Thursday, August 17, 2006

A Priory and two forts a posteriori

Wednesday 16th August

Over breakfast at the Old Rectory, I'm sat with two guys about my own age from Bristol, who I'd seen complete their walk yesterday. We prattle on about the walk, the general superiority of Australians (I couldn't deny it) and the point in your life when you realize you've just re-amassed the same LP collection as your father. At least my Dad had a very cool selection of Dionne Warwick and Sergio Mendes with Brasil '66 records that I was familiar with from my early years.

After we've checked out, I drop into one of the other B&Bs to introduce Bondi to the owner, who saw a very dirty Bondi complete the walk on Monday. She has a lovely Staffy bitch who got on famously with Bondi.

Finally we're on the road, retracing the military road. I want to visit a few places that I'd marched past before as I hadn't wanted to lose momentum.

First stop is Lanercost Priory, from whence Edward I ruled for a time. I spend equal time exploring the remains of the building and talking to the lady at the English Heritage counter. When I discuss some of my travel plans, she tells me there is a jousting tournament planned for Tynemouth Priory this weekend.

Next we go to Vindolanda, a Roman Fort excavation, but it looks like someone bought the complete set of "don't bring dogs around here" signs and stuck them up all around the entrance. I abandon that and drive on to the Roman Fort & Bath at Chesters,where Bondi is welcome to come in and nose around the remains with me.

Around mid-afternoon I decide it's time to move on to the Northumbrian coast. Abut halfway along the A1, north of Newcastle, I pulled into the large market town of Alnwick (Chris says that's silent 'l' & 'w') to find a Tesco supermarket for frozen food supplies for Bondi. I didn't find that - just a Morrison's with expensive customer parking - and forgo that to look in Barter Books, a huge secondhand bookstore. They didn't have anything of real interest to me (that I didn't already have) and so we rejoined the A1.

I took the turnoff for Bamburgh (Bam-bra) and the first glimpse of town is the castle, high above the surrounding fields. We're based at the Mizen Head pub for three nights, with a view of the castle from my room.

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