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Published: July 12th 2021
The thoughts of the country are turning towards the end of COVID restrictions. TFB has announced that the world can go back near normal on 19 July - whatever that means exactly, He has even caved in with the plan to restrict overseas travel. It is all stations go to head to amber list countries without quarantine on your return. Easyjet, Tui and Jet2 collectively can all breathe a sigh of relief. The welcome, the availability of facilities and the costs involved on these travel options remain somewhat vague, but at least they promise guarantees of sunshine. The lack of available opportunities to holiday in Europe on a budget have provided opportunities for others. The UK seems keen to rediscover the coast and where better than the North East Premier Seaside Resort? The accents are unfamiliar, as I wander along the "bottom" prom. The glowing reports in the Sunday Times have paid dividend. The pursuit of high quality fish and chips might have to wait a bit longer though. The better establishment in town is still closed for an extensive makeover and there was no obvious end in sight, as I walked past. The Cliff Lift doors also remain firmly closed.
The Victorian design forcing passengers to share the same air does not fit well with the new COVID reality and social distancing. The pier is busy. It suffers none of the ventilation issues, although there isn't what you would call a sea breeze today. The amusements should be doing a good trade, but folk see6keener on the open air attractions. Crazy golf anyone?
The weather is best described as changeable, but there is a determination to make the most of it. It is just like the old days. Fun will be had - no matter what! The weekend sees the new chalets pretty much sold out. The visitors seem content to sit in a deck chair and watch the world go by or the tide come in or the raindrops falling. The executive campervan crew have descended. The scene was dominated by the surfing fraternity not long ago, but a battered VW is not the most common sight today. The surfers would be disappointed for a number of consecutive days. The sea was flat calm. There have been more ripples in a washing up bowl.
I have to say none of the above concerned me and certainly there
were no thoughts of venturing abroad. If you look back through my blogs, you will see me wandering with a small four legged friend. The bundle of fun that was Crystal the Norfolk Terrier left us over 4 years ago now. She belonged to the Outlaw, but was my constant companion on our visits. Today, I am introducing the new Norfie in our lives - our Vera. The brown eyed girl. Vera does of course have a posh name too, but that is for the show ring and won't impress any locals in these parts. She is in the North East to meet the Outlaw and get her first taste of the seaside. There is much to see and do - muddy paws down the woods, paddling in the sea, sand dunes to dig in and lots of dog socialising. The NEPSR is dog heaven. Vera remains unfazed by the new experiences and bounds in each day with an unparallelled enthusiasm for the next adventure. This blog is littered with her photographs and I make no apology for the fact that she will feature heavily going forward. If it is a Norfolk Terrier photo you were after, you have come
to the right place!
We start off on our exploration in a relaxing fashion. Vera has not been used to this exercise regime, so we limited our activity to bursts. She has already grasped that there is a good social scene for both dogs and humans at Camfields. The tables are still not back, but new seats have been attached to the wall to allow a sit and a gaze. Crystal could not pass this place - there was always a prospect of a crumb falling from a table in her direction. Vera, as yet uncorrupted by the treat regime, is content to sit and people watch and lap up praise from passing strangers.
The tide is out. Dogs are banned from the central section of the beach between April and September, so we restricted our time on the sand to a short stroll by the Ship Inn. There are mysterious rock pools to explore, a spot of paddling in the sea and seaweed. A whole new world. The Ship Inn has now blocked off the front car park with an old bus and expanded the outside seating. Warning signs highlighted the prospect of those daring to park
in the rear section without being a paying customer in the pub getting clamped.
We walk back up the valley, following the miniature railway line. The volunteers are busy sprucing up the line ready for the school holidays. There is the adjacent grass to cut, points to check and all the rolling stock needs a thorough maintenance overhaul. The moles have been busy excavating. I was taken aback to actually see a mole peek out on to the surface. He threw some mor soil into the air and seemed to take in a breath of fresh sea air. Vera - 5 kilogrammes of pedigree rating dog - sat patiently no more than 2 feet away. Her instincts on this occasion deserted her. The wood pigeons in our garden and the squirrels scampering along the fence line do not escape her attention, but moles it seems are of no interest.
A steady flow of dog walkers and visitors pass us on the way to the Italian Gardens. It turns out a coach tour had dropped a party by Brockley Hall. A daytrip to Redcar and Saltburn from deepest West Yorkshire. The Woodlands Centre beyond the Gardens offered a few
photograph opportunities and we meandered up Rose Walk back to the car. We would repeat our walks over the next few days. The surf never did come up.
I took the opportunity to take Vera on her first football outing. The football season had literally just finished and in some cases - Euro 2020 a year late - it was still ongoing. Football never did eventually come home. For others, the pre- season was in full swing starting now. We had a warm up on Marske beach to start the afternoon. The rain lashed down and spoilt proceedings. I deliberately chose a low key start with no admission charge to test how my new four legged charge would cope. Grangetown Boys Club of the North Riding Football League were entertaining Bishop Auckland from the Northern League. The last time I was there in the middle of COVID, spectators were banned. I stood with about 20 others on the flyover of the Trunk Road wnd watched from there. In theory, this game should have been a stroll for Bish. The former FA Amateur Cup greats fielded a mix of youth and experience, but seemed devoid of ideas going forward. In
the shadows of the old works, a youthful Grangetown team got the only goal to the delight of the majority present. Vera wasn't totally comfortable in the environment. I think there was too much noise - mainly coming from the players shouting instructions to each other. We put it down to experience. Vera will be more at ease next match. Her photograph was uploaded to the Non League Dogs website to mark the occasion.
We will be back in a few weeks, no doubt. As my niece and nephew were fond of saying when they were younger, there's always lots to do at the seaside. Appendix 1 Pre-Season Friendly Grangetown Boys Club FC 1 Bishop Auckland FC 0 Venue:
Grange Farm Road, Grangetown, Middlesbrough. North Yorkshire. TS6 7HP Date:
Saturday 3rd July 2021 @ 1500 Hours Attendance:
Tot: 0.283s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 40; qc: 207; dbt: 0.045s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 2.1mb