Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Birthday to Me!

December 18th and another year older. My first birthday in Barnard Castle and my wife surprised me first with a crate of Guinness Surger, complete with glasses, beer mats and the Surger device, and then after work a meal at The Crown in Mickleton.
The Crown: has Andrew as the Chef. Andrew is the guy who did the ready steady cook type sessions at Raby Castle when we went there for the locally grown food fair. he really knows his business and it was a great meal and a great restaurant/pub.
The portions were great, and I did OK up until the deserts. Take a look at the tray they gave me. Those 7 deserts look small but they knocked me out.

Almost Christmas

One of our little Pre-Xmas traditions is the DVD opening. We are a little unusual in that we have never had TV, I mean, we don't have a license and watch TV etc. We have a DVD & Blu-Ray player, but that's it. So each Christmas I start getting a pile of films together for the holiday season, and a week or so before I let the kids open them all up. It's our first start to the season.

Friday, November 15, 2013


I thought I'd posted this, so sorry i'm a little late. This shot was taken of the Barnard Castle Fireworks display at Green Lane School (the same place Nathan has football practice). There was a bonfire too, a 16' trojan Horse went up in flames. Apparently last years event at The Domains was cancelled because of horse lovers complaining, so it was a bit of a statement.
Anyway, I went into a neighboring field to take this shot, also causing me to save on the entry fee, that's my excuse anyway. It was pitch black, and me and Nicky struggled to set the tripod up, change lenses, add the shutter release cable etc etc all by the light of another camera's back panel I had on me.
It was pretty good. Barney is a pretty small town, so didn't know what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Hutton Magna

We recently went to Hutton Magna, a tiny village with not much to it at all. The sort of place you blink and you've driven through it. There is one exception though: The News Box. The locals went and bought an old red telephone box from BT for the princely sum of £1, then converted it into a sort of mini library, full of books and magazines.
How did I find out all this? Hutton Magna is such a small but friendly place, that just standing around attracted some locals into telling us some of the history of the area.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


Since being here in barney, one of the things I've noticed is the skies. They seem so much more dramatic than in South Wales. yesterday, walking home was this amazing double rainbow.
Top picture is at the school playing fields, with my boy playing in a football match in the distance.
Bottom picture is the Teesdale Sports Center with GlaxoSmithKline in the distance on the left.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Rugby Time

Some of the guys at work told me about the Rugby matches being played on Saturdays. As Bowes FC seem to be playing away more at the moment I went along. Barnard Castle play on a field located in The Domains, as with the footie, attendance is free!

The first match was in glorious sunshine, and featured one of the guys from work in the team too!
The second match, in which Nathan came as well, was a bit more of a wet affair.
Barney lost both matches, with 2 mins to go for the game against Rockcliff, but they were very good games. Nathan bought us loads of bags of crisps which we munched through the first half and then spent most of the second half curled inside his hood as the rain came down a bit heavier.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Gilling West

We dropped Elionwy off in Richmond this morning and then stopped off just outside Gilling West, a lovely little village, to photograph this tower. I've seen it a few times from the road and thought it was a folly, but when we walked to it and started inspecting it, it looked more like some sort of watchtower. There was a walled up doorway to stop access, but it looked like it was built with purpose.
If you know what it was for, please leave a comment.
I looked for more info on Google Maps, but found nothing.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Picnic at The Domains

We were invited to a picnic with a group of friends from the church. We all had a great afternoon at The Domains. There was even some entertainment as a boot was brought out and some good old fashioned Welly Wanging went on!

A small dream come true

After our visit to the Etihad Stadium for Nathans birthday he was hoping we would get to see a match there.

We were very kindly given some money to take him, and managed to see City vs Hull. After a poorish beginning City did the business and beat Hull 2-0.
Compared to the Merthyr games we were used to see, where attendance was around 150 - 300 max, and Bowes where attendance can be counted in single figures, being in a 47'000 strong crowd was a lot different.
Of course he wants to go again.

Monday, September 9, 2013

More Woo?

The above picture is almost word for word a conversation my 13 year old son asked me.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Barney Busker Festival

There were about 5 acts at the busker festival from all over the world. The top act was from Ghana, then the balancing guy was from the USA, there was also a lady from Australia called California...confused?
And the bottom guy was from...Bristol! Unfortunately Nicky was too scared to use my new camera (so missed my debut) because this guy called me and another guy up to help in his fire juggling act. You see the rig behind him? He got on that to tightrope walk whilst juggling with a firebrand, a machete and a Tesco apple. I was helping keep the line taut, and it was physically knackering!
We didn't hang around for the final act, I was too exhausted.
A lot of fun though on what turned into an absolute scorcher of an afternoon in Barney.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Football

Nathan played his first ever football match this morning. Barnard Castle under 14's Vs Newton Aycliffe.
First time I've ever been to a kids game. A few surprises, first has to be that they have 3 halves? Nathan came off for the second half to let a sub play but told me he was going back on for the 3rd half???and sure enough, he did. They played 3 x 25-30 min halves.
Second thing of note was how good the game was. The kids seemed to get better and better the tireder they got. I think because they stopped running around so much and started passing more, lining up shots.
This all took place at Green lane Primary School, just down the road from me.
Unfortunately Barney lost 8-3, but for a first game he really enjoyed himself.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


I went back to Egglestone Abbey this weekend. It was my 3rd attempt to try and photograph it. I found out that the famous painter Turner had also been there, his drawing is above. It looks a little different now, but not much. The house you can see in the foreground is still there, and in fact a friend of mine used to own it.
The tiny little bridge on the right is also still there but hidden behind a bigger one. The farm house on top of the hill has a few neighbors with it, but on the whole it is very still that same Turneresque landscape.
I tried some Infra red photography this time of the Abbey.

Bowes FC

Football season started today!
In Barney anyway.
We went to see the local Bowes FC. They are in The Crook & District League, whatever that is?
These are the guys we had met at the open sports day at the Cricket Club.
It's a small world, the manager, Geoff, works for Glaxo, same as me, and one of the players was my son's footie coach.
It was a superb game, Bowes beat West Aukland 6-1! 
It's a funny set-up though. No admission charge, just turn up. We got there early enough to see the players just standing around peeing everywhere...I kid you not, there are no loo's so they just go wherever they are, it was a bizarre sight.
I just need to find there fixture list now. i asked one of the players at the end when they were home next and he had no idea.
Facebook page here:

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Low Force

Just a bit up the road there are signs to High Force. Apparently High Force is the largest unobstructed waterfall in England. When we walked there I found it very underwhelming. Most of it is in fact restricted access due to health and safety. maybe I'll have another look sometime, but I took only 1 photo there just to take something, and then deleted it as boring when I got home. Low Force was described to me as a bit boring!!!!? The pictures above are of Low Force falls, absolutely stunning. The pictures are from my second trip there when I went back with ND filters for my camera to help capture them.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Raby Castle

Last weekend was the Raby Castle food fayre. Nicky really wanted to go as she loves the whole organic scene. There were plenty of stalls and as you can see also live demonstrations from the local chef of The Crown pub/restaurant...that guy can cook! 
I also wanted to go, not for the food but just to see the castle and grounds. It can be quite expensive to enter the castle grounds, and even more so to enter the castle (£50 for a family I think). However, if you go to one of the many events the castle holds you can get a bargain. The Food Fayre for instance was £6 entry per car!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Football Season

Nathan has started football training for the Barnard Castle youth teams. They meet at Green Lane junior school on some very nice pitches. I took him to the first session (just a short walk for us) and watched him train as the rabbits hopped around in the distance. The coach works them pretty hard, but it's paying off.

Link to website:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Staindrop Carnival

Apparently all the little villages have carnivals every year. We have missed quite a few, but went along to the one in Staindrop. The funniest part was when the girls were cuddling the rabbits and guinea pigs from the rescue center display. I asked Nathan if he would like to cuddle a rabbit and he informed me he would rather cuddle a giant spider. You can imagine the look of mischief on my face when later in the day we found a tent that had exotic creatures in it...including a tarantula! He looked very shocked as I called him over to look LOL.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Football Crazy

When we were in Merthyr, googling like crazy to find a place to rent here in Barney, one place I saw was not only within walking distance of work, but I saw playing fields with goal posts. I thought, that would be great, me and Nathan could nip over there and play football. It will be so much better than the 2 trees we used for goalposts in Cyfartha Park in Merthyr.
Yesterday I took the camera, because it seems at least once or twice a week we are here now playing football.

What I saw on Google: MAP

Egglestone Abbey

We have today been in Barney 1 month!
This is the local ruined abbey. The most exciting thing about it was actually us leaving it. What I mean was, as we were leaving, walking down the hill from this quiet exclusion there was a big roar, and about 20 motorbikes appeared followed by 2 support vans. What was even more bizarre was the motor bikers, who all looked in there late 30s early 40s were all dressed like Crusader Knights.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


This is the Methodist church at the top of town. It's also the venue (the back hall) of where Influence Church meets We have all been meeting with the church there, and they are a great bunch of people. What's also nice is that because they meet at 5pm after a nice lie in on Sunday morning you have the rest of the morning/early afternoon to yourself :)

Thursday, July 4, 2013

What the Dickens?

This is the Charles Dickens Lodge at the top of the town in Barney. it's named after the man himself, Charles,  who visited in 1827.
Excerpt from Wikipedia:

Charles Dickens and his illustrator Hablot Browne (Phiz) stayed at the King's Head in Barnard Castle while researching his novel Nicholas Nickleby in the winter of 1837-38. He is said to have entered William Humphrey's clock-maker's shop, then opposite the hotel, and enquired who had made a certain remarkable clock. William replied that his boy Humphrey had done it. This seems to have prompted Dickens to choose the title "Master Humphrey's Clock" for his new weekly, in whichThe Old Curiosity Shop and Barnaby Rudge appeared.

Oh, and P.S.

William Wordsworth, Daniel Defoe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hilaire Belloc, Bill Bryson and the artist J M W Turner have also visited the town.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

On the way to work

Just a snap of the road I walk on the way to work. I got a job with GSK (GlaxoSmithKline), there are about 1100 people working on the site and it's the biggest employer in the area. I currently walk past the kids school (Teesdale), the sports center...which is right next to Glaxo's own sports center, then the Glaxo social club, then a short walk and I'm there. Apparently next month Bowes Football Club starts up (I walk very near the pitch they play on), and it's free admission to watch the games, so I've bookmarked that for the diary.