Friday, 25 February 2011

Cars: Love 'em or loathe 'em!?!

Cars: Minis - Haltwhistle Carnival 2008
Not sure where I stand on this subject. As long as a car looks reasonably OK and gets you from A to B....then I don’t have a particular issue with it.
Personally I wish there were fewer and less fast cars around. Bring on electric cars say I! The good news is that there are more and more electric car charging points within the nearby Northumberland National Park. There are also some to come in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - the North Pennines. Just look out for those blue topped twinkling stainless steel poles at Walltown Quarry, Once Brewed Information Centre, Housesteads and other places!

Before moving to the countryside I tried to avoid using cars full stop. I have always been lucky enough to be able to live in urban areas where I could rely on reasonable public transport. Better still I lived in places where I could walk or cycle around. This would allow me to stay healthy and indulge my interest in history. Most buildings in London and in Newcastle upon Tyne catch the eye. For example in the latter there is the Quayside, Grey Street, Blackfriars, the University area, Jesmond and so on. I was extremely lucky to have lived, walked, cycled in all those places. I still do when I can.

But cars – petrol and diesel - hmm. My husband and I have two cars. He has a diesel Ford Focus Estate and I have a small red petrol engine Peugeot. We’ve had the Ford since we moved into the area eight years ago and to be honest it is not looking its best.
The right hand wing mirror is hanging off by a piece of gaffer tape. The locks do not work too well (to put it mildly). The right hand driver window no longer functions, the children have put stickers on the back windows plus the dog has proclaimed overall residency in the boot. The Ford is nominally white but proudly wears a camouflage of mud, grime and dust. By ‘eck we love it!

Mine is still in reasonable nick. I do my best to stop the children turning it into a rubbish tip. The one thing that still manages to confound me is the sticky finger bodywork marks. I look and I sigh. Frequently. And so the clean or not so clean motor car is a necessary evil out here in the sticks as is walking on the pavement-free country roads once in a while. I’ve now got used to the constant driving but I do miss my daily walking routine. We have one of the national cycle routes nearby (Route 72 is at the end of the road) and so there is also the option of cycling and walking in the clean, fresh air when time allows.

It’s also quite easy out here not to leave your car locked. Lots of people do it. I like the tradition but tend to lock mine as a matter of course. Sadly countryside crime is on the rise these days whether it be farm equipment, oil in tanks, wood, cars, bicycles...going missing. Touch wood (or rather not touch wood!!) nothing has happened to us as yet.
A friend of mine’s car was broken into whilst she left her car parked at Gatwick Airport the other week. She’d forgotten that she’d left a bag on the back seat. Her car window was smashed and the car stolen. The police eventually recovered the car but she had to drive round with the window boarded up for a week until it was repaired. Chic or what? Luckily she was insured.

My husband, Nigel, used to drive in and out of London to go about his work as he could not rely on the train service. Several times his scuba diving kit was stolen from his car. Again he was insured thankfully. (He had been diving up at the London scuba club. He didn’t leave his gear in the car for the fun of it!)

Back in Jesmond, on the outskirts of Newcastle, about ten years ago we were visiting my parents one weekend. It was a super part of Newcastle (and still is). Nevertheless our car was stolen from outside their door one Friday night due to its proximity to city bar life and the nearest motorway. The police found it some days later, joyridden and burnt out. Our car insurance allowed us to replace it quickly within a couple of days. No harm done ultimately.

Given the choice though would I still have a car? Although I would prefer a life without them I think they are here to stay. We’ve got used to them. I’d like to give an electric car a go. I think it would be tremendous fun.

And finally...Michael Caine has become associated with cars. Think of the “Italian Job” and “Get Carter”. He starred in the latter film as a Geordie gangster. The film was all shot up here (in more ways than one). When I used to go to school in Newcastle we used to drive past the iconic Trinity Centre Multi-storey or “Get Carter” concrete car park which became a star in its own right. It was recently pulled down last year. See the BBC film about it being demolished here. Most people in Gateshead are delighted to see the back of it and the whole area is being redeveloped. Interestingly pieces of the car park have been auctioned off and snapped up. The car park, itself, has become a historical treasure trove. So there you have it: motor car, film star, concrete (the last of which was invented by the Romans) all bound up in an artefact for the enjoyment of the past, the present and the future! How good is that?

This is a sponsored post. Helping me to set up my Latin/History Courses - coming mid March. 

P.S.: Take a look at Heather Athey's blog she was in the thick of the Foot and Mouth crisis ten years ago. Well worth a read!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011


This gorgeous poppy photo was taken by Sandra Myers who is an active Hadrian's Wall Country and North Pennines' photographer. (Huge apologies to her for the initial wrong credit. I urge you to look at her wonderful photos at this website: here)

Just wanted to say "Salve!" "Hello!"

If you wondered what I was up to... I'm busy, busy, busy (to the power of twenty) getting my Latin Minimus and Cambridge Latin Courses started up. Hopefully they will be in existence in the very near future. That's why I've gone a bit quiet on the blogging front.

I have surges of energy. Then sometimes I have doubts that what I am doing will work at all. Lately though I have a resilience and a belief that it will all work out.
Have a look at this Jamie Bell blog for more details of the new "Eagle" film coming out based on Rosemary Sutcliff's famous book "The Eagle of the Ninth"....on March 18th. It's worth switching off the music (instructions on the blog) to hear the film clips OK. Browse through the blog's archive for further clips and info about the new film. Looks very impressive doesn't it?

The remodelled and new look Vindolanda and The Roman Army Museum with its brand new 3D Eagle Eye film will be opening afresh on March 12th in a few weeks' time. More news of that to come...

Vale! Bye for now!

Hadriana xx xx