Life at the end of the road

February 2, 2013

‘From Cullercoats to Whitley Bay’ :-)

Filed under: boats, daily doings, food, South Shields — lifeattheendoftheroad @ 10:06 pm

Well, actually it was much further but I’ve always wanted to use that as a post title ever since arriving here in September Smile Not that it will make much sense to most readers but it’s a line from,

Songwriters: KNOPFLER, MARK

Getting crazy on the waltzers but it’s the life that I choose
Sing about the sixblade sing about the switchback and a torture tattoo
And I been riding on a ghost train where the cars they scream and slam
And I don’t know where I’ll be tonight but I’ll always tell you where I am
In a screaming ring of faces I seen her standing in the light
She had a ticket for the races, yeah just like me she was a victim of the night
I put my hand upon the lever said let it rock and let it roll
I had a one arm bandit fever there was an arrow through my heart and my soul
And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
And I’m just high on the world
Come on and take a low ride with me girl
On the tunnel of love, yeah love
It’s just a danger, and when you’re riding at your own risk
She said you are the perfect stranger, she said baby just keep it like this
It’s just a cakewalk twisting baby step right up and say
Hey mister give me two give me two now, ’cause any two can play
And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
And I’m just high on the world
Come on and take a low ride with me girl
On the tunnel of love, oooh love
Well it’s been money for muscle another whirligig
Money for muscle and another girl I dig
Another hustle just to, just to make it big
And rockaway, rockaway, oh rockaway, rockaway
And girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
Like the Spanish City to me when we where kids
Oh girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
Like the Spanish City to me when we where kids
Check it out
She took off a silver locket she said remember me by this
She put her hand in my pocket I got a keepsake and a kiss
And in the roar of dust and diesel I stood and watched her walk away
I could have caught up with her easy enough but something must have made me stay
And the big wheel keep on turning neon burning up above
And I’m just high on this world
Come on and take a low ride with me girl
On the tunnel of love, yeah love love
On the tunnel of love, oooh love love
And now I’m searching through these carousels and the carnival arcades
Searching everywhere from steeplechase to palisades
In any shooting gallery where promises are made
To rockaway, rockaway… rockaway, rockaway
From Cullercoats and Whitley Bay out to rockaway
And girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
Like the Spanish City to me when we where kids
Girl it looks so pretty to me just like it always did
Like the Spanish City to me when we where kids

Tunnel Of Love lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group


Tunnel of Love by Dire Straits. Probably the greatest sound to come out of this part of the world and a band that I regret never having seen Sad smile 

When I abandoned ‘Thatcher’s Britain’ in 1985 for self imposed exile on Scalpay both she and Dire Straits were at their zenith. I left Accrington with all their LP’s and by the time I got back into music, Dire Straits had split up and CD’s were the ‘order of the day’ Sad smile

Anyway, what brought all this on was a decision to head north this morning, I’d awakened at 7:00am with absolutely no idea what I was going to do for the day. Home was just out of the question, despite my desperation to see Lachie’, Angus and Donald’s work with my own eyes. I had seriously considered going to ‘Dip’s’ 50th bash on Arran,

but figured my ageing body couldn’t cope with it Smile It’ll be just getting warmed up now and I’m wishing I was there but I’d have been a zombie for the rest of the week Sad smile A trip to visit MiL in Girvan was considered, as was a journey back to but in the end I decided to check out the Northumbria coast and some new and old haunts.



Cullercoats, Whitley Bay, its ‘Spanish City’ and Craster being new ones. I spent many happy weekends a little further north but have always wanted to visit Craster on account of its famous kippers .

My trip north however was not without its problems Sad smile I only got as far as the Tyne Tunnel whereupon I discovered that I was 5p short Sad smile or should I say, I had enough money but the machine dose not accept ‘copper’ Sad smile So, with a long queue behind me I presses the ‘help button’ , I’m 5p short says I, well you’ll have to put your hazard warning lights on and wait 10 mins says the voice, then we’ll come and use your debit card!!! Ten friggin minutes of traffic jam for five friggin pence!!!!!! bearing in mind that the machine doesn’t actually give change. The world has gone mad, how many folk have been through here today with two pound coins instead of £1.60 in change and this  t**t wont let me through the barrier despite the fact that I’ve actually put the right amount of money in the tray Sad smile Fortunately I managed to find wifey’s ‘trolley coin’ and tossed that in after only a five minute wait.


002  004

Of course the first thing that I did when arriving at Whitley Bay was check out the local fishing boats, which could not be more different from what you find on the west coast of Scotland. Hardly surprising really for conditions could not be more different. No deep water here right up to the shore, or harbours sheltered by islands, no the Yorkshire and Northumbrian coast is shallow for about half a mile off shore and has no sheltered inlets, lochs and very few islands to give sanctuary in a gale, it’s few ports are mainly tidal and access mainly down shallow sandy beaches. Hence the long and narrow ‘coble’ with its flat bottom and high prow, the flat bottom and  narrow beam making suitable for launching and beaching in the surf, it’s high bow giving it good sea keeping properties in the right hands, for this lack of beam is very unforgiving when broadside onto  the sea.



These examples even featured propellers on a jointed shaft that could be drawn up between the keels prior to recovery by a tractor.

Further north from Whitley Bay lies Blyth


where I stopped to have a walk along the dunes and check out the old 6” gun batteries there, the building on the left being the WW1 observation tower with it’s rotating turret and the one on the right being the more modern WW2 version.


It’s hard to tell from the pictures but they are actually pink!!!!! which was in fact the correct colour for WW2 Smile


008  011  050

Probably not everyone’s ‘favourite cup of tea’ but I love them and there’s no shortage of them here, from megawatt versions to a 6kw Proven and a very rare 600w Proven.

The ‘Craster kipper’

Lunchtime saw me a little further up the coast at Craster a picturesque fishing village that I’ve never actually visited, despite spending many weekends just a few miles up the coast.


Here the traditional coble, pronounced co-ble has been replaced by a more modern design of fibre glass boat, the ‘Offshore 105’ and its smaller cousin.



However it’s interesting to see that both of them have been modified in such a way as to allow beach launching and recovery Smile Though I can’t imagine all this steelwork at the stern doing much for performance and economy Sad smile

Craster is supposed to be the birthplace of the English kipper and one of its finest, well the first I doubt but the second I can vouch for, it’s certainly the best kipper I’ve ever tasted.



The smokehouse is on the main street, you can see the decades of tar running down the walls and smell the beautiful aroma Smile Robson’s shop and cafe was closed so I went to one up the road,


016  055

The ‘Shoreline Cafe’ in Craster was warm, welcoming and even in February busy, the food was tasty, the coffee lovely and the service first class. I couldn’t find a website but I found some great reviews on ‘trip advisor’ , well they were all good apart from the one below Smile


The place was nice, it was a nice day, cloudy but not rainy, they removed all chairs from outside and we couldn’t sit out.. had a coco, cake and some tea, shame I couldn’t stay there for long, the smell was too much, it’s like sitting in a kitchen with all mixed smells of cooking.. it wasn’t pleasant!!! we cracked…

You’ve gotta laugh really the smell was too much, it’s like sitting in a kitchen with all mixed smells of cooking.. obviously ‘Layla L’ from Bahrain is used to ‘boil in the bag’ food Smile Smile Smile 

The best kipper and the worst chippy

So far I’d been on new turf, but my next ‘port of call’ was an old stomping ground from a quarter of a century ago.


The worst and most expensive bag of chips in my life was purchased from this very establishment some 25 years ago Sad smile  Hopefully they’ve changed both the chip fat and management since then Smile For fat it was and not oil, or at least that’s what it tasted like Sad smile the greasiest and soggiest bag of chips in my life came from the Beadnell  ‘Fish & Chip’ takeaway one ‘diving weekend’ many moons ago and I’ve never forgot it.

Often I’d join my mates from Wakefield sub aqua club for a weekend at with its easy access to the beach. The beach was just across the road and with a Land Rover you could launch a RIB and get out to the Farne Islands with its many wrecks.

By the looks of it now the beach has been fenced off to vehicular access so it’s probably a trip up to Seahouses to get in the water. The last time I was there was probably 1982ish to dive on the wreck of the SS Somali,



Description: Ocean liner / passenger-cargo steamer
Built: 1930
Propulsion: Quadruple-expansion steam engines with five boilers
Weight (tons): 6809
LengthxWidth (m): 140 x 19 (459ftx61ft)
Reason sinking: Air raid
Date sunk: 27/03/1941
Position: 55°34’073N 01°36’094W
GPS: N 055 34 134 W 001 36 097
Max | Min Depth: 28 | 19

Sunk by some Heinkel bombers in WW2 it is a huge and spectacular wreck, or at least it was when I last saw it Smile



Next stop was Bamburgh  and its castle but I’m too tired to tell you about it right now Sad smile So I’ll have to finish this off later.


  1. Looks like an interesting day out Paul, with lots to take in, though it hardly makes up for not being at home! The rock sliders on that oat look rather more practical that aesthetic! I net the drag they create would be horrendous! Hopefully the college work will soon be over and it will be time to head back up North!


    Comment by fingalextravaganza — February 2, 2013 @ 10:19 pm

  2. Recognised the lyrics straight away:)

    Comment by Rosie — February 2, 2013 @ 10:42 pm

    • A pure classic Rosie 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 10:43 pm

  3. Hi Paul

    Good to see a good Craster kipper…never better than when served for breakfast by Stan Hall before a days diving on the Farnes

    Comment by Robin Smith — February 2, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

    • I can just feel that kipper repeating on me at 3m whilst decompressing in a northerly swell 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 2, 2013 @ 11:08 pm

  4. Looks like my day out was spent looking east, crasta just beyond the camera’s reach..

    Comment by The Peoples Republic of Northumbria — February 2, 2013 @ 11:30 pm

  5. You’ve a bad effect on me Paul…in accordance with my medic’s instructions I’ve been struggling to “eat healthy” (ie very low chorestrol)…since seeing your post I’ve been out and bought myself a kipper for tomorrow’s breakfast…couldn’t resist it…your fault entirely (ok I’m lying/exagerating, but who’s to know anyway?)…

    All the best


    Comment by Cogidubnus — February 2, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

    • What!!!!! you can buy kippers in Suffolk after 10:00pm, or is it Sussex 🙂 Whatever Dave, I’m sure it will do you no harm whatsoever 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 3, 2013 @ 12:29 am

      • Absolutely Paul…It’s Sussex and I’d just been “up the road” when I posted…you can buy a kipper until midnight if such is your wish!

        In addition many miles along the road in Hastings Old Town, a hole in the wall will sell you fresh (caught that day) herring, hot, in bread until about that time (or at least they did a few years back!).

        All the best


        Comment by Cogidubnus — February 3, 2013 @ 11:51 am

  6. I was thinking how perky Mark Knopfler was looking in the video and then used me fingers to notice it was recorded 33 years ago. We were all Sultans of Swing back then! Have you found an app called Spotify yet? There is a free version, which suits my Scottish sensibilities, and it will search for whatever music you choose. For example, it lists more than 60 Dire Straits tracks. (You know Guitar George, he knows all the chords!).

    Comment by drgeo — February 3, 2013 @ 12:30 am

    • I know ‘guitar George’ DrG but I have no idea what an ‘app’ is 😦

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 3, 2013 @ 12:45 am

      • Sorry, an “app” is a computer application, or program. Googling “Spotify” should locate it for you. I have a Scottish computer (Macintosh) so don’t speak fluent Windows.

        Comment by drgeo — February 3, 2013 @ 6:16 am

  7. Lovely step through the area Paul ans always reading you’re blog I felt as if I was actually with you.
    Kippers, I love them, had the Craster ones, and some from a smokehouse north of the border and there is no finer breakfast or lunch. Unfortunately my missus doesn’t like them or the smell of them when cooking so it is a luxury food for me when she makes me some and appreciated even more because she has done so despite her hatred of them.
    You will notice that once again I am posting in the wee small hours. Insomnia has returned so it was a nice surprise to read your latest blog having missed it earlier.
    Only a few days till you see the hoose yourself and I know that your journey home will be an enjoyable one knowing that you will be home for some time this time.
    all the very best

    Comment by Thomson Caravans — February 3, 2013 @ 3:39 am

  8. Hi Paul
    I would never have had you down as a Dire Straits fan with all that electronic music you listen to 🙂 . I meant to ask you about the boiler you are putting in the new house. Is it oil fired?

    Comment by Derek — February 3, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

    • Hi Derek,

      the boiler is wood fired and only for emergencies, in fact I’m not even going to install it initially. Yup, Dire Straits, David Bowie, Deep Purple and the Rolling Stones are all in my catalogue 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 5:44 pm

      • Deep Purple! One of my favourite rock bands. Ritchie Blackmore was my inspiration to play electric guitar 🙂 . He’s a bit of an eejit but a lot of creative people are.

        Comment by Derek — February 4, 2013 @ 7:00 pm

      • Somewhere buried deep within the bowels of a shipping container I have one of the best live albums ever made, ‘Made in Japan’

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 7:36 pm

      • Incidentally Derek, listening to that track I just remembered, did you know that ‘Funky Claude’ died a few weeks ago.

        In 1971, Deep Purple decided to produce and record their album Machine Head in Montreux. The group was also scheduled to record at the Montreux Casino, shortly after Frank Zappa performed. During Zappa’s concert, the venue caught fire and reduced the Casino to ashes. Nobs saved several young people who had hidden in the casino, thinking they would be sheltered from the flames. This act earned him a mention (as Funky Claude in the line Funky Claude was running in and out pulling kids out the ground) in the song “Smoke on the Water”, which is about the incident. Also, on the inner liner of the original album, Nobs’ picture was the only one labeled with a name other than those of the band members themselves.

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 7:55 pm

      • Hi Paul
        Yes I knew that Claude Nobs had died. Not many people get immortalised in song. There are a number of interviews with ‘funky Claude’ on YouTube with him talking about the song. It was him that persuaded the band to include it onthe Machine Head album . I’ve just ‘dug out’ a rare DP record I have in purple vinyl! These were the days 🙂

        Comment by Derek — February 4, 2013 @ 8:03 pm

      • Also, sadly, Jon Lord died last year.
        Nobody could quite get a Hammond organ to sing the way he could.

        Comment by Derek — February 4, 2013 @ 8:36 pm

      • Gosh Derek, that one passed me by, Jon must have died on my ‘week off’

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 8:42 pm

  9. craster an Seahouses mate ,,, what can one say,,, cept you have at last found your way north thro that tunnel to prob the best place or two on the planet,,, it’s about time your built in compass gave a true reading !!

    Comment by brian wells snr — February 4, 2013 @ 6:25 pm

    • Hi Brian, it’s a bonny part of the world right enough, pity the sea is so murky for most of the year 🙂

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 4, 2013 @ 7:39 pm

  10. Hi Paul I can remember many a journey up to the north east with you on diving trips listening to dire straits and a hand full of sausages in tin foil on the manifold for breakfast. Happy days.

    Comment by MW — February 5, 2013 @ 7:32 pm

    • Aye MW, ‘happy days’ indeed, you know I’d forgotten all about the sausages rolls in tinfoil sat on the manifolds. I seem to remember a Ford V6 produced the most evenly cooked dish 🙂 🙂 🙂 Do you remember ‘scallop surprise’ for breakfast too and corned beef hash in the same pan for days, we just used to keep reheating it and then adding baked beans 🙂 🙂

      Cheers, Paul

      Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 5, 2013 @ 7:40 pm

      • What was the Ford V6? A 3ltr Granada or Capri?

        Comment by Derek — February 5, 2013 @ 7:46 pm

      • Nay Derek, twas a 2.3lt Cortina fitted with 2.8 Granada engine and Sierra 5 speed box, it would tow a RIB at 100mph, Oh the stupidity of yoof 🙂

        Comment by lifeattheendoftheroad — February 5, 2013 @ 7:53 pm

  11. Ye remember all that,good times scallop surprise breakfast dinner and tea on some occasions.

    Comment by MW — February 5, 2013 @ 8:09 pm

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