It's not so grim up North!


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May 9th 2010
Published: May 13th 2010
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"It's grim up North", or at least that's what we often say! Actually, when the weather is good, it's far from grim up North.

We drove up the A1 and stopped off to see the "Angel of the North" statue just before Gateshead. It is something we had seen on TV but you don't really get a sense of just how big it is until you see it in real life! It is MASSIVE!! Afterwards we didn't find our way back onto the A1. Maybe we missed a signpost or something but before we knew it we were in the centre of Gateshead! On reaching the River Tyne, we just turned left and made our way towards the A1 again. Not to be recommended if you don't like busy traffic.

Eventually we got to Hexham where we stayed with Russ' cousin and her family. It was our first encounter with baby Albert and he was a real cutie. We had a lovely walk around the town in the afternoon and visited the abbey. Inside there were a few grim and grizzly things to see but the huge organ is what really stands out. The town itself is a lovely compact market town and the air was refreshingly clean.

The following day we said our goodbyes and drove through beautiful countryside to the site of Hadrian's Wall. It's hard to imagine now that the wall was built to keep the marauding Scots out of England so we guess it was a bit higher back then! We had a bit of "excitement" there too as we interrupted some thieves breaking into a car. It wasn't enough to stop them breaking the window and taking some things from the back seat but we like to think we prevented a total disaster for the owners. We tracked them down a short way from where we parked and acted as witnesses for the police when they called us later.

Heading further North we stopped for a picnic on the Scottish border. It was the first time either of us had crossed the border in a car. It was disappointing to see that whilst Scotland have a huge "Welcome" sign, England simply has a small inscription on a rock which you would miss if you blinked. Is it wrong to be proud to be English???!

Our next stop was the town of Jedburgh. We only made a brief stop but it was enough to wander around and see the huge ruined abbey. It looks a lovely place and we have vowed to return and explore further in the future. The main reason for our short sojourn into Scotland was to visit friends in Hume, near Kelso. They live very close to the small ruined castle which is free to visit and affords wonderful views over the countryside. We ended up staying the night which wasn't part of the original plan but a good impromptu decision!

Less than an hour away the next day we crossed back into England and visited Russ' brother, Jon, and his family in Berwick. In the afternoon we left Sarah with newborn niece Chloe and went with Jon and Bryony into Berwick. There we walked around the walls and fortifications and learned a little about the long history of the town, it's ongoing war with Russia (the town was never included in the treaty because of some quirk in the wording!), saw the LS Lowry trail and walked beneath the various bridges over the River Tweed. It was a really nice afternoon.

The next day we travelled along the Northumbria coast to the island of Lindisfarne. Unfortunately the tides were against us and we didn't have much time before the causeway was cut off by the incoming waters. Instead we had a very brief look around and headed further down the coast to Banburgh. There we walked all around the castle (pictured in the panorama above) and along the beach. We stopped off in the village and munched through some deliciously fresh and warm sausage rolls. Then we continued down to Alnwick to see the castle where Harry Potter played quidditch! There were only muggles around so we sat and ate our lunch admiring the view and watching the guinea fowl play among the daffodils.

Back in Berwick we said our goodbyes but got stuck in traffic around Newcastle and, feeling weary, decided to stop off in Durham on our way back to Grimsby. It was somewhere neither of us had been before so, not knowing any better, we found a cheap room in a central pub. It turned out to be on the route the students took between the city centre and their accommodation in a steady stream until 2.30am!! The next day we had a pleasant stroll up to the Cathedral where we paid our respects to the Venerable Bede. It was an amazing place to explore, and free to go in, although extras are charged for many bits and pieces like going up the tower. The nearby castle was only open if you were prepared to pay for a guided tour. It is in use as student accommodation today.

When we got back to Grimsby it was another short stay before heading down to Sleaford for yet more socialising. Then we had more socialising to do in Grimsby and we also got to see what turned out to be Grimsby Town's last home game as a Football League team. Their demise is a sad one.

The end of our UK trip saw us on the South Coast. First we stayed with another of Russ' cousins, this time in Hailsham. We arrived a bit early and had a nice stroll along the seafront in Eastbourne. Brighton, well Hove actually, was our venue for the rest of the weekend and we met up with our group of global Seagulls friends who had flown in from Canada, Malaysia and Singapore to watch a meaningless end of season game. It was a fantastic social occasion once again and, as this was our 10th annual gathering, we had special polo shirts made for the occasion. The game wasn't particularly exciting but we won 1-0 and saw the youngest ever Brighton player take to the pitch at just 16 years and 13 days old!

After a very hectic couple of nights with our friends it was time to check out of the hotel and check out of the UK again. Next stop, Chicago!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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13th May 2010

Loving it Up North!
I love it up there! Looking forward to seeing Northumberland in the summer! Happy travels! Dawn

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