Food for thought….

With the temperatures rising and a heatwave upon us I just wanted to share something with you to raise a little awareness. It’s not something I have told many people about but there is no reason for me not to …It’s just not something you talk about unless the right moment comes up I guess.

As most of you know, I am 47 years old… or young as the case could be, pretty fit and healthy and I try to make the most of every minute we have. I am not a sunworshipper, in fact I don’t like it too warm and can’t stand sitting out in the sun – beach holidays are my worst nightmare! I generally wear suncream when the sun is shining…but maybe that was the problem, obviously over the years being the outdoorsy type person than I am, possibly when I was younger, or possibly simply cumalitive of being exposed whilst out walking or running without wearing suncream – I have what is called Basel Cell Carcinoma, a non-melanoma skin cancer.

We had thought it was possibility as I had two small growths that had appeared over the period of about 12 months and wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t gone to the doctor to have a look and he thought it was nothing, he referred me to a dermatologist who confirmed the case…. worst still, it was only having agreed to do a full body check when they asked me to take off my mask – sign of the times – and the dermatologist gasped deeply and said ‘that however, is a problem’…. still Basel Cell Carcinoma but that ‘spot’ that had been on my upper lip for about 8 years and I had given up on, apparently wasn’t a spot!

It’s all good, I am fine and the treatment I have had through the NHS has been second to none. I have now had all the treatment and plan to make alot more use out of my hat going forwards… I think its rather attractive, although it does squash the hair a bit… but I wanted to share my story and try and start to raise awareness as if it isn’t caught early, it can spread… please check yourselves, and if there is anything abnormal – go see a doctor.

Now alot of you will have never heard of this…. but it makes me smile every time I think of it – read it through and go have a listen to it as its great! It came out in 1997 and is written by Baz Luhrmann…. please – wear sunscreen!

Wear sunscreen. If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; or never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded. But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing
Bubblegum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that
Never crossed your worried mind; the kind that blindside you at 4 PM on some idle Tuesday

Do one thing every day that scares you

Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts; don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours

Floss

Don’t waste your time on jealousy; sometimes you’re ahead, sometimes you’re behind. The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself

Remember the compliments you receive; forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements

Stretch

Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t

Get plenty of calcium

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t
Maybe you’ll divorce at 40
Maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary
Whatever you do, don’t congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance; so are everybody else’s

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people think of it. It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but in your own living room

Read the directions, even if you don’t follow them

Do not read beauty magazines; they will only make you feel ugly
Brother and sister
Together, we’ll make it through
Someday our spirits
Will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting
But I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out
Whenever I can

Get to know your parents; you never know when they’ll be gone for good

Be nice to your siblings; they are your best link to your past and the
People most likely to stick with you in the future

Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you
Should hold on

Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard

Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft

Travel

Accept certain inalienable truths: prices will rise, politicians will philander, you too will get old– and when you do, you’ll fantasize that when you were young prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders

Respect your elders

Don’t expect anyone else to support you

Maybe you have a trust fund, maybe you have a wealthy spouse; but you never know when either one might run out

Don’t mess too much with your hair, or by the time you’re 40, it will look 85

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it
Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it’s worth

But trust me on the sunscreen

Brother and sister
Together, we’ll make it through
Someday our spirits
Will take you and guide you there
I know you’ve been hurting
But I’ve been waiting to be there for you
And I’ll be there just helping you out
Whenever I can

Everybody’s free
Everybody’s free
Oh, yeah
Don’t you fear

A bit more of beautiful british contryside… 11/7/2022

Not sure where all this talk of the June heatwave came from as we didn’t see it up where we were. Newcastle hit about 18 degrees max… although, I am sure that in the sun it was definately warmer – not going to complain though as we had a couple of days of wearing shorts and t-shirts…. and we were also able to get out and about and most importantly SLEEP without the heat getting in the way….

We moved on again from Powburn to our next stop which was Bolam West Houses Farm CL, Middleton near Morpeth which was £20 per night inc. A lovely large field with uninterrupted views out over the rolling hills for miles and miles.

The CL is in proper walker and cyclist heaven. It is about half a mile from Shaftoe Crags – a historic settlement as well as Bolam Lake Country Park – a really pretty little wooded park and that is without mentioning all the footpaths and lanes that went off in all directions further than the eye could see. Bolam Lake Country Park was quite an interesting little place as it used to be a swamp but one wealthy landowner decided to design and landscape the area in 1816 to provide the locals with work during the economic decline…. a true community project!! It is a lovely area set in the middle of an enormous expanse of rolling fields and countryside.

As always with the way we plan our trips – if they are being planned – three days of exploring and it was time to move on again to find another area to discover. This time though we were venturing slightly closer to a larger population of people to sheep… something we have avoided recently – to visit Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

Not being city lovers anymore, we had searched out a place to stay that was far enough outside Newcastle to give us some tranquility, yet close enough to have easy access and fell upon a corker of a location – Stephensons Arms CS, Wylam, Northumberland £20 per night without electricity.

The camping and caravan site was just a big field but it was right on the edge of the river Tyne as well as the Hadrians Wall cycle and walking path. The walking route is 84 miles coast to coast and the part where we were staying in Wylam was off road, traffic free, tranquil and beautiful. The route was called the Wylam Waggonway and just 500m towards Newcastle was George Stephensons birth place and dotted along the path in both directions are numerous reminders of the engineering history of the area. The village of Wylam had several pubs and restaurants – all of which had pretty good reviews but we didn’t try them ourselves – a wonderful greengrocer, a couple of convenience stores and a train station to get into Newcastle or to places such as Hexham further along Hadrains Wall. It is worth staying in the village just for the beautiful walks even if you don’t go into Newcastle for a visit.

We however did take a day trip into Newcastle for a taste of what it had to offer both architectually and for our stomachs… and we were not disappointed!

Keith had done some research a while back however, as we had been out to eat a fair bit at the time I didn’t have the appetite for going out and left the decision and booking until just a couple of days before we arrived at Wylam.

After all the Northumberland walking and fresh air I had obviously built up enough of an appetite – but not too much, as we all know how difficult it is to choose when you are really hungry – and finally selected Peace and Loaf in Jesmond, thankfully it still had space!

The menu we selected was a tasting menu – of which there were two options and believe it or not we went for the smaller one. As I am now pescatarian, the chef ensured that when there were dishes that contained fish on the main menu, he adapted them so I could also have the fish, rather than just giving me the vegetarian option. I know that should be a simple switch but the fish dishes actually had meat in them too … so it was a nice touch.

All the plates were perfectly formed – smaller at the beginning and end, then larger for the mains. I was concerned at the beginning that we may be leaving hungry but can confirm that by the time we got towards the desserts I was quite glad that we had opted for the smaller menu – not too rich but full of flavour and texture, possibly one of the best tasting menus we have had and the service was excellent – we will be back again if we have the opportunity, a unique and delicious flavour experience.

Newcastle itself was interesting too, especially the quayside which has been / is still being regenerated – providing a lovely space for walking, cycling, running as well as people watching both during the day and evening…. we were also very lucky with the weather!

All good things must come to an end and although we would like to explore Wylam and the area a little more we will have to do it next time as we once again moved on on the Friday to a completely different setting – this time it was Longview CS, Shotley Bridge, County Durham (£15 per night without elec.) perched at the top of a hill looking out over the valley…. amazing views and even better sunsets!

Another tranquil location right by the side of a cycle track which was a dissused railway … probably the only flat route in the area as each time we ventured away from the cycle path there was a lot – and I do mean a lot – of ascent and descent….

The area was historically mining – coal, steel and Iron and you can see some of the history dotted along the cycle path and incorporated into the new housing estates and parks that have been built more recently as part of the regeneration of the area since the last of the mines shut down in the 1980’s.

Shotley Bridge was the last of the little campsites for this trip as after another three glorious days exploring the area, we set off further south having booked Hattie into SAP to have her Jacks and suspension serviced. SAP is based North of Doncaster on a small industrial estate opposite a couple of ‘Adventure Off Road’ Motorhome conversion workshops which is always an interesting viewing, although this time we didn’t really get much chance as it was a 7am start and the service was all done and we were on the road by 8:30am…. that is what you call service (if you don’t mind an early start I guess!!)

Surprised by the early start we had another hop, skip and a jump en route home and arrived at our pub stop over ‘The Norman Knight Pub’, Ascott Road, Whichford, CV36 5PE just before lunch. Giving us enough time to get out and explore the area a little before a quick catch up with Pete and Liz later in the afternoon/evening.

The pub is in a beautiful area just a stones throw from the Cotswold Distillery with lots of small lanes and footpaths over the rolling hills to explore. It has two spaces for motorhomes and five ‘glamping’ pods out the back which looked lovely. The food was good and the owners and staff were incredibly accomodating. We were lucky with the weather and sat in the garden until just before 11pm – surprisingly busy for a Tuesday evening … so adviseable to book ahead if you plan to visit.

We will have to come back to explore further – oh and possibly catch up with Pete and Liz again too!

We have now been back at the farm for a couple of weeks and over the last weekend in June we finally managed to make it to a local restaurant called ‘Seasonality’ for one of their supper clubs. We found Seasonality during first COVID lockdown just after it had opened and at that point it was only a deli and doing home delivery, then it opened up on the last Friday / Saturday of the month to do supper clubs however, each time we thought about trying it we were away – this time we struck gold !

The food was excellent and as the name suggests, all dishes were seasonal and where possible, locally sourced too. The Chef also did his best to accomodate the difficult pescatarian and although the lamb ravioli was apparently superb, I think my Cornish Seabass with Shellfish Lasagne was possibly one of the best food combinations I have ever tasted. The restaurant is small with roughly 20 covers and was full. Each dish was served accompained by the chef with an explanation of what it was and where the produce came from, we will be making some time to come back and visit again!

The time has just flown by over the past few weeks with one thing and another and with the temperature soaring this past week we have been getting the BBQ out a bit more both to cook pizzas and otherwise…. breakfast lunch and dinner are currently eaten al fresco!!

We have been cooking alot as always but only one new dish – which, although it sounds odd was really tasty
Vegan Chilli with Dumplings – a deliciously spicy and creamy chilli using Coconut milk topped off with cobblers!

And as we are heading off again tomorrow to explore more of our beautiful countryside …. the map below shows the route we took on the last tranche of our trip through Northumberland and back to Holyport.