Sunday, 29 December 2013

Curry Evening

The Duff family gathered at Euan & Cathy's house last night.  Rowena and Heather cooked a curry specially for the evening - and very fine it was too.  Jane and Chris were visiting with their children - complete with an electric shock pen and magic marker pen to keep everyone on their toes.  And Richard nobly donated some of his Christmas beer - for which YC was most grateful.  Here are a few photos of the evening.
the assembled throng
assembled throng mark 1

enjoying the starter
a jolly time was had by all

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Heather & John

Congratulations to Heather Duff and John Ridley who are engaged to be married.  John proposed on Granny Duff's seat in The Haven.  The only hitch was when some people were inconveniently using the seat when Heather & John arrived there on their walk.  Fortunately after a few minutes, the other folk took the hint and bootled off, allowing John to pop the question.  Heather was delighted to accept.  They are to be married at Holy Saviour's Church next April. 

And if that wasn't enough cheery news to brighten your day, here's a merry Christmas cracker joke to send you on your way rejoicing.

Where do poorly gnomes go?  The elf centre.

Ho ho!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas Edition on line

Click here (pdf link) to be taken to your Christmas edition of Birtley News.

What do you call 2 rows of cabbages?
A dual cabbage-way.

As Santa says when he's gardening - ho ho ho!

Happy Christmas.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Picnics in Peru

Nina Laurie is working and travelling in South America.  For the last 5 weeks she has been in Peru in Andahuaylas, a rural town in the central southern sierra which she has visited off and on for the last 30 years.  When she isn't working, Nina finds time to watch the local birdlife which includes 5 varieties of humming birds.  There is also time for picnics accompanied by coffee produced on her friend Isaias's father's coffee farm.  The mountain scenery is wonderful with walks up to 4,000 metres - check out the photo opposite.

Nina also finds to time to attend the local church which she reports is "slightly more lively than evensong at Holy Saviour's".  Watch out Nina, the 10 am family service at Holy Saviour's is waiting for you on your return!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A visit to Krakow

Mr & Mrs Rev T have been visiting the Krakow Duffs.  An enjoyable time was had by all.  Highlights included taking a horse and carriage ride (see photo below) and visiting The Sports Bar of The Sheraton Hotel where the following conversation took place:

Matthew - It says on the menu that you qualify for a free drink if you are a sportsman.
Granny -  Does swimming in the sea count?
James - Yes, but the free drink is a cup of tea.
Grandpa - I've had my tea!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Only Cardiff gives you Brains

YC visited Emma Duff at The Queen's Foundation, Birmingham where she is training for ordination.  After checking out The Wellington pub - 15 real ales on tap - we walked along the canal to Queen's which is in Edgbaston.  Friday evening was spent in the Common Room where Emma is in charge of the bar (vital ordination training). 

On Saturday we headed to Cardiff to see Wales v Argentina.  Supporting Argentina wasn't overly attractive and we didn't know their anthem, so Wales (My Hain Gwlad vern hadai...) got the vote.  It proved to be a wise move, as Wales ran in 4 tries to nil, winning 40-6.  2 of the tries - Mike Phillips and George North - were right in front of us. Before the game, we checked out The Goat Major  - a cracking pub offering Brains Bitter at only £2.64 a pint.

Sunday morning was spent at St Francis Church, Bournville, where Emma is to be placed for this year.  The Bishop of Aston was on hand for a confirmation.  After Sunday lunch in college and a stroll around the grounds, YC headed home reflecting on a good weekend. 

Remember readers - only Cardiff gives you Brains.

pre-match line-up
At The Millennium Stadium

Queen's Chapel

Monday, 4 November 2013

RYA Instructor Week

YC has spent the last week in Norfolk, training to be an RYA sailing instructor.  This has involved sailing yeomans (small keelboats) with the Nancy Oldfield Trust on Barton Broad - and very enjoyable it was too.  Techniques learned included lying-to, man overboard, and the RYA method of tacking.  YC, with Ian Bowmaker and Bill Bacon, emerged as RYA instructors at the end.  The next step is to pass on all this new-found wisdom on a Green Wyvern week - stand by one and all!

There was a chance for a minor celebration at the De-rigging Party on Saturday at Cantley.  YC would like to reassure readers that he didn't drink any of the lovely Reedham Gold (3.6% ABV) or wash it down at the end of the evening with a dark rum.
"The Ark" on Barton Broad
heading out of Neatishead

the new instructors - Bill, Jane, Ian, Fi, YC

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Krakow News

James and family have moved to Krakow, Poland.  YC visited them at the weekend.  You can fly from Newcastle - so it's as quick as catching the train to London.  It's also appreciably cheaper than London - the local Zloty goes much further than a pound or a euro.   The weather was beautiful, with unseasonably warm autumn sunshine.

While there, YC joined the British expedition to climb the mound, played football in the garden with Matthew, and (under duress) forced the odd local beer between his parched lips.  

A jolly time was had by all, and YC can definitely recommend a late break to Krakow.  But be prepared - it drops to minus 20C in winter!

In Krakow Rynek Square
rooftop bar of Sheraton Hotel

jump to it

conquering the mound

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tynemouth Long Sands to King Edward's Bay in one easy swim

Have any readers been sea-swimming recently?  YC and Chris Smith took advantage of calm conditions to swim from The Long Sands to King Edward's Bay.  The sea was flat and the tide was high, meaning we could investigate the rocks at Sharpness Point.  Downwards visibility to the sea-floor was poor, but upwards visibility to the horizon was superb - as these photos from Chris show.  Afterwards, YC sang for his supper at Evensong (some great hymns and chants), then slaked the raging swimmer's thirst at The Tynemouth Lodge.  It's a tough life if you don't weaken...
YC leaves the Long Sands
following in Chris's wake

heading for Sharpness Point
Tynemouth Priory for a backdrop

Monday, 16 September 2013

Mimosa wins Yare Navigation Race

Mimosa stormed to victory in this year's Yare Navigation Race.  The crack (sic) crew of Andy Gordon, Dave Valentine, and YC worked hard for their victory.  The race is 32 miles long, with an out and back course along almost the whole length of the river Yare.  The idea is to take the tide down to the mark on Breydon, then the flood back upriver to the finish at Coldham Hall.  

Mimosa managed it spot on, hitting the Breydon mark at slack water.  In the end we won by several minutes once the handicap had been taken into account.  Skipper Andy "I don't have a competitive bone in my body" Gordon was not at all pleased with the result, and Dave Valentine definitely didn't celebrate with any beer whatsover.

The YNR is a big race (over 50 boats were entered) and all the top racing yachts (Mimosa included, naturally) were there.  YC has just one word to sum it up - Mimosatastic!
the winning crew

Dave & Andy on Mimosa

Monday, 9 September 2013

I'll name that church in...

1 From the photo alone
2 From the Northumbrian saint and king who lived 1400 years ago
3 From having driven past it lots of times on the Military Road, but never having stopped to take a closer look
4 From the battle of Heavenfield where the saint and king won the day (come on readers, that's lots of clues!)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Jacksons in Tynemouth and sailing on Stella

The Jacksons were in Tynemouth in August.  Brian & Gill were staying chez YC whilst Ingrid & Max were just around the corner with Philip & Angela.  The weather was surprisingly good - so it was straight down to the beach for Max to enjoy the Costa del Long Sands.  Andrew & Diane called round for afternoon tea - and Diane's old coffee table (now residing with YC) was wheeled out and put through its paces.

More recently YC has been sailing on the fine craft Stella Genesta with Mr & Mrs Old Salt.  The fine weather continued, with blue skies and a good breeze making for pleasant sailing.  Stella made it to Brundall, Beccles, and Oulton.  The best beer was to be found in The Waveney House Hotel, Beccles (Adnams Bitter) whilst the most reasonably priced beer was Greene King IPA at The Waveney, Oulton Broad (£2.50 a pint - hurrah).   The best mooring was on the yacht club at Oulton Broad with splendid isolation and a sunset - all available at a very realistically priced mooring fee (just add an 'R' to the previous word).
Ingrid, Max & Gill
Brian, Diane & the coffee table

sailing down Oulton Dyke
sunset on Oulton Broad

Sunday, 25 August 2013

A party for Roger

The King Edward's Bay Swimmers gathered for a celebratory lunchtime party in Tynemouth today.  The occasion was a delayed celebration for Roger's birthday.  Elaine's garden was the venue.  The menu included cucumber sandwiches, cheese and olives, all washed down with sparkling wine.

YC hastens to reassure readers that the KEBS had been out in force for their morning dips this weekend.  Furthermore, hardy souls such as Roger walk each day from Earsdon for the pleasure of a morning swim.  They'll be there tomorrow morning if any reader fancies joining them.  Sunshine guaranteed (possibly).
The KEBS wish Roger happy birthday
Elaine and Roger

Here's to Roger
Annette receives a helping hand with her glass

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

swimming in the slow lane, or travelling in the fast lane?

Celebratory birthday swims at Kings Edwards Bay are clearly catching on.  YC saw in his birthday with a morning dip - and very pleasant it was too.  For readers wondering just how many years young he was - click on the photo below.

Today he achieved a swimming first: in company with Chris Smith he swam from King Edwards Bays to the Long Sands.  Conditions were perfect - a flat calm and a high tide.  The visibility was great - with all the rocks and seaweed on view.  Unlike the morning dip, YC and Chris were attired in full wetsuits.  Chris wore a snorkel and flippers, while YC opted for goggles and front crawl.  Apart from a few gentle waves around Sharpness Point, the sea was calm and the swimming enjoyable.  It beats a pool any day and, what's more, it's free.
birthday swim at KEB
how old?

For those who prefer a slightly swifter mode of transport to swimming, you could:
  • check out Concord at Manchester Airport
  • go on a steam train on the Settle to Carlisle Railway

Tim & Gill Walker have been doing both - see below.  Lest readers think that they live their life exclusively in the fast lane, YC hastens to point out that Tim & Gill also climbed Cartmell Fell in the Lake District.  There was a welcome seat on the top, where Tim was delighted to rest his weary limbs.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Happy Birthday Emma!

Emma Duff celebrated her birthday in fine style this weekend.  On Saturday there was a dinner at the Birtley Avenue HQ attended by Duffs, Lois & Jayne.  The wine and songs flowed in equal measure.  The upstairs neighbour is prone to sing along to pop ballads all day long.  So he would no doubt have been thrilled by numbers such as "My Brother Sylvest" and "Minnie the Moocher" sung mf - mit feeling!

Today there was a gathering on the beach with the King Edward's Bay swimmers.  After the obligatory dip, the swimmers enjoyed a breakfast of coffee, smoked salmon sandwiches, and cake - amongst other culinary delights.  It's rude to reveal a lady's age, but a clue is given in one of the photos below.  The weather stayed fair, and the sun even came out for 30 minutes.  What better way is there to celebrate a birthday?

click here for a few more photos 

swimmers in the bay
in the sea

the assembled throng
guess the age

Friday, 2 August 2013

Britain's Hardy Sons

Who says The North Sea is on the chilly side?  Mr & Mrs Rev T have been braving it all year round.   So has Emma, and Matthew joined them the other day.  Here's the proof from King Edward's Bay.  As Rev T often quotes from Para Handy - "I'm one of Britain's hardy sons!"  Photos from Emma.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Play It Again, Matthew

James & family called into Tynemouth at the weekend.  After a stroll on King Edward's Bay, there was an enjoyable dinner at the Percy Gardens HQ.  Matthew has stayed on for the week.  This evening he honed his musical skills - playing the piano before turning his hand to the bodhran.  The tunes flowed thick and fast - Will Your Anchor Hold, Advance Australia Fair, and Scotland the Brave (complete with James' alternative lyrics of The Old Tigerleer).  The neighbours were deeply grateful, and Grandpa didn't enjoy it at all.
on King Edward's Bay

dinner at the HQ

the band in full flow

with an appreciative audience