Friday, July 25, 2008

Day 25, to Alnwick

R's bro in law D has a twin sister who lives on a farm. We visited and stayed two nights. We left Hexham the day after we returned from Blackpool and went to L and D's place and then went off to D's twin sister's farm. D's sister is around mid fifties, and was an absolute hoot. She likes a good drink, ah so English, but her husband is an alcoholic. He drinks, passes out, revives, eats a little, drinks, and passes out again. Time is irrelevant to him. But like most people I know who drink too much, he is incredibly interesting and intelligent. Just the bottle gets the better of him.

I learnt so much from him. He took me for a walk in a nearby paddock and showed me the grass mounds of where the Roman road went, later a local road for local people, but now just grass. He showed me his forest of trees that he had a permit to chop down, but then reckoned that as his grandfather planted it, he would leave it as it was.

He had no problem with me dropping a conversation when he became tedious. Many people found him tedious but everyone put up with him.

The farmland is his, but he lets it out to farmers, sheep and cattle. He has a great green house vegetable garden.

On the way to the farm, outside of Alnwick, I saw a huge dish on a hill on the horizon. American defence system was what I was told. Star Wars stuff. Russian missile defence. Redundant.

It did look pretty kewl though, on the horizon.

In the evening we played a dvd version of trivial pursuit on the tv.

Slumming or Gold Class?

While we did our o/s holiday quite cheaply, our friend, the Brighton Antique Dealer and not her toy boy, but her rich but quite common gay friend have been travelling too.

First class flight to Darwin, three days at Holiday Inn, a dinner out at a posh restaurant (oxymoron I know) first class on the Ghan train to Alice Springs, three days at a resort and umpteen helicopter flights to see stuffs, first class on the Ghan to Adelaide, three days in a posh Adelaide hotel, and first class train back to Melbourne.

Quite different to our holiday, but somewhat enviable.

Driving in England

Lord Hughes of Fleetwood warned me, but it was not as I expected. I noted in London that motorists were very polite to each other. I did not quite realise how heavily this would translate in a regional area, such as Newcastle.

Cars drive really slowly around town in England. Speed limit is 30mph, which is about 50kph in our money. There are roundabouts everywhere and there is no consistency in what they will be like. They could be monstrous on a major road with lanes going off in any direction and I never really picked up on which lane your ought to be in. You seem to need to swap lanes while going around the roundabout. I was reassured when I was told it did not really matter much. By my observations and experiences, it really did not. Then there were roundabouts that were a mere one metre circle painted on the road. Drivers were quite hesitant at roundabouts, and would wait for a car approaching when there was more than adequate time to get onto the roundabout.

Lane discipline was very poor, but then sometimes marked lanes were not even wide enough to fit a small car. The positioning of traffic lights were quite well designed, but traffic lights turning red in one direction and staying green in the opposite direction and then a right turning arrow coming is a recipe for disaster. I found this quite astonishing and I saw a quite narrow miss one day.

Although this is a developing problem here, it is very common for a driver to slow or stop from 30mph to let a vehicle in or a pedestrian cross the road. A whole line of traffic comes to a stop. It is good to be polite, but this behaviour is too polite and very disruptive to traffic flow. Politeness seemed to overcome common sense and road rules.

Indicators were used much less than here and quite erratically. If they did not self cancel, then many motorists saw no need to manually switch them off.

I am not sure why the English love their manual gears, as driving around town is just constant gear changing. Gear changing was also poor and there was plenty of riding of the clutch.

But then there are the motorways, such as the M6. It is just brilliantly designed and here is where English drivers really stand out, terribly so in comparison to here. Three lanes; the trucks, buses and caravans sit in the left lane and use the middle lane to overtake. The left lane travels at a strict 60mph (100kph). The middle lane is for cars travelling at 70mph and it is rare for anyone to travel slower. The outside lane is just for overtaking or drivers breaking the speed limit, and break it they do. I travelled at 70mph and it was nothing for a car to shoot past at 80mph or even 90. If you overtake someone using the outside lane, it is straight out and straight back in. There is no lingering whatsoever. Unlike here, you just do not see trucks spread across three lanes in front of you. Nor will you feel like meat in a sandwich with a large truck either side of you.

I was pleased to see aircon in newer cars, not that the cars generally are very old. You can buy a decent new car for less than $18,000, borrow all the money and pay 0% interest. I learnt to use the air con very sparingly as our little Fiesta seemed to just chew through the juice with the air con on. At $2.25 per litre for petrol, motoring is not cheap.

Sadly, even with excellent public transport in Newcastle, so many people feel the need to own a car. Your average family seem to have at least one car.

No one seems to worry too much about parking when out of paid area. Park up on the footpath, park facing the wrong way, park half way around a corner. No bother.

But to wrap this part, driving in England is very easy and not at all stressful. Apart from motorways, it all happens very slowly. Just go with the flow.

Now, below. I heard mention of this roundabout when in England and meant to follow up when I returned home, but forgot about it. But then I was skim reading an OB in the newspaper, and happened to learn that the designer had just died. When it first opened, he attended the roundabout and shouted directions to motorists with a megaphone. This Magic, or Tragic roundabout as some locals call it, would strike terror into the heart of anyone who came across it for the time.

Think the drawing could make it look worse than it is? Try the next picture down, and at the bottom should be a Google satellite image. I would rather drive around the Arc de Triumph I think.

View Larger Map

Thursday, July 24, 2008

What did Highriser miss when overseas? And a mild XXX

It is still Thursday, so can I do a poor man's imitation of Jayne's what is this thing?

I am going to write about it at some point, but would you care to guess what I really missed when I was travelling? The hint is that it is bathroom related.

Flowers and chocolates to a female winner, a head job to a male winner (I do cut and uncut equally well. I have refined my techniques for both).

Diary Addition

Since this is my own diary, I better not leave this out. Last Sunday while I was slaving away at work and trying to keep the wolf from our door, R and our friends and hangers on were off enjoying themselves at the Rivoli Cinema in my least favourite suburb of Camberwell seeing Mama Mia, the movie of course.

I arrived home after a hard day in the salt mines and bashed off on the tram to meet them at Camberwell Junction as they left the theatre and we all then went for dinner to an Indian restaurant in Camberwell Road that has been there for years. We had been once before about two decades ago and we ended up with burnt mouths from a seriously hot vindaloo.

I think it is called the Tandoori Den and I must say, it is a very good Indian restaurant, surpassing even Bali Da Daba in Ripponlea. Nor is it expensive. A big tick for it, if you can bear to go to such a horrid bible bashing upper middle class place as Camberwell Junction.

Brush with Fame

There are advantages to rising early. There are also advantages to not rising early too. But by rising early, I get to hear Red Symons on ABC Melbourne Radio in his first half hour of broadcasting. Being before six, he gets away with being a bit risque, a bit silly but usually quite entertaining.

He also gets some strange callers on air and some not so strange ones.

I was only half listening, when something said by a female caller grabbed my attention. Hey, I know who this is. She gave a brilliant time call, down to the thirty seconds and was thanked by Red by a name which a lot of you probably wouldn't know

Hints; mother of teens?, daughter, wife, gardener, home tutor, vegetable grower, museum goer, ex psyche nurse, ex radio broadcaster, amateur historian, humorous, choko loving, and writer of a five star blog full of history, her life and useful, along with useless information.

Got it?

Yep, Jayne, from Our Great Southern Land. As Red sometimes says, Love your work Jayne.

Slightly more on Blackpool

I meant to add to the main post, that I quite liked Blackpool. It could be described as garish and sleazy, but to me, that is part of its appeal. I can well imagine that a couple of decades ago or less, it could well have been extremely shabby and run down. For local people, think of St Kilda in the early eighties but perhaps without the artistic types.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 24, Blackpool to Hexham

Tuesday, one week to go, but I wasn't counting.

The Hilton buffet breakfast was so so good. They even had Scottish muck, like black pudding and haggis. A tall and handsome Indian boy kept our orange juice and coffee topped up.

Time to do some tramming. Here comes one. It was of the newer variety and the trip to Fleetwood was not too bad. The tram actually got up to a bit of speed when travelling through a paddock. It was interesting to see locals going about their lives, and the long long strip of Blackpool accommodation. The line travels fairly close to the coast but does get into the burbs a bit too. We were kind of told that it was the last stop for the tram, but then it went around a corner and we could have stayed on. I expect the crew wanted to light up.

We had a bit of look around Fleetwood and came back to where trams were being stored on road, and bought some coffee from a cafe with outdoor seating. Fleetwood is a ferry terminal to Ireland (I think that is right) but the area was also under heavy reconstruction. We watched the trams come and go for a bit.

Brian wasn't there to meet us......well, we didn't tell him we were coming. Of course it would have been nice to meet him, but we were struggling. I have to think of R always. Had I said so, R would have been agreeable, but I know not to load too much stuff onto him. I am hard work at times and I did ok to get him to go on the tram in the first place. I was very much feeling like I would like to be home in Australia too, but we must go on. There, blame for not meeting Brian was not my fault but allocated to someone else.

I hadn't quite finished my coffee when a double deck tram arrived. Come on, R urged me. He wanted to travel back on a double decker and hey, we got the front seat. Pity about the really dirty window. It must be a constant battle against salt spray.

Now, while this long tram route is used by locals, it is principally for tourists. As public transport, it is dismally slow. Both tram drivers and motorists seem to have no idea how to deal with each other, and that goes for pedestrians too, who look up at the approaching tram and then step out in front of it. The tram intersects many quiet and busier streets, especially at the Fleetwood end. The tram stops at an intersection, loads its passengers, starts, then stops because a car had started off that had stopped to give way to the tram. This goes on back and forth for a few seconds. There is no priority for the tram and I would just love to rip into the system and make it travel the trip in 2/3 the time. It is symptomatic of English driving. It is good to be a polite driver, but you can be too polite. The last thing I expect tram drivers to be is polite to motorists. They should be like Sydney bus drivers.

We had bought a day ticket each, at around $12, and we were ahead by using the tram four times for the day, but only just. Later when we used it, just from our hotel to the centre of Blackpool, we could have walked more quickly. Timetables are posted, but there is no connection between them and how the system actually runs.

Back in Blackpool, we checked out of the hotel and they had not deducted the deposit we had paid to the tourist information centre, much botheration before it was sorted. We had some lovely tea cakes and coffee on the beach promenade. We took a walk out on the Centre Pier, full of entertainments and pretty hideous looking bars. There were lots of Indians, or Asians as they call them there, on the pier. If you have ever seen the great movie Bhaji on the Beach......

We tried again for Blackpool Tower, but we did not want to spend a huge amount of pounds on seeing a circus as well. It would be cheaper if we came back mid afternoon. No, sorry, we need to be back in Newcastle by tomorrow afternoon. We are orf.

I had got into Blackpool without a map. I had only a stylised one to get out. But I had a good sense of direction by then and we wove around streets and found our way out. I can't even recall the rest of the drive back to Hexham or what we did that night. I was feeling fragile and I wanted to be home. Instead we are off to a farm to stay the next day.

Blackpool Tower
Blackpool's Centre Pier
The sea was a little rough the day we arrived in Blackpool but not as rough as the day when this photo was taken. A lot of work is being carried out on the seafront, which I assume will stop the sea flooding over the walls.
An old double decker tram alongside a newer single level model. The double decker is north bound for the Fleetwood terminus. The south bound one appears to be only going to an intermediate destination.
A double decker on its way to Star Gate, the southern tram terminus.
For a short section of road in Blackpool, cars mixed it in with the trams. The set up looked dangerous to me, but as the trams are ponderously slow, I guess accidents are rare.
A ship had come to grief along the way to Fleetwood.The tower of Lord Hughes of Fleetwood.
A flotilla of trams? A congestion of trams?
I took this tram photo as we were drinking a cup of Nescafe's finest
Later it ventured to Blackpool under the control of a trainee driver.
At Fleetwood, the tram does not have dead end terminus, but what is known as a balloon loop.
The tram window was very dirty but down this street is who knows what.

Day 23, Hexham to Blackpool

We decided on going to Blackpool, mainly because R kept saying to everyone that I wanted to see the oldest tram system in the Western World? Well, I wasn't desperate, but it would be interesting.

I had to ask three different people before I got a definitive answer that the speed limit on the motorways is 70mph. Even then, no one knew what the speed limit was on the A69. 60mph seemed appropriate to the road to me, so that is what I travelled at between Hexham and Carlisle. The road west to Carlisle pretty well follows the Tyne river valley, as does the train, with the Cheviot Hills up to the right.

We bypassed Carlisle, but did stop for fuel and brunch at a service stopping place. It was busy!!! We then turned south onto the M6, the major motorway to Glasgow in Scotland. It was a pleasant drive with very pretty scenery. One magical moment was when three wind turbines came into view as we rounded a corner. I just love wind turbines on a landscape. I know some of you hate them, but I don't. We saw a lot in the North Sea on our way to Amsterdam too and in various other places.

Driving on the motorway was interesting. I will post about driving in the UK separately.

We passed through a beautiful gorge, with steep hills either side of us. By the visible erosion, it was land that should not have been cleared. I wondered why the sheep did not fall down the almost vertical hills?

Just before Preston, we turned off the M6 onto the M55, going straight to Blackpool. The drive had taken longer than I expected.

Entering Blackpool did my head in. It was a road raised above the ground and it only seemed to lead to massive carparks. We just did not seem to be able to get to local streets or the beachfront to orient ourselves. We parked in the last carpark and fed the meter and set off on foot and realised that you can get to the beach front by road. They just make it hard, and I worked out later that there must be good reasons to keep tourists on one road and lead them into large carparks.

We reached the beach front and in the back of my mind was a night sleeping in the car. We really needed to find some digs. I had mentioned to R that perhaps we should stay somewhere a bit nice after our modest digs in London and he agreed. We found a map dispensing machine and then a nice lady in a boat information shop or something like that, pointed us in the direction of the tourist information centre. We hovered a bit there until eventually attended to. R had picked up some brochures and was flicking through them.

What sort of place would you like to stay, asked the assistant. Somewhere under $200, I replied. She tapped away on her pc and came up with Blackpool Hilton, one night, $170. Includes full breakfast, bit of a bargain really. Done I said. Only later did R tell me that he was considering a B & B for $44 for the night.

Well, we got the seventh floor, the top, with great views of the sea. The room was as you would expect a Hilton room to be. The breakfast was sublime. The staff ever so helpful. I could have stayed a week.

After checking in, we wandered back along the beach front. The waves were large and crashing against rocks and concrete. Just yesterday we were in Blanchland and nearly blown away, but that day, the windiest place in England was Blackpool. There was a dog show on and the wind had blown the marquees down, with a couple of personal injuries. I am sure the dogs looked very fluffy.

We returned to the tourist information place to find out about tram fares etc. R's sister K had told us about a fantastic show in Blackpool called Funny Girls, so we asked about that. The guy told us where it was located and indicated carefully that it was in an 'area' that we would like.

We bought some absolutely dreadful chips and took them to the beach front to eat. We spied three cute topless lads, and so thought it was an ideal place to eat our chips. Could I carefully take a discrete photo of them? No, their girls had sussed our interest. Piss orf you skanky hos.

We tried to go up in the Blackpool Tower, but we were a bit too late.

R got hassled by a begger, a gypsy I think. I was hassled later by another one, also gypsy. These chick gypsies had no idea of how to get money from gay men. One was absolutely outraged when R told her that he did not smoke. I just ignore them or tell them to go away. R is a bit more charitable, in that he will listen to their crap stories, although he never gives beggers anything either.

We wandered the streets a bit and looked in shops and headed in the general direction of where Funny Girls was located. We started to see some rainbow flags. While K had said Blackpool was the regional gay capital of England, I think it is behind Brighton and Manchester.

We headed back to the hotel, yes, you are paying big quids, you need to spend some time there, and we relaxed in the comparative luxury for a couple of hours. I even had a bath, deep and hot.

We ventured out for dinner at about eight and ended up eating at the Washington Hotel in a nice bay window and it offered two main meals for $16. The meal was fine, the host of the hotel personally attentive. But it was Monday night, and it was pretty quiet in downtown Blackpool.

Judging from the exterior, it was not a night Funny Girls was going to be happening. We happened across a bar, but the door person put me off. We were trying to look tres cool and relaxed but of course we looked like what we were, two old queens who were very unsure of themselves and what we were doing.

Here is another bar, and it looks less threatening, so we spent a couple of hours in the Flying Handbag. It was quite a nice place, very spacious, with a drag DJ and the drinks not too badly priced. Two old queens decided it was time to head back to the hotel, just as all the cute, young and interesting people were arriving. Not a bad turn out for a Monday school night.

The Blackpool Hilton. Not the most attractive place on the outside.
View from our room.
A Blackpool sunset.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 22, Blanchland

It was a bit of a drive, over hill and down dale and another hill and another. The road twisted and turned, widened and narrowed. There was a gorgeous view of Derwent Reservoir and then we arrived at the historic town of Blanchland. We found an artist's gallery, the artist actually being there, and had a long chat and bought some bits and pieces. He emigrated to Australia in the early sixties, but to avoid conscription, returned to England. He lived in the Tullamarine area and had painted a picture of the Windsor Hotel.

We had a beer at the Lord Crewe Arms Hotel in took a stroll in the beer garden. Some fool had bought me a shandy, me being the driver, and it was revolting, but I was saved by a wasp diving into it. Please, I can have one small full strength beer and still drive. The day was marred somewhat by a an extremely strong wind, and it wasn't just local, as will be mentioned later.

Back to Hexham where we had a late lunch at Wetherspoons in the Hexham picture theatre.

K and J packed up while R and I took a long walk along the river, in the direction away from Hexham.

K and J left. What do we do tomorrow? Stay in Hexham? We have seen enough old stuff. We are surrounded by it. Take a trip to Edinburgh? What about Blackpool?

Most of the houses in Blanchland were like this one. The front door would be about 5 feet, six inches high, so you would need to be a good ducker. In fact there was a lot of ducking in Blanchland. We were ducking the whole time we were there. All of the houses had lovely potted garden displays.
Bridge over the River Derwent at Blanchland
This grave in the grounds of Blanchland Abbey, and it wasn't the only one either, was very sad. All of the children died before the parents. Most of them were under ten, but two made it to their twenties. Oddly, the father lived to the age of 85 and his wife to 92.
You want a beer garden? Now this is what I call a beer garden.
Back in Hexham, after the rain the day before, the Tyne had swelled and was flowing fiercely.
A stile, of a modern type. There is a paved crossing over the railway line nearby, so if you intend taking a vehicle or cattle across the railway line, call the Fat Controller on the phone to check the location of the next train.

UK Celeb

Not the butchest of blokes, but Gok Wan was all over the newspapers, magazines and tv in England. Not sure what he actually does, but I did see 'celebrity stylist' written somewhere.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Day 21, back to Hexham

Lucky I passed out early went to bed early. Some bad stuff happened overnight. Nothing nasty, just excessive alcohol consumption by someone's partner's sister who was very sick and did not surface until the early afternoon. She walks on the edge at times and although she was extremely pleasant and kind to us, having us there was taking its toll on her.

D was up, and for once admitting to being a bit hungover. Regardless, he was tidying and ensuring we had some breakfast. We did not hang around for long. We bolted to the caravan. K and J came up later. It was the only day it really rained, and rain it did. It started late morning I think and did not stop until midnight. That is like really raining, pouring down, not abating, no let up. God I wish that would happen here.

Although none of us mentioned it at the time, later we all agreed that we were wondering what we were doing standing under a dripping tree at the caravan park gate waiting for cab when we should have just stayed at the caravan.

None the less, we went to the local ex serviceman's club and had a fine night playing bingo and then having a great entertainer by the name of Robbie Raines (his belt buckle lit up with his name, just in case we did not catch it). Not only could he sing very well, he could entertain too. K doesn't like the club normally, but we all had a fun night.

Our taxi rang at the appointed time of 11 to let us know he was outside and waiting to take us home. Try getting that service in Melbourne.

Another pic from Hexham Park. The poppy flowers were huge and very vivid.
Just the walkway from Hexham Abbey towards the park and then the caravan park.

Day 20, around Newcastle and a night out at The Denton

Friday, I think. Yes. We drove down to Newcastle and spent the day with two of R's sisters and the brother in law. They took us out to see the sights around town and it was good fun. We started with the Angel of the North. Now there is a name for this photo spoiling which I can't remember, but D kindly took some nice young men's photos for them, while we hammed it up behind them, thus spoiling their treasured photos of the Angel.

Then via a circuitous route, to the Quayside where we had lunch at an old warehouse, now a pub called Wetherspoons. Wetherspoons is a pub chain and they are everywhere. The food is ok and quite cheap and consistent. They tend to go into old buildings that have become redundant. There was also one in Hexham, and there they occupied half of the beautiful Art Deco movie theatre.

After lunch we walked along the Quayside for a distance and crossed the Millennium Bridge to explore the Baltic Flour Mill contemporary art gallery.

Back across the Bridge and to Castle Keep via the Dog Leap Stairs and the Black Gate. It was great fun exploring The Keep but god knows how many stairs I climbed. The castle dates back to 12th century, I believe.

Then onto the hotel that you can see in the railway bridge photo. A bit of afternoon tea and time to go back to L and Ds.

In the evening, there was a family gathering at the excellent Denton Hotel. It sits high overlooking a major roundabout. It is very large, the food was good and it had an excellent outdoor heated area at the front. The crowd, and was there a crowd, tended to be on the younger side of 35 and many of them call in for a meal and or cheap drinks before heading into Newcastle proper for the clubs where drinks are much more expensive. Concealed hip flasks and the like are a way of life in Geordieland. We had a fantastic time with a lot of R's family and their friends. I was nursing a pint of beer and bored initially, and then I saw a family member whispering to R, and then a bottle of red appeared, just for me. Too kind.

A couple of drinks, combined with loud music, very loud crowd and accents getting stronger, I just gave up trying to talk to anyone inside and spent a good bit of time in the beer garden, talking to whoever I knew who came out.

We were in a reasonable state when we climbed into one of the many cabs coming and going from the hotel driveway and went back to L and Ds. L, who did not go, had made us sandwiches. Nightcap Andrew? Scotch? Ah, well just the one. More of the world's problems sorted out and another night staggering up the stairs to bed.

Dominating the Newcastle skyline is the sculpture Angel of the North. It is absolutely huge and can be seen from many places in Newcastle. Initially hated, the people of Newcastle have come to love it. When it was first erected, it caused many car accidents when people slowed or stopped to have a look.

Pic courtesy BBC (I could not fit it into the camera lens)

We had a fine lunch on the Quayside at Wetherspoons.
Not the best angle of the Newcastle Railway Station, but certainly an important part. The station itself is huge, complete with accommodation.

One of the railway bridges, seen from The Keep.
Castle Keep.
Dog Leap Stairs on the way to the Keep.
Yes, it was a flour mill, now a space for contemporary art. And boy was it contemporary stuff, by a Japanese artist. The view up the Tyne from the top is excellent.
The Millennium Bridge, also known as the Winking Eye. Although not really essential and seldom used because it is not really needed, the lower part lifts to let taller river traffic pass under. It is lifted twice a day for tourists. We missed it by ten minutes.
Some arts building. The ship is a nightclub and permanently moored on the Gateshead side of the river.
The Tyne Bridge, similar to the Sydney Harbour Bridge but smaller. Ours was first, they would brag. Yours was just the model for ours, I would return.
The High Level Bridge. Trains travel across it and it has only just re-opened after a major renovation. Buses and taxis are allowed to use it, but not private cars. England being full of English, no one takes any notice and uses it anyway. There used to be lifts that went up in one the pylons, but they have been closed. At one spot, you can see five bridges at once. Then there is a tunnel and another tunnel being built.

Stairs up to where the old railway line ran near where R's house was. As we arrived at top of the stairs, we saw a pheasant. D said he has never seen one in Newcastle.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Day 19, Hexham and Aydon Castle

Again we walked to the Hexham shops in the morning and then visit the old Hexham Gaol, the oldest gaol in northern England. Quite interesting, three storeys with a dungeon for the poorest prisoners, not those who had committed the worst crime. A glass lift takes you between the different levels.

While we had seen bits of Hadrians Wall in Newcastle, and of course the car hire place was at Wallsend, we decided to head into the hills to find a bit of wall for ourselves. This was quite difficult as we did not want to go where you had to pay to see it. There is plenty of it left for free viewing, but not easy to find. We ended up having a nice drive, but did not come across any wall.

Instead we found ourselves at Aydon Castle. Until the sixties I think, it was still a private residence, but it is a dinky di castle and it was interesting. Again the ancient sewerage system was featured.

Back to the van via Tescos where we bought some meat pies to have with vegetables. They were a bit smaller than your Four 'n' Twenty but the pastry looked nice and they smelt nice as they were heating in the oven. There were four in the pack, Tescos own brand, and here is what should have given us a clue. The price for four was 59p, or $1.20. Sitting on the pastry base after lifting the lid, was some watery gravy, no sign of meat and some minute pieces of onion. We could nothing else but laugh and Tescos pies became a running joke for the rest of our stay. In fact the joke is still running. They really were a disgrace. Surely they weren't meant to be like that, but then if you think about the price.........

The outer wall of Aydon Castle
Part of the castle itself
A slot for pouring boiling oil onto the enemy. Well, that is my theory.