Recently by Glanton Bob
Leaving Powburn travelling north on the Wooler road (A697) a sharp left, turning West into Ingram takes my inertia onwards towards, the Breamish Valley. This is a best kept secret, secret, it is known as a picnic spot, however if you venture into the hills you will be lucky to bump into anyone, or unlucky as the case may be.
The road has been ravaged by recent movement of the Breamish which being a glacial floor of stones, gravel, grit and sand in full flow can produce a ferocious winding and boring action that can alter roads and bridges at the drop of a hat. This has happened in the summer making my route into the valley a longer journey as the footbridge and the ford at Brandon is now out of commission.
Passing through the farm steadings the road levels after a few huffs and puffs, into an open space with East hill on one side and further along West hill. West hill has deep running terracing in the sides which goes back into pre-historic times when a hard struggle for existence depended on growing crops and grain assisted by the cultivated terracing.
Ingram and its shaded vista now lie behind and the choice lies to continue west and upwards towards The first hill fort at Brough Law or take a left in a southerly direction and take a slow climb up Ingram hill. I chose this latter course as the path slowly rises towards Turf Knowe and this is hilly, sharp grass, hill and sheep country
This provides an opportunity to look around and sweep the eyes in all directions to drink in the panoramic view. I ventured up a very steep climb to find the dissipated rocks and stones of the collapsed hillfort at Turf Knowe. Out comes the flask and cheese sandwiches to provide the necessary respite that is needed for what is in essence a rough hill walk with a bike; at least the bike comes into its own on the downhill tracks which are strangely broad and flat and perfect for cycling.
On the top it not very high but enough to look west up to Brough Law and beyond towards the extremities of the valley to the north and in essence, the external peaks of the cheviots. The debatable lands, called this because of the flexible border in the demilitarised zone between the two nations, rough murder and conflagration were the painful realities, if the low life expectancy did'nt get you.
To Wether hill at last past the middle dean the remains of cultivated terracing of a British/Romano steading, up the hill to the hillfort, a remnant of the ancient days of pre-history. This is only halfway round, so some more tea and off on the rigorous ciruit to take further up the hills and beyond.....a quick burst of Blake's ...'and did those feet in ancient times, walk upon Englands mountains green'........
I took my bike up the wild wannies and sidewinded to the coastal plains of Northumberland,
My mate Kev a fellow geetar picker fond of JJ Cale and his mystic swamp rock, let me crash in Powburn (home of the fictitious Panther rarely spotted on the plains but frequently at the Poachers or the Queens). After an early start I headed for Embleton with the bike in the back of the estate car. Heading through Eglingham in an easterly direction to cross the A1 at South Charlton and to pass Rock.
Parking in a lay-by on the Embleton city-limits, I headed north and east towards Beadnell Bay. It was breezy, sunny and with little rain-squalls all at the same time, I found myself navigating away from the roads but using a parallel path following the contour of the coast, by-passing the links and the bird sanctuary, still heading in a northerly direction towards, Beadnell and after that Seahouses, Bamborough and Budle Bay.
A Sunday morning so full of bountiful nature it is almost beyond description, however here goes....it had warm sun and gentle to robust breeze, showers and scented air, it seemed that all of the senses were being stimulated, in a maelstrom of colour light vision and sound. The flowers were blue hare bells and yellow tansy, with the white headed meadowsweet faring well and rose bay willow an outrage of purple. The grasses were tall with flowering heads interspersed with crane's bill and vetch. On the salt marshes past Newton I spotted Samphire, which I have never seen so far north.
Hey this was here and now and did not involve Easy-jet or anyone else for that matter. Yes there were a few cars and caravans, but for the height of the season it was busy, bustling and with a sense of occasion rather than being stressed out. Seahouses of course, was much busier. I stopped for coffee, compulsory fish and chips and watched the boats leave and return for the Farne Islands, before heading north for Bamburgh and the North.
Without being too chauvinistic about the beauties of the North, this was a fantastic way to spend the day and would probably be even better towards the end of summer when the crowds die down, when the seals and eider ducks will be more in abundance.
Tired and ready for a meal or liquid refreshment I took off in pursuit of the elusive panther and Kev......singing...'they call me the breeze....I keep running down this road', JJ Cale in essence as the little legs go round, faster and faster.
One of my favourite blues lines, found in a Robert Johnson song and probably many other Blues songs was the line of the blues Ã¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÂwalking around like a man Ã¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ its as if all your troubles take on a human form
In the nineteen sixties, Shields had gas lamps , cobbled streets snow and ice in winter steam powered ferries, trolley buses, corner shops and on the Lawe Top (where I lived) a Roman fort.
The Roman fort must have seized everybodys imagination as the street names all laid a homage to Rome, there was Vespasian Avenue, Julian Avenue, Roman road, and Urfa terrace, Caer Urfa being the roman name for Shields.
We had a big (happy) family Joan and Stan, Valerie, Martin, Mel, Wendy and later Linden, complete with Roger the dog and lodgers, mostly marine students studying to pass their tickets, which would be a gateway to the sea, abroad and the world.
My role in the family and the community seemed to be the messengerÃ¢ÂÅ I would run to the paper shop for a Gazette, go messages to the grocers or at night the Ã¢ÂÂoffieÃ¢ÂÂ
On top of that I would deliver orders for Bains and Duncans, either with a home made cart (oh the shame) or on the grocery delivery bike which was top heavy when the groceries were placed in the front basket. It was slavery of course and child labour, but was seen as enterprising and character forming.
The Lawe Top was surely the best place in the world to grow up. There was the view of the sea, the nearby parks, the Hilltop play ground, various chippies and best of all three cinemas within walking distance. Ocean road is now the curry centre of the world which is another plus, but in those days there was only one Indian restaurant.
The Lawe Top was an island in the days of the Romans with the river to the north and ocean road to the south a tributary of the Tyne all shallow, as it was before industrialization and the dredging of the river.
My favourite fare those days was curried fishcake and chips usually bought on a Friday night coming home from the Scouts.
It was an outdoor life, it needed to be, what with black and white TV and two, then just three channels. Then there were the songs, the songs to sustain, the melodies the Ã¢ÂÂyeah, yeah, yeahsÃ¢ÂÂ, the mop heads and melodies.
Ã¢ÂÂshe was just seventeen, you know what I meanÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÅ ..
We had the boat to go fishing, the dinghy to row over to North Shields, the parks and the beaches, I just remember running, running everywhere over the hills, banks, parks and beaches, running, running , running to school, to do a delivery, running for a bus, running everywhere, and at night after all the air, weather and freezing nor easterly, sleeping forever. The sea fret would envelop the Lawe and our dreaming minds and carry us away.
This was written for our Joan and Stan who will always be with us.
I was amused and deflated when I read an article regarding the great Ã¢ÂÂHighland BagpipesÃ¢ÂÂ,
April is the cruellest monthÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ . T.S. Eliot (the Waste Land ),
The rancid stale odour of the dressing room at Thompson Park, the smell of Ã¢ÂÂralga the horse linament,sweaty socks, BO, and the cheerful ironic swearing banter of the team preparing for the mental shock of being selected or rejected.
The team is announced without too much discussion, sometimes it might be the eleven who show up or the oneÃ¢ÂÂs who are fit enough to play. Nobody likes being a sub as it has all the disadvantages like standing in the cold.
Taking to the cold hard boney pitch, stepping carefully over the dog muck and trying to get the old stiff limbs working again.
Ã¢ÂÂRight Jimmy when you get the ball, run with it and tak them onÃ¢ÂÂ is the only tactical advice I receive, Ã¢ÂÂNoo gan on get stuck in!Ã¢ÂÂ ThereÃ¢ÂÂs a clatter of studs as the teams run out to take to the park.
The opposition take to the pitch in lurid clashing purple shirts and yellow shorts, all shapes all sizes, hairy legs the lot. A pierced empty whistle starts the game.
Ã¢ÂÂWor keeper Ken, leaning against the post in a familiar pose, is suddenly called into action, carefully knicking his tab and throwing it down he sprints to the edge of the penalty area, to try to intercept the fast wind assisted ball.
Running from standing to full pace, he collides with the nippy winger who was just a yard too fast for him. They roll over in a tangle of limbs and groans, bodies locked in a panjandarum of slow motion. Cries ring out across the wind swept park, Ã¢ÂÂfoul! Penalty, Referee !Ã¢ÂÂ The slow motion on the ball is enough to roll it into the empty unguarded net. At last the ref arrives, late, and decides to point to the penalty spot. There is argument and discussion as groups of players offer their own interpretation of the event. Ã¢ÂÂNow shurrup aaall of yousÃ¢ÂÂ the ref intervenes.
From the salubrious village (Glanton) in Northumberland, a small band of pilgrims gathered to take to the road in search of the man whose very songs and lyrics would illuminate our lives .
Ã¢ÂÅ ..Ã¢ÂÂyou hardly ever saw Grandaddy down here, he only came to town about twice a yearÃ¢ÂÂÃ¢ÂÅ Ã¢ÂÅ ..
I was socialised and Ã¢ÂÂbrought upÃ¢ÂÂ in a working-class community in the North-East of England.
The Language I became familiar with was colloquial and I became quickly aware of the difference between formal and informal modes of language and consequently, written and spoken English.
My Mother was always ready to correct our pronunciation in order to protect or promote her brood in the social hierarchy.