Ahoyhoy, and welcome to the first in an occasional series of posts here on Patchy Growth which are related directly neither to eating out or our allotment, but are still, I think, worth noting for one reason or another. I'm calling it "Lovely things to do". You know how when you go to work on a Monday and someone's all like, "hey, I did this lovely thing at the weekend", and then they tell you what they did and you think "hmm, maybe I'll do that sometime"? Well, that's the kind of thing that'll be going on here. There are literally loads of things to do, so I doubt I'll ever run out of ammo for these pieces. When a man tires of things to do, he is tired of life, as the poet once said. Well, I'm not tired; I'm full of vim and raring to go. Let's do this!
We've been up at Kasia's parents's caravan, just outside Warkworth, this bank holiday weekend, and bloody marvelous it has been too. We ended the mini-trip by taking a boat ride from Seahouses round the Farne Islands, landing on Staple Island. We booked the boat trip with Billy Shiels, which was £20 each for a two and a half hour round trip. You also need to shell out an extra £8 per head to the National Trust in order to land on Staple Island. £28 a pop ain't cheap, but it's still cheaper than a night on the razzle and how many Puffins do you see out in the Bigg Market? None, that's how many.
|Kasia eyeing up some birds|
It's pretty hard not to play the "who can spot the first Puffin" game. A victor usually emerges about halfway through the 20 minute cruise to the Farne Islands after a few false alarms ("ah bollocks, no; another Guillemot"). The sheer bpm of their wingbeat is the first giveaway, the dash of colour around their bill the confirmation. Watching them try to take off is the animal equivalent of seeing someone fall over; you feel bad for laughing, but it's not your fault that they're an idiot.
|A bob of seals (I think that's actually the correct collective noun)|
|A Guillemot attempts to get some altitude|
|Shag! No really, it's a Shag.|
This trip was the very epitome, the absolute essence of a lovely thing to do so I can think of no better way to get this exciting new series underway. If twenty eight brick seems a bit steep, but you still want a dose of hot Puffin action, I can also recommend Dave Gray's Puffin Cruise round Coquet Island, which leaves from Amble. The last time we did this trip, which lasts about 45-60 mins, it was something like six quid, which is a total bargain ESPECIALLY as Dave is a total legend and let us pretend to drive his boat in the interest of comedy pictures.
There are lots of amazing things about Northumberland which make the North East a wonderful place to live. One of these is the coastline which is completely stunning. The Springwatch crew have been on the Farnes recording for the new series, so be sure to tune into that. But take my advice and get out a little way into the North Sea yourself; there's a whole other world out there.
Lovely thing to do rating: Easily 9/10. Would've been a ten if the weather had been bluer, or if we'd seen a dolphin