Saturday, 31 October 2009

Henry's Naming Ceremony

Fortunately we allowed just enough time for our journey from Hexham to York this morning, the traffic on the A1 was dreadful, about 20 miles of the road is being rebuilt.

We arrived at the venue to find this one and only instruction, somewhere in this wood, the ceremony was being held!  Ten or fifteen minutes later we found the site, in the dappled shade of an old beech tree. Beautiful!

As you can see, there was a small circle (literally) of family and friends surrounding little Henry and his older sister who were sitting on a make-shift alter.

In this picture you see the parents making a vow to Henry, after which we all made an offering by way of a small flower and our public or private blessing to him.

All said, I think that this was the nicest and most sincere 'Naming/Christening' ceremony I have been to.  Thanks to Lucy and Ian for the invitation, we will never forget this wonderful day.

Oh yes.  And Granny looked happy too!!

Friday, 30 October 2009

An Apple a Day (would be very expensive!)

Frustrating problems with our various laptops led to the purchase of an iMac.

There now follows a short interlude for the absorption of pain in the wallet!

Off to York in the morning to attend a friend's "Pagan" naming ceremony.

Now that should be interesting.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Back Home

I arrived back home in Northumberland in the early hours this morning and I am too weary for pictures today.

Perhaps tommorrow?

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Last Look at Stommeln

After saying goodbye to No1 I had some time to fill before leaving later.  Finish the book I was reading, The Ghost´ by Robert Harris, the first book I have been able to concentrate on in two years of illness, and ´Ésprit de Corps´ by Laurence Durrell.

Lunch and a final walk round the village.

Staying in this clean,tidy and peaceful village, it is easy to forget that it sits in one of the largest industrial and commercial regions in Europe.  When I turned to my left here....

I could see this, one of four huge power plants in the 20/25 km panorama.

The local Mayor even provided a pair of benches at the little crossroads so that we weary travellers could sit and admire!
Still, Stommeln is a very pleasant little village....

Oh, I and not looking forward to the drive from Leeds to Newcastle,  It will be midnight when I get home.....

Off to work

This evening I have to go back to the UK, and I few minutes ago I said goodbye to No1 daughter and Fredi who are starting work at lunchtime.  This was also the first time that they have gone together on their bikes but No1, who hates cycling, looked so happy as I watched them head off down the road. They won´t be home again until 7 or 8 tonight by which time I will be in Dusseledorf waiting for my flight, so as I watched No1 go down the road, I was also very sad to be leaving her.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Köln Again (Naturaly!)

It has been a nice day here today, Sadly Fredi had to work (a 24 hour shift!). Tell me again No1, why do you want to be a Vet?
We went back to Köln as we had a mission!
Just as you enter The Hautbannhoff, there is this mural painted on the wall of a hotel.  As you can see, Batman and Robin are protecting Gotham City!

Outside the Dom today there was an Angel, Charlie Chaplin, a Centurion and a King!  The Angel was the best.

The object of today´s mission was the Lindt Chocolate Museum, A suprise choice by No1!

Inside was the biggest Chocolate Fountain I have ever seen and No1 had to be physicaly restrained!

Lunch outdoors in one of the many squares,  at the end of October, wonderfull!  Then a little window shopping and back to the Dom and the station and the train home.  This vast face of the Dom represents about two thirds of it´s overall height.  I have tried several times to get a picture of the whole building, but it is just too vast for my lenses.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


I have just about mastered this German keyboard so I can now write Köln correctly!
Fredi returned from work at lunchtime having been delayed by an injured dog (all ok now) and insisted on taking us to Köln for the afternoon and evening.
Immediately outside (100m) the rail station is the Dom or Cologne Cathederal a ´must´to see.  Outside we found this chap, he was very good, no idea who he was supposed to be but that wasn´t the point I guess.
The Dom is vast and magnificent and took 800 years to complete, so there is hope for the Edinburgh Tramway!
Fredi, left and No1 admiring the Dom.

We spent ages in the Dom untill hunger drove us down beside the Rhine to find a very late but delicious lunch and a beer.  A quick walk up into the main shopping area and then back to the Dom and the Hautbahnhof a coffee and the train home.  On the way back to the flat we called ´briefly´to see No2´s Boss for the next two weeks and collect a bike so that she can get to the Klinik.  Several hours, and several Croatian Schnapps later we made it home, exhausted.
Guten nacht!

Samstag Morgen

Saturday morning, all showered and breakfasted.  No1 is settling down to some music theory work in preparation for her exam when she returns home.  I don´t know how she fits it all in!

No1 really enjoyed her first visit to the Klinik, though understandably she found it really hard work coping with the language, she doesn´t speak German, trying to work out the routine, connect new names to faces and most of all, trying not to look too stupid!  She returned exhausted but happy.

We are waiting for Fredi to return from her night shift at the Klinik.  She is late so things must have turned hectic over night.  I think  No1 and I should go to Cologne by ourselves and give Fredi a chance to sleep.
She seems to keep control of her hectic life by keeping notes on the window, but my German isn´t up to translating.

My curtains were open last night and through this window I could see a wonderful clear night sky with Orion and The Plough sitting next to each other in the blackness.

I just liked the contrast in this shot, between the cranes and the church. An early morning picture from the balcony.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Koln (well almost)

Two days absence due to getting ready to bring No1 Daughter to Germany.  We made it here late last night after quite a good journey and some expert guiding through the excellent German railway system from Dusseldorf Airport.  Thanks Fredi!

The Germans have adopted Halloween in the last few years and a week before the event all the houses seem to be well prepared.  This ´Welcome´ is on the door of the flat below Fredi´s
Fredi is a Veterinary Surgeon here and she has kindly arranged for No1 to spend two weeks in the clinic to gain some valuable experience before applying to Veterinary College in 12 months time.

This is the Klinik, in a large village on the outskirts of Cologne.  I have just left No1 there to become aquainted with everyone before she starts properly on Monday.  I would have to say that this place is just a little more impressive than my local Vet´s!  and everyone is being so helpful and friendly.

We plan to visit Cologne tomorrow (poor Fredi is working tonight!)  so perhaps some more to report then.

By the way.  This is Loki, one of Fredi´s patients who was run over by a car and who she has since adopted.

Saturday, 17 October 2009


It was the usual round of mucking out etc this morning before I took No2 to a birthday party lunch, (why are children so much more sophisticated today?)  The Children's Mother took No1 to a music theory lesson in Newcastle before some last minute shopping for the German trip on Thursday.

No2 eventually returned this evening having tracked down the only two pairs of the white trousers in the North East that she needs for her uniform!  Some white trainers and the ensemble was complete.
In the mean time I sorted a few household chores and went up to the cottage to put animals to bed. This is the view we have from the top of our fields.  Everyone in our family has lived in less salubrious surroundings and we all think ourselves very lucky to see this whenever we wish.
As the sun was setting I caught this bracken, I just thought it was nice!  Not much time to linger as the horses were yet to bring in......

Friday, 16 October 2009

Starship From The Planet Fungi

Picked some more mushrooms this morning.

Further up the yard drive I found this fascinating fungi.  Its delicate but incredibly structured form is amazing.  About 30mm in diameter, it is almost translucent and quite alien in appearance.

The Childrens Mother and I ate yesterdays mushrooms for lunch and delicious they were too.


 Later, at the cottage I bumped into these two ladies in ernest conversation

"Don't talk to me about the 'Credit Crunch' dear, Have you seen the price of eggs at Waitrose?) !!!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Field Mushrooms

As usual I went up to the yard to muck out etc. this morning, another dull day.  I spotted some mushrooms in one of the fields as I was leaving the yard and I just had to stop!  I love fresh mushrooms.

Yes, they are field mushrooms, I've been fiddling with the colour.

Later, I went shopping for some parts for my bike rack and came back with a wireless mouse!  So, not a bad effort.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Autumn Fern

It was an overcast morning for my dog walk today, not too inspiring for pictures.  A detour through the woods found this fern, I just love it's Autumn colours a bonus against the shortening days and the 7pm darkness!

I coudn't resist this attempt to brighten my day!  We are promised natural brightness tomorrow!!

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Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Nosebleeds and Elderberries

No 2 Daughter had a succession of nosebleeds last night so there was not much sleep to be had.  She looked exhausted this morning so had a day off school.  Neither me or The Children's Mother dared to look in the mirror!  The Children's Mother had to go to work and I spent the day No2 sitting and washing bloodied pillows and duvets.

Not much time for pictures but remembered my camera when I went to the Cottage to do the donkeys and hens and managed a few dismal pictures in the dark! 

This was the best of the bunch (no pun intended!), the birds have just about stripped the elderberries.  Our plans for gallons of wine have passed by and will have to wait till next year. I hope that we remember to collect sloes, our sloe gin of two years ago was let down only by it's lack of quantity!!!

Bed beckons,  good night.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Back to Normal

Now that I am back home the normal winter morning routine has been resumed.

The difference now is that there is one less pony to feed and muck out. After turning out I now have a little more time to take the dogs for a walk, which is just as well as the old collie and I take much longer than we used to!

I thought that I would use this shot as it is typical of the Northumberland countryside, particularly the Tyne Valley where we live. For those who think that it is all whippets and leeks in Tyneside, beyond the trees in the middle right is the the village of Riding Mill, reputatably the most expensive place in Britain to live!

The second picture was taken almost back at the yard.  Seconds later the old collie wandered back the way we had been and I had to retrace our steps some way to catch her up, in a world of her own.  I wonder if somone will come to find me.....?
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Saturday, 10 October 2009

The Move Up

No 2 Daughter moved up to horses today.

She was riding a friends horse while show jumping today.  This is the first time she has competed on horses and only about the third time she has ridden this horse, George.  She did very well, being placed 1st. 4th and 5th in the classes she entered.  Even her big sister was proud of her!!

Sadly, after the days excitement, I had to leave the family and go back up to the cottage to feed animals and lock the hens up for the night.  This is my last night 'house sitting' as my mother will be back from Scotland by tomorrow evening.

At this time of year I always enjoy the short walk back through the orchard where the hens live, to the cottage.  The security light is on and the rear garden is flooded with a lovely welcoming glow.  Inside I know the terriers are waiting for their dinner.......

Friday, 9 October 2009


On the road just below my mothers cottage is a a corner where, over the years there have been numerous accidents. The latest of which was just a couple of weeks ago when a young lady crashed into the hedge at speed and spun her car round back into the road, on the blind corner.

This morning at 10.30am we were to see the results of a brain storming session of the Highways Department of Northumbria Council!

Oh well, I will just have to keep my brush and shovel handy!!!
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Wednesday, 7 October 2009

End of an Era

One of the girl's ponies has been sold.

Trigger (yes I know but he came with that name), has been a wonderful pony for both the girls but sadly they have both outgrown him.  He has jumped at a national show jumping championship with  No2 daughter, competed succesfully at Tetrathlon regionals and cross country. He has also excelled at Pony Club Games with No1 daughter reaching Area and Regional finals.  Not bad for a hairy little pony!  Most important, he has been a great companion to both the girls, with whom they have had a huge amount of fun.

Over the last couple of weeks we have found a little lad who has fallen in love with him and tonight we delivered Trigger to his new home.  It will be 'Au revior' rather than 'Goodbye' as his new owner will be continuing his sporting career for the next few years and we will be able to follow him at events.  Still we are all very sad to see this little character go.

Now we will have to find another pony.......!
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Monday, 5 October 2009

Emergency Repairs

I was checking the roof of my Mother's cottage the other day and discovered that the main electricity supply cable was rubbing against the ridge of the roof.

Today NEDL arrived to place a new pole to lift the cable to a safer position. A couple of hours later the job was done and I now have no excuse for not doing the roof repairs.

You know the old saying, 'Every silver lining has a cloud!'

Now, where is my ladder?
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Sunday, 4 October 2009

"Lazy Sunday Afternoon"

A lovely sunny autumn morning as I went out early to feed and muck out the hens. 

Ah! The bucolic imagery of the rural idyl.

I shall try and remember this in January in the dark, wet, frost, snow, gales and mud.

No2 daughter is away on an activity weekend with school and will hate me for spending the whole afternoon watching motor sport on the tv.  She just loves Formula One racing and in particular Lewis Hamilton!  I should be attending to the growing list of jobs not lazing around.  Still, there is always tommorrow.  "Traa dy-liooar" (Manx Gaelic)

The leaves on the cherry in the orchard where the hens live have completely changed colour now and will be lucky to last the week. One of the apples has died, several years of de-barking by visiting deer and the the donkeys has proved too much.  I will have to see about a replacement.  On the other hand, the damson has produced lots of fruit for the first time since it was planted about ten years ago!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Kielder Forest

Morning chores eventually done by 2 o'clock this afternoon!
The rain had stopped (ha, ha!) so the Childrens' Mother and I took the dogs to Kielder Forest, partly to look at a house we were interested in and to get some fresh air.  The house looked pretty near perfect so we may have to arrange a viewing.  Not the most convienent location but great looking house with ample land.  A long school bus journey for the girls to the high school, or boarding.  This part of Northumberland is so remote that the kids here can board during the week.  This house is looking even better!!!

Back to the important part of the day, dog walking in the forest.  Time was by now getting on, so just time for a short walk beside Kielder Water on the new 'North Shore Trail' which gives better access to the shore for walkers and cyclists between the dam and Kielder village.  It makes a huge difference and that's coming from one who hates these manufactured trails!
Despite the squally showers and the gale force winds, it was good to be out.  We will have to bring the bikes next  time and explore the full trail round the reservoir.  Back home now to the evening jobs putting ponies to bed etc. only another six months of winter to go!!!
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Friday, 2 October 2009

Autumn Evening

I am house sitting for the next week while my Mother is on holiday Scotland.

In contrast to yesterday, today has been mostly dull and drizzle and not very condusive to enthusiastic photography!

While the donkeys and hens were eating this evening, I took the dogs for a walk up the fields, they looking for rabbits and me desperately hunting 'the shot'! The light was hopless for anything other than flash so once I had accepted that I started to look properly.
These 'night shots' are not something I am used to doing, flash is rather alien to me but I am more than happy with the results.  I will try it again.

Well, dinner such as it is, has been cooking while I have been doing this, so if you will excuse me....

Just a quick 'thanks' for all your kind comments. They are much appreciated.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Yet More Fungi

It has been a glorious day here in Darkest Northumberland, the onset of Autumn didn't prevent 11 hours of wall to wall sunshine!

The morning was taken up with vaccinations for the ponies but after lunch and a few chores, I took myself and the terrier up to Slaley Forrest en-route to the cottage and hen and donkey feeding.  We had a good hours walk, after eighteen months of lethargy it was great to walk with some energy in my albeit weak legs.

The terrier found lots of rabbits to chase, while I found some wonderful fungi,  Fly Agric (Amanita muscaria). Wonderful but poisonous!!

I am not certain about this one though.  I think that it is probably a Sickener (Russula emetica), which while not poisonous, as the name suggests, induces vomiting!  A large fungi, at about five inches in diameter in this mature state, I thought that the gills were really interesting, so strongly structured but just so delicate. 

If you look closely, you can just make out some tiny flies sticking to the gills.  I can't decide if they were just stuck or had been laying eggs?