Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Postcards from the English seaside

Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside . . . and England’s North East coast has some wonderful, sweeping beaches that have their own charm. This part of England never runs out of places to invite you to. By Bev Malzard
A visit to England never fails to impress. You can go back to the UK many times and always find something new out of something old the experience. It’s a country of infinite history, adventure and legends. From the glorious green hills and fields to the wind-swept coastlines it is a place of endless expression.
North East England has a ruggedness to it that appeals to many. This is a region far away from London and its noise and bustle. The countryside here is extraordinary and the cities built on the sweat of hard work and determination. From the superhuman evidence of Hadrian’s Wall to the silhouette of Norman castles on the skyline, there’s a richness to the area that is different to anywhere else on the island.
Some of the North East’s postcard snaps follow.

This is the city that reinvented itself. From seriously shabby and grubby a few years ago it is now chic and hip. Everything has been scrubbed up and polished and that includes the food and wine scene.
Walk along Quayside and glimpse the line-up of the famous Tyne bridges and the remains of 17th century Newcastle – crumbling bits of old building, old houses and for something new in Newcastle – the Millennium Bridge and at Gateshead, a stone’s throw across the River Tyne, the Baltic gallery and the Sage entertainment Centre.

Angel of the North
This amazing 200-tonne, rust coloured work of art/sculpture is the most frequently viewed work of art in the world.
It’s a gigantic human frame with its wings outstretched that towers over the A1 motorway about 10 km south of Newcastle. It’s 20m high and has a wingspan wider than a Boeing 767. You can’t miss it!
(The local nickname for it is the Gateshead Flasher.)

Catch the train out to Tynemouth from Newcastle for a walk on the seaside wild side. This is a charming town that holds a market at the Victorian railway station on the weekends. On the cliff overlooking the beach is a curved row of typical Victorian terrace houses, just the place for a summer holiday. Mediaeval monastery ruins are still standing, braced against the sea breeze and the sands of time.

County Durham
Pretty villages and neat market towns dot the North Pennines and the hills of Teesdale. The town of Durham is a market town and still moves to the rhythm of a place of comings and goings.
You cross the River Wear and view the most magnificent Romanesque cathedral in England. This is considered a masterpiece of Norman architecture. The cathedral and Durham Castle sit high a=above the mediaeval town surrounding it in a protective gathering of tight knit buildings.

Rockliffe Hall, County Durham
Rockliffe Hall is a very smart resort at Hurworth-on-Tees on the border of County Durham and North Yorkshire.
This place began life in the 18th century as a private, residential estate. The mansion was rebuilt in 1860 in the fancy, curly Victorian Gothic style.
Rockliffe Hall is English to its polished bootstraps and enjoys an impeccable reputation for hospitality, luxury, comfort and food cooked by a Michelin-stared chef – a local boy too. The Orangery, a conservatory room is where all the good stuff happens: breakfast, lunch and dinner. If the suites weren’t so wonderful it would be hard to extract yourself from the restaurant.\
The spa at Rockliffe Hall is huge and offers as many treatments as the human body and psyche can take.
This is almost like being in an old Ealing comedy movie. The retro chic of Saltburn is lovely. To visit on a sunny day is best. There’s a long, long, Victorian pier and you’ll see a lot of hardy surfers in (wetsuits on) with their surfboards on OK sized waves too.
There’s a water-powered ‘cliff lift’, a peculiar funicular that runs modestly between the upper and lower parts of town.

Holy Island (Lindisfarne)
This is an eerie, beautiful place that changes moods with the weather. To see the island surrounded by water on a sunny day it is looks benevolent and slightly aloof; on a misty grey day, it looks forbidding and unapproachable. The island is only five square kilometres, is tricky to get to as it is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway that appears at low tide.
Isolated, the island is almost as it was when St Aiden came here in 634 to found a monastery.
Go midweek or out of season to avoid the crowds. And be careful – don’t get caught in the middle of the causeway if you are walking to the island at low tide!
Emirates Airlines fly to Newcastle-upon-Tyne daily.
Visit: www.visitbritain.com

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