Category Archives: 2015 Summer Cruising

Spectacular Alesund

I knew the scenery was going to be spectacular in Norway but the people we’ve met are even more so, beginning Friday morning after our 10:00 p.m. arrival Thursday night at the town quay.

IMG 9799

With a knock on our hull Frank Cormer, Alesund’s OCC Port Captain and member of Alesund Yacht Club, warmly welcomed us to his home town. He provided some excellent information such as how to correctly pronounce where we landed (say Alesund with “A” as an “O”). He then described the lay of the land, which is always a gift when arriving by boat.

He also gave us an important tip regarding flags. Norwegians are extremely proud of their flag. Residents lower the Norwegian flag at 9:00 p.m. every night. This also applies to our USA flag when flying off the stern (our courtesy flag, the flag of whatever country we’re in and which is hoisted mid-ship, isn’t affected, only your country’s flag). Good to know as we’re sensitive to ensuring we abide by a country’s code.

Lastly,  he connected us with Kjetil Poppe, a co-member of Alesund Yacht Club. Kjetil (who also graciously gave us a pronunciation lesson on with how to say his name:  it’s like ‘kettle’ but replace the ‘k’ with ’sch’) not only came by to welcome us but also offered to take us to  the club the next night for the Summer Solstice celebration. It was a BYO-BBQ with a view of what is said to be the largest bonfire in the world:  a pyre of pallets carefully built by hand then set afire. And, when he heard we had a small electric outboard with limited range, he offered to tow us to the club (it’s on their own small island) so we’d have enough juice to return. He laughed when we asked about any issue returning at night. He gently reminded us it’s not going to get truly dark. Oh, right, we’re in Norway! :)

IMG 9835

While on the boat Friday early evening a replica of a Viking merchant ship pulled up behind us. Offering to help with the lines, Max started a conversation with the helmsman, Per. In discovering he had been involved with a BBC documentary on sailing to the Arctic, Max said we knew someone who was on the boat, Dean Plager. Lo and behold, Per knew him well. We took a photo and sent it to Dean saying Per says hi.

IMG 9806

Saturday morning we finished doing typical cruising errands (laundry, groceries, showers, filling water tanks, and tourist information, including booking a day trip to the UNESCO-listed Geiranger fjord on MS LOFOTEN, one of the famous Hurtigrutens) and proceeded to climb the 418 steps to a hotel overlooking the city and harbor. Chris had scoped it out before and agreed with others who had mentioned it was worth every step.

IMG 9840

Saying hi to everyone we passed (my mother said I would talk to a fence post), a fellow climber said ‘are you from the states?’. Well, that began a conversation, which led to our meeting Steve, a fellow traveller hailing from Arizona. He was exploring Scandinavia for the summer while staying in hostels. After inviting him to drop by JUANONA we continued heading to the top where the view, indeed, was lovely. Of course, having warm, sunny weather helped.

IMG 9838

JUANONA is on a pontoon close to the mast you see poking up in the bottom left-hand side.

IMG 9817

And, you can spot the towering pyre in the photo below, and beyond that peninsula is the island of the Alesund Yacht Club .

IMG 9820

Returning to JUANONA later that afternoon we saw a note from Steve who said he’d come by later, which he did; and, we realized, like with Kjetil, we were fortunate to have him aboard. During the conversation we discovered Steve had journeyed to numerous places beginning in his early twenties, He’d even written a book recounting one of his earlier adventures, ALONE IN AFRICA, with a whimsical subtitle:  A WIFE-HUNTING SAFARI. The latter speaks to his deciding to look for Mrs. Right versus waiting for her to find him.

Steve continues to travel on a shoestring yet is extravagant with his generosity, which we discovered the times we were with him.

IMG 9845

Soon it was time for our Summer Solstice evening with Kjetil. And, what a wonderful night that was! He towed us over and introduced us to fellow club members grilling summer fare while looking out at a spectacular vista.

I should mention that Norway takes their boating seriously, and that includes safety measures. We had noticed everyone wearing life vests so we asked Kjetil if it was required. He said yes, and then proceeded to let us borrow one he had just received in appreciation for running the regatta that day. Another example of his generosity. With our life vests on and our dinghy happily trailing behind us, we set off for this gem of a clubhouse.

IMG 9849

IMG 9857

In the clubhouse Max noticed all of the burgees hanging up and asked if they’d like one of OBYC’s. They said better yet, they’d give us one of theirs in exchange, and Kjetil said he’d bring their burgee to JUANONA the next evening on his way home.

IMG 9858

During the grilling we noticed sheep, and Kjetil explained they served as lawn mowers for the island. My type of mowing.

IMG 9863

After dinner the four of us hopped into Kjetil’s boat along with our towed dinghy, which, at this point, was like taking a dog for a walk since Kjetil kindly took us not only to the club, but also back to JUANONA.

We floated amidst the growing number of boats filled with folk like us enjoying the evening sun in anticipation of a big fireball. The three of us felt pretty special sharing the longest day of the year in such an unforgettable situation. I mean, to be in Norway, the land of the midnight sun, watching a huge bonfire with a fellow sailor, well, it was spectacular.

IMG 9875

IMG 9905

IMG 9901

IMG 9918

For our friend John Arndt’s Summer Sailstice we posed with the 2014 flag, last raised in Faja Grande, Azores, with Ricardo (Dick Stevens).

IMG 9885

IMG 9929 1

Not only were there lots of boaters but also a drone capturing the midnight burn.

IMG 9937

It still wasn’t dark when we returned close to midnight.

IMG 9868

IMG 9955

Sunday we had asked Steve and Kjetil for dinner; Kjetil couldn’t join us for dinner but would stop by for drinks and then dinner Monday night. Steve could come Sunday but not Monday. Our social plans were set, and we were thankful we’d be able to have more time with these new-found friends.

But, first it was the Hurtigruten trip up the fjord and back. This ferry service originated in 1893 thanks to Richard With, the one man (the only one) who accepted the government’s offer to establish a regular coastal route. Hurtigruten translates to ‘fast window’ or ‘fast route’, and With proved it was possible with his inaugural journey of 67 hours from Trondheim to Hammerfest, arriving 20 minutes ahead of schedule. Since then, other boats joined under the Hurtigruten banner, becoming the fastest and most reliable transportation to Norway’s most remote parts regardless of the weather.

Since we had decided to head to Norway numerous people had told us of these marvelous ferries (ones I called hurly-gurlies since the correct pronunciation was beyond me); and, we were looking forward to relaxing with someone else at the helm.

We walked to the ferry terminal and then watched as first the bow, then the stern was pulled in for an exchange of passengers. It did look like it listed a bit to starboard, which Max said must be all the folk standing on that side. And, when it docked there was a crowd along the railing. Must admit the debarking and lading of passengers didn’t look too efficient as people crowded to the front but it worked; and, soon we were on our way on a beautiful summer day.

IMG 9962

As we were checking in at reception below deck, we were standing next to a couple whom we discovered were from Seattle. Yes, once again I couldn’t keep quiet (I could feel Max mentally roll his eyes) and did the ‘do you know?’ questions (we know several folk living there now, K and John Robinson and Don Kohlmann). When I mentioned K, she looked a bit stunned. They had been in a painting class together and the woman shared a studio with a good friend of K’s. One more example of six degrees of separation.

Once on deck, the ferry steadily plied the waters as we passed striking green hillsides staggering up to sharp snow-covered pinnacles.

Other ferries, fast ones and otherwise, traversed from one side to the other, connecting small towns along the fjord.

IMG 0091

IMG 0085

We spotted small farms on slanted land and wondered if, at times, the inhabitants just craved a piece of flatness.

IMG 9972

The captain would announce key interest points, two being small towns nestled in coves. Interestingly, one manufactures furniture, such as the stressless chair, which is shipped worldwide, and the other was responsible for most of the pizza consumed in Norway.

IMG 0021

Picture snapping was constant…

IMG 0039

of tumbling waterfalls…

mountain profiles…

IMG 9975

cottages, both traditional and modern…

IMG 0095

IMG 0037

IMG 0083

one another…

IMG 0060

IMG 0078

IMG 0034

the colorful mishmash of passengers…

IMG 0030

of rock graffiti…

IMG 0057

of the end of the fjord…

IMG 0071

and, of Max’s viking underwear, which he purchased at 50% off. Almost, but not quite, a rival to the Ellen underwear we received last Christmas.

IMG 0075

But, his best find was an unlimited mug of coffee for $5. He said if we bought a cup, there were free refills as long as we were on the boat (since this was a boat with cabins for 180, some passengers had booked for the week’s voyage versus our day tripping). I said, sure, I’d love a cup, so off he goes only to return saying it was actually $50. Our financial guru casually had forgotten a crucial zero. Fortunately, the kind woman at the register backed out that transaction.

Lunch was our usual picnic, along with a $5 cup of shared coffee. Traci and Smokey might recognize the bag :)

IMG 9977

It was four hours up and four hours back, with the last bit being buzzed by jet skiers. This form of water recreation had only just been allowed, and three skiers zipped and zoomed by us as they jumped the waves. Every now and then you’d see one check out if any passengers were watching him.

IMG 0103

On the way back to JUANONA we stopped off at one of the hostels to confirm Steve’s arrival for dinner and then headed home. We also found a troll.

IMG 0106

Kjetil stopped by and we documented the exchange of burgees (the AS one is proudly hanging aboard JUANONA until we can place it at OBYC).

IMG 0110

Steve arrived and conversation flowed.

IMG 0113

Kjetil took his leave promising to return for dinner Monday night. A delicious salmon dinner prepared by Chris fed our appetites and the discussion ranging from the benefits of travels to the challenges facing teachers. With the sky still bright, dinner ended and we said our good-byes to Steve asking him to please keep in touch. Like Kjetil he truly felt like a gift.

Another lovely day dawned on Monday. Frank, our kind greeter, came by to see if he could help us with anything, and that included an offer to drive me to their marina to do laundry. Always appreciated! We were okay at this point, although laundry is the bane of my existence when living aboard. There is a public WC which featured a washer, dryer and showers, but the facility was always iffy:  either the washer wasn’t working or, the more recent event, the door to enter (costs over $1 just to get into the facility) was out of order. Can’t say I’m impressed. However, the Tourist Information managed to get the washer fixed within 24 hours when I told them it was broken the first time. That was impressive!

Our itineraries were comprised of a day of just wandering and checking out a museum or two in this lovely town. A major fire January 23 reduced 85% of the dwellings to embers. Unbelievably only one person died but most of the residents were left homeless. Within three years, thanks to their fellow Norwegians, international aid, and Germany’ Kaiser Wilhelm II (he use to vacation here), it was rebuilt in the style of art nouveau.


Kjetil arrived with an excellent bottle of Italian wine, and we learned even more how well-versed this lovely Norwegian is on a broad range of topics. He also provided another Norwegian pronunciation lesson on Hurtigruten.

Another promise was exacted to make sure he stayed in touch for we didn’t want to lose contact with this new-found friend.

On Tuesday we hauled the dinghy aboard, filled the water tanks, and went in search of showers, locating some at the caravan parking lot. By 2:00 p.m. we departed Alesund hoping we will make a return stop when heading back to the UK in August.

We had expected to find spectacular scenery, and we did; yet, it was the gifts of friendship that truly were the most spectacular at Alesund. A definite Ja! for that.

Northward bound: When flapping wings mean RUN!

If you ever have the chance to visit the Farne Islands, do so.

We were planning an overnight to Peterhead with a sail-by of these islands. Yet, an updated weather forecast showing settled winds – good for anchoring in its semi-open roadstead, with better winds for sailing forecast for the following night – altered our plans  so we decided to anchor at these islands where the National Trust monitors a bird sanctuary.

Our approach from the south put us right in front of the cliffs where a bunch of birds nested.

IMG 9383

We ended up anchoring (our first of the year) in the small harbor where one other sailboat shared this small bay along with several excursion boats moored while more arriving.

IMG 9390

Not being totally prepared for the visit, the three of us launched the dinghy but without the electric motor.

Noticing the brisk wind and current, we decided to test our ability (well, Chris and Max’s anyhow :) ) to paddle ashore. Notice the dinghy’s still tethered to the boat during this practice row.

It appeared it was doable, so we untied the painter and headed for the dock only to be told there was a fee to land. So, back out Chris and Max rowed to retrieve money to pay for entrance tickets,


returning as more day trippers arrived while others were leaving.

IMG 9388

As we were walking up, the long line of visitors who came by excursion boats mentioned we better have hats. Hats? Well, Max and Chris had ball caps, and I ended up wrapping my head in a fleece pullover then jamming the visor back on. Functional but definitely not attractive. Must say I couldn’t blame those kids I saw pointing their eyes at me then giggling.

But, boy, we were all very glad we had covered our heads.

The attack of the terns began as soon as we got close to their nests dotting the ground.

These birdies look so calm and dignified when still,

IMG 9411 1

but we quickly discovered their appearances were deceiving.

We had just entered a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s film The Birds. These birds were pecking the heck out of people. My sister Betsy wouldn’t have gotten out of the dinghy as she’s not a huge fan of swooping feathered animals to begin with, and she definitely wouldn’t have liked the scene we walked into.

IMG 9410

Max’s blue color seemed to draw the most attention, and the poor guy probably didn’t unhunch his shoulders until he got back in the dinghy.

IMG 9398 1

At one point he tried to commune with one of these tiny guys…

IMG 9412

only to be dive-bombed soon after…

IMG 9421


IMG 9423

IMG 9429

IMG 9426

IMG 9432

Whatever he said to the wee fella didn’t work, and both Chris and I knew to keep our distance. Yet, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to film these shrieking banshees.

Furthermore, everyone began to get some white streaks somewhere on their person.

Of course, the sign at the top of the walk should have been our first clue.

IMG 9519

At the cliffside nests we ran into a group of school kids, two of them looking a bit stunned by it all.

IMG 9466

IMG 9467

Must say none of us could stop laughing. And, for those who know my sense of humor, such as my brother, know I definitely couldn’t stop laughing.

Next to the paths we saw painted rocks with numbers, which indicated the terns’ eggs.

IMG 9513

If our friend Jayne had been here, we would have gotten the best tour ever. I kept thinking of how much we’d learn.

But, we did meet a wonderful young monitor with whom I posed, head gear and all.

IMG 9471

I had no idea puffins burrowed into the grounds for nesting. We also heard about a puffin party. The event occurrs at night when all the fledglings shuffle out of their nests en masse after three to four weeks nesting, head to the sea, and jump in to begin their pelagic lives. Pretty cool if you could witness this annual event. I guess that would make it worth being splatted in white and head-jabbed.

IMG 9499

IMG 9448

We asked the monitor why the blackheaded gulls were attacking the puffins.

IMG 9498

She said the gulls weren’t trying to harm the puffins and their chicks. The gulls were after the food the puffins were catching.

IMG 9454

Which is why we glimpsed some of these clowny-looking birds huddled in their holes with beaks full of silvery, dangly fish.

IMG 9491

We continued our walk around the island heading back to the quay area.

I loved the colors of the black-and-white birds against the blue sea. They looked like penguins at one point.

IMG 9497

We visited the chapel where we saw a memorial to Grace Darling, the Longstone Light Keeper’s 23-year-old daughter. She helped save some passengers aboard ss Forfarshire, a floundering steamship in 1838 when she and her father rowed to the sinking ship. They managed to save nine of those aboard. A memorial to her with an inscription by the poet Williams Wadsworth stands in the church.

IMG 9536

Farne Islands are also where Cuthbert, that monk/biship/eventual saint lived as a hermit for awhile.

But, the birds were truly the best attraction.

We were able to get some pictures of baby terns huddled by their moms once we braved exiting the church…

IMG 9529

And, again, Max became the main attraction.

IMG 9522

IMG 9523

IMG 9540

Chris did get a sitter on his hat, which led to the idea of selling hats with stuffed birds on them along with a t’shirt stating “this head is already taken.”

IMG 9546

The island was open 1:30 to 5:30, and we ended up being the last ones there.

IMG 9516

On our way down to the dock we met up with the lovely young woman who greeted us when we first landed. Like those working at the English Heritage Centers, the National Trust people were welcoming, informative, and just great to be around. We were wishing we could host them all on JUANONA but realized it’d be a tight fit if all 12 came aboard.

IMG 9551

Back on the boat we proceeded to remove our protective gear only to discover some of us weren’t as protected as they had thought.

IMG 9558

IMG 9559

With that, we got ready for dinner and an early start the next morning for our overnight to Peterhead.

And, as tempting as the evening sun was, none of us ventured out of the cockpit that night…


which my sister would definitely have understood why :)

Northward bound: Scotland road trip

Lands High and Low

Tuesday, June 2, to Saturday, June 5

Since we had another week before Chris arrived, we decided to keep the car and cross the border via roads versus waterways.

The weather was what we now define as typical UK:  clouds, showers, sun, cloud, showers, sun… repeat. But, it certainly didn’t dampen our enthusiasm for heading north. The last time I had visited this country was in 2000, and I wanted to expose Max to the inviting warmth of the Scots living in this giant landscape.

We decided to go without reservations thinking it was still too early to worry about not finding a room, especially since the kids’ school half-term had just finished the previous weekend.

Armed with Rick Steves’ Scotland tour guide we left in the morning and began our drive up, skirting Edinburgh heading towards Inverness. To reach that area we drove through Pitlochry where we stopped to spot any salmon running. Too early for them.

IMG 9019

We then entered the dramatic scenery of Scotland’s lowlands into the highlands and the snow-patched, Cairngorm mountains, the highest landmass in Britain. Most of the time it felt like it was just us and the ubiquitous sheep.

IMG 9040

IMG 9021

IMG 9028

Max saw some deer grazing along the vertical hillsides, and we later discovered it was the one reindeer herd in Scotland.

IMG 9038

Just following the road we ended up passing Balmoral, where we stopped, took some pics of the entrance (and the tour bus to see the grounds)

IMG 9045

and of the church where the royal family worships when in town (August-October or so). The previous church, Crathie Kirk, was where Queen Victoria worshiped for 45 years. Then her daughters, Princesses Louise and Beatrice, organized a two-day bazaar at Balmoral, raising some money to help build a new church, which opened in 1895. Queen Victoria’s beloved John Brown is buried across the road from the church. The royal family continues to worship at the church when at Balmoral with the south transept and porch are reserved for them.

IMG 9049

Soon it was time to check for places to stay and we discovered that it really would have been a good idea to book ahead; yet, we knew we could get rooms within our budget as long as kept asking.

Sure enough on our third time of asking if any rooms, we landed in Dulnain Bridge where we were lucky enough to meet Elle and Malcolm Cooke, owners of Auld Manse. They had just opened their B&B the year before, which meant everything was pristine. Not that it wouldn’t be even after ten years judging by the standards they set.

IMG 9061

I noticed some felt artwork and asked Elle about them. One in particular captured the sensation of being amidst these hills living in a croft (one of the country stone cottages).  Like me some friends Carol W., Kathy W. and Katie P. would appreciate these pieces of art.

IMG 9057

The next morning Malcolm suggested we head for Skye and to make a reservation ahead, which we did.

IMG 9055

After a hearty Scottish breakfast (eggs, bacon, sausage, potato scone, toast, beans, blood sausage, haggis (we opted out of some of the items and I bet you can guess which ones), we took off for the one destination we had agreed on ahead of time:  Culloden Battlefield outside of Inverness. But, we had to take a picture of the squirrel feeders (!) first.

IMG 9062

The non-indiginous gray squirrels have taken over the British red squirrels habitat, so now many people are actually feeding these rodents. The Cookes laughed when we explained to them we trap our red ones in have-a-heart box and release them off island. In short, we do everyting we can to NOT feed them.

The visitors’ center for this 1746 battle was just opened in 2013, and it was one of the more impressive centers for a single battlefield I had been on. The Park-and-Pay sign was in Gaelic as well as English. Similar to Wales, Scotland is ensuring its native tongue doesn’t fade away, so almost all signage we saw is uses both languages.

IMG 9066

Culloden is where Bonnie Prince Charlie (1720-1788), a direct descendent of Mary Queen of Scots, lost his fight to retake the British throne. As one of the Catholic Stuarts, he had been born in Rome, the grandson of King James II/VIII who’d been deposed in 1688 due to his despotism and pro-Catholic stance. This belief in the divine right to rule ran in the family resulting in an unfortunate ending for King Charles I who had his head lopped off by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.

IMG 9086

This April 16, 1746, battle was the last Jacobite uprising (Jacobite comes from the Latin name for ‘James’) with previous ones in 1708, 1715, and 1719 and the last major battle fought on British soil. Placing this war in the context of Scotland vs. England is the romanticized view. A more accurate description is calling this a Civil War between two dynasties:  Stuarts (represented by Prince Charlie) and Hanovers (represented by King George). There were some Red Coats who fought with the Jacobites, and some Scots who fought under the English flag. The reason for the latter is many Scots feared a return to the tyranny of divine rule and Catholicism if a Stuart took the throne. (FYI:  a lot of Scots had converted to Presbyterism, thanks to the rabid preachings of the Scottish John Knox a century earlier.)

I find fascinating the public relations used to further the cause of one side against the other. To incite folk against the Jacobites the English government printed bulletins like the one below depicting an angry mob of Highlanders wrecking havoc among unarmed citizens.

IMG 9069

Prior to walking onto the battlefield, we toured the visitors’ center. The center provided an excellent primer for what took place. Both sides, that of Bonnie Prince Charlie and of the Duke of Cumberland (1721-65), the third and youngest son of King George II, are explained in detail ending with the Jacobites being soundly and finally beaten after winning most of the major battles the year before.

The Jacobites’ military decisions reflected a deep division on exactly how to face the British, who outnumbered them. When Cumberland ended up in Nairn (12 miles from Culloden) after prepping for six weeks in Aberdeen, the Jacobites were undecided how to approach him, or even if they should engage the English right away. Some Clan chiefs wanted to withdraw and then ambush Cumberland’s army in the Highland passes. The Highlanders were expert at hand-to-hand combat, firing their muskets at close range then ferociously charging the enemy screaming and yelling with deadly weapons.

Unfortunately, Charlie and some of his other commanders argued for a stand-and-fight battle. The latter won out, but only to lose big time the next day. Not only were the Jacobites outnumbered, they were also exhausted. The night before the battle Charlie had sent his soldiers out to launch a surprise attack on Cumberland and his troops (the Duke was throwing his own b’day bash that night). The Jacobites never made it because of the slow-going through thick woodland, rain and fog. They retreated, only adding exhaustion to their list of woes. The map below shows the troops leaving for the surprise attack (bottom line) then returning (top lines).

IMG 9077

Even by morning there was an opportunity for the Jacobites to withdraw to Inverness and recoup their strength, but Prince  Charlie refused to listen to his senior commanders, and the Battle at Culloden Moor was fought. The result:  Charlie didn’t only lose his chance at being King. He also lost the Highlanders their way of life.

To ensure the Jacobite cause would not come back to haunt them, the English under Cumberland’s leadership (later he earned the title ‘Butcher’) ruthlessly demolished the Highlanders and their clan system. The victors hunted down over 3,000 who fought for Charlie. Many died in prison while 120 were given trials with the verdict pretty much pre-determined, publicly executed, then put on display as warnings to anyone thinking of rising up.

On display was a 1644 legal text referenced and marked by Lord Balmerino who used it during his trial for treason. He was executed in August 1746.

IMG 9113

Some Jacobites were sold into slavery and transported across the Atlantic, which is how some friends of mine came to be in Maine due being descendants of those sent abroad.

Kilts and tartans were outlawed, Chieftains lost their legal power and clansmen, their weapons.

Bonnie Prince Charlie escaped thanks to Flora MacDonald hiding him. She then dressed him as her maid allowing him to escape to the Isle of Skye. Supposedly he used this compass when on the run.

IMG 9107

On September 20 he finally managed to get on a French ship and hightail it out of Scotland. He continually tried to raise support for his cause but no one took him up on it, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart died in Rome and in obscurity until later revived in a romantic depiction. Flora, for her efforts, was thrown into the Tower of London but was later released and became a cause celebre. A few days later we saw her grave on the Isle of Skye.

The Jacobite cause, however, soon became romanticized thanks to heroic poems and ballads. In the 1780s visitors began touring the Highland areas. Walter Scott’s novel Waverley increased the interest in the Highlands, and he created a grand pageant for the visiting King George IV. And, because this king wore a kilt, the tartans came back into fashion.

Rick Steves theorized that it was due to Charlie losing the war that led to our American revolution. Steves’ ‘what-if’ cogitation is… if the Bonnie Prince won, there wouldn’t have been the Seven Years’ War with France… taxes wouldn’t have been raised… so American colonists probably wouldn’t have felt the need to revolt. Who knows?

Out on the battlefield there’s a croft where a family lived until the early 1900s. An interesting connection to the 1746 battle is from a story relayed by the grandmother. A wounded Jacobite who lost his hand in the battle ran into their house (it wasn’t the one we saw on the battlefield) only to sizzle his stump on the iron pot to staunch the bleeding. Not something I’d need to witness.

IMG 9098

After listening to the audio-guide and reading the center’s displays, we felt like we had stepped back in time. We definitely left there glad we had made it one of our primary goals of the road trip. And, Max said he understood the poignancy of some songs a favorite group, Schooner Fare, has sung over the years, such as “Bonnie Prince Charlie” and “Loch Lomond”. Scotland had entered our hearts and souls.

Before leaving the area we stopped at Balnuaran of Clava, Neolithic burial sites. The rings of stones were once covered with the entrances lining up with a winter solstice setting sun. Not a lot is known about these structures but to walk around and into these chambers once used over 3,000 years ago is worth a visit.

IMG 9124

IMG 9125

IMG 9127

IMG 9130

On our way west we drove along Loch Ness and stopped in at Urquhart Castle to take some photos for our friend Joanne Urquhart. We decided not to do the tour but were glad we got some pictures peering through the buses from the parking lot.

IMG 9141

That night we landed on the west coast just a few miles from the Isle of Skye. Our room in Dornie was comfortable and well-outfitted, just like the Cooke’s Auld Manse. We unpacked then went across the lane to a hopping pub where we met some other travelers:  father-son motorcyclists and a young couple from D.C. (both born in Italy). We also met a few locals, one being the bartender who was originally from Toronto area. No live music but the camaraderie, local beer, and food made up for it.

IMG 9153

And, there was a castle five minutes from our room, The Eilean Donan Castle.

IMG 9148

It’s one of the most photographed castles but it’s really less than 100 years old. Although, the current structure was built on a site where a castle stood until destroyed in battle in 1719. You might recognize it from several movies: Sean Connery’s Highlander (1986) and a 1999 James Bond film (The World Is Not Enough).

The next morning we left for Skye, just 10 miles away and connected by a bridge. It was showery and gray but patches of sunlight filtered through, and we made the most of driving these winding roads. Similar to driving through the Cairngorms, these ‘hills’ were magnificent, making us feel very, very wee indeed.

IMG 9155

IMG 9191

The scenery was awe-inspiring but so were some of the folk we met. We met a touring Aussie couple, both retired now and enjoying a major trip each year. We ended up meeting up at several sites (there’s only one road around, and in many instances only one lane).

We pulled into another overlook next to a guy enjoying his hot chocolate while surveying the Outer Hebrides in the distance (Skye is one of the Inner Hebrides). We got out to peer at the view and met Steve, one of the happiest people you can run into. He had delivered a small container to someone on Skye and was just enjoying the stretch of seascape. He and his wife are from England but had moved to Ireland so she could raise horses and he could focus on buying and selling vintage motorcycles. His outlook on life was so cheerful it was contagious. We found ourselves not really wanting to leave; yet, we wanted to tour the next peninsula over, which meant continuing our circumnavigation of the island.

IMG 9197

Well, we should have stayed with Steve for no more than five miles down the road, after visiting Flora MacDonald’s grave,

IMG 9199

we heard a funny sound. Rolling down my window I noticed it got worse. Sure enough, we had a big ole’ flat tire.

IMG 9204

We were just up the hill from Uig where a gas station was located, so we shot up the sad tire with that white stuff rental cars have in lieu of spares, and limped down to the station. Here we met another friendly person who let us use her phone. After an hour on the phone with Enterprise Car Rental and a roadside service, we finally learned the best option was to head back to Dornie (we got permission from Enterprise to drive on the inflamed tire) and call the roadside service once we reached our room. (The service would have sent out someone from Fort Williams or Inverness, both two-to-three hours away, which seemed stupid considering there were tire shops in two towns right on the island.)

Shortening a long string of frustrating misinformation calls, we discovered we were responsible for getting the tire fixed and could have just gone straight to one of the tire places and had it fixed within an hour. But, this did give us another opportunity to appreciate the hospitality and openess of these islanders.

Our second night at the pub we met up with young Italian couple who invited us to share a table (the place was packed once again with locals and travelers, always a good sign for a pub :).

The next morning we returned to Skye where we met a few more locals (yet, like the woman in Uig, one has also immigrated here from England) and got our tire fixed.

IMG 9208

We then left for Oban, further south along another beautiful road,

IMG 9209

stopping for our picnic lunch

IMG 9211

and to take advantage of some signage close to Oban.

IMG 9216

Again, we lucked out with a small B&B out of town. We ate our picnic dinner and even watched a Bond movie on the TV.

IMG 9217

Saturday morning we decided to head for home but not before retracing our steps a bit to reach a marina on the outskirts of Oban. My Dad, his wife Micki, and my siblings and nephews had some meals there when we were touring the area in 2000. It was nostalgic but not the same, so I was glad to grab a few photos and then head back into the present.


Our last stop in Scotland was Stirling Castle.


This fortress sits above an expanse of countryside with memorials to William Wallace at one site (far in the distance on the left) and Robert the Bruce at another (on the right in the background).


What was more impressive, we found, was the Church of the Holy Rude next door bounded by its cemetery hosting graves as old as 1600s.



This church was where Mary Queen of Scots held her son’s Roman Catholic baptism. Within several months, though, events changed dramatically with Mary leaving her son and fleeing to England after being accused of murdering her second husband, Lord Darling. During this time the religion of choice switched to Protestantism; and, inside we saw the plaque indicating where her 13-month old son, James VI, was crowned by that fiery Presbyterian preacher, John Knox July 29, 1567.


Back in the car and three hours later we arrived home to JUANONA at Amble Marina. Now, prepping for Max’s son Chris who arrives June 9th for a sail up the coast and passage to Norway :)


Northward bound: Iain & Sarah

East Coast from Hartlepool to Amble with some road trips inbetween

Saturday, May 23 to Sunday, May 31

When Iain joined us on our last passage to reach Orr’s Island ending our first Juanona voyage, he said he wanted to buy a boat and go sailing. He was still in school and this was his first blue water sailing. I’m thinking that’s a nice thought but…

Fast forward to today and he’s happily married to Sarah who also loves to sail. After selling the first boat he purchased (a Sabre 28), they bought their second boat in 2011 (a Niagra 35). They live on her (s/v BLUE) during the summer when they can rent out their home to fellow beach goers in Nags Head, NC. Working and saving and enjoying life, they also love to travel; so, when they expressed interest in joining us, we said of course!

They arrived in Newcastle-upon-Tyne late afternoon where we picked them up and returned to Hartlepool. The sun was still strong and bright thanks to being so far north, so we enjoyed some evening time in the cockpit.

IMG 8848

It was quite special having these two young people aboard. Now, if only the weather would cooperate for sailing!

IMG 8882

We had been checking the weather and it seemed the best time to go was mid-week. But, it wasn’t just wind we needed to take into consideration. To enter Amble, our next port of call, we had to arrive 2-3+ hours on other side of high tide thanks to a sill that kept water in the marina. Outside of the marina in the channel it could get as low as 3 feet. Fortunately, we had all the info aboard in charts and books.

IMG 8849

While waiting for weather we used the car to take them to several of our favorite haunts, the first being Whitby where they experienced a crowded Sunday stroll around the priory and down in the cobble-stone town. It was Sarah’s first time in Europe, and Iain’s first time in England, so the humongous ruins of the abbey required some photoshops.

IMG 8852

We headed out along one of the jetty and passed others out enjoying their Bank Holiday weekend.

IMG 8866  1

IMG 8868

I couldn’t resist this pic of a family eating their fish & chips. They’d make a great ad for whomever sold them those take-away meals. We satisfied ourselves with ice cream cones.

IMG 8871

We stopped by the James Cook Museum but only to look around outside.

IMG 8872

We then headed back to Hartlepool for the night where mixologist Max did the honors

IMG 8883

and, I pulled out cheese bits.

IMG 8892

Then, we toasted having them aboard with Juanona glasses they had given us several years ago.

IMG 8893

Monday we left for Hadrian’s Wall, where we all enjoyed just being outside stretching our legs.

IMG 8360

Use to living in a confined space, they quickly fit into JUANONA’s routine, even taking over the nightly duty of dish washing and drying.

IMG 8884

Wednesday was the day we could leave, but it had to be at 4am in order to get out of the lock in Hartlepool. Fortunately, it started getting light at 3:45am; and, the four of us got up, untied from the pontoon and headed just around the corner to the lock. After waiting for the water to fill, we exited motoring slowly as we made our way out to the harbor.

But, all of a sudden we all felt ourselves stopping a bit. Sure enough, JUANONA was hitting the bottom. Max told Iain to unfurl the jib while Sarah and I held our breaths as we untied the fenders and lines in prep for stowing.

We made it past the shallow parts and into the open water. Thank god we left 30 minutes earlier than originally planned. The marina guys had mentioned we might want to do that because the high pressure we were in actually lowers the water below the charted tide levels. If we had left any later, we’d probably have been sitting there for a good while as we waited for the tide to go all the way out and then start back in again. Not a good feeling.

The winds were perfect and lasted beyond the forecasted time. We had a great sail

IMG 8894

arriving at Amble almost three hours ahead of our ETA thanks to the winds maintaining their strength.

The marina people are extremely welcoming, just like in Hartlepool. It’s filled with both pleasure boaters and fisherman, and the camaraderie is immediate.

IMG 8921

We walked around town with Max in search of a boat part, which he found at a candy store.

IMG 8896

Since it had some remaining lollipops in it, the crew obediently began to empty out the container.

IMG 8910IMG 8912

Now, to modify it to ensure the perfect fit.

IMG 8914

And, voila! Janona’s new ice chest…

IMG 8916

As I mentioned, Sarah and Iain are boat people, so they didn’t mind the usual hanging laundry lines used when rain instead of sun appears.

IMG 8917

The next day Iain, Sarah and I walked to Warkworth Castle, just a mile from the marina. It was typical showery-sunny day, and Sarah saw her first castle, which happened to belong to the Percy family, the Earls of Northumbria. This was their second home, the first being the larger Bamburgh Castle where the Kings of Northumbria had held court (we briefly checked that out on our coastal-route drive the next day).

IMG 8899

Friday we headed to Holy Island or Lindisfare where St. Cuthbert (the guy finally buried in Durham Cathedral) landed after being inspired by St. Aidan. To provide some background:  Aidan was an Irish monk who lived on the island of Iona in southwest Scotland. However, this monk’s fame really grew thanks to a young boy. This young man, Oswald, the second son of the Northumbria king Aethelfrith, fled to Iona after his father was killed in battle in 616 c.e. Oswald embraced Christianity; and, when he became king in 633, he established a mission on Lindisfarne under Aidan’s care.

Unlike other monasteries, Lindisfarne was only for men and boys, the reason being women wouldn’t have been able to do Aidan’s type of missionary work (walking the streets and accosting strangers, which is how Aidan knew to convert folk to his religion; at least Aidan recognized the importance of female leadership since he is credited with placing Hilda as the Abbess of Hartlepool and Whitby.). At this point it was the Irish Ionian monks who were spreading the word; so, to ensure the mission wouldn’t die out once they died off, Aidan set about establishing Lindisfarne as a place of learning. He died in 651 at King Oswald’s Bambrugh castle.

While Aidan was busy with the Priory of Lindisfarne another monk, Cuthbert, was gaining a reputation for devotion and sanctity. He became Prior of the Melrose monastery (in southern Scotland) in 664. That same year the Synod of Whitby (held under St. Hilda) settled whether the Celtic Rite or the Roman Rite was right. Turns out the Roman Rite was agreed upon. Cuthbert was then assigned to Lindisfarne to transition that monastery from Celtic to Roman.

This island is also where the famous Lindisfarne Gospels (to define a gospel, for those, like moi, who weren’t sure, it’s the story of Jesus and his faith) was created. Unusually, one monk, the Bishop of Lindisfarne (698-721) Eadfrith, created this beautiful medieval manuscript. Its historical significance is how he blended both the Celtic and Roman churches’ traditions to reflect a growing ‘Englishness’. (It’s now part of the British Library’s revolving display of historic literature.)

Soooo, a long explanation on how these two saints’ lives intertwined and why they are so important to Christians of England.

To reach this holier-than-thou island you had to wait for the tide to clear the causeway, which meant we had lunch (notice pickle jar on car roof :) while waiting for water to drain off the one road on/off this island. No Moses arrived to part it, just Mother Nature.

IMG 8924

IMG 8937

IMG 8931

There were warnings in the car park, too, about watching the tides and not getting caught out.

IMG 8943  1

The island was beautiful with the ruins of the monastery perched on one side of a small harbor overlooked by a castle across the way. (Below, we’re facing the castle.)

IMG 8970

IMG 8949

We walked around the bottom of the castle, built in 1550 during Henry VIII’s time after the dissolution of the monasteries (1536-40).

Around the castle cairns and sheep covered the marshy expanse, and the sun came out in between showers. Opportunities for selfies with sheep occurred as we strolled back to the harbor.

IMG 8955

IMG 8964

In just our brief time spent going to and from the castle, the harbor had started to dry out.

IMG 8971

We also saw a beach of seals basking in the shallow waters as well as a cross on a small island looking towards the mainland.

IMG 8978

IMG 8980

Climbing a hill at the head of the harbor we looked down at the priory. The priory was constructed in the 11th century next to where St. Aidan’s Irish monastery stood.

IMG 8972

We recognized the typical Norman archways and saw a sketch of what these ruins would have looked like way back when.

IMG 8985

IMG 8986

The little museum had some surprising finds, such as how brightly colored some of these stone works would have been. Below are replicas of two, rare Anglo-Saxon stones. These are rare because they named two people, Osgyth and Beannah, who lived and worked at the community when the Lindisfarne Gospels were created. These colors were found through x-ray fluorescence and magnification. So strange to think of these ancient sites in full color when we’re only seeing them way past their heydays in muted beiges and grays.

IMG 8998

We left the island and headed back timing it to ensure we crossed without any water under the car.

Saturday dawned clear and bright with Iain and Sarah taking a long walk, and Max and I hanging out. Sunday we dropped them off at the station to catch the train to Edinburgh.

A short visit but filled with a wonderful time together with our niece and nephew :)


Northward bound: Road trip!

Hadrian’s Wall

Wednesday, May 21

Having made the decision to stay in Hartlepool to await our nephew Iain and wife Sarah’s arrival, we decided to explore a bit further. This time we headed north to the magnificent Roman ruin, Hadrian’s Wall.


Begun in 122 c.e. and built over a six-year or so time period, this stone wall ran 73 miles from the Solway Coast in the west to Wallsend near Newcastle upon Tyne in the east and incorporated 17 forts and 80 milecastles (these were much smaller buildings placed roughly one mile apart housing anywhere from 12 to 30 soldiers).

Emperor Hadrian (76-138 c.e.) built this wall as a defense against the wild and wooly ‘barbarians’ whom he and his predecessors didn’t have any luck taming. So, instead of expanding the Roman Empire, he consolidated it.

IMG 8338

He was quite a guy. When Hadrian’s father died, his father’s cousin Trajan became his guardian. Lucky for Hadrian, Trajan later became emperor (98-117 c.e.), and when he died, Hadrian followed in his footsteps. Although, some say he set himself up better for getting the emperor title by saying he had been adopted by Trajan and his wife. Whatever. It worked, and Hadrian left his governor’s post in Syria to rule the Roman world.


This emperor is considered one of the good ones due to his belief in the philosophy of stoicism. In trying to find a concise definition of this ancient Greek philosophy, I stumbled across one on the Internet that says stoicism is learning to enjoy what you have and not crave what you don’t. I guess taken further this philosophy evolved into enduring pain without showing it. I like the first definition better.

Hadrian, I gather, was a realistic guy who was strongly influenced by the Greeks, hence the stoicism. He was the first emperor to grow a beard, which was a Greek thing to do. He loved building (no surprise there) with one of the most memorable landmarks in Rome, the Pantheon, in existence today thanks to him as well as his villa at Tivoli.

He travelled through his empire extensively (all the places in orange are places he visited) and he came to Britain to inspect his wall in 122.

IMG 8429

Not being a dummy he married his guardian’s great-niece, Vibia Sabina, in 100, yet loved a young male Greek named Antinous. His lover tragically drowned, and they say Hadrian never fully recovered from this loss.


This stone barrier snaking across the top of England offers a wonderful glimpse into the lives of those Romans who built and defended this stretch of the Roman Empire. Knowing we only had one day to do view this structure, we selected three sites to learn about Hadrian’s Wall.

The first was Houseteads Roman Fort, touted as the most complete Roman fort in Britain. It’s also where you can actually see the wall and even walk on part of it.

The fort was a half-mile from the visitor’s center, so we trekked up spotting sheep spotting us as we climbed to the little museum and the fort itself running along part of the wall.

IMG 8324

I must say you have to use your imagination to envision the way it must have been back in Roman times, but the displays both in the little museum and explanations on site were excellent educators.

IMG 8372

IMG 8373

Having explored the fort we went to the wall and slowly travelled a bit with Max perfecting his Roman soldier stance and his one-foot-down-one-leg-up pose.

IMG 8350

IMG 8351

He also checked the stones to ensure they were properly set.

IMG 8361

It was a beautiful day so the stroll both on and beside the wall was spectacular, including a visit from a welcoming puppy eager to share her sheep poo.

IMG 8368

IMG 8354

Peering down one side of the wall we found ourselves once again in awe of the engineering prowess in building something so substantial without the benefit of the mechanical tools and construction aids we have today.

IMG 8355

They would build an envelope of well-placed stones and then fill the middle with rubbled stones and used lime stone to cement it.

IMG 8366

Our next stop six miles away was a twofer:  The Roman Army Museum and Vindolanda. To reach the museum you enter through the remains of a settlement outside the fort, then through the fort itself. What’s really cool about this site is that you can watch archaeologists find items as they continue to excavate this fort.

IMG 8384

We stopped to chat and were there when they pulled out a nail that hadn’t seen the light of day for over 1800 years. We were the first people to hold it since some Roman had used it for construction. The archaeologist who showed it to us said the reason for finding such excellently preserved artifacts was due to the aerobic soil. Since the fort was built atop eight previous ones, tons of items were stuck in the mud keeping them safe and sound until dug up and help by folk such as us.

IMG 8382

Reaching the museum we were in awe of all that had been recovered, from a full set of broken samian ware from the late 80s (they concluded this was the date because the same potters’ stamps appeared on an unopened crate at Pompei (destroyed 79 c.e.)

IMG 8391

to pieces of glassware

IMG 8399

IMG 8400

to leather shoes

IMG 8336

to jewlery

IMG 8398

to the most important of all, writing tablets.

IMG 8407

IMG 8405

It is because of these slim, wooden tablets that we know so much about the actual daily lives of the Romans in Britain. Besides finding descriptions and tallies of the number of soldiers and their assignments, they’ve also discovered tablets relating to every-day life. One of the most famous is a birthday invitation, one of the earliest examples of Latin penned by a woman translated below:

‘Claudia Severa to her Lepidina, greetings. On the third day before the Ides of September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival. Give my greetings to your Cerealis. My Aelius and my little son send their greetings. I shall expect you, sister. Farewell, sister, my dearest soul, as I hope to prosper, and hail.’

To me it’s fascinating to imagine this woman sitting down to ask a friend to join her for a birthday celebration. In spite of the language being both flowery and formal, the warmth of this friendship is apparent. Can’t you see her? I could.

First discovered in 1973, many of these tablets are now housed in the British Museum and listed as one of their top ten treasures. Fortunately, for us, Vindolanda were able to keep some for display.

Another unique find in addition to the writing tablets was the actual fringe you see illustrated on Roman helmets. They came this is the only one to-date found fairly intact.

IMG 8431

Having sated our desire to experience Hadrian’s Wall, we headed for the car and started looking for an inexpensive place to stay while driving these windswept moors.

IMG 8434

After checking out several pub accommodations in small towns along the way, we found one that came with bathroom en-suite, a full English breakfast and a friendly pub-keeper. Pretty wonderful way to spend a night and morning break.

IMG 8437


Thursday, May 22

Next day we headed due south, back to The North Moors National Park where we first travelled through to get to Whitby and Robin Hood’s Bay. Only this time we’d be on the far SW corner at Ducombe Park.

The reason for heading to this park in Helmsley is that it featured the International Centre for Birds of Prey. I had read about this organization in one of the many pamphlets we’d picked up and I was curious to see the flying demonstrations they touted.

IMG 8657

I’d never forgotten one I’d seen in Scotland over 14 years ago. It was a friend’s (Marci’s) birthday, and Joanna, her partner, had arranged an amazing party. My sister Betsy and I went. It was spectacular. And, one of the optional events was seeing the bird man with his birds. So, when I saw I could show Max something similar, I persuaded him to go.

In spite of two roadmaps, an iPad GPS, and our own eyes, and with 2.5 hours to make a 1.5 hour journey, we barely made it to the first showing at 11:30. Thankfully our navigational skills at sea seem to be better than our shore based ones.

IMG 8825

Two trainers alternated flying several different types of birds.

IMG 8608

IMG 8560

The demonstrations were filled with lots of swooping birds but also time spent gazing at the sky or a tree in search of the free-flying object. The trainers were excellent, though, at keeping up an educational patter as we all strained to see a little birdie. Lots of practice, no doubt.

IMG 8807

One of the interesting displays was how they eventually got the birds back to the demo area. The trainer would swing around a line (baited with a meat item since these are birds of prey… one of the trainers said you may not want to look too closely at that end of the rope)…

IMG 8487

the bird would swoop down and catch it…

IMG 8491

the trainer approached very carefully while winding up the rope…

IMG 8496

finally getting close enough to switch out the baited line with another piece of meat…

IMG 8497

resulting in both emcee and actor being content.

IMG 8502

After the first show we toured the facility where these birds of prey are captivity bred for conservation. This northern branch was opened in 2013, and the site is both lovely and engaging. We walked among all the pens (each bird is flown every day) and I snapped photo after photo. Unfortunately, it was through mesh screens for most of them; but, don’t worry–I’ll only post a few!

The profiles were so regal it was as if these birds were used to posing for photographs.

IMG 8692

IMG 8720:

IMG 8769

IMG 8684

And, the owls were wonderful. I mean, look at these faces. The first one below has a wreath of feathers that are amazing in their exactness. The face appears to have been shaved with the underneath part being the tiny white feathers.

IMG 8731

IMG 8734

IMG 8745

The wee burrowing owl (so small it can’t carry the weight of a radio transmitter like the larger birds have, so it gets its own carrying box) was a comedian as the trainer explained how they couldn’t fly that fast so to escape predators they burrowed. He told us they can sometimes share prairie dogs’ homes, and the dogs actually appreciate these little fellows because their whistle will alert everyone to danger; and, if a snake tries to come down, the owl can imitate another snake’s hiss scaring off the approaching menace.



IMG 8653IMG 8652

Of course, there was the comical moment or two.

How could you not love a guy who sees the following…

then does this? :)

We found a spot for good cell coverage and called Eileen,

IMG 8843

then took in one more demo where we saw the largest bird being flown, the Sea Eagle. The trainer said he grew up around here and, when he was little, he pleaded with his parents to take him to see the birds. They did so and he saw a sea eagle. From then on he fell in love with the majesty of birds.

Twenty years later, he’s back and training and flying the son (!) of those same birds he first saw so long ago. Karma.

IMG 8813

What is so exceptionally clear is the devotion these people have for these birds. That emotion came through with every bird they flew.

IMG 8832

Happy to have experienced this intriguing center it was time to return to JUANONA, and so we set off, driving through the beautiful English countryside to Hartlepool.

Soon, Iain and Sarah!

Northward bound: Exploring Hartlepool


Sunday, May, 17, 2015

We had met some racers the night before at Hartlepool Yacht Club who invited us to join them for Sunday’s race. I gracefully declined while Max agreed to crew on BATHSHEBA, Stu and Sue’s boat.

IMG 8285

Located at Hartlepool Headland, it was a good forty-minute walk from the marina, which we were planning on doing anyhow in order to visit St. Hilda’s Church and the statue of Andy Capp (the comic strip’s creator, Reg Smythe, was born here).

We passed the construction of a humongous gas rig platform, a replica of the ones we passed sailing up the coast. Impressive. And, there was another one being built behind it. It is strange to come upon these manmade structures sticking out of the sea’s surface, like the wind turbines that populate these shores.

IMG 8282

While Max raced I walked to St. Hilda’s, a church still in use today. Like most of these larger, more substantial edifices, the current church, constructed at the end of the 1100s, stood where a smaller one had earlier resided.

IMG 8287

Peering into the main part of the church I was spotted by a church-goer who kindly asked if I’d like to come in. Figuring if I hadn’t been hit by lightening by this time, I and everyone one else in the church was safe, I said sure; and, for the first time in decades, I actually sat through a service not related to a wedding, christening, or funeral.

After it was over the woman at the end of my pew struck up a conversation. I told her I had just stopped in to tour the church, and she suggested I ask Tony for a tour. Her eyes widened when she found out my last name for, lo and behold, some Bruces built the church.

Back then, their name was de Brus, coming over from Normandy following the defeat of the last Saxon King, Harold, at the Battle of Hastings 1066. If they’re my ancestors, the de Brus family proceeded to atone, I’m sure, for their many transgressions by constructing some religious buildings.

Max and I later found the Brus’ also helped build Hartlepool; although, never studying any genealogy, my Bruce ties here could be a bunch of hooey. But, we’ll have to check with some friends, Doug and Dale, also with the surname Bruce, who may have better info. Whether or not my ‘Bruce’ came from here, it was fun to consider the possibility.

Tony happened to be the nice man who invited me in to the service. As we slowly walked through St. Hilda’s he showed me a tomb that history says might hold a de Brus (but probably not),

IMG 8288

some graffiti made by crusaders prior to leaving for the Holy Land,

IMG 8292

the typical wooden roof of that time (pre-flying buttresses so couldn’t support stone),

IMG 8290

and the remaining southern doorway from the first Normal construction.

IMG 8293

A christening was being held soon, so I exited the church promising Tony I’d be back with my nephew and his wife (coming the following week) if time permitted.

IMG 8294

Exiting into bright sunshine and stiff winds I started the walk back to the marina, passing by the Andy Capp statue.

IMG 8295

Nearing our pontoon I looked out just in time to catch a glimpse of what could have been BATHSHEBA finishing up her race. A perfect way to spend a sunny day.

IMG 8297

Northward bound: More inland cruising


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One of the towns close by was Durham, the site of another famous cathedral. Discovering it offered evensong everyday except Monday, I wanted to hear it. The first and last time was in Canterbury with my friends Carol and Katie, and it left all three of us in awe. I’m not religious but I do love music; and, now, here was another opportunity to share a similar experience with Max. We discovered we could easily get there via the local bus. So, on a rainy Tuesday we made our way to the bus stop and joined a few other folk taking the local route.

Once there the sun began to peek out as we climbed the winding cobble-stone lane to the top of a hill where both a castle (now a university) and the cathedral perched. The rocky peninsula is surrounded on three sides by the River Wear and overlooks the medieval town. The cathedral sits boldly beside the castle, the latter we couldn’t really enter due to school still being in session (some lucky kids actually get to sleep in a dorm in this castle begun in 1072 under William the Conqueror); but, we were able to enter the cathedral.

IMG 8311IMG 8309

Unlike most of the cathedrals we’ve toured, Durham is free. No photos were allowed so we wandered around following a small pamphlet’s instructions on what’s what.

What I found truly amazing is why I hadn’t heard of this place before considering the folk buried here:  Bede (at least some of his bones) and St. Cuthbert, the guy who figured prominently during St. Hilda’s time. Bede (672-735 c.e.) was enshrined here in 1370; and, St. Cuthbert (634-687 c.e.), the famous monk, bishop, and hermit who helped spread Christianity, ended up here in 995 after his body was moved twice (the first time in 875) to escape Danish plundering. The second time his remains (supposedly) telegraphed that Durham should be his final resting place. I’m sure no politics influenced THAT decision.

Anyhow, St Cuthbert’s tomb became a shrine to which oh so many pilgrimages poured their thanks into the open palms of Durham’s oh so reverent leaders. Nothing like a saint to earn some dough. First a church (998) and, later, a cathedral was built (1081-96) to house this shrine with many additions occurring into the subsequent centuries.

Staring up at the imposing stone walls and stained glass while wandering down the center aisle we ran into John Adams, a volunteer who happily and helpfully provided us with information about his church. I say his church because there have been services held here daily for over 900 years, which even for someone like unchurchy me is impressive.

After an hour or so, we left but not before snapping a pic of the Sanctuary Knocker.

IMG 8319

In the Middle Ages fugitives from justice could seek sanctuary by knocking on the north door (where this knocker, a replica, was, although, it must have been lower or the fugitive brought a ladder because it was pretty high up). The fugitive had 37 days to decide whether to stand trial or put himself/herself into exile. If the latter, they had three days to reach the closest port (Hartlepool) and wait for a ship, any ship. As long as they were in the water (waiting for that ship) they were still considered outside the long arm of the law.

When we asked John why such odd day counts, he smiled and said everything was based on the bible’s 40 days. That rang a slight bell in my head, enough for me to say “Ahh”.

We finished our tour and exited to walk around until 5:15, when evensong was occurring.

The town was small, filled with students as well as some other tourists, and we just strolled around enjoying the ambiance and the not-too cold temps.

IMG 8312IMG 8313

At 5:00p we were back at the cathedral and sat with twenty or so other listeners as the service began. The voices were angelic with a range of ages participating, from little girls to older men. The sound was lovely. To be able to witness such an event knowing something akin to it had occurred over 900 years earlier was a bit like time traveling; and, both Max and I soaked it up as the notes literally soared to the sky. All in all a nice way to spend a Tuesday.

IMG 8308

Northward bound: Exploring inland


Saturday, May 16, 2015

After two days along the coast we headed inland to the historic city of York. Only an hour away by train, this Yorkshire town built in 71 C.E. was originally called Eboracum and served as Rome’s capital of the northern province. It maintained its prominence after the Romans left, renamed Eoforwic under the Saxons. Danish names for streets show the influence of the Vikings who settled here beginning 867 C.E. and the city continued to thrive as one of Europe’s trading centers. York became even more prominent, becoming England’s second city between 1100 and 1500. When we mentioned York as a place we were considering visiting, locals enthusiastically agreed.

IMG 8195

We can’t say enough about the friendliness of these folk! Everyone we’ve met goes out of their way to make us feel welcome, beginning with the marina folk here at Hartlepool. And, it’s not just in Hartlepool. On the streets in York a man stopped to ask if we needed help (we were trying to locate something on a map). He then went out of his way to ensure we were headed in the right direction.

So, on this Saturday morning we joined the throng of merry travelers including those continuing onto London two hours past our stop in York. It was packed, which meant making space on the floor since most seats were reserved. Armed with crosswords and sudoku, we easily passed time and within an hour were gliding into York.

Leaving the station we walked towards the river, following the ancient wall. And, found a mother goose and her ducklings alongside the river bank.

IMG 8192

IMG 8194

Our initial stop was the largest landmark in this ancient city, York Minster, towering over the narrow streets clustered around it, like a big hen and its brood. ‘Minster’ means a missionary teaching church, and York Minster is the largest medieval Gothic cathedral north of the Alps. Similar to other large cathedral sites we’ve visited, this cathedral is located where once a smaller, wooden church stood. Matter-of-fact, King Edwin of Northumbria was baptized here in 627 C.E., which means so was his grand-niece Hilda, that abbess mentioned earlier. 

IMG 8227

We entered the cathedral just in time to catch the beginning of an hour tour. The guide was informative without being overly so and we proceeded to learn about this awe-inspiring building begun in 1220 and completed 250 years later (lots of add-ons and renovations, not the least being a major fund-raiser to clean and restore some of the 128 stained glass windows).

IMG 8207

IMG 8209

As we walked down one side and up the other, our guide pointed out old family shields hanging on the walls. These indicated who paid for those particular windows. Some windows also featured the donor with one set actually including a whole panel of the entire family. Nothing like cash to get you into heaven. Or, the good graces of powerful church figures.

The shields also helped identify the archbishops, such as this one on a tomb.

IMG 8218

Our guide mentioned that the shields identifying who was who and the stained glass windows depicting biblical scenes were easy ways to inform a mainly illiterate public.

One of the unusual features was the Chapter House located behind the alter.

IMG 8212

This room had excellent acoustics with each stone seat along the walls placed in its own alcove. Stone carvings ran above the seats, and, with so many faces needed to decorate such a room, most of the designs were left to the discretion of the carvers themselves, resulting in some quite startling expressions.

IMG 8214

On one side of the choir stood a 15th-century stone screen. Statues of the kings of England were featured, beginning with William the Conqueror and ending with Henry VI. The latter was the pious king of the mid-1400s who built the King’s Chapel in Cambridge,  which we visited with Hugo back in April.

IMG 8219

The last point of interest was a board listing all of the archbishops, including Thomas Wosley from Ipswich and who helped Henry VIII split from Catholicism.

IMG 8202

Outside we were once again reminded of this city’s antiquity when we saw a Roman column

IMG 8230

IMG 8226

the statue of Constantine whose coronation was held here in 306 C.E.

IMG 8228

This town is loaded with kingly presence. Richard III, the last Plantagenet King, spent most of his youth at Middleham Castle north of York. He only ruled for two years, being defeated by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth. He had a soft spot for York, and the city milked it for what it was worth. No different from savvy politicians and their donors of today’s world.

You may remember hearing about this infamous (he’s the one who’s accused of murdering his two nephews in order to grab the crown for himself) king in the news this past March. His bones were recently re-interred after being found in a Leicester car park. Some say he wanted to be buried in York, but, Leicester was chosen because (a) he left no actual written will stipulating York as his desired burial place, (b) bodies are generally reburied where they were originally found, and (c) the Battle of Bosworth occurred close to Leicester. Also, as a gentleman told us who helped us with directions, a local leader has ties to Leicester, which easily could have influenced her vote on where to put Richard’s old bones.

There was a museum dedicated to Richard III housed in one of the original, medieval city gates, Monk Bar. We didn’t go to the museum but did climb to see the murder holes (where they dropped nasty stuff on anyone stupid enough to try to enter blindly) and the portcullis that still works (but wasn’t demonstrated).

IMG 8232

IMG 8238

We peeked into a tranquil sanctuary, the Church of Holy Trinity. The guide who happened to be from Seattle (her father’s English, which is how she ended up here) walked us down to the original part of the church, which is roughly two feet below the current site) and pointed out some original Norman walls (marked by these chevrons).

IMG 8246

IMG 8245

While wandering along these old streets we took in the end of a busker’s show (with quite an original name) eating are lunch brought from JUANONA.

IMG 8255

IMG 8253

The crooked streets were filled with crooked houses, some more so than others.

IMG 8259IMG 8248

We walked to another medieval site, Clifford Tower. Located on a mound where William the Conqueror built his wooden castle (although he didn’t use it much), the tower was built by Henry III 100 years later.

IMG 8260

Max pointed out how far we’d sailed to-date on an English Heritage promo poster (we joined thanks to some cruisers who told us about this organization),

IMG 8263

then we climbed to the top and tried to get a good pic of the tower model only to have an (American) kid constantly insert himself, which the mother only thought was adorable.

IMG 8265

A good view from the top where I, with my fear of heights, kept a tight hold on the inner fencing.

IMG 8270

Saw the medieval red devil notes on Stonegate Street, built over a Roman road,

IMG 8271

and continued to check out the Yorkshire Museum located in another green oasis, St. Mary’s Abbey, founded in 1086. Thanks to York’s wool trade along with royal and papal privileges this Benedictine abbey was one of the richest in Britain. We just perused the museum shop (we find that’s a good way to suss out whether we’re up for another cultural bit) with Max finding the perfect card for JUANONA (and him!).

IMG 8272

IMG 8276

By then it was time to catch the train home as we enjoyed the afternoon sun, crossing the old city walls and back to the bridge we first crossed heading to York Minster.

IMG 8274

On the ride home looking out the window we passed the 19th-century white horse carved into the sides of Sutton Bank in the North York Moors. Reading later I discovered William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy also visited these North York Moors in 1802. If the horse had been there then, we may be reading a poem today, only, I’m sure it’d be galloping through a host of golden daffodils.

White horse

Northward bound: Exploring northward


Thursday, May 14, 2015

We headed north this time, towards Newcastle where our nephew and his wife would be flying into for a visit. This city known for its shipping of coal has a reputation for night life and all that goes with it: clubs, music, events, and restaurants. It also features several marinas, one of which we were checking out along with other ports of call further north.

It was blustery and chilly but we enjoyed walking the streets of Tynemouth after visiting Tynemouth’s headland with yet another priory and castle. This one had the typical convoluted history (to me) as other old and crumbling ruins:  began as a smaller building in 600s; later sacked by the Danes in 800s (St. Hilda’s nuns who went there to be safe found themselves massacred at one of these attacks); rebuilt during Norman times (1000-1300s), and, later the monastic buildings were dismantled during Henry VIII’s dissolution of the Catholic Church’s holdings 1536-40.

IMG 8166

But, the castle and Prior’s house were saved. The castle ended up being the birthplace of the 9th Earl of Northumbria, Henry Percy in 1854, and there’s a beautiful chapel still on the grounds.  This 9th Earl Percy was the grandson of the 6th who was originally betrothed to Anne Boleyn prior to her becoming Henry VIII’s second wife. If only she had known where her future was headed….

IMG 8168

This priory was also on a headland similar to Whitby. The reason for the prominent placement of these priories is they weren’t serving as retreats from the world but as missions to spread the word of Christianity. Therefore, it made perfect sense to site these grand behemoths in actively trading ports found where river mouths ran into the sea.

This particular site remained in use as a garrison for British troops but then, like most of these magnificent ruins, evolved eventually into an English Heritage site for people like us to troop around while trying to imagine what it was like way back when.

IMG 8174

Walking down the streets running parallel to the river Max spotted some people-watchers

IMG 8176

who were sitting above a spot where a famous musician ate some fish and chips.

IMG 8177

Getting back in the car we headed for one of Newcastle marina’s when we saw some boats sailing in this brisk wind.

 IMG 8182

We hopped out and met up with the sailors with one captain letting Max try his hand.

IMG 8185

This sailing club has been in existence for more than 100 years, and these guys are part of a group who meet Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 11:00 a.m. to race. A nice way to enjoy the simple pleasures of sailing.

IMG 8184

The rest of the day entailed driving to and checking out marinas in Newcastle (a bit out of town if using the one close to the river mouth), Blythe (small and very industrial), and Amble (extremely friendly with access 2hrs-45 mins to 3hrs-45 mins either side of high tide depending on whether spring or neap tide). By the end of the day we were ready to head home happy to be returning to Hartlepool.

Northward bound: Exploring southward


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Just as we sussed out one famous sailor’s ties to the East Coast of England, we did so again with another in mind, Captain James Cook (1728 – 1774). When Max mentioned that Cook lived in Whitby, just south of Hartlepool, I immediately envisioned a young man looking out to sea in a town on the blustery east coast of England. Why this image came to mind was due to a wonderful book my brother Cam gave me some years ago, THE? BLUE PLANET. And, more recently, I devoured another excellent book, THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS, featuring a main character whose fortune was tied to Joseph Banks, the gentleman scientist aboard Cook’s first voyage on the ENDEAVOR.

But, it’s not only James Cook’s fame which attracts visitors. The ruins of the hauntingly beautiful Whitby Abbey are just across the River Esk, reached by walking through the cobblestone streets and climbing 199 steps to this medieval structure. And, if that’s not enough, Whitby is located on the ‘Dinosaur Coast’ where fossils from the Jurassic and Cretaceous eras have been found.

We didn’t look for petrified creatures but were interested in the James Cook Museum and Whitby Abbey, so off we drove with the added benefit of seeing the spectacular North York Moors National Park.

At the suggestion of the Tourist Information in Hartlepool we opted for the park-and-ride feature, which removed any concerns about finding a parking space. Arriving in the middle of town we hopped off the bus and asked directions to the Cook Museum.

In spite of it not being a holiday and being mid-week, the warm(er) weather brought out more than us strolling around this historic town. Of course, there are the obligatory boat photos,

IMG 8045

IMG 8047

and the backdrop of the harbor, crab pots, and Abbey along with my favorite subject.

IMG 8044

Across the river we located the old stone house belonging to a prominent merchant, John Walker, where James Cook lived for nine years.

What was coincidence was our spotting a sailboat exiting the harbor just as we were entering the museum. Max looked more closely as the boat motored closer and exclaimed we knew them! Sure enough, they were a couple we had met in Lowestoft on their boat the OYSTER CATCHER who were circumnavigating the British Isles this summer. I whistled and we waved, and, just as surprisingly, they recognized us. Before they passed by we exchanged hoped-for destinations and then wished them good sailing towards their next port.

IMG 8050

With that, we left the 21st century and stepped back into the 18th.

Immediately we were immersed in the world of James Cook.

IMG 8059

Choosing Whitby for his schooling in learning the ways of the sea wasn’t just happenstance. This town had gained a well-deserved reputation for teaching the art of sailing. Not only was navigation part of the schools’ curriculum, but also the wild and wooly North Sea was an excellent training ground.

Additionally, Whitby seamen were treated fairly and were well-fed. This most likely evolved from the tradition of merchants taking on one anothers’ sons as apprentices. This practice encouraged better treatment than the normal apprenticeship associated with living one’s life at sea. And, Cook was fortunate to find himself in the care of Captain John Walker. A devout Quake and respected merchant, Walker came from a long line of shipowners. Under him Cook served as apprentice, seaman, and master’s mate from age 17 to 26. Although he decided to leave Walker’s employment in 1755 to join the British Navy, correspondence shows the teacher/employer and pupil/employee had became friends.

Just a note on navigation, Cook was one of the first explorers who could actually plot where he was and where he was going. This was due to his having on his second and third voyage the benefit of the chronometer, a timepiece. This invention by John Harrison meant the longitude coordinate [the distance from Greenwich MeanTime (0º] could accurately be recorded.

The museum is small yet houses quite a few documents, models, and illustrations covering Cook’s time in Whitby and his global explorations. One of the earliest records of Cook’s association with Walker is a 1747  ‘Muster Roll’ of one of Walker’s ships, the FREELOVE. The document was found in 1980 under the roof of Whitby’s Seaman’s Hospital. (His name is the third up from the bottom on the left-hand side.)

IMG 8057

Others associated with Cook were also on display, one being the gentleman naturalist Sir Joseph Banks. Banks was the scientist who joined Cook on the first voyage (1768-71) sailing on the ENDEAVOR. Remembering some controversy from the book I mentioned earlier, an excerpt from a 1772 letter painted this wealthy gentleman as a bit too heavy-handed in his demands. He was suppose to accompany Cook on his second voyage (1772-75) aboard the RESOLUTION; and, he altered the ship to accommodate a much larger party. These adjustments made the boat unseaworthy and had to be removed.

Banks was so upset he threatened to make his displeasure public, which would have created bad PR for the voyage. Fortunately, he didn’t but, needless to say, Banks didn’t join Cook on the second voyage and his third and last one (1776-80).

However, the naturalist Banks was given credit for his contribution to science and his assistance in ensuring the safety and comfort of Omai, a young Ra’iatean from the Pacific Islands, who became joined Cook’s expedition. In 1773 returned to England on and later sailed back to his homeland arriving safely in 1776.

IMG 8052

IMG 8053

In 1762 Cook married Elizabeth Batts (1741-1835). During this time Cook was surveying the coast of Newfoundland, and, for the next few years he’d sail across in spring to continue his work then return to England in the late fall. As Max said just these journeys alone show how hardy those sailors were for typically we’d only think to sail those waters during the summer.

IMG 8065

They had six children but only three survived childhood; and of those, two died while in the Navy and one at Cambridge University of a fever. She tragically outlived all of them, eventually moving to Clapham where her cousin Isaac Smith lived.

IMG 8060

The museum followed Cook’s career, which was portrayed partly through the illustrations of those aboard, including one of Sulpher Island now known as Iwo Jima.

IMG 8081

What is really amazing are the detailed drawings created by the naturalists. Through their eyes and paints it was easy to understand just how significant Cook’s expeditions were for botany as well as portraits of the people inhabiting these foreign lands.

Below are brief bios of these artists who, themselves, were adventurers as well as one of their exquisite drawings.

IMG 8082

IMG 8083

My photo doesn’t do the best job of showing Cook’s three voyages but at least you get an idea of the extent of his travel. He even tried to do the Northwest Passage, a route that today has become much more doable because of climate change resulting in less ice blocking the way.

IMG 8073

Accounts of these explorations were popular and a way to earn income from those reporting. One of those aboard, a Mr. Forster who was appointed as a naturalist on the second voyage, submitted his account.

IMG 8069

Yet, Lord Sandwich, First Lord of the Admiralty and a patron and friend of Cook’s, refuted Forster’s account and refused to sanction its printing. Forster continued to write angry letters to Sandwich but his account was never officially received.

Cook’s final voyage ended with his being killed and dismembered on the shores of Hawaii February 14, 1774. The story goes he was trying to recover a boat taken by the Hawaiians. A chief was killed by a Brit, and then upon landing, a skirmish entailed, more shots were fired, and Cook was struck by a club and repeatedly stabbed.

In trying to recover the body, the now-Captain Clerke (who later died during the voyage) learned from friendly Hawaiian priests that Cook’s body had been treated like that of a high chief. In other words, his body was cut into pieces and flesh stripped from the bones, the latter believed to convey the spiritual power of the deceased.

IMG 8076

One of the surprising displays was that of Captain Bligh (1754-1817) and his wife, Elizabeth (1753-1812). He served as Master on the RESOLUTION during Cook’s third voyage prior to captaining the BOUNTY in 1787 (suggested by none other than Sir Banks). Although known for an ‘uncertain temper’, Bligh had a much better reputation than that depicted by Humphrey Bogart in the cinematic version of that mutiny by Christian Fletcher.

IMG 8085

After climbing to the attic where Cook had lived with the other apprentices, we descended to the final display, that of food (something always near and dear to my heart, yet not so much here). We learned what the typical daily rations were…

IMG 8089

and, why we call something a square meal (meals were served on a square tray):

IMG 8088

Before I leave our museum visit I would be remiss in not congratulating Cook on his prevention of scurvy. Unlike many ships before and after his voyages, none of his crew died of that dreaded disease. This was due to Cook’s willingness to experiment with a variety of diets and enforcing cleanliness. In spite of no foregone conclusions on what worked best, Cook received a medal for preserving the health of his crew.

We left the museum with our head full of the New World explorations only to now go back further in time to the 600s.

Whitby Abbey stands on a bluff looking out to the North Sea. The abbey must have been an imposing sight when seen in a distance. It is now and that’s with only some huge stone walls and large windows outlining the sky. Imagining how this would look at night, it’s no wonder Bram Stoker used this for his tale of Dracula.

IMG 8092

IMG 8111

IMG 8103

IMG 8098

The site was the place of a Christian community led by a famous abbess Hilda in the 600s. The Venerable Bede, the same monk who wrote about Redwald of Sutton Hoo, described her as exemplary. She was of noble birth (the grand-niece of King Edwin, King of Northumbria) and was abbess of the double monastery in Hartlepool prior to moving to this more prominent abbey in Whitby.

During these times it wasn’t unusual to have double monasteries, meaning both women and men sharing the same religious center. But, what I find really interesting is that it was common for these monasteries to be run by women, not men. Yet, in a book I’m reading about medieval women, historians, including Bede, say women were possibly more likely to adopt Christianity than men. The reason presented is that men couldn’t afford to show a softer side, one that forgave enemies and championed peace over going to war and acquiring more earthly riches. Therefore, women naturally took a larger role in spreading the word of Christ and converting kinfolk to this new world religion.

It’s not to say, though, that men still didn’t perceive women as second-class. All one has to do is read about the early Anglo-Saxon laws where the worth of a person is strictly laid out in terms of compensation for crimes committed. Here, it’s quite clear the value of a female was less than that of a male. Yet, it’s still refreshing to see some women, at least, obtain status and power during these Dark Ages; and, Hilda definitely left her mark since it’s said the future of Christianity in England was determined at a synod held here in 664 C.E.

In the 7th and 8th centuries this headland featured a much smaller church. The ruins of today are remnants of construction dating after the Norman invasion in 1066. Like most religious bodies, the abbey became quite wealthy. In addition to being a religion, Christianity was also a business, and pilgrims trekking to this site were charged for anything and everything to do with paying homage to Christ and any saint’s bones languishing in a tomb.

One of the biggest changes was during Henry VIII’s dissolution (looting) of the Catholic monasteries and churches 1536-40,*  and Whitby didn’t escape either. Chums of the king, the Cholmleys, took over the land and built a large manor right next to the cathedral. Today the visitor’s Center is located in this solid stone house. We picked up our audio guides, stuck them to our ears and proceeded to wander around with the other tourists.

* To fund his lifestyle, Henry needed a good source of income; and, the Catholic monasteries was the fatted calf with income four times that of the crown and real estate comprising one-sixth of all of England.

IMG 8117

Next door to the ruins and the manor house is St. Mary’s Church, a small building

IMG 8130

IMG 8134with boxed pews,

a pulpit with ear trumpets (evidently used by the preacher’s wife),

IMG 8139

and ancient relics recovered on the grounds.

IMG 8141

From here we descended the 199 steps to the town’s narrow, cobbled streets

IMG 8143

and looked for lunch across the river while checking out the sights.

IMG 8146

IMG 8144

IMG 8147

We decided on some sausages and chips advertised for £3.10. We sat down to order and noticed the menu now said £6. Realizing we had seen the take-away price, which is always less than the sit-down one, we decided to order take-away and wait outside.

IMG 8151

We then decided to catch a local bus to Robin Hood’s Bay just five miles south of here. Once again we were a bit startled at the price (£14) so we backed out of there, too, and grabbed the park-and-ride bus to our car and drove there :)

This tiny coastal town is situated at the end of the Coast to Coast Walk, which is why we saw so many folk outfitted in hiking gear with walking sticks.

IMG 8157

We arrived two hours prior to low tide, so you can imagine the extent of the shore when it’s dead low.

IMG 8155

IMG 8156

Walking back up the hill to the car park (due to hardly any turn-around space the advice is to walk down the steep hill and back up) we passed plenty of little homes for holiday rental, many with appropriate signs such as this one:

IMG 8158

It was a beautiful day and I snapped photos of a manhole cover for Ellen

IMG 8161

and spring flowers,

IMG 8160

recognizing some as ones my sister really likes (I just can’t remember the name).

IMG 8164

Reaching the top we gazed once more at the bay then retraced our way through the moors to our new port of call, Hartlepool.

IMG 8165