Thursday, 22 December 2016

Blob Thing Crosses Some Bridges And Finds A Strawberry

Blob Thing says:

Well this is all very exciting isn't it?

Yes.  It is.  I assure you, promise you and guarantee to you with a promise of a full refund.  You're right of course about that being an empty guarantee.  You haven't paid any money to me to read my words.  None at all.  They're free.  On the house.  Gratis.  My gift to you, faithful readers and others who stumble across this page.

It is very exciting.  Today I will get to the end of telling you about our adventurous walk to Morpeth and about the surprise we found there.  But that's not the exciting thing.  Nope.  No siree.  Negativo.  Ignore the "negativo" because who would say something like that?  The exciting thing is that I am writing my blog somewhere new.  I've been here before of course.  I've even blogged about here before.  Remember that time when a dragon in a giraffe costume stole my "Autistic" badge?  That happened here.  Just in the next room.

Today I'm writing my blog inside the Literary and Philosophical Society Library.  We're currently in the Sir James Knott Room so you know where to find me.  We considered writing downstairs where there is a silent room but for today at least we're upstairs here among thousands of books.  Last time I was in this room we had come for a poetry reading and music performance that we came to mainly on the grounds that it was free.  This time we've come so I can write my blog.

But that's not the most exciting thing.  The most exciting thing is that my person has just done something that she has managed not to do ever since moving to Newcastle.  She has joined the library.  Exciting, isn't it?  It's part of her plan you see.  I just heard a train horn!  Twice!  She hasn't got much of a plan yet but she knows that it includes lots of writing.  LOTS of writing.  She knows she has some kind of a writing gift of course.  People have told her.  And she's started writing more this year, especially in the last few months.  Next year she wants to learn to write.  Develop some skill.  Learn how stories, non-fiction, poems, and every other type of writing actually work.  She wants to play with words, play with ideas, play with writing prompts, enthuse about the wonder of composing.  She is a writer.  She says so.  Therefore she is.  Next year she also might get to the point of entering a competition or two.  Or submitting some work.  She'll only do that if the composition process looks joyful though.

She also needs to learn about proof reading and editing.  Take the story that she published on her own blog a few days ago.  It's a Christmas story.  It's more than 15,000 words long.  We all know that a year ago she would not have been able to write such a story.  Personally I think it's pretty good but maybe I'm a bit biased on account of being her soft toy.  Maybe not.  Others have read it and the reaction has been good.  But it's not proof read.  It's not edited.  So there are lots of typing errors and little things that could do with tweaking.  What I say is that she should do the proof reading.  Do the tweaking.  Change the dates.  And then attempt to get it published somewhere for next Christmas.  That's what I say.  I'm just a small pink soft toy but sometimes I get ideas.

I'm in the Lit & Phil Library.  And my person is a member.  And she is a writer.  And she is as excited as I am about what she might find in 2017.  Today, on 22nd December 2016, next year is a mystery.  This year was a mystery too.  There have been surprises this year.  Lots of them.  Last year was too.  At least that's what my person says.  She hadn't expected to be diagnosed as autistic last year but that happened.  I wasn't alive for most of last year.  I was only created on the evening of December 31st.  So I didn't get to experience much of 2015.  This year has been a constant surprise for me and there is a vast amount I haven't been able to tell you about.

Like that day we walked to Morpeth.  We were nearly there.  Success almost guaranteed.  If you want to read about the rest of the walk you'll just have to read my other posts.  Some of what's there may surprise you.  Things did not turn out as planned when my foolish person attempted to take us through Bothal but they turned out well after many adventures and some time travel too.  Bothal is a safe place now.

On our walk into Morpeth along the course of the river Wansbeck there were only two more bridges to cross.  And then we would be there.  My person said that we deserved a rich reward when we arrived and that she might even treat us all to a pot of tea in a cafe.  And get this:  She said she might even buy a cake.  A cake!  My person said that!  She doesn't usually go so crazy.  All the memory wiping must have affected her in some way.

Here's the first bridge.  It's called the Morpeth East Bridge and the excellent bridges site tells me that it was constructed in unknown.  That's okay.  All I need to know is that it's a bridge and that I like bridges.  Don't I look wonderful carefully sitting on the metal rails at the side of the bridge?

Here I am again, sitting VERY carefully.  The view downstream is behind me.  I did have to be very careful because the gap between the two pieces of metal I'm sitting on was very nearly as wide as I am.  If I hadn't held on so tightly I might have been blown into the river by any passing gust of wind and that would have been my doom.  So I held on and held on and gripped as tightly as it's possible for any soft toy with no limbs to grip.  I was lucky.  I didn't fall into the river and the photo was worth all the unnecessary risks I took.

Here's a close up of me sitting in a similarly dangerous, precarious, spot that would make you hold your breath with suspense and terror if you had seen me in real life or in a movie.  Blob Thing:  Daredevil.  But unlike the fictional Daredevil I haven't got any special skills and I'm not a highly trained fighting machine.  It's true that Winefride and I did manage to hold back the stone sentinels of Bothal graveyard for a while but we wouldn't want to make a habit of such extraordinary escapades.

We walked on.  Further upstream.  Towards the land of Morpeth.  Until we arrived at our final bridge of the day.  A pretty footbridge.  This is the Stobsford Footbridge.  It's called that because it's a footbridge.  It's by a ford.  And it's the Stob.  No, I don't know why it's called Stob.  The bridge was placed over the ford in 1931.  The faithful bridges site says so.  But it wasn't originally placed there.  It got moved.  By people.  Not by a storm.  It was originally sited at the bottom of Curly Kews.  Honest.  I'm not making that name up.  Curly Kews.  The local paper speaks of a "shocking scene" on Curly Kews this year.  There was a collision on the road.  A one vehicle collision.  A police car collided with some railings.  In Morpeth that is enough to qualify as a "shocking scene."  I guess that hundreds of people would have had to be hospitalised with the shock of seeing such a sight.  Shocking.  My person is shocking too!  Earlier this year, probably on a similar date to the Curly Kews incident, a woman in the market looked my person up and down and angrily said, "Shocking!"  I think that woman had to be hospitalised too and is possibly still in a maximum security psychiatric ward.

Here I am, in glorious sunshine, by the Stobsford Bridge.  I understand that in the town this is known as the green bridge.  Even though it's blue.  A woman is just to the left of us making noises under her breath as she looks at books on a shelf.  Maybe she's autistic too.  Maybe she just likes making noises.  Maybe she can't help it and has funny lungs.  Maybe in future we'll sit in the silent room downstairs.  I just think the light is better upstairs.  It includes a bit of natural light.  I must admit I wish that Newcastle had the reading room we liked so much in Manchester.  We would almost have lived there.  She's still there.  The books on those shelves are all about the Second World War.  I think my creator might like some of them.  Titles like "Holocaust Journey".

You can hardly see me in this picture.  I do like bridges.  Next year I want to see lots more of them.  Lots more.  And I'll pester my person regularly if she doesn't take me places to see them.

And so we arrived in Morpeth.  My person told Winefride and me that we would be going to a cafe.  If we could find one suitable for sitting in quietly with a nice pot of tea.  We liked the cafe we found in Manchester last week.  But I've said that before.  I wonder whether there's anything that crazy in Morpeth.  I do like pots of tea.  If they're filled with nice tea.

We walked into Morpeth.  Tired.  Thirsty.  Sun-beaten.  Drained from the Battle of Bothal.  In desperate need of refreshment before seeking transport back to the citadel of Newcastle.  We hoped that somewhere we might find a place that would welcome three weary adventurers with open arms and provide some refuge from all we had witnessed.

We hoped.  We dreamed.  We fantasised about tea.  I hoped the tea wouldn't cost too much or my person would probably renege on her promise and drag us away from the cafe with the words, "It's too much.  Let's just buy a large bottle of milk and drink from that instead."  My creator taught her that trick.  In many ways it's a good trick.  Why should my person pay a pound for half a litre of a sugar drink filled with flavourings and caffeine and colouring - that perhaps necessary evil entitled Coca-Cola - when she could buy two whole litres of milk instead?  A good trick but, I hate to say it, a trick that could take us away from our cafe experiences.

We hoped.  But we couldn't have hoped for or expected to see a sign like this:

All welcome.  Even three footsore wanderers with slightly muddy shoes.  Only my person's shoes were slightly muddy.  My shoes and Winefride's shoes weren't muddy at all.  Because we don't have any shoes.  I wonder whether my person will ever borrow books from this library.  It's not as if she needs any more.  On the other hand the library might have some books that would help her in her writing.  I noticed several written by the Opies and they're all good for finding ideas.  All welcome.

Not only that.  Another smaller sign told us the admission cost.  Free.  Absolutely free.  No charge.

A miracle!

These last two pictures from an amazing day show Winefride, my wonderful sister, and me.  We're sitting with a big mug of tea.  Not a pot.  And we're sitting with a big bowl of strawberries and some home-made shortbread too.

Music was playing from a local little orchestra and we sat in the sunshine outside the United Reformed Church and felt very blessed indeed by the entire situation.

You couldn't beat this.  It was better than going to a cafe.  And there wasn't any chance of my person complaining about the cost and dragging us away.  Thank you church people for the miracle.

That's the end of my account of that day.  Thank you for living it with me vicariously through my words.

Oh, that person who was making the noises moved on about sixty seconds ago.  I think she's going to borrow the book that stood between "The Secret World" by Hugh Trevor-Roper and "Crusade in Europe" by Eisenhowe.  My person says she would have read a book by Hugh Trevor-Roper in college but didn't because she had to completely reorganise her course and provide a new curriculum.  So she didn't ever read what he had to say about Archbishop William Laud, a man who wasn't lauded by his many enemies.  I wonder if he said more sensible things about Laud or about The Secret World than he did about the fake diaries of Hitler.  Probably I will never know.  That's okay.  There are much more important things to know.

[2160 words]

Monday, 19 December 2016

Blob Thing Witnesses The Strange, Forgotten Past Of The River Wansbeck

Blob Thing says:

I'm not going to talk much at all today.  I've just got some pretty photos to show you.  They were all taken on our epic walk from Stakeford to Morpeth.  I've already talked about our journey as far as the Bothal Mill bridge on the river Morpeth.  My person has been shocked at how much I've had to say about the experience, especially about Bothal itself.

We had been forced to spend a lot of time away from the river on our river walk.  My person says that it was about an hour.  I say that it was about seven months and that my person has forgotten many key details of what happened to us.  Now we had reached the river again and we wouldn't be diverting from its course again before reaching Morpeth.  Nor would we be diverting the river from its course.  We didn't even have a shovel, let alone any heavy engineering tools and I doubt my person would have been able to divert an entire river with only the use of her bare hands.  Even if she was as strong as Klaus, the giant I met once, or as powerful as the Angel of the North I doubt she would have had the skills to manage to divert a river.  In any case, where would she divert the river too?  It was very happily flowing down a valley, purpose built/eroded for the practical use of a river.  Diverting the river onto the hills would seem to be a fool's errand.  So leave the river where it is.  It's not doing anyone any harm except when it floods.  Are we agreed?

It was lunch time.  I decided that we should stop here.  It's a pleasing spot with the ruins of industrial works on the river that once would have driven mill equipment and turbines.  The area has a big industrial past and much that once was made has been unmade and only a few stones remain.  Some massive structures aren't visible at all now.  The colliery near my house is gone and you wouldn't know that there were tunnels under the ground.  And as for Bedlington iron works?  You would have to work hard to see any sign of that and yet it was a very important place once where wrought iron was discovered and where the rails for the Stockton to Darlington railway were made, as was the first train that ever left King's Cross in London.  It was important but is now invisible.

So we sat and ate our lunch and that was much appreciated by the three of us.

And so began our walk along the river.  We couldn't see much of the river very well because the valley got quite steep and the path had to be quite a long way above it.  There were lots of trees and other plants in the way.  That's okay.  They were very pretty too.  I want to tell you about an unfortunate incident.  I saw a branch that hung across our route and I decided that rather than just going under it I would climb the tree and walk along the branch to see if the view was any better.

It was difficult to climb up there but I made it.  It must be admitted at this point that my view wasn't much better from the branch than it had been on the path but it was fun being up there and I pretended that I could see all the way to Morpeth, all the way to Stakeford and all the way to Newcastle too.  I don't think my person fell for it though because she told me I was being silly.

Then Winefride saw me up there and she decided to follow.  She didn't have reins then so there wasn't anything my person could do to stop her and she skilfully climbed the tree and walked out onto the branch.  She looked a bit wobbly but seemed happy enough and she settled down onto the branch and laughed.

Here we are.  Don't we look utterly fabulous, eight feet above the ground?

But then the unfortunate incident happened.  Winefride started to walk back along the branch to get down again because I said we needed to hurry up and get to Morpeth.  I shouldn't have said that about hurrying.  Because Winefride took me at my word.  She hurried.  And she hurried too much.  Poor Winefride.  She lost her balance and fell to the ground far below.  I was very worried because it was a long way to fall and she was lying there silent and not moving.  I didn't want her to be hurt.  It was quite the unfortunate incident wasn't it?

But then she wriggled and opened her eyes and giggled.  She was fine.  I was very relieved indeed.

As we continued our walk we discovered some more interesting things from the forgotten past.  My person will tell you about them properly if ever she manages to blog about our day out.  I think she already explained about some of them when she walked along the same path before on that difficult day when she took me on one of my first adventures and then forgot about me until the adventure was over half way through.  I missed out on all the sights I'm going to show you now.  Silly person!

Here I am on a coat of arms that was carved into a rock face.

And here are Winefride and me sitting on the remains of a wall.  I think this was part of an old chapel.  It seems an odd place to build a chapel but maybe it was busier here once.  Or maybe someone wanted to have very quiet church services.  I went to a church yesterday.  Sort of.  I think my person half-liked it even though it was sort of church.  It took place in an art cafe in Manchester.  A very nice place.  There's a man outside the window shouting and making a big noise right now.  Well not right outside the window.  I can't even see him so he must be a long way away and shouting very loudly indeed.  Not the window of the art cafe.  That's not where I am right now.  Right now I'm sitting with my person and we're in my creator's house.  Later we're going to go out on a bus to a little place we like and we'll go to charity shops and drink some tea.  I'm looking forward to that.

Here's a close up of us looking particularly stylish on the wall.  I wonder who worshiped here and whether they did it in English, Latin or perhaps in Urdu or Sanskrit although that seems unlikely because not many people in Northumberland worshiped in Urdu or Sanskrit in 1800.  Sanskrit is an amazing language that I don't know how to speak.  Urdu is probably a good language too but my person has some holy books that were written in Sanskrit and every word seems to be more philosophical and full of meaning than the last.  I haven't ever worshiped in Sanskrit or Urdu.  Or even in Cornish and that's a much more local language to Northumberland than Sanskrit.  I don't think many people worshiped in Cornish in Morpeth though.

It's possible to worship in Cornish now though.  I'm going to show you some now because it's nearly Christmas.  Here's the start of the song that Mary, Jesus' mother, sang after being told she would bear a child.  It's taken from the Morning Prayer liturgy that you can find here if you happen to be inspired to worship in Cornish or see what the language sounds like.

Ow enef a vur/ha an / Arluth: ha’m spyrys re omlowen/has yn / Dew ow / Sylwyas.
Rag / ef re / vyras: orth ys/elder y/vaghteth/-ef.
Rag otta, a/lemma / rak: pup denythyans/-oll a’m / gelow ben/ygys.

My person says it's a little bit like Welsh because the languages were related.  I got her to take a picture of a piece of Welsh graffiti yesterday in the toilet at the art cafe.  She didn't mind because it made her laugh.  It was a question she used to see a lot when living in Wales whenever something was displayed in English only.  BLE MAE'R CYMRAEG?   Oh yes, here we are sitting on the wall.

And here we are on top of another wall.  This wall used to have a well at the bottom.  I wonder if it was a holy well with a spring formed by a saints head rolled onto it like the one at Holywell in Wales.

I will share two more photos with you.  They both show me in front of a viaduct.  This was designed by Stephenson and still carries the railway over the river Wansbeck.  I was sad because my person said that when she had walked that way before the plants were less green so she could get a better picture.  She also said that the water level had been lower then so she had been able to climb down the river bank and stand on a rock almost in the middle of the river and had been able to get a very good picture of the viaduct.  We couldn't do that.  These are the best we could do.  That's okay.  Maybe we'll go back again one day.

Next time I'll finish telling you about our epic quest.  How we finally reached Morpeth.  And the surprising thing that we found there.

[1592 words]

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Blob Thing And Winefride Find The Magical Bridge And Stones Of Bothal

Blob Thing says:

It was proving to be a most amazing day.  I'm not going to say anything more about the events we had already experienced and how I nearly died in the graveyard.  I won't speak more about the rhyming man or the green witches who sheltered us in their castle for five days until it was safe for us to move on.  If you want to learn of those events read the previous two posts.  You won't believe some of what you read there.  My person doesn't believe it either.  She thinks we had a very nice time in the graveyard at Bothal.  She thinks it was a perfectly ordinary day of adventure.  Because the green witches played with her memory.  So that's that.

We walked down the hill from the green witches' castle until we reached safety.  The water.  The evil that had nearly destroyed us could not touch us once we touched the pure flowing water of the river Wansbeck.  Then we would be able to continue our epic quest to find the fabled city of Morpeth.  [Enough Blob, stick to the actual events please.  Just this once.  Please Blob.]

Yes.  Down to the river.  As we reached the very treacherous path to the water my person got very distracted.  And why wouldn't she?  She suddenly stopped.  Pointed.  And shouted, "What the frell is that?"

I would have thought it perfectly obvious what the frell it was.  It was a bridge.

We had found the fabled rickety troll bridge over the Morpeth.  [Now now Blob.  You know perfectly well it wasn't a troll bridge.  And you know that it's not fabled.  Do you even know what fabled means?]  Okay.  But it did look rickety.  At least more rickety than the stone and metal bridges we had crossed already on our adventure.  I'm not going to admit that there aren't any trolls dwelling near the bridge though, only that we didn't see any trolls that day.

I like bridges.  I like to be photographed with them.  I have a desire to be photographed with every bridge across lots of rivers and my person needs to get a move on in finding them all for me.  This bridge is one that few people see.  I thought it very exciting to see it.  This is a suspension bridge and there aren't many of them on the Wansbeck.  It can only be used by pedestrians.  You would never fit a train on it.

Here's the picture of me with the bridge.  Don't we both look stunning?

Unfortunately we couldn't use the bridge to cross the river.  We weren't allowed.  I believe that there is a track that runs from the church to this bridge.  On the other side is the rectory where the local minister lived.  He would have had a massive walk every day to get to his church so the parish built him his very own suspension bridge.  Wasn't he a lucky man?  Nobody is ever likely to build a suspension bridge just for me.  I bet nobody has ever built you a suspension bridge either.  There isn't one for my person either.  On the other hand she doesn't need a suspension bridge to get to the toilet in the middle of the night.  We've just been to a kind of church service in which people talked about getting to the toilet in the night.  It took place in an art cafe and wasn't like any normal kind of church service.  But that's today.  It's not the adventure day.

No, we couldn't use the bridge because both ends of it are in private estates and since we couldn't go in the private estates we couldn't cross the bridge.  I wish we could cross it one day.  I'd love that.  I wonder if they could make me some kind of special swing and I could swing back and forth under the bridge and above the river.  My person wants to have a special swing and be tied onto the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and go swinging when it's raised.  Or just be tied to the bridge and lifted high above the river.  Sounds like fun.

Never mind.  We soon found another way to cross the river.  We descended the treacherous path and encountered this stunning sight:

Stepping stones!  I love stepping stones and these ones were amazing.  They're also very obscure.  We saw a sign in Morpeth recently that told of the stones on the Wansbeck and whoever wrote the sign hadn't ever heard of the Bothal stones.

I won't tell you how many times my person, me, and my sister Winefride crossed the stones but it was more than one and less than a thousand.  We had so much fun and I watched happily as my person went completely happy flappy and Winefride jumped back and forth across the stones.  I'm glad she didn't fall in.

Here are some stepping stone pictures.  This first one is of me, standing on one of the stones.  The rickety troll bridge is in the background.  Beautiful.

This is the view from the stones if you look upstream.  Beautiful.  Even without me or Winefride in the photo.  I wanted to be able to walk along the light and into another world but obviously that would have been impossible so I stayed on the stones.

Here I am with my sister.  She is so brilliant.  Hmm.  Neither of us are managing to look at the camera for this photo.  We're autistic and sometimes find it hard and sometimes my person has to take lots of pictures before she gets one where there is eye contact between us and the lens.  You can tell this was a long time ago because my sister hadn't got any safety reins.  I love her.  She makes my adventures much more fun and when we're home we play together quite a lot.  When we're not playing with other friends of course.  Or when she's not lining up her toys and I'm studying.

Here we are on the stepping stones.  Awesomely gorgeous.

Then it was time to leave the stones and we had to leave the river behind too because the path didn't follow the water.  We had to adventure again and even had to head back through Bothal to get on the right path.  That's a whole other story that I'm not going to tell you about because my person isn't letting me.  It wasn't quite as scary as the story I told of our first trip through Bothal but it was staggeringly stunningly stupendously stultifyingly [is that the right word Blob?] strange.  I won't tell of the vampyre, or of the society of rainbow unicorns, or of the way crazy Jack Williams caused the transformation of our friend Graig-Pethe into a marble plinth.  I won't tell of the battle between the local minister and the evil Lord Farage who called for the execution of all people of a different colour.  Including my sister.  I won't tell of how the green witches destroyed the Scimitar of Broken Dreams.  I won't tell of any of the adventures we had on our second trip through Bothal or how my person's memory had to be wiped for a second time after we were transported back in time again.  My person won't let me.  And the rhyming man himself vowed me to secrecy about some of the things that happened.  Believe me, it's better that you don't know the full truth.  [Blob, that's enough.  Seriously.  I think you make some things up.  I think you do it just because you enjoy it.]  See, my person doesn't know the full truth.

We passed through Bothal without incident [that's better Blob] and reached the river again.  It was crossed by a much sturdier bridge.  In fact this was the bridge we were aiming for, the one on our walk.  The stepping stones had been an unexpected bonus.

Here I am with this bridge.  This is the Bothal Mill bridge, built in 1982.  It's wide enough just about for a car and a walker.

We had done it.  It had taken us seven months and six days.  But we had finally reached the mill bridge.  Seven months of adventures.  There were more than enough to fill a book that would undoubtedly be the bestseller of the year.  As someone said about my last post, "Eat your heart out, J. K. Rowling."  I don't want her to do something quite so drastic.  It's a shame I have to keep silent about our Bothal adventures.  Don't you want to know about what Lord Hampton was doing with Brenda Smith's sisters and a pack of perfectly ordinary living tarot cards?  It's quite easy to do divination with living tarot cards because they tell you the interpretation themselves.  You deal the fool or the devil or the hanged man and they rise up out of the cards and speak.  Have you ever talked with a hanged man?  I have.

We had reached the river and the bridge.  It would now be a simple matter to walk along the river to Morpeth.  And it would be lunchtime soon.  I do like lunchtime.

One final picture.  Here I am on the bridge with the river behind me.  It's beautiful.  I'd recommend that anyone walks the route we did.  And don't worry about passing through Bothal.  It's quite safe now because we cleansed it thoroughly.  Have no fear about it.  Bothal has returned to the light.

[1583 words]

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Blob Thing Is Aided By A Ghost To Escape Bothal Graveyard And Find Safe Waters

Please note:  This post immediately follows on from another - this one - which is the third in a series wherein Blob Thing relates the story of one of our days out.  The first - this one - contained elements that I didn't quite remember in the same way.  The second - this one - similar departed a little from my version of reality.  It also contained a discussion about toilets.  But that third one?  I honestly don't think that Blob and I were living in the same universe that day.  I had a very pleasant time in the village of Bothal and enjoyed our short time there.  Blob seems to have got into some difficulties.

Blob Thing says:

Yes.  Difficulties.  We were in big trouble and I didn't know quite what we were going to do about it.  I'd known from the start that entering Bothal was a bad idea and had my person not been so stubborn and foolish we would have avoided the place entirely.  When I left you last time we had tried to seek the protection of the church, knowing that within its ancient walls we would find solace and holy relics that might protect us.  Unfortunately the church had been locked so we had to flee from its porch and run, as quickly as I could convince my person to move, to the graveyard.  When fleeing from the watching eyes of black magic covens and the undead a graveyard might seem to be a counter-intuitive place to hide but I knew there wouldn't be any protection outside it.  Possibly there would be some means of escape hidden within its boundaries.

It wasn't looking promising though.  The lights of the graveyard, unnatural in appearance, were seeming to beckon us in as if created by some malevolent creature who was at that moment watching us and preparing to spring a trap.  We had no choice though.  I could feel the darkness creeping in behind us, cutting off our escape to the road.  We had to proceed.

We drew closer, past the point of any return.  I nearly fell into despair before we had progressed any distance because of this:

What you see are two stone sentinels.  Alive.  Moving.  Daring us to approach.  Behind us the trees were singing unearthly songs and I could hear a cackling and I knew we could not go back.  But there on the ground.  What's that?  You can see it, can't you?  You can't see the whole vision of dread.  This is just one hand - if it could be called a hand - of what must have been an enormous creature.  We couldn't see its full size as it had kept itself well hidden behind the trees.  It kept wiggling those fingers of it - if you can call them fingers - and rhythmically would lift its hand slowly and then slam it into the ground.  Lift.  Boom.   Lift.  Crash.  The sentinels watched us.  Would we dare to attempt to get past this obstacle.

We had to time our run carefully and I got my person to carry Winefride.  I'm not sure that she was aware of the danger at all.  It was all new to her and the fact that she giggled loudly every time that hand hit the floor didn't fill me with much confidence for her safety.  She just seemed to want to get closer because every time the hand hit there was a massive rush of air and she was enjoying the sensation.  I had to admit that in other circumstances I could have listened and watched and felt all those magnificent things all day and I wouldn't have got bored at all.  Had the creature not been wanting to smash us all to death in Bothal churchyard it would have been a beautiful experience and I would have stood staring at the light and the way the sun played between the branches of the trees.  I would have felt the earth under my fur and smelled the plants and it would have been stupendous.  [In my experience it was stupendous and there was no creature.]  Oh be quiet my person, you know full well they altered your memory.  As it was I had to focus the whole of my being at this point.

I grabbed my person, who had by then picked up Winefride.  She protested and I was afraid she might have a meltdown.  The hand began to rise up.  And I ran, dragging my person who by now didn't need to be dragged quite so much because she had finally noticed that something wasn't quite as she would have wanted it to be.

We ran.  It rose.  We ran.  It reached the top of its path.  And it fell.  And we were still running.  Slam.  Wallop.  And the rush of air pushed us forward that last distance and we fell straight into the stone sentinels and knocked them down with the force.  That was lucky!  Although in my experience there's no such thing as luck.  We lay there, dazed and frightened.  At least we hadn't been squashed.  But we were now in the depths of the graveyard and there was no way out.

More stone sentinels turned to look at us and slowly they began to move towards us.  They groaned with the effort of leaving their gravesite roots behind and shouted about the new, tasty meat and about the joy they would have stealing our souls and ripping them apart.  We were doomed.

Our situation was so bleak that my person even said she wished she had listened to me when I warned her about Bothal.  A bit late wasn't it my person?  Still, we're still alive.  That's the main thing.  I feel it's safe to let you know that.  The sentinels didn't kill us and eat us for their dinner and then serve up sliced soft toy souls for supper.  That's obvious.  Otherwise I wouldn't be able to tell you this and my person wouldn't be able to type this and I would be mourning for Winefride.  Unless ... unless it is my ghost who is dictating this and my person is now a highly skilled poltergeist who can type.  You might not want to discount that possibility if you happen to want some suspense for the rest of this post.

Suddenly there was a very high pitched scream.  And then a booming voice.  "By the spirits of the gods of Morpeth and the Wansbeck I charge you to be still."

And then silence.

The sentinels stopped their deadly advance.  And they stopped their groaning and chatter which by that point had been getting quite annoying.

Only one sentinel continued to move, tall, erect, with far better posture than my person.  It approached a little closer and seemed to bow.

"Greetings, travellers.  Do not fear.  No.  Scrap that.  Do fear.  But do not lose all hope.  I am Graig-Pethe, one of the ancient Celtic stone things.  You may have heard of my kind.  I chose to come and live in this village many centuries ago, before the church existed.  I watched as the pagans worshiped and their worship was cast out by Saxons who built the first shrine to the Christian God to stand here.  I watched as generations came and passed away.  I watched as invaders from Normandy built their castle here and as Lord Bertram increased the grandeur of the shrine.  Entombing God within stone rather than releasing God into the earth.  I watched people build chantries and clerestories and corbels and chancels and marvelled at their love of the letter C.  I saw it all and I stand here still.

I came here because the sages of my kind could foresee this day of evil, the years in which darkness would fall across the land of Bothal.  And now darkness has fallen far.  Even these sentinels were once perfectly ordinary and quite pretty gravestones until they became infected by the festering rot seeping from the dark magic of the covens whose members took over nearly every part of the village.

There are few places where light survives.  But I can help you.  No.  Scrap that.  I've already helped you haven't I otherwise those sentinels would have destroyed you utterly by now.  They haven't.  Because I'm an amazing protector for those who would be stupid enough to enter Bothal.  It was a very lovely place once.  No.  Scrap that.  Perhaps I can't be called such an amazing protector.  Not when hardly anyone has escaped and nobody has escaped sane.  I see that won't be an issue for that human you have with her.  She doesn't look to have entered Bothal sane so leaving insane won't make any difference to anyone."

It was a long speech and I was getting a bit bored.  I wanted action not words so I said, "Okay Graig-Pethe, if you can help then help?  I hope you can offer us more aid than you did to Lord Forsythe.  Oh yes, I've heard all about him and his lamented band of followers.  You didn't do much for them did you?"

Graig-Pethe sighed.  "There's no need to be rude or I might not help.  No.  Scrap that.  Of course I'll do my best because I'm an amazing protector.  Just as I said.  Look, those sentinels are starting to come round.  My magic and my command won't hold them back forever.  They're more confused by it than anything else and every time I have to invent a new incantation.  I can't defeat them.  But maybe you can.  I can give you two pieces of advice:

First, sentinels do not cope well with the feel of soft toys.  If you stand on their heads they will freeze.  At least for a while.  That will buy you time for my second piece of advice.   Watch out for the insects.  Perhaps not all of them are as they seem.  Perhaps one of them might be able to offer you a permanent way out of this terrible place that used to be a paradise."

"Good luck my friends.  No.  Scrap that.  You're not really my friends are you?  We've only just met and sadly won't have time to develop a solid relationship.  Good luck.  And farewell."

Graig-Pethe fell silent.

And the sentinels were beginning to move faster.

But at least we had some kind of plan.

Jump on their heads.  Jump on them and hope.

Fortunately Winefride likes jumping games even more than I do and she quickly got the idea and jumped straight onto the head of the nearest sentinel.

It worked.  The sentinel stopped moving and the letters on its front, which had been trying to form themselves into anagrams, stopped moving too.  The sentinel let out a really weird sound that might have come from a place of pain but it was very, very funny.  Or at least would have been if we had a button at home that would produce the same sound whenever we pressed it.  I think that button would get pressed so much by Winefride and myself that our person would end up wanting to smash it or donate it to a charity shop.

Winefride laughed and laughed because it was so hilarious.  It was good to see her laugh, even in such a dangerous situation as this.  She jumped up and down on the sentinel's head some more hoping for the sound to be repeated.  But it wasn't.

Winefride knew what to do.   She jumped down onto the ground and then straight up again onto the head of another sentinel.  And it let out a very similar sound to the first.  Winefride squealed with total delight.

Graig-Pethe just stood there.  Almost silent.  Or was that snoring we could here coming from it's empty face?  Not so much of an amazing protector when it hadn't done much protecting at all.

I joined in.  It wasn't just Winefride who could jump on the heads of sentinels.  I could do it too and the sound was very funny indeed.  Even funnier if you stood on its head.

We spent the next hour jumping onto the heads of sentinels and knocking them out.  After a while the sentinel would return to life and for the first time we noticed that the whole of the graveyard was surrounded by black witches all pointing and chanting the same incantation.  If only we could find a white witch or a green witch or anyone to get us away from this fire.

It was a race.  Could we jump onto the sentinels quicker than they woke up again?  There were a lot of stones to jump on and we knew that it couldn't go on for ever.  They seemed to be waking quicker too as the witches chanted louder.

Sometimes Winefride and I happened to jump onto the same sentinel at the same time and it would let out an extra loud version of the funny noise.  Try to imagine the funniest noise you can imagine.  It was funnier than that.

My person was completely useless!

All she did was to stand there trying to take photos of us.  I do have to admit that we looked pretty stunning together on the stone but you would think she might have found something more useful to be doing.  We were getting tired and I didn't know how long we could last out against a tribe of immortal unkillable stones.

Finally my person remembered the other piece of advice we had been given and she started to scan the air for insects.  She saw one that seemed to be taking more of an interest in us than was usual.  A stripy insect.  She put out her hand and called out, "Come here my little friend.  Don't be afraid."  The insect plucked up courage and gently landed on her fingers.

"Hi!  It said.  I'm not your usual kind of insect and I've spotted that you might be experiencing some kind of difficulty in your present circumstances.  The Bothal churchyard is not to be traveled lightly.  But I know of someone who, if you can find him, might be able to help you avoid any more sentinel entanglements."  [Blob, stop quoting someone else's story.  That's three times you've done it just now and don't think I didn't spot that quote about luck.  Stick to your own story Blob or I'll refuse to type more.]

"If you can find the rhyming man whose tomb is a poem you should all grasp hold of the cross.  Your lives depend on it.  Your lives."  Those last too words were said in a very overdramatic voice as if the insect was enjoying an acting role far too much.  "Find the tomb.  Grasp the cross.  And repeat the poem four times and ask him to come.  He can help you.  And I believe he will.  If you can find him.  I know his tomb is here somewhere but I can't remember where I last saw it.  Sorry about that."

This was good.  We could yet live through this even though the witches were chanting even louder and sounding a bit cross that we hadn't been properly destroyed yet.  The sentinels were waking much quicker and it was getting hard to keep up.  Things were getting to the point at which we would be overwhelmed soon.

We split up into two teams to look for the rhyming man.  Winefride and my person were on one team.  I was on the other, which wasn't much of a team but it was all we could manage at the time because it wasn't as if Graig-Pethe would be of much use in this desperate quest.

The sentinels got closer and one of them scratched me and I began to bleed stuffing and thread.  I knew it was nearly over for me and I couldn't even see my sister or my person.

Then I heard a shout.  My person.   "Blob Thing.  Over here.  We've found him."

I ran.  I ran.  Racing through the gaps between the stones as they got narrower and narrower.  I continued to bleed and knew my wound would be fatal if we couldn't get help.

There was the tomb.  Just as the insect had said.

And sure enough, there was the rhyming man.   And the poem.

William Hume
who died at Tritlington Broom

We had found him and we grabbed onto the cross with all our might.  My person had to hold me because I was getting week and was close to passing out.  As I drifted into unconsciousness I saw the figure of a man appear.  A man with giant wings.  He took hold of us and I could just make out his smile as he lifted the three of us from the ground.  And I heard the cries of the witches.  Then nothing more.

I awoke in a very comfy bed, feeling very much better.  My wounds had all healed and there wasn't even a scar from where some skillful needle worker had stitched me back together.  I person was sitting with me, stroking my head and Winefride was there too, lost in a game in which she was lining up a big set of miniature gravestones.  As she put them down in their row she would tap them on their tops and make a noise that sounded like a Winefride version of a pained sentinel.  And then she would giggle and get flappy.

I was told that we had been saved by the ghost of William Hume and had been taken to Bothal Castle where we had been protected and looked after for three days by a community of green witches.  I was very lucky to be alive.  We all were.  And then, by a miraculous spell they had caused time to recede by five days.  It was now two days before we even entered Bothal but the events in the graveyard had still happened.  Or were still going to happen.  Or were going to still have been happening in the future.  Or something.  I didn't care how the grammar worked out.  I only cared that the three of us were alive.  Alive and safe.  In an actual castle.  Exciting.

It took me those two days to get back to full strength and in that time I talked at length with the green witches who were the most wonderful people you could ever hope to meet.  But don't try to meet them because to do that you would have to enter Bothal and you might not be as fortunate as we were.

The witches said that we had a window of opportunity to leave the village.  We could reach the river from here and once we had touched the flowing waters of the Wansbeck we would be safe from further attack and could continue on our route to Morpeth.  But we had to leave at the right time.  When all the evil covens of Bothal were distracted.

We could leave safely if we left the castle just as we were entering the graveyard.  We wouldn't be spotted then because all eyes would be on us.  Or the other us.  Or the past us.  Or something.

Salvation.  Safety.

As we left the castle the green witches spoke one final incantation which wiped my person's memory of the five days she had spent in Bothal.  She wouldn't remember any of it and instead would remember a walk through a pretty little place with a very pretty graveyard and a pretty castle beyond the high hedges.  To this day that's what she remembers and even my telling of the truthful version of events has not broken the spell cast on her.  I suppose she's fortunate.  We're all fortunate - we wouldn't want her to be even more insane than she is.

So we three walked down to the river, away from Bothal.  Away from fear and near death and salvation.

I'll tell you about the river next time.  Yes, those are stepping stones.  And since Bothal was behind us I can tell you that my version of events will be quite close to that of my person.  It'll just be part of a wonderful day out walking along the river Wansbeck to Morpeth.

[3446 words plus this bit.  I have no memory of this happening.  None.  I thought Bothal was lovely.  I think Blob just heard from someone that there's supposed to be a coven of some kind at Bothal and he let his imagination run away.  I don't think there's anything to fear if you ever choose to visit.  And there are several good reasons to rejoice.]

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Blob Thing Fails To Steer His Person To Safety And Follows Her Into Bothal

Blob Thing Says:

It had been going so well.  And then it all went a bit wrong.  I had been warned.  Over and over again they warned me and I tried in turn to warn my person.  She wouldn't listen though.  Why doesn't she ever listen to me?  It's not as if I didn't know what I was talking about.  The warnings were clear:  Stay away if you want to live.  I know they hadn't gone out of their way to advertise this.  It wasn't as if there were a thousand road signs pointing to the danger zone and armed soldiers and armed priests standing at massive barricades at every possible point of ingress.  There was none of that.  If only the Catholic Church was better organised.  My person might have listened to that.

She might not.  While it's true that she still owns quite a lot of books that have emanated from the lofty spiritual masters who have dwelt in that institution she doesn't often listen to them or it now.  She used to live by their words and teachings and warnings.  If she still lived by them then our river walk might not have been so difficult.  But she doesn't.  I know that particular day went wild as we fought back the powers of darkness but if she still listened to the Catholic Church then I would not exist and neither would my sister and the world itself would be that much the poorer for our absence.  Our person would not exist either.  At least not in the form in which she now exists.  Oh dear, I'm getting sidetracked again aren't I?  And I haven't even begun the tale.

We had traversed the wilds of the open country in our attempts to reacquire the route of the river Wansbeck.  It had been tough terrain with steep hills, ravenous dangerous insects, [Blob, they were just little flies.] a treacherous swamp containing soft toy eating monsters, [it got a bit squelchy under foot Blob] and most dangerous of all was a massive hunting ground twelve miles across where evil warlords compete in the hunting of soft toys and their people. [Blob, it was a little clay pigeon shooting range.]

We had successfully traversed all that and regained the Queen's open highway and began our descent from the mountain peaks.  Surely we would reach the river soon and could continue our fantastic quest to storm the gates of Morpeth and retrieve the holy cup of tea.  My person was feeling much better about it by this point.  The river would be just around the next corner.  It had to be.

Except it wasn't.  Where was it?  What brand of villainy had completely rerouted a river?  Was that even possible?  I was later to find out that the river had not moved at all.  My person said to us that she was obviously confused and that we would find the river soon if we just carried on walking.  She had no inkling that anything was about to happen and in all honesty I didn't know either.

But then I saw it.   A sign post on the road.  It was enough to make me shriek in terror.  It said


In big letters so we couldn't miss it.  Bothal.  No.  No.  No.  Not Bothal.  Please not that.  Anything but that.  I shouted to my person to stop.   "STOP!" I shouted.  We've got to turn back and find another way.  We've got to.  Not many of those who ever entered Bothal have returned and those who did returned insane.  Or dead.  I knew.  I'd been warned about the covens of Bothal and what they do to outsiders.  Oh God I'd been warned.  I wouldn't have even wanted to enter Bothal were I accompanied by one hundred Catholic cardinals all carrying giant crosses and gallons of holy water.

Stay away my person.  Stay away.  For your sake and for my sake and most especially for the sake of Winefride.  How do you expect her to survive Bothal when she can't even speak and doesn't understand danger?  I tried and tried to explain it all to my person and told her about the warnings and about how I had been researching the place.  I told her of Lord Henry Forsythe who had gathered together a band of adventurers and attempted to pass through the village - which at that point wasn't even in Northumberland.  Only one of the band returned, carrying with her the head of Lord Forsythe which had been ripped from his body.  The returning woman was passed the point of help and kept screaming about the sacrifice.

I ask you.  Does Bothal sound anything like the kind of place you would ever want to visit?

[At this point I feel I must step in with an observation.  I don't remember any of this in the way Blob seems to.  While I admit it's possible that my memory was wiped by one of the witches Blob will tell you about so I could enter back into the world with my sanity intact, I feel it's more likely that Blob Thing is just letting his imagination get away from him.  [At this point we, the absent friends of Blob's Person, must step in with an observation.  We feel it's possible that Blob's person has never lived in the world with her sanity intact.]  Hey, that's not fair.  I just want it put on record that I have good memories of our trip to Bothal and I can't remember anything bad happening while we were there.]  You would say that with your memory wiped.  [Shush Blob.  I thought the little village to be very pretty and I'd love to visit again.  Blob has some great photos to share with you of the churchyard and of the river crossing we found there.  If you're passing near to Bothal then take a little detour and see for yourself how pretty and peaceful it is.  It looks like a perfectly wonderful place to live except it has no public transport.]

Wow.  They did a good job on my person didn't they.  She's totally brainwashed [I'm not] and can't even begin to see it or admit it.  [There's nothing to admit]  Obviously some part of the brainwash contained a command to try to convince others to visit Bothal.  I urge you.  I URGE YOU.  Don't listen to her.  Stay away if you value hope.  [Blob, I tell you Bothal was beautiful.  I felt at rest there and smiled many times at the things I saw and even got particularly happy flappy about at least two things and when I blog about Bothal I can tell the truth for the world to hear.]

I can see there's no point arguing.  I only hope I get to tell my tale and then you can judge for yourself.  [Okay Blob, I'll let you.  It's harmless.  They'll see that I'm right and you're wrong and the pictures will call them into the arms of Bothal.  Aren't they lucky?]

The story.  Yes.  We saw the sign that announced the border between safety and Bothal.  My person said, "Come on, the river's this way, it's obvious."  And she strolled on forwards past the point of no return.  I couldn't believe it.  She can be quite stubborn sometimes.  Didn't she fear the witches covens?  But I couldn't let her face them alone, not in her state of total ignorance.  Maybe my deep research into the subject would provide something that could protect her.

So I followed my person into Bothal.

And Winefride followed too.

There was only one hope for us as I saw it.  Perhaps the church would still have enough remaining in it that was holy.  Perhaps the memories of a purer past before the demons and their servants took over would protect us in some way.  Perhaps.  I didn't know then that we would find another source of hope that led to our eventual salvation but I'm going to have to talk about that tomorrow.

[Believe it or not, Blob was meant to be covering his entire adventure in the village yesterday, leading up to the point at which we briefly rejoined the river - in the second happy flappy moment.  He talked too much about toilets then and I don't quite know what has happened today.  I might think that he's been eating the wrong kind of mushrooms except that (a) we haven't got any kind of mushrooms at all, (b) Blob Thing doesn't like the taste of mushrooms, (c) he wouldn't intentionally want to eat the wrong kind, (d) I don't think he knows what I mean by the wrong kind, (e) he's far to young for me to allow him to experiment with such things even if he wanted to.  I'm not sure what they would do to a small soft toy but I don't want to find out.  Ever.  No wrong kind of mushrooms for Blob Thing.  Not if I can help it.]

What's she on about now?  Be quiet person.  I'm telling the story.  I grabbed my person and I grabbed Winefride and I started to run, dragging them behind me.  My person couldn't see what the rush was but was happy enough to follow when I told her that there would be a church in the middle of the village and it might be a very old one.  Winefride didn't understand at all but she thought that running down the road was great fun and she started shouting "Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" over and over again.  I knew I couldn't stop her but I also knew that she was putting us in greater danger.  We had to get to the church.

We made it.  Just.   We saw a few people and they saw us but they didn't make any move towards us.  I knew that if we got into the church we would have time to plan for the inevitable onslaught.  I was happy to see that the church was still in one piece.  Obviously it was still a nexus of power and the darkness had not overcome it, just as Jesus so cryptically taught.  Maybe we would be safe for a while.

But oh no!  Tragedy.   We found the church door locked.  We couldn't get in.  I could have cried because I didn't know how we were going to get out of this one.  There was only one way forward.  Into the churchyard.  Surrounded by the graves of the dead.  For good or for ill.

The place seemed to be calling to us.  My person walked on, blind to the peril.

And I, her faithful companion and protector had no choice but to follow her.

[Blob is stopping there.  It's something of a dramatic pause.  He says it is.  Here's what I remember of the story he's told.  We walked into a pretty village, walked to the church and found it locked.  So we decided to explore the churchyard.  It was sunny and peaceful and we were happy.  That's it.  And when the light is as it was in the above photograph - which doesn't do justice to reality - my insides rush forth into a deep joy and on that occasion I got a bit flappy.  I was having a marvellous day.  Just thought I should say all that and set the record straight in case anyone from Bothal ever reads this and gets cross.]  Because they might cast a spell on you and make you sad for the rest of your life or make every word you write have to be "blackguard".  [No Blob, I don't think that's very likely.  Stop now.  You can tell me more of Bothal tomorrow.]

[1952 words.  Sorry most of them were stranger than usual.]

Monday, 12 December 2016

Blob Thing Fails To Find A Toilet Before Finding A Magical Graveyard

Blob Thing says:

Our day had been going very well so far.  Any day on which you find a surprise deserted play area cannot be marked down as a failure.  We were quite sorry to be leaving it.  At least Winefride and I were.  I'm not sure my person would have wanted to stay there.  She wanted to carry on with our walk.  Winefride just wanted to stay and play all day and I was torn.  I like playing.  And I like walking and exploring.  The swings and the slide had been a lot of fun and I didn't know when I would next get the chance to play.  But I knew there was an adventure ahead that had been very carefully planned.  So carefully that we would still lose our way a little.

So we walked on from the play area back along the path alongside the river Wansbeck.  It was at that point that I realised something.  I think my person realised it too when I mentioned it.  I found that I really needed to go to the toilet.  Maybe that's too much personal information for a blog post?  Well you need the toilet too don't you?  It's nothing to be embarrassed about.  People are very strange with the ways they get embarrassed about normal things that everyone does.  I've heard tell that people used to sit together on toilets that had lots of seats.  I don't think many people I've met would like to do that sort of thing now.  I've asked my person and she said that her great grandparents had an outside toilet with three seats but that she wouldn't want to share a toilet with anyone.  I think it's funny too how there are different rules for toilets.  How standing up toilets can be a shared experience but sitting down toilets can't.  Having said that, I get a bit embarrassed too.  Because it's not usual for small soft toys to need the toilet.  Or to eat cake in cafes but I really enjoyed my cake yesterday and the salad I helped my person eat.  I'll blog about that cafe sometime.  They sell tea.  Lots of tea.

So I needed the loo and so did my person.  Whatever were we to do on a riverside path?  Fortunately we were presented with a solution.  Within a few minutes.  A solution.  Hoorah!  Hoorah!  Two cheers for the solution.  Two cheers for blessed relief for my person's bladder and my whatever it is in the anatomy and physiology of a soft toy.  I don't think I actually have a bladder but I haven't ever been X-rayed and I'm not ever going to let anyone dissect me to find out what's inside me.  Maybe my creator knows the answer but she hasn't told me.  Maybe she doesn't know what's inside me at all because she didn't know that I was inside me did she?

A solution.  A solution.  We saw a sign pointing the way to a public toilet.  I was very pleased.  Happy that such places exist.  So we followed the path to the toilet.  And our joy turned to despair.  Despair!  Because this was the public toilet the sign had pointed to.

It didn't look very promising.  Fortunately my person isn't a man because the men's toilet was locked.  We looked in the women's toilet and then had to look inside the disabled toilet too.  It wasn't in the best of condition.

My person said that she didn't want to use this toilet.  She said it didn't look comfortable at all and she would get embarrassed because the door had vanished.  A bird watcher on the other side of the river might have seen her if a bird watcher on the other side of the river happened to exist at that moment.  And the shock might make the bird watcher fall out of the tree they were perched in to get a better view of any passing kingfishers.  That's what my person said.  [No I didn't.]  I told her that I didn't want to use this toilet for a much more sensible reason.  My reason was that I didn't think the toilet was quite in working order due to most of it being missing and it not having any water running to it or from it.  I didn't want to use a broken and missing toilet half covered with pieces of wood broken from the door.

But what to do?  What is a soft toy meant to do when the public toilet turns out to be a very public lack of toilet?  I could have got quite worried about that.  I didn't.  I'm a very sensible soft toy.  I knew what to do.  I would find a quiet place out of sight of all paths if possible and pretend that the ground was a toilet.  I told my person to do that too but she seemed to already know about such desperate courses of action.  She's quite lucky really because things like this are easier for her than they are for most women.

I'm not going to give you all the details of our toileting.  You don't need to know.  My person says that you didn't need to know any of what I've just said and that she would have preferred not to have had to type any of it.  All you need to know is that the toileting was successful.  My person says that you didn't need to know that either.  My person says that nobody reading this needs to know that and that anybody reading this probably didn't want to know it.  She isn't making me delete it though.

We walked on from our successful toilet of whatever manner it was and continued alongside the river.  It wasn't long before we approached one of my favourite things.  A bridge.  This one in the background.  It carries a road.  Immediately behind it is another bridge.  That carries a footpath.

We didn't cross the bridge.  That wasn't in the plan.  And we had a problem.  From this Sheepwash Bridge - for that is its name - we couldn't continue any further along the river.  There was no path ahead on either side.  It makes a river walk quite difficult when you can't get to the river.  So we had to walk a very different route and try to get back to the river at a different point.

Our route was very steep.  First we had to follow the steep road for a while and then we left it and joined a steep footpath.  Somehow we would find our way to the correct other end of the footpath and find a way back to the water.  Spoiler alert:  We did it.  And it was worth doing it.

It really was steep.  And there were trees for my person to photograph.  Here's one.  Maybe there will be others if she writes her own blog about the day.  She could certainly make a blog of the graveyard and took some nice pictures there, even some without Winefride or me in them.

By the time we reached the other end of the path we were all eager to see the flowing water again.  Our eagerness had increased after we had managed to get a bit lost once.  It wasn't our fault exactly.  We followed the sign post.  And we tried to follow the exact route of the path on a big map.  It wasn't our fault that the post pointed the wrong way.  And it wasn't our fault that the path on the map didn't bear much relation to the path on the ground.  It was annoying and I know my person felt a bit cross.

Eventually we made our way back to another road that we could follow back towards the river.  First we had to pass through a place called Bothal, a place where (rumour and hearsay has it) there are many witches covens.  I can believe the rumour and hearsay.  The whole place did feel a bit funny.  I liked it.

I was going to tell you all about our adventures in the village today but I've talked enough I think.  You'll have to wait until the next post to hear all about the magical graveyard from the title and see lots of lovely pictures of us there.  It was a beautiful place.  I wonder if we'll ever go back.

My person says I should apologise for talking so much about toilets that I couldn't talk about more interesting things like the mysteries of Bothal.  If you've been at all offended by it then I am sorry.  That wasn't my intent.  I just wanted to tell you what happened.  I promise that next time I will get on and tell you about how strange life was in Bothal.  I think we were quite lucky to have escaped.  I don't know whether any of the covens are evil or whether they battle each other with terrible magics but the thought of my sister Winefride being sacrificed to appease some crazy demon fills me with horror.  Perhaps we were being protected by the incantations of a green witch all the time we were there.  Perhaps.  Even if you doubt it I dare to say that you can't prove that it didn't happen.  I'll tell you about it next time.

Love to you all.

[1563 words]

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Blob Thing Finds An Unexpected Play Area On The River Wansbeck

Blob Thing says:

Hello again.  Thanks for bearing with me in the days on which I haven't written.  My person has been wanting to help me but somehow there has never been enough time.  Or more accurately she hasn't made enough time for me.  I'm sure there was enough time to go round for the both of us.  Today there really isn't that much time because we're going on a little adventure soon.  My person joined a choir recently and they have their first little public performance later.  I'm going along with her and we'll take Winefride too and while we're there we can take pictures and generally have a very good time.  Afterwards we might try walking home even though that's a very long way.

Last time I talked with you I finished telling you about some adventures I had in Morpeth.  Today I want to start telling you about some adventures I had on the way to Morpeth.  Not on that day, no.  I didn't have any extra special adventures on the way to Morpeth that day.  I know that riding on a bus can be an adventure but I ride on lots of buses and I couldn't possibly tell you about every journey.  I mean, I'll be riding on at least one bus today but I'm not going to give details of every road it passes between the city centre and the choir.  That would be very boring.  Especially if I was to tell you about the journey every time I take it.

I want to tell you about a different day and a different journey to Morpeth.  In terms of miles I'm only going to focus on the last part of the journey.  The part after we got off the bus.  Because you don't need to know about how we rode on the Metro and then caught a bus.  Not a bus that went to Morpeth though.  Not this time.  This bus went to Ashington.  But we weren't going there.  Not that day.  I went there recently and we walked to the Woodhorn mining museum and to a lovely park with a big lake and Winefride and I got taken on a little narrow gauge railway which was very exciting.

That isn't the day I'm telling you about though.  This time we got off the bus at a little place called Stakeford.  I'd got off the bus there before, the very first time I got taken out on an adventure.  This time things would be very different on four counts:

1. My person was more confident about going on adventures.

2. My person was better at adventuring with me which meant that I wouldn't get forgotten about in her bag for almost the entire day.

3. We would be adventuring in entirely the opposite direction.

4. And this is a big, big difference and the most important one.  We would be taking Winefride.  When I first got off a bus at Stakeford, Winefride wasn't yet created.  I hadn't dreamed of having a sister.  This time she was coming too.  It was going to be amazing.

We got off the bus and my person had a definite plan for the day and only got slightly lost once.  Only slightly.  That's very good for my person.  Sometimes she can get very lost more than once.  On one walk we ended up in a village about five miles from the one she had been wanting to get to.  I'm not sure how she did that and think it was pretty amazing because she didn't completely meltdown over it.  I dread to think what might have happened if we hadn't found a bus stop though.

Winefride, my person and I walked down the hill from the bus stop until we came to the river.  It was very beautiful.  There's a modern road bridge over the Wansbeck at that point that's not pretty but you can stand on it and look both ways.

Here I am on the bridge.  Behind me is the river Wansbeck and it's flowing in that direction to the sea.

The bridge in the background is a railway bridge but you're not likely to see a train on it now.  Further along there's another road bridge, and then suddenly you reach the sea.  It's amazing there.  When I visited in April my person and I were the only people on the entire sandy beach and we had a little sing before walking the length of the beach to some rock pools and then up onto the cliffs to continue our walk.  I want to walk it again because, as I said, I spent most of that day in the bag and missed out on it.  I've also just suggested another walk to my person.  To walk along the whole coastline and use the road bridge to cross the river.  If we set out early and started at Tynemouth I wonder how far she could get before being too exhausted to continue.  My person isn't very fit.

Here's a picture of Winefride.  We had walked down from the bridge to the river and this is the view upstream.

If you follow the river far enough you get to Morpeth.  We followed it far enough.  Apart from a stretch where you can't follow the river and have to take a big detour to get round private estates.  We didn't want to have to take a detour but we found something amazing there.

We were enjoying our river walk immensely.  Winefride was taking everything in and behaving very well considering she was less than ten days old.  You can tell she's young.  We hadn't even thought that reins might be a good idea then to help her keep safe.

And then we encountered the first big surprise of the day.  Right there by the river, seemingly nowhere near anywhere we found it:

A play area.  A nearly deserted play area.  I couldn't have been happier and when Winefride saw it she squealed with delight.  She must have remembered the play area she visited in Rhiwabon when she was only one day old.  Her first ever adventure.  We just had to go and play and we all wanted to.  It was amazing and it was very peaceful, one of the most peaceful play areas in the world.  You could sit on the swing and watch the river pass by peacefully.

Here are Winefride and me, sharing one of the swings.  We couldn't see the river when this picture was taken because we were facing the wrong way for the river.  That's okay.  It was the right way for the camera.

Then we saw a slide.  I have to confess that I was slightly afraid of slides.  I've been on them now and they're okay.  Winefride saw it though and she wanted to see what it was and experiment with it.  She wanted to try everything in the park even though it meant we wouldn't get to Morpeth as quickly.  It was a change of plans and my person isn't always good at those.  She agreed though.  We would climb to the top of the slide and see whether it looked safe enough to use.

The view from the top scared me.  Was I really expected to sit on a big metal thing and trust it to get me to the bottom safely?  Wouldn't it be better just to walk down again?

My person assured me that I would be okay and Winefride was getting quite agitated because she desperately wanted to try falling down it.  She is so brave.  Here's my brave sister sitting at the top of the slide before her first descent.

She didn't get killed.  In fact she seemed to quite enjoy herself and when she got back to the top of the hill she was smiling even more than usual.  She huggled up to me and giggled and I decided that I might be able to try to slide too.  Here we both are at the top of the slide.

Winefride went first and then I took a deep breath and followed her.  It wasn't the most graceful of rides but it was quite a lot of fun and I wanted to go again and see if I could slide any better.  Winefride of course wanted to go again.  She would have probably stayed sliding all day, all night and into the next week if we had let her.  But then we wouldn't have reached Morpeth.  Maybe that would have been okay though.  Morpeth would still be there to be reached on another day and maybe giving Winefride such hours or days of happy joy would be better than following the plan.

Then I said to my person, "But what about you?  You haven't done it.  You should slide too."

It took quite a lot of bullying and cajoling and convincing and by the time my person agreed to ride on the slide Winefride had slid down and climbed up another four times and she was laughing so much.  I said to my person, "Look how much fun Winefride is having.  You could be having that fun too instead of standing around looking a bit bored and anxious to be walking."

In the end she decided that she would have a go.  She would follow me and Winefride down the slide.  I made another suggestion.  My person should video the experience and then we could show my creator what we had all been doing.  I thought my creator would be very happy to see our escapades and our enjoyment.  She likes play areas and I know she would have encouraged my person to play.

So we all went on the slide.  And my person did take the video.  This one.  Another video for what will become the worst YouTube channel in the history of the universe.  That's what my person says anyway.

It was excellent fun.  Here I am at the bottom of the slide, just before we moved on to other adventures.

One more adventure in the park to tell you about.  We got to ride on a seesaw.

The seesaw was amazing fun but it was very difficult for us to hold on tightly and it was a bit unbalanced because my person is much heavier than me and Winefride put together and she had to be on the other end to do the seesaw work.  What would have been better would have been if my creator was there too and I could sit on one end with my person and Winefride could sit on the other end with my creator.  It would be incredibly good fun.

My person said it was time to move on.  She didn't let us stay playing all day and said that we had to continue the walk along the river to Morpeth even though some of the walk wouldn't be by the river at all.  Reluctantly I agreed and Winefride was surprisingly calm about being dragged away from the play area.  It was time to walk again.

Later we would discover an unintentional poem.  My person might have helped me with my blog yesterday if not for that poem.  She looked at the photo containing the words and just had to look something up and ended up browsing most of a book about the voting in Northumberland in the general election of 1841 and then she started reading about poor laws and all kinds of other things.  All very interesting I'm sure.  But it meant I had to wait yet another day to get this post written.  Never mind.  I've done it now.  Maybe I'll find another play area today on our adventure.  Maybe.

[1955 words]