We’ve been having an extremely busy festive season . . . Starting with my birthday (and of course my twin sister’s Catherine’s birthday) at the beginning of advent. Then a trip up to Newcastle to visit family . . . a trip to Birmingham to celebrate Pal’s 50th birthday with a Sikh celebration – an Akhand Path (I’ve done a separate post for this as there were a lot of family photos to include) . . . then back to Cambridge for Christmas before rounding off with a post Christmas visit back to Birmingham!
First, our birthday! Very tasty chocolates, a wonderful birthday cake with orange and fennel – particularly fancy and a great meal, thanks Pal. Catherine came round for lunch so a great start to the festive season!
What do you think of my knitted nativity? Please excuse the early arrival of the baby Jesus and the Wise Men!
Christmas is coming . . .
After driving up from Cambridge and dropping our things off at my niece, Isabelle’s extremely tidy student house we have time for a visit to my mum and Pete in Gosforth and after lunch it’s time to visit Newcastle city centre.
There are only six sleeps till Christmas . . .
No visit to Newcastle at Christmas would be complete without a look at the famous Fenwick’s window display stretching the length of the department store on Northumberland Street.
It’s always really impressive and this year was no exception with the magical animated display ‘The Snowman’ marking the 40th anniversary since Raymond Biggs children’s picture book was released all accompanied by the wonderful music, ‘We’re Walking in the Air’. As everyone knows, the story tells the tale of a boy who wakes at midnight to find the snowman he built that day has magically come alive.
The young boy, James, and the Snowman become instant friends getting up to all sorts of adventures through the night, playing with the toys . . .
. . . taking a motorcycle and going for a ride, . . .
. . . but the engine starts to melt the Snowman who needs to cool down in the freezer . . .
Together the Snowman and the little boy fly north, through the Northern Lights flying over an arctic landscape before landing in a forest where they dance and play with other snowmen . . .
. . . and meet Santa Claus and his reindeer who gives the little boy the present of a knitted scarf with snowmen on it.
. . . Finally the Snowman and the little boy return to his house where James gives the Snowman a hug goodbye.
The next day the Snowman has melted, was it all just a dream? . . . But then the little boy finds the scarf from Santa Claus in his pocket. . . .
You can hopefully see why it’s not to be missed on any visit to Newcastle over the Christmas period!
The centre of Newcastle was adorned with sparkling decorations . . .
Impressive and huge at times –
. . . There was even a helter skelter on Northumberland Street.
I do love the Christmas lights . . .
Happy Christmas Newcastle.
We, very kindly, stayed at Isabelle’s student house which was perfect. As Mila has mocks when she gets back to school Mila tried to get a little bit of work done (we have so many visits planned over Christmas it’s going to be very tricky for her); while Isabelle and I decided to go for a walk.
It’s been years since I’ve been to Jesmond Dene and it’s not far so the ideal time to introduce it to Isabelle! It’s hard to believe that this tranquil narrow wooded valley that follows the river Ouseburn between South Gosforth and Jesmond Vale is so close to Newcastle. It was the 19th Century industrialist Lord Armstrong who first laid out the park during the 1860s and gave it to the people of Newcastle.
There’s rather steep slippery steps down into the Dene.
Despite the greyness of the day it was mild and a lovely chance to reminisce about visiting when I was young. To be honest it wasn’t how I remembered it at all.
There are a number of bridges across the river, the one in the background is Armstrong Bridge which we’ll walk across later.
There’s a ‘Pets Corner’ with a large aviary and various goats and rabbits.
. . . Ahh, love is in the air . . .
Cute looking goat . . . looks like it’s just been to the hairdresser with it’s long silky coat of many colours!
Doesn’t the rabbit look lovely and soft . . .
This Anglo-Nubian goat reminds me of a toy with its long floppy lop-ears. These goats produce milk for yoghurt and cheese making.
There was also a lovely looking cafe nearby but there was no time for that today so time to continue our walk for now . . .
Unfortunately some of the buildings in the Dene have become ruins though there is talk of redeveloping them and bring them back to their former glory but for a different use, perhaps as holiday lets.
Interesting intertwining roots . . .
Isn’t it incredible what the philanthropist Armstrong managed to achieve, creating waterfalls and building bridges . . .
Imagine, as spring arrives, what a beautiful place this will become . . .
The sound of falling water is so calming, hard to remember that there are busy roads nearby.
The ruins of an old water mill.
Isabelle and I couldn’t resist going over the stepping stones . . . luckily for us they were very stable and not very slippery so it was quite a doddle!
There’s lots more to discover next time I come . . .
Finally on our way back to meet up with Mila we cross the Armstrong Bridge which we saw at the beginning of our walk. I remember as children coming along here and enjoying the craft market. Now, it seems like it’s a food market held once a month, I’m sure that would be a great place to visit.
Mam and Pete had very kindly invited us all out for lunch at Twin Farms at Kenton Bank Foot. It’s a welcoming gastro pub in a converted stone farmstead. The food there is amazing . . .
. . . see what I mean.
Unfortunately we had a rather flying visit to Newcastle though we did get the chance to catch up with my brother and his family and Catherine met us up there. We had such a good time catching up and eating snacks that I quite simply forgot to take any photos!
Then it was back to Cambridge before being back on the road, this time heading for Birmingham to celebrate Pal’s 50th birthday with an Akhand Path in the local Sikh Temple, the Gurdwara – more about that in a separate post as it was quite an event! So here’s just a couple of photos to whet your appetite . . .
Pal and his parents with probably the biggest cake I’ve ever eaten . . . and it was really delicious.
Then after all the festivities it was back to Cambridge for Christmas. Catherine and Isabelle were over for a few days making it a very jolly occasion! Catherine and Pal in their Christmas jumpers – where are yours Isabelle and Mila? Only kidding, you all look great, and as you can see in the next photograph I’m not wearing one either!
Then a photo of mothers and daughters with me on the left, Mila, Isabelle and Catherine on the right.
Mila had chosen / made very thoughtful gifts for us. A beautifully painted paperweight for Pal and a sketchbook of Lake District scenes by Alfred Wainwright for me – she knows how much I love the Lake District – she couldn’t have chosen better. Other presents too, all perfect. thank you . . .
What’s happening here? . . . Christmas quizzes . . .
. . . and Charades, a great hit and one that had us all in stitches!
Then time for lunch – thanks Pal – and of course such delights need to be recorded for eternity!
And a fancy pudding for afters . . .
Finally a time to relax in front of the TV. My firm favourite for this year has to be the drama ‘Click and Collect’ – absolutely hilarious and all good fun!
After Christmas it was back to Birmingham . . . loads of great food and great company, there was even a short window to get a quick walk around the local park.
Hope you all had a good Christmas and a very Happy New Year to you all . . . Ho, Ho, Ho!