27 October 2011--The weather is back to its dismal late-October normal, and I'm slow getting out this morning. I've decided to go have a
last look at the North Sea, and so travel the winding roads northeastward toward Amble. Along the way, I think of the first time I ever crossed
Carter Bar south into Northumberland, a dozen years ago. I recall looking at the stark moorland ahead of me and thinking Novemberland.
Since then, I've seen a good deal of the county, and have long since overcome that first bleak impression. It's a varied and beautiful part of
England, really, and I've come to love it as well as I do much of Scotland (more than Dundee, for sure). But on a dreary day at the tail end of
October, I find myself once again thinking Novemberland. I wouldn't normally think to photograph the landscape on a day like this, but
for some reason I feel compelled to attempt to capture the mood of the countryside. The usual Photoshop tricks of color correction and contrast
adjustment will be eschewed.
Drive into, around, and out of Amble. If there's an interesting part, I've missed it. A few miles away, Warkworth sits within a hangman's noose of a loop in the River Coquet, with Warkworth Castle forming the knot on a hill overlooking the village. I make something of a speed tour of the castle, which features prominently in Shakespeare's Henry IV (both parts), and then descend to the village for a look around. Warkworth dates at least from the 8th century, but came to greater prominence after the Norman Conquest. The old medieval bridge still stands, as does the St Lawrence Church, a remarkably unspoiled Norman edifice that now serves local Anglicans. I think I will have to return and explore a little more thoroughly...for now, I find it worth noting that the Masons Arms serves Deuchars IPA.
A mile east of the village, I park the car and walk through the dunes to an apparently unnamed beach, which extends three miles or so from Alnmouth to Amble. I walk a stretch and bid the North Sea farewell, until next year.
Mess up on the way back to Hexham--intend to turn southwest from Morpeth to avoid rush hour traffic in greater Newcastle, but I've forgotten that you have to drive into the center of town to pick up the B road, as there's no exit from the bypass. Instead I get stuck for an hour on the A1, on the approach to the city.
Back at the Tap & Spile, I'm dismayed to find that the one table situated near a power point has been removed, and replaced with musical equipment. I retire with my laptop to the other room, as far from the entertainment as possible. I've forgotten that it's folk night, and the duo that show up to play are actually pretty good. Late in their set, they play the theme from Local Hero, and I suddenly find myself tearing up. It's a conditioned response--I've seen the movie a thousand times, and I think I get more emotional with every viewing, when the phone rings at the end. But it is, as well, occasion for me to reflect at the end of my journey--I just said goodbye to the North Sea this afternoon--and wonder about the future. I hope to continue these trips for some years to come, but you never know what twist of fate might change everything. The only certain thing is that someday I will depart from these isles and never come back.