We arrived back in Newcastle at about nine in the morning after our swaying overnight trip. We went back to the hothouse, aka K & J's flat. They had both taken a weeks leave for our visit but K was immediately assailed by residents and staff with issues. We had planned to journey to K & J's caravan at Hexham in the late afternoon, but a snap decision was made by K, we pack and leave now and avoid any more work bother.
The caravan was to be my and and R's base while we were in Newcastle, but we had yet to see it. It turned out to be our sanity refuge. We had travelled so much, met so many people, partied, seen so many things, we just needed some time on our own to smell the roses. But it was not to be quite yet, as K & J were staying with us at the caravan until the Sunday night and today was Friday.
Hexham is a very old market and administrative town on the Tyne River about thirty minutes drive from Newcastle along the A69 to Carlisle. My first view of it from the bridge as we crossed the Tyne blew me away. Rising on the hill in front of us was everything you expected an English village to be.
It is the only Tory area in the north of England I believe, which means there is money there, and it showed. But don't think it is all old and quaint. It has all modern services, good sporting facilities, an industrial park and a huge particle board factory belching steam out of its stacks.
Being Friday, other weekend caravaners started to arrive and everybody knew everybody and while the was some bitching behind backs, never to anyone's face. The caravans are not exactly that. They only have tiny wheels for manoeuvring into position and are similar to our caravan park on site cabins, although a bit smaller.
The park closes for the winter for two reasons, one being the weather and the other for residents to avoid the poll tax. The vans are privately owned and a site fee is charged. There is mains water and sewerage, but gas is by bottle.
K & Js is a two bedroom, 30 feet long by 10 feet wide and with its own bathroom. The second bedroom is more for kids as the beds are very short, but that was ours for the duration. Finally we would not be packing and unpacking our suitcases. When we were away from the van, a back pack was adequate.
J took us for a walk to Tescos to get supplies for dinner. We were very impressed with Tescos and its range of goods for sale. Think a supermarket and Big W combined. I can see why local shops for local people would be worried about one opening in their area. There was plenty of Australian wine available, often with specials two bottles for a much reduced price. The first night we stuck to what we knew, Aussie wine. And it was priced about the same as what we would pay here in Oz. Later we discovered Tesco's prize offering, Ogio, an Italian wine, both whites and reds excellent. It was so popular, the store could not keep up the supply.
As they say in the area, that evening we just 'chilled'. We slept well, although woken in the morning by birds running across the roof, a not unpleasant sound.
The road bridge into Hexham over the wide and fast flowing Tyne River.
Our sanity refuge caravan
Ok, it is a bit frilly for us, but very comfortable