Friday, 11 December 2020

Happy Christmas 2020 ... if that's possible !!

Well Hello, just wanted to wish anyone reading this a Happy Christmas with a scene from my local village in the Derwent Valley North East. I'm not sure how many people read this but I've been busy sharing my work on Instagram. Well 2020 was some year, a one we haven't seen the like off before in our lifetime anyway. I'm not sure that 2021 will start off any better although we are promised some hope that things may look better after Easter. We'll see. 

It was the year of keeping safe and the cancelled or postponed holidays / events. The Spring / Summer Lockdown was a time when people went about their business as key workers or indulged in home hobbies. This year we lost my Mother in law with her funeral being on the day of Lockdown. 


My project for 2020 was to clear and renovate her house for rental purposes as she had accrued six months debt with care home fees. There was a tight schedule after lockdown to dovetail all the tradesmen (plumber, electrician and carpet fitter) to complete the work before the tenant moved in during late August. 

As we weren't meant to travel in the six weeks of lockdown, I managed to just about exhaust all the dog walking routes in the local woods. When we could travel again for exercise, I decided to cover more footpaths in The Derwent Valley. The image above depicts an example of my regular late afternoon walk at Derwent Reservoir as a token of this project. Each Monday to Friday I choose a route from an area in a clockwise direction incorporating something from Blanchland down to The River Tyne.


In the week when travel was allowed for exercise, we decided on a birthday treat of a drive to Whitby. This was an interesting day out as the only place open was an ice cream shop and essential food retailers. We took a picnic and enjoyed a quiet view on the seats near the Whalebones. The problem was that there were no toilets open so it was essentially a lovely drive over the moors and a two hour visit.

Never before have I seen Whitby streets so empty although there were local people exercising on the West Cliff promenade.


Holidays, mini breaks, rail tours weekends away were for the most part cancelled although we did manage a few breaks such as a two night gift stay to a Shepherds hut near Thirsk. The break included a trip to Helmsley

...and a first visit for me to Thorp Perrow Arboretum on the way back home.

The annual trip to Kent in May wasn't possible but we were able to delay it until September and catch up socially distanced with relatives in both private and beer gardens. This was a moment enjoying a Sunday afternoon take away cup of tea on a seat at Aylesford.

A stop off at Westerham one day on the way to see a relative. Westerham is famous for residences of Sir Winston Churchill and this statue of Major James Wolfe. What was more memorable for me about the visit was that we managed to get an amazing no hide dog chew for Molly to peruse over in the relatives garden !!

Normally we meet most of the relatives all at the same time in someones conservatory but this covid year that wasn't possible, so a late afternoon catch up with another was preceded by morning over the Sussex county boundary to Bexhill, a quick snap of Eastbourne Pier, returning via their house in Hailsham.

After visiting Dungeness last year for the first time in the car, it was a good idea to return this year on a fine day via the narrow gauge railway. All the carriages had perspex screens to compartment them into family groups. This is the old 1904 lighthouse mothballed as a museum which as you can imagine was closed due to the inability to socially distance.


On the last day it was an East Kent car tour mainly to give Molly a run out on one of the few Kent dog friendly beaches near Deal. It turns out that the location was next to the car park of Walmer Castle. Being a member of The English Heritage this year after receiving it as a Christmas gift, it would be rude not to pay Henry VIII's place a quick visit, even if it just was into the garden. However it wasn't that easy doing a 2020 prebook and waiting for the e-mail to come through with my acceptance ticket.


After an afternoon in Deal, Sandwich seemed like a good place to stop on the way back. This was a first visit for me and despite being near closing time, it was good to wander the empty streets with the camera. 

In an effort to avoid the crowds at weekends in between the two Lockdowns,  the less frequented places seemed like a better option like St Mary's Lighthouse at Whitley Bay.


Having a members card for both National Trust and English Heritage this year, I found the availability this Autumn easier with the English Heritage and visited a few sites. The last time I visited Warkworth Castle was on a school trip many years ago. 


Richmond Castle was another English Heritage location on the Autumn tour and one I hadn't visited before. Unfortunately the tower was closed for socially distancing reasons and the glorious view is to be witnessed would have to wait until another year.


Grassington was the next stop on an enjoyable circular drive through The Yorkshire Dales. I colour popped this one for two reasons, one to accentuate and highlight the changing colour of the leaves and another to dampen the blue foreground covid signs !!


This time I had a proper Autumn scene at another EH location Belsay Castle in Northumberland.  As a post script to the previous image, I edited out a rubbish bin and social distancing signs on the fence.

Gibside Chapel is my local National trust site and pre-booking has to be done when the weekly slots come out. The sun wasn't kind to me on the time slot I was given !!


Durham is a place that I have frequented most this year to fulfil appointments. This shot is virtually impossible people free and was taken the first Saturday after Lockdown 1 ended.  On one of the occasions the wife of the proprietor came into the property for something. She had two well behaved Mother and Daughter Golden Doodles. It turns out that she was a dog breeder and we inadvertently put our name on the waiting list for the next litter which arrived on September 26th. We now have Daisy, a sister to Molly who keeps me in at the moment to Puppy sit.

Last week the Christmas tree went up and you'll be pleased to know that it is still up thanks to the Christmas Lounge Policeman !! Hope you enjoyed my update and selection of varied images for the year Happy Christmas.

Partners in Crime !


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