Exploring again – The Durham Heritage Coast

The other half is off work for two weeks at the moment, but instead of going away like we usually do, we are exploring closer to home. Yesterday we drove about half an hour up the coast to Easington Colliery, where we parked up and took the coastal path north above Shippersea Bay. Our plan was to walk as far as Blast beach or even Chemical beach towards Seaham but we only managed to get to the railway bridge at Hawthorn before I knew I wasn’t going to be able to make it that day. So instead we followed the path down under the arches and along the dene and found a little hidden beach with old lime kilns, a WW2 pill box and some beach art to explore before heading back the way we came.

There are lots of these places dotted along the Durham Heritage coast where industry once thrived. It is always a bittersweet thing to stumble across and my mind ends up in conflict with itself. As I observe the slight ugliness of the beach itself where a shelf of industrial slag sits above the natural beach covered by a layer of soil, I think of all the livelihoods lost as the collieries and related industries along the coast shut down. A triumph for the natural world, yet it was food in bellies and roofs over heads for thousands. There is no ignoring the poverty that still remains in these run down towns and villages of the north east, no matter how pretty the coast and countryside around them has become.

A little walk and surprise Seals

I’ve not been getting out much since the pandemic hit last year. Consequently I’ve piled on pounds stones and become quite unhealthy. This weekend I gave myself a stern talking to and have decided to make a serious effort to adopt the lifestyle I used to have which basically involved getting out places, walking a lot and eating a diet that didn’t involve takeaways, processed freezer food and wine! I’m not judging others who indulge in those things by the way, I just know I don’t do well on them!

So we were looking for short local walks to build me up and as I’m married to someone who likes to explore places that I would never think of going, we ended up in a small area of woodland nestled somewhere between the Tees flyover and the Newport bridge. It’s the noisiest bit of woodland I’ve ever walked in. There was no escaping the fact that the A19 was practically on top of us, no matter how green and pleasant the surroundings were.

As we came through the trees on one side of the wood we came along side Billingham beck, a tributary of the Tees.

And look what we found. Seals! They were just lazing about on the mud flats while the tide was out. Unfortunately I only had the camera on my phone with me so I couldn’t zoom in very well but to the naked eye they were actually really close. They lifted themselves up a bit to have a nosey at us so we decided to move on and leave them dozing in peace.

All around the wood were bits of abandoned things like paving slabs, the odd supermarket trolley, lots of rubbish and broken glass. It’s typical of such an area really. Councils pretty up an old industrial site but the immediate surroundings just don’t attract the sort of people who appreciate it as a nature spot, so it just becomes unkempt and littered.

I didn’t feel particularly driven to take any photographs but the bee on the teazel caught my eye and then I was woken up to the fact that we are now in August, when I spotted the ripening brambles!

Autumn is just around the corner, another year flying by!

It’s beginning to look a lot like . . .

It’s okay, I’m not actually going to mention the ‘C’ word. I don’t want to be accused of being alarmist or anything! But, I will just say that work has begun and perhaps for the first time in many years I am semi confident that I will have a small collection of cards and decorations available in the shop by September.

So far I have a couple of card designs in progress and a few ideas for some other makes. I won’t be going overboard because I have an awful lot going on this year with one thing or another, so stocks will be limited. I’ll share some sneak previews over the coming weeks, then, if you like what you see, you can sign up to the mailing list so you get to find out as soon as the ‘C’ collection is available to buy.

I made these little trees a few years ago to pop in the hampers we made up for family. I enjoyed making them so much that I am considering making some in vintage fabrics for the shop this year. What do you think?

In other news, I’ve been looking at ways to make my workspace more inviting so I have just taken delivery of a new chair, some oilcloth and a new cutting mat to cheer things up a bit. I’m also planning to make a curtain to go round the desk but I can’t make up my mind whether to make it patchwork or not and if not which fabric do I choose? It’s in our main living space so it’s got to fit in visually but seeing as the whole room still hasn’t been decorated there is a bit of room for experimentation.

It’s already looking much better. I have no idea why, but I chose a black top for my desk when we moved in back in 2018. I have regretted it ever since but the linen oilcloth is fab and has covered it up a treat. It’s not like other oilcloth I’ve had as it’s much thinner and drapes more like an uncoated fabric. I can’t believed I dithered about ordering some for so long. I added the fake plant to the Ikea order when I bought the chair. I’m slowly learning the value of fake house plants living here. I used to hate the idea but they do have their advantages. They don’t care about light levels, the cat doesn’t try to eat them and most importantly they don’t add to the humidity problem. They are also perfect for those of us with mental health challenges as they provide the same visual benefits as real plants but also don’t fall victim to drought periods when we relapse and forget to water for months on end. I think I’m a convert. Long live the fake house plants!

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend despite the rain.

We have cake so things aren’t so bad here!