August was *supposed* to be a quiet month.
But life is what happens when you've made other plans.
Up popped a job in Durham.
I had only been to Durham for one night as a guest of the lovely people at Elddis Caravans, and thanks to their traditional North Eastern hospitality, I don't remember too much about it. But I DO remember making a mental note that this was a lovely city and I wanted to come back and 'do it' properly.
And it was the Airstream Summer Euro-meet on the way.
So what was not to like?
First port of call was Old Hartley Caravan Club Site at Whitley Bay, where I enjoyed a stunning view from the window of the Airstream:
An enjoyable morning was spent cycling into Whitley Bay, having breakfast at Costa, then doing some snaps of the lighthouse on the way back:
Next port of call was The Grange Caravan Club Site just off the A1 near Durham:
My friend Steve was over from Seattle, so it was nice to have company for a couple of days. The summer was also spent making accessory videos for Milenco, and for the 'action' shots of the towing mirrors it was also rather useful to have a cameraman while I did the driving!
Being in Durham, it would have been rude not to see a caravan from nearby Elddis of Consett, so they brought along one of their brand spanking new 2011 Avantes. The nice thing about taking so long to blog about it is that the review has now been published so I can mention it.
Like many UK manufacturers, Elddis has really raised the bar when it comes to the interior design... very 'Boutique Hotel' methinks!
As part of a touring feature, I toddled off to Beamish Museum. Which, I must add, has a really good PR department staffed by real, warm, friendly, efficient human beings and not vacuous PR corporates. Maybe because it's not in London?
Best make it clear right now that I am not a museum person. Not in the slightest. But I DO have a weak spot for living museums, and museums of modern history. Something that I can relate to, even if it is to understand how my Nan used to live.
Beamish didn't meet my expectations. It surpassed them in every way. I was first in and last out. I had the most FANTASTIC day. Brilliant, simply brilliant. It really made for the high point of my whole trip. So much to do, so much to see, and everything is brought to life with real characters doing real things... Hopefully the pictures will give some idea as to what this place is like:
The whole day was rounded off by a brass band playing in the bandstand on the village green. How absolutely blooming perfect is that?
There was a lot of work to catch up on after that, so after a few days shut away in the Airstream I took myself off to Newcastle. I love that city:
To refresh the grey matter and for a bit of stimulation I went to the Baltic Mill Gallery that you can see in the picture behind the Gateshead Millenium Bridge.
I'm no artist I admit, or maybe I caught it on a bad day, but I wasn't overly moved by any of the exhibits with the honourable exception of a faithfully recreated spider's web. And the cake in the cafe wasn't great! But hey, the whole Newcastle/Gateshead quayside is a lovely place to spend a sunny afternoon.