Dateline: 28th July 2013. Location: Morpeth, Northumberland, England.

Actually located upstairs to the Curiously Wicked cake shop within the Sanderson Arcade, the Cuwick Manor Tea Rooms are an absolute delight! We called there the other week, and I tried their tea and toasted tea-cake with cheese (Freda had the fruit scone with jam and cream with her usual coffee) and were drawn to return there, when we had a visitor staying with us from Dumfries.

This time, we hadn't eaten since breakfast, so managed a bit more than the small snacks of our previous visit. From their extensive menu, we decided to have the Northumbrian High Tea, for two but shared between the three of us with an extra coffee. It was certainly well enough for our older appetites!

(See their menu at )

Looking at their offering, I couldn't help but compare it with the High Teas at the Winter Palace in Luxor. As you know, Dear Reader, we do enjoy those when we manage to have them, but the Cuwick Manor puts the Winter Palace to shame! Obviously, even though the place is lovely, it doesn't visually compare in that respect to the W.P., but the content of the Tea far outweighs that of even our favourite 'Grand Hotel'!  What do you think of the following comparative pictures?

These two (above) are of the newly built Cuwick Manor Tea Rooms, and those below are of the world famous 1890's Winter Palace Hotel on the banks of the Nile, in Luxor.

Funnily enough, I cannot find many of the hundreds of pictures I've taken of the Old Winter Palace, so these few will have to suffice, sorry! (You'll see that they're of my usual quality, as well, lol!)

Anyway, the point is, that the actual 'High Tea' is much preferable at Morpeth than in Luxor, but while the place itself is very charming and perfectly adequate; even the little curtsies from the waitresses cannot compare with the 'olde worlde' grandeur of Thomas Cook's wonderful Egyptian hotel.

Never mind, though; the fare was more filling, considerably less expensive and, being only 15 miles up the Great North Road, was much easier to currently access than travelling the 2,500 miles to Luxor!

Here it is:

Ooooh, the sandwiches! They were in 'Stottie Cake' which is a Geordie delicacy, somewhat like an 'oven-bottom cake', in that while it is a bread, it's somehow more solid and filling. The two sandwich fillings we chose were cheese savoury, and ham. Two scones each (remember that we only ordered for two), one fruit scone with separately provided jam and cream and the other cheese, and then two slices of our choices of cake from their wide menu, I had one of the range of different chocolate cakes on offer (quelle surprise!) and Freda had a slice of their lemon and white chocolate concoction. (I did have a small taste, and it was also scrumptious.)

Of course, we had the poor curtsying ladies running back and forth with several extra pots of boiling water and more milk and yet more butter, but they took it all with good cheer, which made the afternoon even more of pleasure for us. We were there for over an hour, and by the time we left we desperately needed to walk-off some of our over-indulgence!

Oh that we could get the Old Winter Palace over here, just to see how it should really be done!!!

10 out of 10, I think!

Hot Legs!

Yes, I've been watching 'Rod the Mod' on the telly! Don't know which programme or channel it was, but there was Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood, carrying on like they were young kids again (instead of the old geezers they really are) and being interviewed by Botney (Alan Yentob) along with clips from old film. It was very amusing, and we had a good laugh at the fashions of those far-off days.

Later on, it had my mind wandering back to those times, as well. Those days and evenings spent in 'The Park', Saltwell Park, that is. I used to go there as a small child, with my mother of course, as my Grandma lived only three or four minutes walk away. (I was born in her back bedroom!) We would feed bread to the ducks on the lake, and fish for the little sticklebacks with a fishing net and a jam jar. The days seemed to be so long back then!

Later on, during our teens, we'd (Fatty Wilson and I) walk the mile or so there in the summer evenings, and at weekends too. There were always plenty of girls to impress with our macho games and testosterone-filled bodies, or so we thought. They probably thought we were a scream! Never mind, they were happy days.

Freda and I took a walk around there yesterday, to exercise my poor old legs, and to rekindle a few old memories too, perhaps. There have been many changes; too many to explain, or even photograph. Many of the familiar pathways have simply disappeared! The the two large shelters, at the top of the park, have had the seats taken out and notices saying that it's illegal to consume alcohol in public. The big shuggy-boat and the high slides have been taken away, I've no doubt at all that they would have fallen foul of the Elf 'n' Safety brigade. (Probably rightly so, as we were often almost killed on them as wild teenagers!) There doesn't seem to be any 'Parkies' to keep unruly youths in check any more, either.

We didn't get lost at all, but one or two areas weren't where we remembered them being; faulty memories, likely! Eventually, we came around the back of (what used to be) the Museum. It's now been converted in to a small cafe, but that's only the downstairs, the upstairs was closed-off, so we didn't get to see it. Anyway, here are a couple of shots of it, the fabulous 'Saltwell Towers' which used to be a house.

Of course, we had to sample their, fare!

Shared, as usual. 
I had schoolfriends at Jarrow Grammar, whose Sunday School trips used to come to Saltwell Park by coach, that's how famous and wonderful it was!

We moseyed on, after our re-fuelling, and had a look at the Maze, which has been completely re-planted since our day, and has a metal fence within the hedging (to stop the cheating, I suppose) it didn't look as nice, but then; things seldom do, do they? Then we came across the lake; I could hardly believe my eyes! They've replaced the rowing boats with plastic swans and dragons, which you have to pedal!!!! The little cordoned off part, where the small paddle boats for the young'uns used to be, has gone altogether. And, they've put a fence around the lake, so that you cannot get close enough to fish with your net!

We used to sit on our hunkers (Colloquialism, hunkers = haunches) right at the water's edge. We also used to save our crusts to feed to the ducks, everybody did, but now, it's 'not allowed'; you have to buy proper 'duck food' at £1 a bag! When we were young, we were never off the boats at the weekends, but now they're a fiver for half an hour! Now that just has to be hyper-inflation, surely? And we could only find two swans, maybe the Council have put their rent up? 

With our memories rekindled and our hearts warmed, we made our way back to the car, noticing that the public toilets had gone along with so much else. I crossed the entrance to a back lane, and thought that I'd better get a snap of it too, as it was an old fashioned, cobbled, lane and so probably was due for ripping up any day now!

See ya!

More 'Men 'with Beards!

Well, you would, wouldn't you? I was more than a little taken aback when I came across these crowds of the dreaded 'Men with Beards', in a nearby Methodist Chapel! (Pictures farther on.)

We've been making good use of Number One Son's car over the past few days, while he sleeps between his 12 hour night-shifts. We took the old woman from downstairs (Mother) for a run to the coast; Seaburn where we could park right next to the beach so it wasn't too far for her (and me) to walk. On the way, we stopped at Oilcloth's (actually it's called Lino's) fish and chip shop in Pelaw, and picked up a beautiful big fat cod and a handful of chips to fortify us when we got there.

Mam wouldn't join us in the fish supper, which meant all the more for her hungry offspring! We did have a little walk though. Here's what the beach at Seaburn looks like:

Of course this piccy was taken in the evening, when there weren't many bathers in the water or many sunworshippers on the beach, we prefer empty spaces, being famously anti-social!

Anyway, back to those blokes with beards. We had a short visit to Durham, a lovely old Cathedral City, about a twenty minute drive away. It was short because the parking charges were 50p per half hour!!! Never mind, next time we might use the 'Park and Ride' 'bus service from right next to the motorway junction. We were wandering around, as is our wont, when we came across Elvet Methodist Church. It's certainly a grand and beautiful place; by the looks of it, I would have thought that it might have originally been a Wesleyan place, as it was far too grand to have been a humble Primitive or New Connexion place of worship.

A makeshift, multi-coloured sign fastened to the usual notice board read "Knitted Bible Exhibition." Now then, I know that the world renowned "Lindisfarne Gospel" is currently on display in Durham, but a Knitted Bible????? I was tempted to imagine old American women, sitting in a circle and knitting individual pages, rather like those 'quilters', you know? We just had to go in!

Honestly, it was amazing; about 35 'tableaux' of little knitted people, animals and scenery, depicting many of the notable Bible stories. I snapped away at only a few. Just loved the many 'Men with Beards'!

Can you guess who this first one is? (The coat is a clue, as is the fact that he has a connection with Egypt, and therefore deserves a place on my Blog!)

Next are his naughty brothers and some of their father's sheep.

Next up is a boozy wedding at Cana in Galilee:

And finally, a bit of a rowdy evening meal, hidden away in an upper room!

I wonder what President (Ex?) Mohamed would think of these 'Men with Beards'? 

The whole lot were made by the folk at St Georges URC at Hartlepool. They're on loan at Durham till Friday, and the whole exhibition is then moving on to Consett, the old steel town.

We had cups of Chapel Tea, with biscuits, while we chatted with the ladies of the church who were 'on duty', before we headed home. A pleasant little visit!

Bye for now.

p.s. I remember wearing a ginger knitted wig in my youth, whilst impersonating Tiny Tim, playing the ukulele and singing 'Tiptoe Through the Tulips'! Happily, no pictures have survived!!!!!

Summertime.......and "The Living" is easy!

Do you know what? I'm such a lucky beggar!

I love music, and singing (and no, I don't care two hoots whether someone overhearing me doesn't like it!) and how I feel at any given moment tends to prompt the remembrance of some song lyrics, or the words of a hymn, which exactly describe that feeling, or perhaps put a particular incident right into context. It happens all the time, and Freda is sometimes initially a little mystified when I nudge her and say something like "Didn't we have a 'Loverly' time?" (A reference to a once popular song [Day trip to Bangor] immortalised by Fiddler's Dram.)

And hence I arrived at today's post title: Yesterday's trip out in our son's car took us among some beautiful scenery, on roads which I hadn't travelled for many years. (I was so unsure of the route to take, that I hunted out a map for Heaven's sake!) We ended up at the small village of Blanchland, in the Derwent Valley. The journey was an absolute joy!

I snapped one or two pictures, which I hope will give you some idea of the landscape and the pleasure it gave us as we trundled along at 30 and 40 mph, like proper 'Sunday Drivers' ! (Actually, I kept  pulling over to let any cars which appeared in the mirror to pass safely.)

We drove for miles along roads which were softly dappled by the sunlight streaming through the myriads of different trees, stretching upwards from behind the dry-stone walls delineating where the boundaries between modernity and tradition lay.
 I had to stop on several occasions, as I was suddenly struck by a particular scene. This one above has an old (Norman, perhaps) stone-built Church poking out of the trees just to the right of the centre of the picture. The variety of greens and browns was fabulous, even to someone as colour-blind as I am! One of the things which greatly surprised me, as I clambered over branches and through roadside thistles etc. to get to where I could get a half decent photo', was the scents which took me back to my childhood outings with mam and dad, to places like 'Bluebell Wood', a place about which I've no idea at all of where it was! Beautiful, sweet smells which had a quite emotional effect, I'm not afraid to tell you.

Here's the Derwent Reservoir, showing the dam across the valley to the right

I thought that I'd better put this next one in, just so that you, Dear (foreign) Reader, would have the chance to see just how our past and present governments are determined to destroy our landscape in the mistaken belief that our future energy needs will be met by onshore (barely existent) wind power! Aren't they just eyesores?
Who was it who wrote, "Oh to be in England, now that summer's there"? (Or something like that.)
  We are truly blessed!

But, these scenes, or others equally as beautiful and restful, are available to anyone in England who is able to travel just a few miles into the countryside. While the post title perfectly summed up yesterday's contentment; I'm still luckier than most Englishmen! "Why is that Mr Edward?" I can almost hear you ask. Simply because I am able also to spend so much of my time in a country whose beauty is completely different, but no less appealing; Egypt, of course!

On the way back home, we took an entirely different route (once I got on the road, I didn't actually need the map. I would have been so embarrassed to have to rely on a map after spending most of my life wandering the roads of this 'loverly' country!) We came across a sign which set my imagination running:

What if it was really there, the 'Stargate', and guarded (as usual) just by the world's most stupid and inept military officer of all time:

Perhaps we could gain access and catapult ourselves back to Luxor? I suppose that the main trouble would be that we'd end up in the wrong epoch.

Perhaps the past or future Pharaohs would prove to be more brutal than President Mubarak, or more religiously intolerant than President Morsi's Brother Muslims? Or perhaps we'd even be sold into slavery by the wandering Arab slavers, which we have read so much about, from former times.

I don't think I'd like that very much, so I think we did the right thing by just making our way back to Windy Nook, and sausages!

New Egyptian Revolution?

We got an email from a dear friend in Luxor, last night. Although she lives over on the 'Side of the Dead', she's very close to the river and can see across, and she's very keen to watch and know what's going on on our side as far as 'unrest' or demonstrations etc go.

This is some of what she said.........."Well, its all amazing! They estimate 20,000 people in Luxor demonstrating! And peacefully. Some wonderful pics of the women marching, surrounded by men and muslim and christian side by side!"

Another Luxor man (Dusak, living at Karnak) decided, last night, to collect some friends who were staying at the Etap, and take them to the Taste of India, which lies at the other end of town.

Here are some extracts of his report which he published on the Luxor4U Forum..........."Well we all chanced our evening out at the Indian last night ……….The journey to the Etap was as smooth as silk. There were approximately 2/250 people outside the government office's. They had placed a stage across the road and music was playing. It gave the impression of a party atmosphere. On our way to the restaurant we saw very little traffic which I think annoyed the driver as this removed his need to continually use his horn…………... Going back to the hotel the crowds were massive, both outside the hotel and adjoining streets, but still very little traffic. This was, by any definition of the word, party time for all those in attendance. They were chanting, shouting, laughing and joking. There was music, flag waving and street sellers. The people of Luxor showed the world just what a peaceful demonstration looked like. I commend each and every one of them. Of course this was just from my perspective within a small area of Luxor so do not know how the rest of Luxor fared or what may have transpired after I arrived home. Karnak was just its normal happy self."

While I certainly don't wish that I wasn't here with our family, I do wish I could have been in Luxor yesterday! I would have loved to witness these scenes personally, even if it were just to debunk all the ignorant doomsayers posting on the various forums dedicated to Luxor. I'm sick and tired of people posting destructive mis-information regarding Luxor and the supposedly dangerous atmosphere there.

Another Blogger (more famous than I am, for sure) posted a YouTube video of the demonstrators in Luxor last night (Sunday June 30th) and it tells the same story!

Here's a small part of what she had to say........."Perched high on the Calesh, steadying myself with a hand on the driver’s shoulder (not proper in ordinary life!), I felt a hand tugging at my ankle.  Looking down, there was a foreign lady wanting to speak with me.  She was concerned that I might be hurt – wanted to know if I knew an American had been killed while filming a battle outside a Muslim Brotherhood office in Alexandria the day before.  I assured her I was in no danger.  Luxor is not Cairo and most people know each other by sight and far from wanting to do me or any tourist harm they go to extra lengths in times like this to ensure our safety.............Luxor has never seen a day of such unity and solidarity across religions, sexes and nationalities. 

"Luxor is not Cairo", indeed!