Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Congratulations to Michael Walker who is engaged to be married to Annemarie.  He proposed a couple of days before Christmas, and was thrilled when Annemarie said "yes". They are pictured on Bournemouth pier.  Some relatives have dared to suggest that Michael's description of the ring was not A1 ("a man's description!").  So to put matters right, here is a photo of the ring.  With his practiced-eye, YC can confirm that it is shiny, circular and very smart.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Christmas Special

Why did nobody buy Donner and Blitzen in Santa's Christmas auction?  Because they were too dear.

Ho ho ho!  And with that merry jape, the Birtley News Christmas special whizzes into action.  Here is a quick resume of events you might have missed over the year on your favourite website.  Click on the links for more details and photos.

James and family are in Krakow, Poland.  YC visited them in October and enjoyed sushi and football (not at the same time).

Mr & Mrs Rev T are swimming every day in The North Sea (bracing...), and have enjoyed lots of sailing on the fine craft Stella Genesta.

In church news, Emma was ordained in the summer; Geoff retired as parish priest from Holy Saviour's; and an alumna from St Peter's College was appointed as the first female bishop.

Which just leaves news of YC - still managing to hobble round a few fell races, drink the odd pint of beer, and sing in the folk choir at The Sage Gateshead (photo below).

"I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you: he is the Messiah, the Lord."  Luke 2 10 - 11

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

First Female Bishop - St Peter's Alumna

The Church of England has appointed its first female bishop.  YC was following the news, and pleasantly surprised that it was Libby Lane.  Libby and her husband George were both in the same year as YC at St Peter's College Oxford, and YC knew them through the Christian Union and Chapel Choir.  Here is the Junior Common Room photo taken in 1989.  George and Libby are at the top left (George is wearing an SPC tie).  But can sharp-eyed readers spot a (even more) youthful YC? 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Help your Aussie reli's win big - vote now!

Calling all Walker/Miller relatives, and indeed anyone else.  Patrick and Tristan Miller from Canberra need your help.  They have entered a logo competition for their local orienteering club.  Anyone can vote - but it has to be by Friday 5th Dec.  

Their logos are:

  • the control flag (the orange and white triangular affair)
  • the two Easter bunnies (black preferred)
  • the egg and sun.  
Their friend Noah is also in the competition so if you think the triangle map is good you could also vote for it.   You are allowed 3 votes.

Not only are you supporting Patrick & Tristan, but you are doing your bit to promote young folk's interest in the great outdoors.  What  are you waiting for?

You will find the designs by clicking here.

You can vote by clicking here.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Ite missa est - on to the next stage Geoff

Geoff Lowson has retired as parish priest of Holy Saviour's Church, Tynemouth.  After 9 years of hard work, he is putting his feet up (possibly) in York, where the next stage on his journey will commence.  He flitted in to Holy Saviours like Bede's sparrow 9 years ago, and now he flits on to whatever life holds.

Geoff preached some extremely thought provoking sermons, to which YC was always glad to lend an ear and dissect afterwards, over a cup of tea or possibly something stronger in The Tynemouth Lodge.  Indeed only tonight Geoff was reflecting on the word "Mass" -  meaning "Go out" from the service.   YC confesses to thinking that the Latin translation was a tad wide of the mark.  But having consulted his favourite dictionary, YC can only say: "Oh ye of little faith!"  The trusty dictionary defines Mass as deriving from Ite missa est - Go it is the dismissal.

Friday, 28 November 2014

what the well dressed walker wears (possibly)

YC thought these photos might give readers a chortle.  They were taken about 10 years ago on in the Lake District.  One was definitely on Barrow on the Coledale Horseshoe.  The other was probably near the summit of Dale Head - though YC is open to suggestions on that one.  Check out the breeches.
on Barrow with Coz & Piers

on Dale Head?  Coz, Alex, YC, Kelvin, Helen, Emma

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Hophead Happiness

The Green Wyverns rendezvoused in London this weekend.  On the agenda was a trip to see Electra at The Old Vic, followed by some good real ale.  Electra is not the most cheery of numbers but it was superbly acted with Kristin Scott Thomas in the lead (readers will not be surprised to learn that YC had never heard of her).   Afterwards Hophead Bitter from Dark Star brewery at The Harp, Charing Cross, took the award for the best beer (readers will not be surprised to learn that YC had heard of The Harp).  Indeed, he assured the assembled company that: "It's our favourite pub".   So it must be.
all smiles after a glass (or 2) of Hophead
Green Wyvern tie to the fore

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Simonside Cairns Recce & on the Polish/Slovakian Border

YC recce-ed the Simonside Cairns race route with Chris Smith and Paul Hainsworth today.   After days of rain and low cloud, the weather was superb.  Rothbury was shrouded in mist, but we soon emerged from that into a glorious temperature inversion.  With no mist on the tops and almost no wind, conditions were fantastic.  We clocked up 12 miles and 1750 ft of climbing, which was the furthest that Chris has ever run.  And in case readers are wondering - YC has just had his tea.

a foot in both camps - Poland & Slovakia
Foreign news - Mr & Mrs Rev T are visiting James & co in Poland.  They have headed down to the Tatra Mountains for the weekend where they have recce-ed the Polish/Slovakian border at Kasprowy Wierch.  It sits at 1,950 metre.  Rev T commented: "Simonside?  A mere bagatelle.  Try getting to 1,950 metres.  PS I've definitely had my tea!"
on top of Simonside
leaving Spylaw

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Remembrance Sunday

When you go home, tell them of us and say
For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
This photo of the ceramic poppies at The Tower of London was brought to you by Katrina.

At St Mary's church in Willington this morning, Emma gave a brief address about her great uncle Gordon Cameron who was killed in WW1.  You can read all about him on this earlier post on Birtley News.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Berwick - back after 32 years

YC had not been to Berwick town centre for many years.  32 to be precise.  He was last there when the Duff family walked up the Northumberland coastline in 1982 and stayed at the Hen and Chickens Hotel.  But from his recent visit, he can recommend:
  • the YHA - tip top modern accommodation available at a very reasonable price
  • Barrels Ale House - tip top pub selling VG beer, just around the corner from the YHA
  • bird life on The Tweed - goosanders and swans on view
  • Darts in The Free Trade - watch out Eric Bristow, Nina has been practicing
Elsewhere, there were shelduck, egrets and godwits on view at  Budle Bay, and stonechats and a stoat at Dunstanburgh.  Which just leaves YC to ask:
Can readers tell the difference between a stoat and a weasel?
Of course they can.  Weasels are weasily wecognised, but stoats are stoatily different.
birdwatching in Berwick
"How is it possible to get through this gate in Berwick park?" the pedant asks.

now sadly closed since the Duff family ceased patronage
searching for stoats at Dunstanburgh

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

OMM 2014 - and a photo teaser

at the finish
More running - this time in The Cheviots with Paul Hainsworth on the OMM (Original Mountain Marathon).  This 2 day event was held at Clennell Hall near Alwinton.  YC has been up most of the hills (Bloodybush Edge, Cushat Law, Hogdon's Law etc) which was an advantage.  But he still hadn't explored all the minor peaks and paths of Kidland Forest that the OMM took him to.

It blew a gale at times, which made for a rather exciting/noisy overnight camp, and the print on the map was so small that YC struggled to read it (a minor detail for a navigation event).  But apart from that, it was all jolly good fun.  We managed to finish 6th overall in the medium score class (not bad for 2 old codgers/vets).  

Over a de-briefing pint in The Dolphin, we decided we should do some more events - preferably with a bit more fitness in the tank, as we were both cream-crackered at the end.

And finally, can you name the farm in the new banner photo?

a few more photos here
steep climbing on day 2
can you name the farm?

Monday, 20 October 2014

British Fell Relays

YC ran the British Fell Relays for Northumberland Fell Runners yesterday.  He was in the veterans team (yes, you'd be amazed at that - readers are too kind) and ran the last leg.  In the end, it turned out to be a tussle with the NFR open team, with their anchor runner George Nicholson sweeping past YC to bring in the open team as first NFR team.

The event was held near Sedbergh in the Howgill Fells.  It was good grassy running, and the forecast showers only arrived on the last leg (groan).  YC's leg took him just over the hour and his other leg (with dodgy calf) also held up under the strain.

Nearly all the big fellrunning names were there - Rob Hope, Rob Jebb, Steph Scott...  All it needed was John Telfer and the line up would have been complete.

A fuller report from Old Cheviot will appear on the NFR website.

Left - so who was quickest between YC and George?
Answer - YC knows his place.

Photos courtesy of Steph.  A few more photos here.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

sushi & football in Krakow

YC was in Krakow at the weekend visiting James and family.  Highlights of the trip were:
  • Matthew's birthday meal in a Japanese restaurant.  YC tasted sushi for the first time - cue jokes about it being grim up north, no culture there etc
  • Phoebe's prowess at football (scoring lots of goals past YC) and drinking hot chocolate (it vanished at a rate of knots)
  • Finding the local real ale bar offering Kinga Vale Bitter (3.8% ABV) at £1.60 per pint
Here are a couple of photos - more to follow.

And finally, a joke from Matthew:
Why can't pirates learn the alphabet?
Because they always get stuck at sea!

Matthew's birthday sushi
Sheraton rooftop bar

Monday, 6 October 2014

Ian Hodgson Relay 2014

with Steph after leg 3
YC was part of the Northumberland Fell Runners team that ran the Ian Hodgson Relay yesterday. This fell relay is held in Patterdale in the Lake District.  The weather was typically Lakeland - low cloud and a bit of rain.  So navigation was at a premium.  YC was on leg 3 with Steph Scott.  This leg starts at the Kirkstone Pass and heads over Red Screes and Dove Crag, before dropping down to Brotherswater for the handover.  We opted for a safety-first steady run with map & compass in hand. So we weren't in any danger of breaking the leg record, but didn't get lost and thoroughly enjoyed the run.  A fuller report will appear on the NFR website.

Borrowdale (winners) blast off
Afterwards, numerous cups of tea were consumed in the tea-tent at the finish.  And of course, when you've had your tea...something stronger awaits.  YC repaired to the Tynemouth Lodge in the evening with Nina L who gave him a debrief on the sermon at Holy Saviour's Church, while suggesting that YC slake the raging fellrunner's thirst with a pint of the necessary.  YC thought it diplomatic to follow orders.

comparing notes with Will and Dexter
In international news, John Telfer is holidaying in San Francisco.  He reports that he has found a soul mate in Mr Samuel Adams - purveyor of fine ales.  He has even found time to watch his beloved QPR on the TV - who are currently doing the decent thing of keeping Newcastle United off the bottom of the table.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Maya arrives, Susan jumps out

YC is delighted to bring you news of:

Maya Amelia - born to Michael & Rowena in London weighing 6 lbs 6 oz.  For the linguists out there - Maya is pronounced "my - a".  Michael reports that Rowena's father purchased some excellent whisky to wet the baby's head.  Euan (Michael's father) thought it his grandfatherly duty to force a glass between his parched lips - and was surprised how much he liked it.

Susan Miller in South Africa - who, when not presenting at a conference into lion genetics, has been on a birdwatching trip with Vince to see gannets and albatrosses, with the added bonus of a couple of southern right whales surfacing next to their boat.  On a separate trip to see penguins, they were so overcome with the moment that they boarded the wrong train home.  It was a special school train going to the middle of nowhere.  Ever resourceful, they jumped out when the train slowed to a crawl through a side station.  All those years riding the Canadian railroads have clearly not gone amiss.

flamingos in South Africa - by Susan

Friday, 19 September 2014

3 cheers for The UK

Scotland has voted against independence, and YC for one views this as very good news indeed.  This is on several fronts:
  • economically - it would have been lunacy for Scotland to divorce itself from the powerhouse that is in London.  When North Sea oil starts to dwindle, Scotland would struggle to support itself.
  • from the heart - YC is proud to say he is British.  This would have been diminished by Scottish independence. 
  • sport - YC supports Scotland at rugby and has done so for years.  But supporting an independent Scotland with Alex Salmond leading the way, would have been a step too far. Also, Team GB could have been deprived of the Scottish men & women who have contributed to recent successes at The Olympic Games and The European Championships.
So three cheers for the UK, and let's move forward as The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

We will remember them

Gordon Stuart Cameron
7th Battalion Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders

Killed in action 22nd August 1917.  No known grave, he is commemorated by name at Tyne Cot Memorial, Passchendaele, Belgium

On the 100th anniversary of The First World War, here is a photo and article prepared by Rev T for the display at Holy Saviour's Church.  Gordon Cameron was an older brother of Marjory Cameron [Granny Duff to most family readers]. He was Rev T's uncle and YC's great uncle.

The family have his letters home.  In the last, he says "I am quite well and expect to go in the trenches tonight. We will be going over the top in a day or so, so it is in providence's hands, dear knows if I come through it alright.  Don't look on the black side but I thought it best to warn you".

The next letter received was from his pal: "Dear Mrs Cameron, Just a few lines to express my sorrow, and let you know how Gordon was killed. We went into an attack on Wednesday morning. We got separated but I was told by a chap that saw him. He was wounded twice and died of his wounds. I thought it my duty to write and to let you know as I chummed with Gordon since I have been in the army and he was one of the nicest and best natured chaps I ever met. It cut me up awful much when I heard about it. Well I have explained as much as I know, and please accept the deepest sympathy from me, his chum".

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Congratulations to:

Joe & Anna - on the birth of Iris, a sister to Emily.  Both mother and daughter are doing well.  No doubt the father is relaxing at home, possibly with a calming beer...YC looks forward to meeting the newest addition to the Chillingworth family at some point.

Katrina Pescott - who has moved out of the posh end of North Shields into the even posher end of Tynemouth.  Katrina commented: "Some say it's location location location when you buy a new house.  But for me it was neighbours, jokes, and the Birtley News that sealed the deal."

Steph Scott of NFR - who has completed today the UTMB (Ultra Tour de Mount Blanc) in 44 hours and 53 mins.   The race is 168km long and has 9,800 metres of climbing (yes - that is an awfully long way).  Well done Steph - it's a fantastic achievement.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Tynemouth visitors

Paul & Josh have been visiting Tynemouth over the weekend.  The weather has been distinctly on the chilly side.  But this didn't stop them joining Mr & Mrs Rev T for a swim in King Edward's Bay.  Here's the proof. Other activities for the weekend have included crazy golf, lessons on facetiming Poland (What is facetiming/Who is Gazza? - Rev T), and a musical session on the guitar and bodhran (for which YC's neighbours were no doubt deeply grateful).  All in all, a great time was had by all.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

149 blog up and running again (just)

Folk often ask YC what Stella Genesta looks like.  YC set up a blog for Stella a few years ago, but has not been terribly diligent in posting on it (ie nothing written for 5 years).  But he has now uploaded a few photos of Stella over the years.  You can find them at:


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

My Bonny Lad

YC has been playing with a small group at folkworks at The Sage on Tuesday night.  Here is a recording of our "party piece" - My Bonny Lad interweaved with the tune Gentle Maiden.  YC is on the piano, and singing in the background.  It's not a musical masterpiece (far from it) and Simon Cowell is unlikely to be waiting in the wings to sign the group up, but YC thought readers might like it.  If you can stick it to the end (4 mins worth), the best bit is the unaccompanied singing in the last minute.  Many thanks are due to our tutor Chloe Jones who has made it a very enjoyable class.

Here is a link to the recording.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Chevy Chase

YC ran the Chevy Chase yesterday.  20 miles from Wooler up Cheviot and Hedgehope was a bit of a shock to the system.  YC last ran this distance about 20 months ago.   The first 3 hours was enjoyable, thought the last 45 minutes were a tad on the tough side. But spurred on by promises from John Telfer of "tea" at the finish, YC gritted his teeth and finished in 3 hours 43 minutes, 26th overall - nae bad for an aged runner with a dodgy calf.

YC ran most of the race in the pleasant company of Graham Walton and Emma Bain.  The former sported a natty Tour de France-type yellow jersey, while the latter could lay claim to the jersey as she won the ladies' race.

Afterwards, when YC had well and truly 'had his tea', readers can probably guess what came next.  More tea?  Wrong, try again.

Photos courtesy of The Prof .

runners climbing Hedgehope
all smiles at the start
Emma, John & Steph at the finish

Monday, 30 June 2014

Revd Emma

Emma Duff was ordained deacon by Bishop Martin at Newcastle Cathedral on Sunday.  About 65 friends and family were at the service.  They were joined by several other folk for a convivial celebration in the Parish Hall - where good food and drink were accompanied by ceilidh dances led by "The Saviour's Ravers" (aka The Music Group past and present).  YC thought it was duty to force the odd pint of Deuchars between his parched lips at the celebration - greater love hath no brother...

It has been a long journey for Emma.  But as the prophet Jeremiah said - "I know the plans I have for you, says The Lord, plans to give you hope and a future".  Those plans will now be brought to fruition in Emma's role as curate in the Willington Team Ministry (an area comprising Battle Hill, Howdon and Willington Quay in North Tyneside).  Step forward the new Rev E!

more photos here
with Lois & Alison
Rev E & Rev T

with Jayne
with Amanda

Monday, 23 June 2014

Windy Gyle photos

A couple of photos from the Windy Gyle Race.  Thanks to Andy Russell who supplied these.

On the left - Phil Green gives the pre-race briefing.  Order number 1 - all elite runners wearing fetching white calf supports must start from the back to give everyone else a chance.

On the right - the descent off Windy Gyle along the border ridge.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Midsummer Sunrise Swim & Windy Gyle Fell Race

The King Edward's Bay Swimmers celebrated midsummer's day with a sunrise swim.  Rising before the lark, they were in the sea at 4 20 am, just as the sun broke the horizon.  The sky was clear to the east, so the swimmers had a superb view of the sun as it began its daily journey.  18 folk enjoyed a swim in calm waters, before an alfresco breakfast on the beach complete with sausages cooked over a brazier.  YC joined in the dip, before heading off to the Windy Gyle Fell Race.  Onwards and upwards!

Postscript - the Windy Gyle fell race was run in almost ideal conditions.  High clouds, warm but not too hot, and dry under foot.  YC took it canny (code for "more fitness needed"), running round steadily paced by Steph Scott, until she disappeared into the distance on the run down The Street.  After 76 mins covering 8 miles and 2,000 ft, YC found himself back at the finish.  After watching the other runners come in, there was just time for a "wild swim" in The Coquet - much warmer than the North Sea.  Many thanks to Team Green (Phil, James & Thomas) and Sue Mitchell who masterminded the race.

sunrise swim
don't drop the sausages Roger!

Mr & Mrs Rev T before their swim
al fresco breakfast

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Elite fellrunner spotted at Roman Wall Show Race

Or should that be - aged fellrunner with dodgy calf spotted meandering his way around 4.5 mile race with a few ups and downs, but no major climbs?  YC will leave readers to judge.  Here is the photo.  For the record, YC finished in mid table obscurity in 38 minutes.  Very importantly, he had most definitely had his tea after the race.
hobbling in with no-one to beat - photo courtesy of Andy Russell & Pauline

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

in other news...

Emma Duff has finished her training course at Queens, Birmingham.  Timothy & Pat went to her passing out service.  Not long till ordination now.

Andrew Walker has graduated from the Open University.  Check out the photos with his brother Tim and sister Gill - only a mere 45 years separate the graduation photos.

Susan Miller has been lion darting in South Africa again, but found time with Vince to take this photo of elephants at a water hole.

Ruth Kelly is organsing an exhibition of Phil Kelly's work.   If you hop on a plane to Mexico tomorrow, you might just make it.

Ruth Walker celebrated her 60th birthday with a northern gathering at The Grand Hotel

before Emma's leaving service
as seen by Susan and Vince

  Click here for Andrew, Tim and Gill graduation photos (PDF)

Phil Kelly exhibition

Ruth Walker's Northern 60th Gathering