Saturday, 10 October 2009

Hello to Northumberland! (Our UK/Egyptian adventures continued)

The view from one of the many bridges in the Burn at Haltwhistle (c.1955). It is heavily wooded now and an extremely beautiful walk. It is possible to walk from the town all the way over to the Wall. This is taken at the end of the walk looking towards Hadrian's Wall.
Haltwhistle High Street (c.1960).

This is the modern day version of Haltwhistle High Street (looking the other way).

Sundial in my parents' garden.

Looking down towards Haltwhistle. (Hadrian's Wall's lies about a mile behind me...I took the photo.)

Even when I was pregnant with our daughter we did not know whether we would be staying in Northumberland. A bit cheekily I came back from Egypt for UK healthcare. The care I received was second to none. It's something that I hold dear.
Much as I liked Egypt...medical care appeared to be in the hands of private practitioners. There was a private hospital up in El Gouna. There was the state hospital in Hurghada and there was a hospital with a decompression chamber attached.There were naval and military hospitals. There were Muslim doctors. There were Christian doctors. I was treated by an Egyptian doctor, in the old town, in the early stages of my pregnancy. He was fine (no complaints at all) but it involved waiting, often until late at night, with lots of other women in various stages of pregnancy in a small room. Sometimes the strongest voice (with the help of some baksheesh*) got to see him first! I accept(ed) this. This is the culture. I decided to go back to my own culture where I knew the ropes.
I am not originally from the Haltwhistle area. I hail from the North East coast and latterly Newcastle and Jesmond. I left the area for London to go to University and then, banking. I never thought that I would return to live up here.
By 2003 my parents had moved from Newcastle to Haltwhistle. When I came back and began to see the countryside I was bowled over. Mr. H., after twelve or so years in Hurghada, did not need much encouragement...he was missing his newspapers, beer, pubs, green countryside and all the other delights of British life. I must admit...tracking down a nice glass of Guinness in Egypt...was not an easy task. (We used to get the broadsheets in Hurghada from The Grand Hotel...often a day late and for several Egyptian pounds. Hurghada had gone from being extremely provincial in its early days to being very cosmopolitan. Supermarkets selling international goods had sprung up all around town. Many of them Russian!)
Once our daughter was born we were still uncertain as to where to put down roots. We spent time looking at places in Devon, Cornwall, Tenerife and Mallorca (the last two for scuba diving). We could not make up our minds whether to stay in the UK and get involved in self catering or Bed and Breakfast. Thinking about it now...we probably took up too much time thinking about it and discussing it. (Easy to say this now with hindsight and in the midst of an economic downturn.) Nevertheless we had some great times touring around. Mr. H. was able to spend loads of time with Little Miss Hadriana (our daughter) as she was growing up and we were able to take her to see her "Down South" grandparents many, many times. Grandma South sadly passed away on Christmas Day last year. Thus it was time well spent...
We kept being drawn back to this area every single time. With the help of many OS (Ordnance Survey) maps we got to know this area. We saw hundreds of houses in Allen Valley, The Tyne Valley, Cumbria, North of Hadrian's Wall, South of Hadrian's Wall, Over on the Northumbrian Coast and beyond....looking at their potential or otherwise. This was all at the height of the property boom (2004-2007). Our saved up pennies did not seem to be going very far...What were we going to do?................
* baksheesh = tips/backhanders...


Lindsay said...

I lived in Bermuda for a number of years and I too missed the NHS and the change of seasons. My son was born in Bermuda - I saw the doctor to confirm I was pregnant and that was it until my son was born. Ignorance is bliss!

Clippy Mat said...

I'm sending the link for this post to my Haltwhistle/Saudi pal
funny how you both have the B&B and middle east connection.

Maggie May said...

There is nothing like our NHS so everyone says, though it is sadly over burdened now.

Haltwhistle looks a lovely little place. It might be interesting to find out the origin of it's name! I had never heard of it till I saw your post.
I love the sundial and the garden.

Nuts in May

Sandi McBride said...

And oh how you've made me miss my adopted home of England! The post cards remind me of Dickens, but then the photo, does too! I wish I had known about Haltwhistle when we were living in the UK!

French Fancy said...

I must say that your parents garden looks very spacious -and that must just be a fraction of it.

As an expat in France I'm more than happy to opt for the French system. I might cost us but it is worth it.

How are you feeling?

the fly in the web said...

I envy you...touring about, looking for the right place...smd, by the sound of things,finding it.
Can't see why you should be guilty about using the'd paid up while you were working in the U.K.

Strawberry Jam Anne said...

The good old NHS does come up trumps sometimes doesn't it! I have to admit that we (my family and me) have no complaints at all - so far!

Your photos show what a lovely part of this country you have chosen to live. A x

Mark said...

I think you chose well - fabulous place

kestrel said...

Lovely photos and the then and now was a good comparison. The place looks modern but at the same time has maintain the old town character. I like the trees (? bushes) framing the sun dial right in the centre.

Nota Bene said...

How interesting...the world is your oyster and you headed to Blighty! Beautiful as it is...some of the other places sound really tempting!

Expat mum said...

Great post and lovely photos. Thankfully, the whole region is still very much a secret isn't it?

So did you know the Geordie (and possibly other regions') phrase "buckshee", meaning "free" comes from backsheesh?

Sage said...

I have stayed in the Centre of England hotel in Haltwhistle and it was a lovely experience, to be able to visit a different part of hadrians wall each day and to feel the memories of the history within those walls.. very memorable and I hope one day to walk more of the wall than I have achieved so far...

Lakeland Jo said...

You know what they say about Northumberland? God's own country. What I like to say- there are two types of people. Geordies and people who wish they were. Howay the lads!

Lynne said...

Am so loving this. I'm looking forward to the next installment.

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi everybody...sorry for the delay in replying. We are in the process of setting up another business to run alongside the B&B and putting the final touches to the business plan for the bank.

Lindsay: Ignorance is bliss indeed. What was living in Bermuda like? Sounds wonderful.

CM: Thanks for sending on the link. I'm intrigued now!

MM: I told Dumdad of the origin of the name in my last comments so I am doing a bit of cutting and pasting now:
I like the "Haltwhistle" name too. Many people (understandably) think it is from the train age but it comes from the old name "Hautwysel" believed to be derived from its location: "The high hill by two rivers" or "The watch on high". Apparently there is an oval shaped mound called the Castle Hill, which was fortified from ancient times by and earthworks and castle, parts of which remained until the mid sixties. (I've quoted all this from the local brochure entitled "Haltwhistle Historic Parishes"...a little gem.)
(MM...that is clever getting the title of your blog to show up in/at the end of your comment. Very impressed.)

Sandi: It is not widely known. One of the interesting facts about living up here is that we are on the edge of two counties: Northumberland and sometimes there is a feeling that we are lost in time....

FF: As regards my parents' garden. My back is to their garden (which is very, very spacious) looking down the hill towards their neighbours. (I'm feeling much better now thanks. How is your back? Much better, I hope. :))

Thank you, Fly, your comments are always so uplifting. ;)

SJA: I must say, despite some of the trials and tribulations we have been experiencing lately, we love this area with all our hearts.

Mark: We absolutely agree with you. I must (also) say that I envy some of the photos you take of the area where you live and play.

Kestrel: I like the sundial area too. There are rumours that a famous Labour politician stayed there (long ago before my parents owned the house)one time..Hugh Gaitskill.

NB: We were really tempted by Mallorca. There are downsides to living in a resort that you have to get used to the constant through put of people. Relationships can be tenuous (at the best of times)...which leads to a constant sense of impermanence. We wanted to give the children a sense of solidity. That's probably why we have chosen it is still lovely and old fashioned. There is still Hexham, Newcastle and Carlisle if they need to go somewhere and rebel (in due course)!

Expatmum: It is still very much a secret although I've just read that the B&B market up here is worth £2.5 million per year (which is not bad at all). Vindolanda winning their lottery money will also be a great boost for tourism for this area.

I didn't know that meaning. Wonderful! There were Arabs (Iraqi Marsh Arabs) in South Shields and Syrian Archers up at Carvoran (Magna) - in Roman times (and more modern day Arabs in South Shields working in the shipyards for the last 150/200 years) so in a way I can completely understand that.

Sage: The Centre of Britain Hotel is a very nice place. We celebrated the children's Christenings there (each time). A good place from which to explore the Wall. Be good if you come back some time. Look me up if you do!

Lakeland Jo: That makes me smile. When the weather is rubbish sometimes I long for some sun but when the sun comes out I am constantly dazzled by the beauty of the countryside. Then I never want to move away. One other blogger (@theMill) once said: "Bring on global warming." A bit of a controversial comment but I can empathise with her during the long, cold Winter spells....

Lynne: I'll start sharpening my pixel pencil... :)

Anonymous said...

I've heard of a few people who won't leave this country behind for fear of losing the NHS.

Northumberland is a beautiful county. Hence my reason for living here.

CJ xx

Hadriana's Treasures said...

Hi CJ, Northumberland and Cumbria, for that matter, are fabulously beautiful counties. I love the changing photos on your site. Hx