Monday 19th October (Day 221 of 236)
It was to be our last period of extended time off, before we finished at the end of our second seasons duties as ‘Elf & Elfette’. Unbeknown to me at the time, and although we had ‘ticked off’ all our must do’s on our ‘To Do List’, Shazza had been plotting a final ‘Expedition’.
It felt good being able to just lay in bed enjoying a piping hot mug of coffee with no reason, or rush, to get up. It appeared to me to be just an innocent type of question when my beloved said “What do you want to do today” ? I had no reason to suspect anything untoward so I simply responded, “I am not really bothered, what do you want to do” ? Oh no !! big mistake Eric me lad, she had unwittingly ambushed me and now I had given her the opportunity to reveal to me exactly what it was that she already knew that we were both be going to do today !! “Well” she said, with that conniving grin on her face, “I thought it might be nice to go to the Beamish Museum“, then she waited for the inevitable reaction, “A Museum“, well I nearly choked on my bloody coffee !! She then proceeded to tell me that this was no ordinary museum, it was a large estate and grounds and in it everything was of the ‘Victorian era’, a town, a pit village, a farm, a hall, trams, buses etc, all of which we could ride around on. It was as she was reeling off this full itinerary of what there was to do at this ‘Beamish Museum’ that the lightbulb moment happened, this was no spur of the moment idea, this was another one of those well planned ‘Shazza Expeditions’ !! “So how far away is this place” I enquired, “Only about seventy miles” she replied, “Well I guess we had better get ourselves ready” I said as I started to reluctantly make my way from under the very warm and comfortable duvet.
Whilst I got myself ready, and made a flask of coffee, she had ‘popped’ out to re-fuel ‘Wuxly’ and seeing as we wouldn’t have time to pack a picnic, she thoughtfully stopped off at the ‘M&S’ food hall to pick up a couple of packs of sandwiches and sausage rolls !! Whilst she was out I looked outside and, well actually there was no and, they call this place ‘Seaview’, a title which, this morning at least, could have been taken to task by the ‘Trade Descriptions Act’, for not only could you not see the sea, but you couldn’t see any of the buildings between ‘Big Momma’ and the sea, it was, to say the least, a bit foggy !! However, by the time Madame had returned, the grey soup had begun to dissipate, not that their would have been any risk of this ‘Shazza Expedition’ being cancelled. I had already thought about suggesting it but I already knew what her response would have been, something akin to “Well we are stepping back to Victorian Times, it was always foggy in those days so it will add to the ambience my darling“, or the more realistic version, “Stop being such a wimp and get in the car” !!
Our destination was South, down along the now familiar stretch of the A1, we had travelled this route many times over the last eight months to go on other expeditions. As soon as we had left Berwick-upon-Tweed the fog disappeared, which was good for me as the passenger as I always enjoyed the first part of the journey as it ran parallel with the sea. From my vantage point I could look out over the green fields and gaze out to the Holy Island where I could see Lindisfarne Castle, I had fallen into daydream mode but was soon awoken when the driver asked, “Are you hungry yet” ? I knew that this was a rhetorical question, and simply meant that she needed feeding !!
It had only taken us around ninety minutes to get to our destination and we found a suitable parking spot, the sun was shining, although there was still that Autumnal chill which required us to put on our coats. We were greeted at the entrance by a smartly dressed chap in Victorian apparel who, once he had determined that this was our first visit, imparted some relevant information so that we could get the best from our day’s visit………………
I don’t know why, but as we approached the ‘Cashiers’ desk a thought sprung into my head, I was sure that as well as getting superb Club Sites in superb locations, with amazingly clean facilities and well maintained camping areas along with superbly amazing and friendly Elves & Elfettes, club members could also get discounts at some tourist attractions. Sometimes it’s worth just asking the question, of course you may end up being laughed at or even suffer a look of disdain, and that’s just from the wife !! however, sometimes it pays to have a bit of cheek and this was such an occasion, so I asked the question and on production of one’s Club Membership Card was duly rewarded with a twenty-five per cent discount, result !! Although the joy and elation was somewhat tarnished when she, the young female cashier, asked whether I also qualified for the ‘Seniors Discount’ !!
I don’t know whether you have read the book, “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe“, where they enter a wardrobe and pass through into a magical world beyond, well we passed through a door and were immediately transformed back into the Victorian era !!
Our transport, with appropriately dressed driver and conductor !!
The driver asked if I wanted to stand on the footplate, although I wasn’t allowed to actually drive the thing !! Too good a photo opportunity to be missed, before being shown around to the passengers entrance !!
Then we were on our way, our next stop would be the Victorian Town. It was a short journey of around five minutes but en-route we were passed by vintage vehicles going in the opposite direction, an old truck and then a tractor, they had this well choreographed !!
We alighted at the stop in town but elected to venture down towards the railway station, on the way we passed a working steam-driven fairground carousel and a lovely old caravan that the fairground traveller’s lived in. I should also state that you could go on these rides, or use the public transport, all free of charge !! The only ‘extras’ were the things you wanted to purchase in the shops or food and drink at the many cafe’s available at the different locations. Throughout the day we utilised several of the different types of public transport.
The steam-driven carousel
There was so much to see and do, we wandered in and out of everywhere, but if I were to narrate everything this post would take weeks to write and months to read (okay, which one of you said “What’s New” !!), instead, I will let you flick through just some of the photo’s that I took on the day…………………..
They didn’t travel light in Victorian Times !!
Inside of the ticket office
Inside the signal box, no Shazza, don’t touch those levers……..too late !! Best we get out of here !
Meanwhile, back in town……………
Inside the Dental Surgery, thank goodness I had already had my teeth done !!
These fires were real coal fires, nice and toasty warm too !!
Okay, so who ate all the pies eh ? Not me guv’nor, I only came in a moment ago !!
In the newspaper and local printers office
Mmmmmmm !! The sweet shop
The ‘chocolatier’ getting ready his colouring just prior to making his next batch !!
Well after ‘Shazza’ bought all the sweets and chocolates we needed a visit to the town bank…………..
Cor blimey, could do with some of those rates on my savings today !!
After grabbing a stash of threepenny bits and halfpennies (frightening, but I remember them !!) it was time to go and see what else the shops had to offer………………
Looks interesting, wonder if they have one in stock I could look at ?
Well Sir, it just so happens that we do !!!
The salesman was reluctant to let me take it out for a test drive so I decided to give it a miss and we headed off to look at more antiquities…………..
There may be a few of you who still remember these !!
Home Delivery is not a new concept !!
Blocks of soap used for ‘personal’ hygiene as well as scrubbing clothing !!
But of course, if you lived on the wealthier side of town you may prefer to pay for the ‘branded’ names !!
There always has to be someone to spoil the party !! I am certain that it wasn’t the Victorians that invented the mobile phone !!
So, all shopped out it was time to add a bit of fuel to the fire, yes, down to the Colliery and village community that supported it………………….
The great thing about the Beamish Museum was being allowed to just wander in and out of buildings at our leisure. As with other locations there were people dressed in Victorian attire who would tell you about what life was like in Victorian days. We were taken down to the ‘coal face’, looked inside miners houses, the church and the school…………….
You can’t go down the mine without a miner’s lamp, no battery torches in those days !!
Actually down the mine !!
A tug full of the black stuff
A modest miners cottage
One door hides the ‘thunder bucket’ the other, the coal shed !!
One of the popular pastimes was ‘whittling’, this chap is making a spoon !!
Back to school !!
No Central Heating in those days, but guess what a ‘pit school’ was never short of ?
And as we all know, most pit villages had a ‘Colliery Band’
Time to move on to the Farm !!
Time for more tales of life on a Victorian Farm !!
Call the police, someone has nicked this tractors tyres !!
All this history stuff is giving me an appetite, let’s go see what we can find in the farmhouse kitchen…………………
Forerunner of the iPod !!
“Oh no my lovely” she exclaimed, “You cannot go until you have taken a ride on a steam elephant”
“Steam Elephant” you say, just so happens that I am going that way.
And this my friends is the ‘Steam Elephant’ !!
Yes, we did take a ride on the ‘Steam Elephant’, well it would have been rude not to !! I cannot say that it was one of the most comfortable modes of transport that I have ever been on mind you, but it had to be done !! And that was it, we made our way back to our ‘Wardrobe Door’ and re-entered the twenty-first century.
I know that this, even by my own standards, has been an exceptionally long blog, but believe me, you have only been subjected to around one-third of the photographs that I actually took on this wonderful day trip. You can also look at it in two ways, it has given you the motivation to pay a visit to the Beamish Museum yourselves or, I have saved you the trip as well as a few pounds from your wallet !!
I am also hoping that Shazza has learnt something from this little expedition, it’s no good wanting to lay in bed under a nice warm duvet with a piping hot mug of coffee when there are fantastic days out like this to be had……………….. !!