We still love the north!

The bus is now winding its way between a few stop offs before we pull into Newcastle.

Thankfully it’s a bright morning. We’re both too tired from the travel to talk much, but we both said earlier how interesting it is to feel your spirits lift, despite the early hour, as we approach familiar territory.

It isn’t going to look quite as tempting as it does in this shot, but I’m waiting to see the bridges in a few minutes time.

tyne-bridge1Cornwall was a great experience. We had amazing weather nearly every day, and it was so warm too.

People sais that it would be crawling with tourists, but only the pub in Sennen Cove was busy, the one at the top of the hill, The First and Last, was quieter and the food was both better and cheaper. They had a band on Saturday night and the atmosphere seemed like it was going to get a bit hectic then.

There were a couple of lads getting so horribly drunk on VRBs, and no one seemed to bat an eyelid when one of them did a classic full on rejective vomit across the bar. He was thrown out like, but still, even that seemed like it was a regular affair.

Shaun’s uncle Lou had had enough by then anyway, and so we walked the couple of miles home across the cliff tops. That was an experience in itself, and a good one.

So to sum up – it was a great thing to do. Living in the shed would have been grim, but the weather was great and so we were only in it to sleep. Shaun and I fell out most days, but never for long, and Uncle Lou was a great guy who I have learned lots from.

I’ll go again, I’d love to. But right now I’m looking forward to bed more than anything else.

 

Big Blues – Happy Blues.

Path to GwynverThis is the path I’ve walked down every morning to get to Gwynver Beach when I talk Lou’s dog for a happy romp around on the sand.

This green corridor only accentuates the blue at the bottom, and then you steep out into blue sky, blue sea, golden yellow sand, and all with a very happy dog jumping around all over you and your feet.

This is brilliant.

Can this be my life?

Somehow the grey, damp and cold of the Toon that I profess to love doesn’t seem so attractive any more!

Cornwall – holiday heaven!

The rest of the journey down from Brum was uneventful, Shaun moaned like hell about the seating being built for midgets, and I just popped my headphones on and wrote up some stuff I’ve been intending to do for ages.

Shaun’s uncle, a fellow called Lou, met us at the bus station in Penzance and has been a great host, albeit that we really are sleeping in his shed. It’s OK though, it’s quite big and there’s lighting, music and stuff. Lou intended to work there initially, but has since taken an office further form home to create the difference he says he needs between the two.

I’ve been talking to him about the properties he lets out because I had that mad cap idea of buying a place in Italy a while ago. That idea didn’t happen, but the thought hasn’t gone away.

It seems that so far he hasn’t made a profit in the three years that he has run the business, and when I asked him why he stuck at it he shared all sorts of information that will help me in the future when I start doing my own thing.

We talked a lot about the responsibility for the houses and the potential of them not being looked after. He explained that having confidence in your insurer is massively important. He was saying that many people buy insurance but have little idea what they are covered for. He pointed out a good article on the express.co.uk site on what your insurance covers you for. For him he not only has to insure against the damage someone might inflict on his property, but he also has to think about cover in case someone claims that his property hurt them – perhaps a kid falling down a stair case or something like that.

It’s interesting stuff. I was lapping up the information on running a business too, and how he wasn’t that worried about not making a profit – he ploughs all the excess funds back into improvements, and that means that his cottages are far better than anyone else has. Good plan Lou!

Balti Heaven!

This lad Pete gets the piss taken out of him something rotten because of his silly accent, but here in Birmingham everyone seems to sing a slightly downbeat song and I’m already starting to like it, mainly as it sounds great on one of the girls Pete brought out last night.

Needless to say she was a sweet as any girl I have ever cast my eyes upon (as every new girl I fantasise of is). Christine didn’t sound clever, but she’s doing a PHD in some medical specialism, and she certainly knows how to wear a short short skirt!

We ate at Diwan where Pete reckons he has been having amazing baltis since he was first allowed to eat spice at ten. Twelve years a faithful customer is good going, and they looked after us well despite getting a bit rowdy after the beers started kicking in. It’s unlicensed and there’s a mad off license down the road from it called bizarrely Amex.

I’m even converted on the whole principal of Birmingham Baltis being the best curry in the land. Ours was stupidly cheap, we had huge and tasty nan breads that fed the whole table, and the guys couldn’t have been nicer.

combination-balti-all

I just wish I could write “Youallright” in the fab way they talk there.

After the balti it was back into Moseley proper where everyone wanted to hear of our plan to sleep in a shed for two weeks. I’m well up for it now, the first leg of the journey has been great fun. Next stop is Bristol for twenty minutes stretch break – then Cornwall here we come.

National Express – End To End

There I was on Sunday saying that I didn’t get around to blogging much.

I have time for plenty today.

We’re on the bus! Newcastle to Birmingham, then we have been promised some beers and a balti (Brummie curry) by a lad from college called Pete who has a flat in Moseley in Birmingham. After that it’s another coach tomorrow morning to Penzance.

That will mean we spend precisely half a lifetime on buses. Well, it will feel that way.

It’s not bad for me, if fact I like it. But the lanky tuss is uncomfortable already and we’re only an hour and a half out of Newcastle. He has a double seat opposite me, and I have a sweet looking girl by the window, but that’s OK, I’m glad I’m wearing clean clothes even if I do look a tramp as usual. She said hello when she sat down, but then put her headphones on straight away and I haven’t seen her move since.

Thanks Tony Wilson for this lovely shot of a National Express coach – looks great doesn’t it. I think that could be York station – we haven’t been there yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we end up doing so.

ne2top1As I’m sitting here typing this I wonder whether there could be some kind of dating scene created around the coach network. It’s all old biddies who don’t mind taking forever to get places, and young students who don’t have any choice as every other option is too expensive.

It would have to have ride in the title wouldn’t it?

 

Musings of a blogger (of sorts)

I quite like writing a blog, but I could never be a blogger.

No matter what rules I set myself I can never seem to create a habit of it.

I’ll set little reminder alarms on my phone, but I just cancel them.

I’ll tell myself I’m going to write something daily. And I don’t.

I promise to write something weekly. But even that doesn’t always happen. More likely is that I’ll write a few posts on different topics at once and then spread them out a bit as if to appease the disappointment I’ll feel one day in the future when I check back over my musings.

I suppose that in actual fact it’s all vanity and so what if I sit down once a month and hammer out a few thousand words. The trouble is that doesn’t feel like the spirit I want to engender.

Anyway, for the rest of April I’ll have something to write about as Shaun and I are off to the far other end of the country, to Cornwall, where apparently we’re going to stay in his uncle’s shed!

I’ve seen pictures, it’s a nice shed, but still, 18 days with fart arse major in a shed could test the strength of our relationship somewhat.

At least it has wi-fi.

Slow, stormy Sunday

The second keg of Neck Oil this month only held eight pints, but after that we went down to the late night iffy and bought a load of Special Brew and ordered a curry.

When I was writing about it last evening everything seemed quite sensible and it looked like we might just manage an early night – but then Shaun’s bro (sorry mate, can’t remember your name for the life of me) decided that drinking the neat Bacardi we resorted to wasn’t such a good idea, and that he wanted more beer.

We staggered off down the road, and as so often happens, the beer belly was shouting our for unnecessary curry to swill around in, so we got that too.

In the morning there were bodies on the floor, curry on the floor, fag butts everywhere, the cat smelled like he’d been eating curry, and the whole place stank of farts and fags. Nice. Manly. Student heaven.

But then Shaun started us off with some tunes to ease our aching heads, and despite everyone moaning, we all gradually made it to a vaguely upright position, and started the usual vying to be DJ, and naming that tune in its first couple of notes. My tastes are generally far too old for someone of my age and so unless he digs into his goth and rock back catalogue I’m usually pretty lost, but it’s fun anyway. I like the banter.

But most of all I love it when Shaun looks this messed up…

Shaun. Not at his best.

Cornish in the far north.

One of the lads at uni is called Piran, an odd name that I didn’t attach any meaning to, until today!

It turns out that Piran is a Cornish name, and Cornish Piran certainly is. He sounds like a comedy extra from some west country drama, or a peasant from Doc Martin or some such, but he’s a character and we like him making us laugh with expressions like the unwritable “Wass he like?” which apparently means “How are you?” and his acknowledgement of everything is made with a rolling “Right on”.

For a Geordie I have disappointingly little accent, which is odd seeing both my folks and most of my friends could be identified from just a couple of words.

1913 - St Austell Ale

Anyway, this is about Piran. He told us that the 5th of March is huge. It’s St Piran’s Day apparently and that means you have to eat a lot of pasties and drink gallons of beer. I love pasties and I love beer so no problem there then. Piran did the day in style and ordered a box of pasties to be delivered from his favourite bakery back home, and then found a pub selling Doom Bar in the Toon, rang them up, and told them that he was prepared to run their first St Piran’s Day festival and guaranteed they’d triple their sales of Doom Bar on the day.

It was a riot!

We got all the people we like from uni down to the Mash Tun and Piran supplied the pasties. The only rule for having a free pasty was that you were only allowed to drink Doom Bar, or this lovely stout like drink called 1913 which turns out to be Cornish as well.

Right. We know now. St Piran’s is on the calendar.

Beamish Ale – in kegs!

Neck Oil?

Sounds pretty foul to me.

But this is the strange name of a most fabulous ale.

Quoted on the Beamish Hall website where it is brewed as “A blonde session beer delicately hopped with English goldings and claimed to cure all manner of things including baldness flat feet and face ache” .…, well, I certainly get a touch of face ache now and then, or is it face acne I suffer? I like to think that by face ache they mean faces that are now pleasant to look upon become gradually more appealing as the pints of Neck Oil do their work.

Neck Oil is a brew from the gorgeous Beamish Hall Hotel away down the road in the wilds just outside of Stanley, County Durham. We went there a while back as one of Shaun’s brothers works in the micro brewery leaning the trade off the old boy who creates some truly excellent beer.stables_logo

Shaun’s brother is allowed to buy a few kegs at Christmas at a healthy discount and so, being the polite lad that he is, he bought several, and brought one up to our res last night. Now, apart from the fact that he caught the train up, I can barely forgive him for bringing just the one. ‘Twas gone in no time, but by ‘eco, we enjoyed every drop.

Were it not for our generally, and sometimes desperately, impecunious state, i’d insist that we head south, stay the night, or the weekend, at Beamish Hall, and do our bet to drink it dry.

Instead we’ll just have to rely on bro coming soon with more.

Best beef stew recipe – Beef in garlic and wine.

Tonight I have created a winner in the kitchen.

I have to record it so that I can do it again some time soon. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures. It didn’t last long enough!

Shaun had acquired a big joint of topside.

I have a big Le Creuset casserole that I found discarded and have cherished ever since.

And together we will feed an army of hungry students in a very fine fashion – even if only now and then. All they have to do to thank us is to bring a bottle of red wine to drink, and another bottle of red wine for the cellar that Shaun and I dream of one day owning – not a cellar in the sense that the Daily Telegraph might be excited by, just a few bottles in the corner of the bedroom will do us both fine.

Here’s what went in the pot tonight.

1.5 kgs of topside, sealed in the pan first.

a big onion roughly chopped

a bunch of celery

half a small jar of black peppercorns – honestly!

a bottle of red wine

the old jar of course grain mustard that has been there for ages

a bag of mixed lentils and grains

a bunch of carrots roughly chopped.

It went in the oven in the morning at full temperature. After ten minutes I turned it down to 100 degrees. And then forgot about it for a full six hours.

It fell to pieces and was utterly wonderful.

Oh bloody hell it was good.

Friday is sorted. Now, on with the wine.

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