Life at the end of the road

January 28, 2013

Back to college :-)

Filed under: daily doings, shed/house, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 8:01 pm

A dark, wet and windy evening here and I’m just plonking away on the old laptop with a glass of scrumpy in my hand Smile 17:30 is a little early I know but my brain is fried with circuit diagrams, thermocouples, thermistors and the ‘38.5 ohm fundamental’ Sad smile Having not quite grasped the  wiring diagram given us for homework I figured that Weston’s ‘Cloudy Cider’ might help Smile  Silly me Sad smile Oh well, the night is young, the cider gone so perhaps clarity well arrive later Smile

Anyway, I digress, the purpose of tonight’s effort was to finish off yesterday’s trip to Tynemouth and its priory . I had done the walk there last year but by the time I arrived the place was shutting so I returned yesterday.


Starting first with a tour of the outside walls, not because I was that interested in them but because I thought that the £4.50 entrance fee was a little steep.


I have to say that after checking out the beautiful artwork done by centuries of sand and salt laden air on the soft sandstone I figured it was worth a look inside.





The twelfth century priory stood on the site of a much older church and was sadly destroyed during the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII who was sorely pi55ed off with the Pope. His lust for money, power, Anne Boleyn and a male heir prompting him to split with the church of Rome. Had he known just what a fine queen Elizabeth  (from his first marriage with Catherine of Aragon ) made I doubt he’d have bothered, but that’s guys for you Smile

Mind you, by all accounts Catherine wasn’t much to look at and Anne was a bit of a babe.


Anyway, back to the ruins

edit ‘The cider must be affecting your history memory as well! Of Henry’s wives, Catherine of Aragon (first one) produced Mary, not Elizabeth; Anne Boleyn (second) was the mother of Elizabeth; ‘

comment from Iain MacB, who obviously listened when he was at school Smile 



and it’s hard to imagine how on earth the masons of 900 years ago did all this with hand tools and man power, none of them actually seeing the process from start to finish. Life expectancy then being a matter of three or four decades at most for an artisan and such construction projects taking many more years to complete.

This little bit on the end being added in the sixteenth century the Oratory of St Mary or Percy Chapel.



It’s only around 16’ x 12’ but the ceiling and stained glass windows are amazing.


This was all very well and interesting but my main reason for parting with £4.50 to English Heritage was to go and check out the coastal battery and recently restored magazines for the 6” guns.


 Gun battery at Tynemouth

Me being a bit of an ‘anorak’ in the naval gunnery department was most dischuffed to find this particular part closed for the winter Sad smile


Having dived on a few wrecks that had these guns fitted and visited the old batteries at Loch Ewe on several occasions I was looking forward to seeing the arrangements for hauling the 6” shells and their cordite bags up to the guns Sad smile





However I just had to content myself with a tour of the locked up exterior Sad smile






Still, at least you could see where they kept their rifles Smile


Fat lot of good they’d have been against a battleship Smile

Even though it was a little disappointing I did manage to pass a few hours there admiring the various forms of brickwork, masonry, concrete and gravestones spanning almost one thousand years of occupation of this strategic fortification above the Tyne.


Sure, there were probably people here in Roman times and before, but their footprints had long gone under ruins of later civilizations, still, it is a rather grand and impressive location Smile


view new house 001

Though I have to say that I prefer the views from our new house Smile


view new house 003

I doubt it will be there in 900 years but I’m sure something will be Smile

view new house 002

That will be the views from kitchen, utility room, and living room, OK, not quite as sunny as Tynemouth but it’s where I’d rather be Smile

January 27, 2013

A day in ‘The Republic’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, shed/house, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:35 pm

Sunday, 17:30 and I think that I’m going round the bend, only one third of my ‘sentence’ by with and I’m seriously fed up Sad smile The college work is just fine, it’s interesting and by the time I get home, or should I say back to the B&B and have a bite to eat it’s almost time for bed. Well perhaps more a case of sitting on the bed and watching the ‘one eyed monster’, though I have to say the novelty of the television is starting to wear thin after a week Sad smile I don’t watch TV at home, in fact I hate the thing and would quite happily bin it were it not for wife and child. However with nothing else to do other than eat and drink in pubs and restaurants I’ve been finding a diet of Frost, Whitechapel, Lewis and Poirot a pleasant distraction, though I seriously wonder if there are actually any people left in the village of Midsomer Smile 

The last couple of days at the college have been particularly interesting as much of it has been taken up with generators and batteries, two things that are very close to my heart Smile Is that sad or what Smile



I got really excited by this lead topped bench and the old ‘Chloride’ displays Smile

004  005 006

Not to mention the Nife battery poster Smile


What I did not get excited about was this


the sight that greeted me on Friday morning, more friggin snow Sad smile

It was however refreshing to receive these from wifey



on Friday night and to learn that it had been yet another good day on Raasay


with more progress on the house front. The timber frame walls were now fastened onto the foundations


and just for good measure held in place with a forklift Smile The forecast being for wind, lots of it, so Lachie was obviously not taking any chances Smile


So after a night in front of the box with a bottle of wine for company and not a great deal to look forward to, I wakes up to an email from ‘The Republic’ a very snowy republic Smile I’ve been trying to meet up with Steve for months but have been thwarted at every turn by circumstance. Despite being down here in the vicinity for almost three months last year I never managed to ‘hook up’ with my fellow ‘off gridder’ in the wilds of Northumbria.

The snow was by no means as bad as it was on Friday, but it was still there and would be far worse inland, however my mate phones me to say that he’ll meet me in his Land Rover at the nearest village a few miles from his house. Even so the 50 mile drive took me deeper and deeper into Northumbria’s dark interior Smile



The solid black roads became quieter, the drifts deeper and they eventually gave way to to black lines on the single white track.


The last few miles being covered in Steve’s Discovery,


an essential tool for getting up to ‘The Republic’ at this time of year.



Steve’s house being powered by this WhisperH80 and 2kW of solar PV,

the turbine, despite its rugged looking components and sturdy build has not been a success. In fact I think Steve is on his third one Sad smile I really like the look of this turbine, it seems to have large bearings, heavy castings and lots of stainless steel. I dunno whether they’ve outsourced production to China but they just seem to keep falling apart Sad smile In fact I’ve just received an email saying that the one in the picture has just died Sad smile and looking on their website it looks like they were just bought out recently, on the 13th of January no less, and there is no longer any mention of the above turbine.


After my excellent visit to

I had yet another night alone with a bottle of wine and the TV and had a lie in, OK, it was only 9:00am but late enough for me.

The day was lovely, if not a little breezy, so after a breakfast that was slightly smaller than usual I set off north toward the Tyne.




Just in time to catch the MV Spirit of the Tyne to North Shields,



the river being surprisingly busy


with vessels of all sizes. The Banff registered trawler Bountiful of just a few tons and the 60,000t monster  Pleiades Spirit registered in Panama being another. The trawler looked like she was heading for a rest and the car carrier fully laden with Nissan’s I guess, or at least going to load them after discharging something else.

Once at the other side I planned to pickup where I’d left off one Sunday four months ago in September. A sunny September afternoon that saw me arriving at the Tyneside priory just as it was closing and then contracting food poisoning from a well known chippy near the ‘fish quay’ Sad smile A dose that had me stuck on the toilet and not eating for almost a week Sad smile


Little remains of the warren of properties that covered the river bank on the north side but that building outlined in red is one.


When I was here last year the windows were bricked up and it looked derelict but it looks like it’s about to get a new lease of life as part of some yuppie development.


That’ll be an artists impression that was pasted to the security fence Smile nice to see the building being saved, can’t imagine the developer was too chuffed at not being able to flatten it and put more of those lovely flats Smile



Very 21st century Smile


Anyway it’s 22:30 and I need my bed so I’ll finish this off tomorrow.

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