Putting the Heart Back Into Whitley Bay

Putting the Heart Back Into Whitley Bay

Regular readers (both of you) might remember that I had a friend stay over a month or two back and I tried to show off the best of the North East of England for him. I wrote up the experience of the week here but, it could be summarised with ‘nice place, poor weather’.

Well, last weekend we had weather that we seldom get down at the coast.  Perfect sun and very nearly no clouds at all in the sky.  As we walked along the promenade I thought to myself, this deserves a follow up post!

The weather has been great now for the best park fo three week.  The grasses are turning brown and the rivers are drying up but it has been a great to live at the coast, plodding in the sea to cool off after a potter along the coast.  But Sunday was very hot and a very special day.  It was the day that there refurbished dome was opened to the public for the first time.

Anyone of a certain age in the North East remembers whitely bay as a vibrant go to destination on a summers day with fish and chips, bingo, amusements, arcades, fairgrounds, gift shops.  Basically, a proper English seaside holiday resort.

Well, about 20 years ago that all ended when the fairground closed down and the majority of the things that one would come to Whitley Bay to see, went.  So did the tourists and day trippers and so the downward spiral began.

When I move to the coast 13 years ago, the dome was in the opening stages of being refurbished and I have maybe been in two or three times since to see the progress.  The last time was at a Christmas market, I think 2016.  The place was freezing cold and stripped back to bare concrete with plaster falling off the walls and ceiling.

Walking along the prom, the sea was every shade of blue and shimmering as if it was encrusted with diamonds as the sun glinted off if.  The beach was full, the prom was full and there were a few dozen people in the sea.

 

 

The one solitary cloud in the sky looked like a make up removing pad floating in the sky, leaving the sun to penetrate the water so that you could see the rocks and stones deep below.  It really was like being on a Mediterranean holiday or, dare I say it, the Caribbean with golden sand.  The mods were out on the prom showing off their scooters but I wasn’t envious of their leathers and heavy helmets, just their super cool Vespas.

We reach the dome at a leisurely pace, overtaken by the land train that ferries happy children and not so happy parents back and forth along the prom.  There was a Jazz band playing in front and hundreds of folks all milling about looking happy and hot in the sun.  The original dome was built in 1910 and the whole place has been renovated with period features so the music was very much in keeping with the day.

 

As we snaked around the 2 floors and numerous bars and restaurants that now fill the space I am convinced that I was not the only one that was slightly emotional.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on how to sum up how or why that was the case.  Then I saw the banner that the council had put up explaining, “The heart is back in Whitley Bay”.  Like so many other things around this dome, they seem to have got it exactly right.

A chap sitting playing a piano in the centre of the room, with the dome above him with golden features painted on the glorious ceiling was just about the happiest things I’ve seen in a long long time.  None of the concession were open, it was just an opportunity to wander around the building and see what was to come, but it was perfect in my eyes.

I cant wait to get back in there and see if the service and quality of the food matches the building itself, I am sure it will and that is only a great thing for Whitley Bay.  Build it and they will come back.

Having done our lap, we walked off smiling to get lunch which consisted of chips and ice cream.  Well, it was the holidays after all!  As we walked with gentle and refreshing North Sea waves tickling our ankles we spotted jelly fish flopping about and so many cute dogs it was hard to take them all in.

I hope that this is the start of a very happy new chapter in the Whitley Bay story.

 

 

Our friend from the South

Our friend from the South

After a week off work entertaining my friend from the South, I can now sit back, relax and reflect on how it went.  I don’t means in terms of my hospitality or ability to entertain for three nights of course, I mean in terms of how I think the North faired on its judgement from the man in the South.
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St Mary’s Lighthouse in the half hour of sun from day one

Day one and I met him at the train station and we got the Metro to ‘The Coast’ as it is named on the Nexus maps (Nexus being the operator of the Metro system).  This caused a little bit of humour on the visitor’s behalf, the idea that there is only one coast that earned the definitive article title.

We dumped the bags and walked the dog through a local park and along the sea front.  The weather wasn’t the best, but it was shorts and hoodie weather for me. The Southern guest was cold and complained that it was colder that it was on Christmas Day in the South.  Bless him. His complaints were, I think, offset a little by the warmth of the fellow dog walkers that we chatted to and exchanged pleasantries with that warmed his heart a little, if not his hands.  He was certainly warmed by his first ever sighting of a previously unknown dog breed to him, the Bedlington terrier.

Bedlington
The dog walked, we set off with my kids for dinner or ‘tea’ as we call it!  We headed to Turknaz for a kebab.  Before all of the Northerners panic and think I’m mad and the Southerners tut and think I’m scummy, this wasn’t a 2am-post-ten-pints kebab, this was a posh kebab.  So posh in fact that they won the best regional kebab award 2018.  
 
We had a lovely meal and he got to know my kids who he was meeting for the first time.  We left full of kebab, hummus and falafel as well as the sickly sweet Baklava and ice cream.

Day two and we headed to the Northumberland coast.  We followed the coastal route from Blyth up to Bamburgh which, ordinarily, would give us amazing views.  However, on this day, the one where I wanted to show off my patch more than any other day, my luck ran out.  There was a fret that sat on the sea all day and capped visibility to no more than 500 metres. However, it turns out that fret is a Northern term that meant nothing to him so let me translate, it is a sea mist that is very localised to about 1 km inland at most.
We stopped at Amble for a break and wandered around the little gift shops that line the walk down to the harbour.
There is the usual tat, cheese, sweets and inspirational messages written on driftwood, but the main take away from the man from the South was the fact that so many people were wearing shorts and/or T-shirts.  I tried to explain that it wasn’t that cold and that people in the North tend to dress for the season, not for the weather it actually is.  He wasn’t having it so, walking past the pensioners enjoying their coffee outside, we went for a coffee indoors.  

We dropped into Spurreli’s Boutique Ice Cream shop and it was rather lovely.  It was confirmed that the prices were more on the Southern end of the scale than North but, as I found out since, it was voted one of the best ice cream parlours in the country so I guess that explains it.

We jumped back in the car and headed back North up the coast.  The mist was so intense that we really didn’t see too much but the castles that suddenly jumped out of the mist were, as always very impressive.  We ploughed on all the way up to Bamburgh then headed inland to Alnwick to see if we could avoid the sea mist.  We had fish and chips that were lovely in the town centre and, once again, had terrific chats with the staff.  What the North East let me down with in terms of weather, the people were certainly making up for it.
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As full as a gun we headed to Barter Books www.barterbooks.co.uk.  It is a second hand book shop in the old train station and is a Mecca for book readers that swarm from miles around.  Personally I find it expensive and over fussy, but the people who love it absolutely love it as the bun fight in the car park seemed to back up.  With the sun peeping through the clouds, it looked as if the fog might be lifting slightly and so we confidently set off again to the coast.  As we headed back down south on the A1068 Coastal Route the sun was shining on the delightful coloured houses at Alnmouth.
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We turned and headed for the sun and had a quick wander along the beach amongst the dunes and golden sands where the sun made a brief but most welcome appearance.  Feeling the cold again, we had to have an emergency warming coffee for the Southerner and were made to feel most welcome at The Village tearooms.

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Alnmouth giving us our daily allowance of sun
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Alnmouth driftwood
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Alan the Alnmouth Snail

It was getting later in the day and we were worn out but it was a lovely village that I had never really explored before, I have marked this down as one to head back to at some point soon, as there seemed to be some lovely independent shops and full of foodie heaven shops.

As we headed back home, I though it might be nice to show off a part of the North East that I love, North Shields fish quay.  We parked up in the harbour car park and took in the sights of the highlights and low lights, walked through the old walls and then watched a fishing boat dock in the fish quay as the huge car transporter, filled with Nissans, passed us on the way out to sea.  The fishermen on the boat, there were two of them, unloaded their catch without once touching the cigarettes hanging out of their mouths.  Their constant endeavour looked like back breaking work, add to that the dangers that these guys faced at sea and it really did look like a hard way to make a living.  

We talked to some people that worked for a charity that rescued seagulls and took them into their care. They were there to collect the scraps of fish from the fisherman to use as food. They told us that the mist we had suffered from all day was in fact a Haar. This is a very localised term, used on the east coast of Britain, to describe a mist that forms between April and September when warm moist air moves over the North Sea and condenses as it cools and is blown back inland.
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The weird thing was that, after we wandered through the fish quay, we bumped into a lady who asked us questions about fishing boats as if we had a single idea what any of the kit or hardware was. We exchanged stories and the little information that we did know and probably chatted for about 15 minutes. She told us all about how the mist was called a Haar. Having never heard the phrase in my life, I heard it from two different and unconnected people in the space of 20 minutes.

We decided to have a quick drink down on the quayside, an area that I had never been to for drinks, only fish and chip takeaways. We stopped at the Salty Sea Dog pub, it was very trendy and hipster.  The focus was on gins (isn’t it everywhere right now?) and real ales and had a Shoreditch hipster feel.  I half expected a penny farthing parking bay outside to be honest.  They did tapas snacks such as Chorizo and scotch eggs and the clientele was mainly smart young females. It was the last thing I was expecting for the building opposite the fish landing site.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

It had been a long day, full of travel and fresh air and I slept like a log.

On the Thursday, myself and my visitor both had other appointments and so we went our own ways and didn’t catch up until the afternoon. We took a trip along the coast and enjoyed a coffee in Cullercoats at Beaches and Cream.


I have always had nothing but good service and food there and so when I looked to get the above link I was surprised to see more than a handful of quite negative reviews.  We were served happily and, yet again, ended up having long conversations with two members of staff and the couple at the table next to us.  It would have been perfect, sitting outside watching the traffic and people pass by, if only there had been blue skies and the sea view.  The Haar, which was still persisting into day three, spoiled the sea view. 

I explained that there was a cafe called ‘The View‘ overlooking King Edwards bay that would have been lovely any other day.  The fact that there would be no view and that the service and food don’t have the best reputation meant we stuck with Beaches and Cream.

My man from the south was very impressed at the aspirational name of The View as we hadn’t seen more than 200 meters out to sea all week! In fact, he was asking in the local shops if we could get postcards of local landmarks that were a bit more honest and showed the Haar and mist rather than the clear blue skies.

Unperturbed, we walked along to the headland between Tynemouth and Cullercoats and, low and behold, the sun burnt through for a half hour and we could just about make out The Grand Hotel and The Priory at Tynemouth and enough sea to appreciate its power and rolling splendour.  It is such a shame that the weather gods didn’t smile on us, but we got a feel for what we could have won at least.  We watched a young man of around 25 years of age leave his partner and baby and decide to walk on the perilously narrow ledge onto the craggy rocks out at sea.  We were both blown away by his stupidity, he was half a slip away from being a dead man at the foot of the rocks some 30 feet below him with waves crashing over his body.  As he made it back, we felt a little cheated and disappointed that we had not seen natural selection in process so we headed home for showers and a change of clothes.

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As a thank you for being his tour guide and driver for the last few days, my friend wanted to take me to 21 for dinner.


This was way smarter than my usual restaurant and I had never been but I was well aware of its reputation of its head chef, the Michelin starred Terry Laybourne.  We were warmly welcomed for drinks at the bar and we were so well looked after, it was like walking into the restaurant on the TV show First Dates.  We were shown to our table and were very politely and professionally served Crab Lasagne with Chive Butter Sauce and for meGran Reserva Iberico Ham and Toasted Tomato Bread for starters.  

Mine was exactly what it said on the tin, two slices of toasted bread topped with tomatoes and a plate of ham.  I am not totally sure that it came out of a tin, but it was fantastically tasty.

For mains, I had Braised Shoulder of Beef with Two Celeries and my guest had Roasted Northumbrian Venison, Salt Baked Beetroot and Fresh Asparagus – Goats Cheese Croquettes.  It was every bit as pretentious and delicious as it sounds.  The beef fell apart and the gravy/jus was simply perfect.  The service was second to none, the staff were on hand but never interfering or in the way.  Perfectly mannered and perfectly drilled on how to look after the customers.

It had cleared into a warm and pleasant evening and so we walked along the Newcastle quayside and over the Millennium bridge.  It was such a pleasant evening and it was so nice to see so many people walking along the quay.  I heard all sorts of languages and saw all ages, sizes and shapes enjoying the warm, calm evening surrounded by the contrasting but beautiful buildings. Newcastle really is a nice city to call home.

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My guest was on the train back to the deep South on the Friday morning and so we just had time for a coffee with mid morning cakes!  We headed into Whitley Bay to try Kith and Kin.

I had been a few times before for breakfast and lunches and it really is quite lovely and quite London.  You know the sort, they sell things that contain halloumi, Chia, Avocado and almond milk and don’t think it’s funny.
Yet again, we were welcomed in with happy faces and warm welcomes.  I asked for a hot chocolate and was asked if I wanted dark, milk or white. They used real chocolate to make the stuff, not powder, and the idea of a white chocolate drink seemed too good to miss.  I wish I had missed it.  It was like drinking liquid milky bar, but more sickly, and by the time I got to the bottom of the cup it was just hot milk. Not the cafe’s fault, mine for a bad choice of overly sickly drink!
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My companion was dropped off at the metro, heading into town to get the train, and I think he was impressed. I’m not sure what he was expecting, nor was I really.  It did make me realise how nice my patch of the country is. There were so many places that I could have taken him to that we didn’t have time for.  There is no shortage of quality in terms of attractions, cafes, restaurants and views.  For every bit that the weather let me down, the famous northern hospitality certainly didn’t let me down….well, I hope it didn’t anyway!
It’s grim up North

It’s grim up North

For those of you that have been reading this blog for a little while, you will know that I have a friend that lives in a generic part of the United Kingdom that I will refer to as ‘down south’.  This pretty much covers the entire area from Lands End in Cornwall right up to the north of York, covering 100% of the dry area between the Irish coast/Atlantic Ocean  and the North Sea.

In response, he would describe anything north of Watford as ‘The North’ and treat us all as one big lump.  I would suggest, therefore, that anywhere between Watford and York be renamed ‘the Midlands’ and we leave it at that.

So, my brave old friend is going to venture North for a few days next week and wants to sample the delights that the North has to offer.  This is an unusual occurrence as I have found in the course of business during the last 20 years, the train from Newcastle to London takes about 25 minutes in the mind of Southerners.  We northerners must be ready to jump on a train and arrive ready and presented for a 9 am meeting, seemingly grateful that we have been given the opportunity to buy a thimble full of coffee for £4 and a £9 falafel (made with dolphin friendly, lint free wraps).

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Conversely ( I think it might be because travelling north is ‘uphill’) any trip up north is deemed to take about five months and has to be considered a journey of proportions akin to the movement from the east to west coast of America back in the gold rush days.  You set off from Kings Cross with a support party of around twenty people and arrive in Newcastle with your fingers crossed that you and half of your team have survived.  Talking all of this drama into account, I was excited to hear from my friend and his desire for adventure.

We have three days to fill and I am looking forward to showing him around.  It is a very difficult balancing act to get right.  I want to impress him and show him some of the beautiful things that we have to offer in the grim north, but I don’t want him to head home too happy.  He may well tell all his friends in the south about what we have tried to hide away from them for so long and trigger a mass movement of travellers and ruin things for us natives.

 

Joking aside, I am really looking forward to catching up with him, taking some time out, and showing off the best that the north east has to offer.  My plan is to spend day one walking from Whitley Bay down to Tynemouth, taking in the views, the sea air, the new promenade and the coffee shops on the coast before stopping for lunch at the critically acclaimed Riley’s Fish Shack.  I don’t like fish, but I am sure that they have something for me!

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Tynemouth Longsands (my own Picture)

Day two and I intend to don the hiking boots and head up to the beautiful Northumberland coast and walk along the perfect golden sands that stretch, uninterrupted, for miles.  Taking in the castles and the wildlife and the olde England tea shoppes on the way.  I intend to take my trusty camera with me and capture the best of the views and hope to share them with you.

The featured image above is from google but is of the beautiful Dunstanburgh castle.

Day three and we head into Newcastle centre to see if we can find something new to explore.  We have reservations at Cafe 21 in the evening and I am looking forward to some fine dining and fine chat while we put the world to rights between us.

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I will let you know how my part time job at the north of England tourist board works out!

Where has the time gone?

Where has the time gone?

Is it just me of is 2018 moving faster that you average year?

It seems like just yesterday that I was complaining about the ‘beast from the East’ and wearing two jumpers to get to work and here I am a good way through May sitting in the living room with sun pouring in through the window.

So, what have you missed out on since the last post back in March?

Well, we have booked a holiday!  Initially there were going to be six adults and four kids and so we were looking at a villa somewhere to house us all.  I have to say, it was a blooming nightmare.  We tried Air b’n’b but the process was painful and messy and so we were recommended a site called http://www.homeaway.co.uk

We had a few issues, mainly that we tried to book a place that was showing as available but when we tried to book we were told that it was unavailable.  Looking back, that sounds quite trivial, but when you spend night after night researching and filtering and negotiating with all of the people looking to travel and then you think you have found the perfect place, it was a right kick in the nuts.

In fact, it took so long to find a place that some of the party ducked out early!  So, with new filters to put in place, we found a great place in Italy in a village called Sermoneta in central Italy.

It looks to be a perfect quiet village on a hill above a swamp dating back to the 12th century.  It looks amazing and I cant wait to get out there.  It will be a great base to visit the Amalfi coast, Pompeii and, with my interest in the second world war, Anzio and Monte Casino.  I will have to see if I can get those trips past Titchy!

More then anything, I am looking forward to eating Italian food in a little old fashioned restaurant with an Italian grandma sitting in the corner laughing at us,  I want to ruin a white shirt eating by eating  pasta!

Looking into 2019, we have a family wedding to go to in Adelaide and are mixing that up with a trip to Kangaroo Island.  I can only cope with one trip at a time, but that will be the next one to think about!

Does anyone have any ideas for either trip, places that we must see or places that we must go?  I would be delighted to hear from you and even ore delighted if you have any car hire ideas!!

 

Catch Up

I can believe that it was way back in January since I last posted.  It feels like so much has happened in the blink of an eye.  Let me bring you up to date!

You may remember that I had a bot of a health scare back in January.  Shortly after that, I had the return of the foot pain that I had suffered from in November last year, all be it a few toes further along.  I decided to skip the GP and go and see a podiatrist and he referred me to get X-rays at the local hospital.

It turns out that the injury last year was a stress fracture as, apparently, is obvious by the below picture!  Apparently it has healed perfectly, despite the fact I was told it was ‘probably a strained ligament or something’ but they had no idea what was wrong with my new injury and suggested limping or not whinging.

I had set myself a target of running 350km in 2018 and not being able to run for the best part of two months has been a real pain.  I am happy to say that I am back on the road (literally) in that respect and managed to tick of a slow and painful 10k last night.  Progress!

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Foot Knack

I regularly walk past my camera as I walk out of the house and think “I should really take more pictures” and I feel really guilty that I never do despite loving it so much.  So, I dragged Titchy and the kids to Bolam Lake and took a few shots.  I never claimed to be any good, I am just in awe of how the camera does so much work on my behalf!

What else has been keeping me busy?  Well, we got ourselves a pair of cats last year, Dusty and Smudge.  I seem to spend most of my life being distracted by their lovely little snuffly great faces. Just look at them!

 

 

Oh, and in other news, we have booked our summer holiday.  We are heading to Sermoneta, which is a little village between Rome and Naples.  Pretty excited to be getting the family away and enjoying some Italian living for a week and the trip to Pompeii will be a highlight I’m sure.

 

A Load Of Balls

A Load Of Balls

I had had a nice night on Friday, it was date night and Titchy and I had a lovely evening chatting and being daft over a lovely meal in our local pub.  All of the kids  were away for the evening and so we were able to enjoy a lazy Saturday morning in bed and I volunteered to make the tea and butter the bagels.

As we sat, like a proper middle aged couple, drinking tea and reading our books and enjoy the peace and quiet.  I needed that rest.  I had been under the weather for a week or two.  Nothing bad enough to keep me off work like flu, but just me being at about 80%.  I had a pain across my lower back, I had lost my appetite and I was feeling a little sickly.

As I lay there, I wasn’t really reading my book, I was just looking through it as my mind wandered. I was as happy as I had been in ages.  I was lying comfortably in my new house, our relationship was going well, I was enjoying my job and my kids were happy and healthy.  We were thinking about holidays for the year and the world, as they say, was my lobster.

As my mind drifted and I started to think about where in the world we might like to go two questions hit me at almost the exact same second.  The first was “Why is it that when I am comfortable and I start to think about things do I always end up with my hand on my balls?”

The second question was, and this one felt a little more important,  “What the hell is that pain in my bollocks?”.  I hadn’t played football or been running as I had been under the weather and so it wasn’t a sports injury, so I continued to have a little root about.

I found a lump, about the size of a smartie, and it was as painful as having a child’s confectionary sized lump on the most sensitive part of your body.  I think Titchy must have seen the look on my face, she is used to me cupping my gentleman parts when I’m relaxing so I knew it wasn’t that, but I was in a bit of a panic.

“I’ve found a lump Titchy” I said. Well, I didn’t, I used her proper name, but you know what I mean.  “It won’t be anything to worry about, relax.  Most of the time these things are nothing serious” she said in her usual calm and comforting way.

It was too late for that, I was already waaaaay beyond panic and getting close to a full on meltdown.  I still have a load of things that I want to do, places I want to go and I want to see my kids grow up and I want to get old with Titchy.  I was too young to die of testicular cancer, this wasn’t fair.  I didn’t want to wait for a professional to diagnose me, I already knew. I was working out how I would look with no hair and wondering what songs to request at my funeral.  I wasn’t going to fight it off, I had already decided that I was done and dusted.

I can’t actually describe how I felt for the rest of the weekend. I was empty of feeling but full of anger and worry and bitterness that this was happening to me.  I felt, at the same moment, everything and nothing.  Titchy spent the rest of the weekend calming me down and telling me that I was going to be fine.  I tried my very best to believe her.

This morning I called the doctors and I made an appointment for 11 o’clock.  In my usual style I was there for 10.40 and as I sat in the waiting room I regretted being so early.  I would guess that there were about 20 people in there and 19 of them appeared to have a cough that wouldn’t stop.  I was going to get flu and this was exactly the sort of thing that was going to delay my chemotherapy session, I could tell.

Titchy sent me a message to ask how I was feeling; was I nervous about showing my bits to the doctor.  I didn’t care, I wanted to know how long I had left and I would happily run naked up the high street if it would get me the answers I wanted and needed.

I eventually got in to see the doctor and explained the confectionary growing on my  knackers situation.  He asked me to jump on the bed and take my pants off.  I was tempted to ask him to buy me a drink first but there is nothing like the sound of rubber gloves being snapped into position to kill any humorous vibes.

After a brief inspection (brief but not as tender as the way one would inspect oneself),  he wheeled away and the gloves were off now. Literally.  “Well, first thing to say is that there is nothing to worry about, it’s nothing to worry about…..”  I could see that his mouth was still moving but I couldn’t hear what he was saying.  I was in tears, floods of them.  I was going to be around for a bit longer and do and see all of the things that I was thinking about just 48 hours before.

The doctor’s mouth had stopped moving now and he looked at me in the same way that Titchy had looked at me when I first spotted the issue.  I snapped out of it and started listening again.  “I can see that you had assumed the worst, but it’s all fine.  It is more common for a man of your age to have a cyst down there than to not have one.”

I let the little jibe about my age go, I had other things to worry about.  I had a cyst on my testicle and that was normal.  That was a good thing and my life was going to be normal again.  I was given a prescription for antibiotics if I needed them, and I was out of there.

I texted Titchy right away to tell her I was fine and walked the 5 minutes back to my car.  I managed to hold myself together all the way through the reception area but as soon as I was outside I was back to crying.  I sat in my car and just sobbed my relief for a few minutes.  Everything was going to be fine.

So why, in this travel and photography blog, am I telling you all of this? Well, on the drive to the Metro station there was a section on the news about women avoiding smear tests due to the embarrassment of the procedure and, even worse, as they were ashamed of their bodies.  That’s crazy.

The last thing that was going through my mind while the doc had my crown jewels in his hand was “I hope my garden has been well trimmed”.  This was as close to life and death as I had ever been.

To all women readers – go for your tests and take care of yourself.  Unless you have two fannies or one that dispenses cappuccino, then its nothing that the professionals haven’t seen before. They care about your health, they don’t care what you look like down there.

To all of the male readers, I urge you to take a good look at your balls and give them a good old feel.  Even if you don’t feel anything wrong with you or them, then have a feel right now so that you know what normal feels like.  If you don’t feel anything, you had a play with your balls and that’s always good, if you do, then get it looked at as soon as possible.  It won’t get any better but it might get worse.

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Happy New Year

I am never sure what the cut off is for wishing people a happy new year.  I guess it must be some point after January 11th as I just did it, so apologies if your cut off is before this and I have offended.

Titchy and I had such a relaxing and happy Christmas and New Year break that I simply didn’t get around to writing when I intended, so apologies if anyone was eagerly awaiting an update (a total of zero people I suspect are covered by that apology).

At the start of 2017 I set myself a target or running 200km in the year.  That’s an average of 3.8km per week and so not a huge target, but I set it low so that I had no excuses for failure.

My first run of the year wasn’t until 22nd January and that was just 2.8k in the roasting afternoon heat of Costa Rica. The idea that the challenge would keep me running through the year wasn’t working as I only managed one other run in January and just one 5k in February.  March was totally static but I panicked into life in April as I had the North Tyneside 10k run to get through.

I ran 35k in total with two park runs and two 10k runs getting me back into it.  The odd 5k run per month for the rest of the year didn’t really help me get anywhere close to where I needed to be.  I was focusing on playing football and coaching kids football and moving house.  I just ran out of time or, to be more accurate, I ran out of motivation to get off my backside.

September to mid-November were pretty much write off’s as I had a foot injury that stopped me from walking never mind running.  That left me with 60km to do it 6 weeks, double my target weekly rate, or interest on my laziness for the rest of the year.

Now, the point of this blog post is the impact of setting that target at the beginning of the year.  Without that target I would have possibly done one, maybe two runs over the course of the winter months, as my previous history had proved.

But I had set a challenge. I was being measured and I had made it known to a load of different people, quite deliberately, that I had set the target.  This was to create my own pressure, the fear of looking like I had failed.  With that target in place, I got out of the house and worked out a plan.

You might not be a runner, it might bore you stupid or you might not be able to run.  But for the new year I wold urge everyone to set themselves a target.  Something do-able and something achievable. Make it know and put yourself under pressure to do something amazing, even if it just amazing to you.  It will help you to focus and work towards a target and, should you achieve it, you will feel like a million dollars.

So, with that in mind, what are my targets for 2018?

I have set myself a target of running 350 KM in 2018.  This is 6.7k per week but I intend to run longer on each run as I prepare for half marathons.  I have committed to running a half marathon in Vegas in November and the North Tyneside 10k run at Easter.  I have also entered the ballot for the great north run.  I need to train and, this year, I have double the motivation

From a travel point of view, I have a family wedding in Australia in 2019 and so that will be my big trip to plan and save for.  I have a trip to Vegas for the half marathon that I have mentioned and so have two trips I need to nail down;

  1. A trip to Shap to look at rocks. I used to love Geology at school and always said I would stay at the Shap Wells Hotel when I was there on a field trip.
  2. A family holiday with Titchy and the kids…..that will take some organising but I fancy Greece or maybe Italy!

Have a great 2018 and let me know your targets!