hostelry, The White Bull. DSCI0328

But what makes it very special to me are the remains of the Roman fort of Bremetennacum the story of which is told in the village’s small but beautifully formed museum.DSCI0330

 

Famously Bremetennacum was garrisoned by Sarmatian auxiliaries. These highly accomplished horsemen from the lower Danube came to Britain after their defeat by the legions of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in 175AD. In this fabulous mongrel nation of ours I like to fancy that modern day Ribchesterians will be descended from these exotic nomadic people.

The ‘Roman’ visitors also left behind more tangible traces of their lives at Bremetennacum: their granaries

and a little walk away, their bath house

complete with an add-on medieval well DSCI0342

I couldn’t resist patting the sun-warmed stones and thinking of the people who had dressed and placed them there. It made me smile.

I’ll let you into a little secret: over the years I have researched the Sarmatians in Roman Britain for a novel and if you are really interested you can have a sneaky peek of the first few chapters on Wattpad. Beware it is very different from my blog!

No1 Daughter and I had a lovely time chatting and tootling about the site of this ancient world but thank goodness for modern conveniences and a last cup of tea. DSCI0347

 

Until we meet next. Moke

Big Night In

Do you remember my lunch with my best buddies? …the climb that was worth it?

Stoney Lane

It was more than time that I repaid the hospitality. With all the kerfuffle  of the new job and the longer working days I didn’t want to lose sight of the really important things: my family and friends. So on went a pot of my trusty veggie chilli – with a base ingredient of red lentils and a dash of sherry to enrich the flavour – and in went the jacket potatoes. You can already tell I’m a rustic, you could say basic, cook! I laid the table,

and thanked the heavens that my daughter’s boyfriend is a romantic soul who regularly brings her flowers, ‘cos they set off the table beautifully, DSCN0627

We did get more to eat than tomatoes and dip, honest! My chums all brought share-sy food (and wine) but things were so relaxed and convivial that I didn’t want to break off from the conversation to start snapping photos. We nattered about so many topics it was sometimes hard to keep track so there were some funny moments when we talked at cross-purposes only realising when we went beyond surreal.

As always books were well covered and I am now after a copy (from the library of course) of “Alex” by Pierre LeMaitre, it sounds like a real page turner of a thriller. In the meantime I am finishing off Robert Goddard’s “Hand In Glove”, images

which has seen me through being stuck behind several freight trains and is a good read before my eyes can’t stay open any longer.

There is one other book that is close to my heart at the moment and that is “Amazon – Slave of Rome”  an historical action novel being written by yours truely… If you want a sneaky peak you’ll find it posted (well the first 5 chapters) on Wattpad if you search under ‘Discover’ for Amazon – Slave of Rome.

I’ll leave you all with a cheery sight, there’s something about sunflowers that makes me smile, DSCN0632

thanks AJ.

Happy days.