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Photo-a-day 253: Hamsterley Forest

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This is a bit of Hamsterley Forest, County Durham’s largest forest.

It was planted in the 1930s, and housed one of Britain’s work camps – formally an “Instructional Centre” – where unemployed men were forced to do heavy manual labour. At the time, unemployed men were seen as “soft and demoralised”, and were forced to attend these camps to be “hardened and reconditioned” for twelve weeks under threat of their dole payments being stopped. Conditions were grim: the men were unpaid, lived in wooden huts, and did heavy manual labour for twelve hours a day. They were subject to military-style discipline under the guidance of retired police officers and sargeants major. The camps were so reviled that some newspapers of the day called them concentration camps.

In all, 200,000 men were sent to these camps – only 10% secured employment afterwards. It is, perhaps, surprising from our point of view that these camps were introduced by Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Government.

With the outbreak of the Second World War, some of the camps – including Hamsterley Forest – became prisoner of war camps.

Perhaps surprisingly, part of the Hamsterley Camp still exists – though these days, it’s been converted into a Visitors’ Centre for the forest. The forest offers a range of activities for visitors these days, including mountain biking, the RAC rally, and fell running. I wonder, though, how many visitors are aware of the forest’s dark past?

This 1,803rd post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 220: Scenic bit of the Tyne

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Today’s photo is another from the Tyne Riverside Country Park, which I’ve previously featured here and here. I guess featuring the same place thrice starts to push the boundaries of acceptable repetition, but it is a very pretty place…! If you’re ever in the area and fancy visiting, all the details you need are here – though if you’re able to go a bit further afield, Kielder Water and the surrounding forest are even nicer: that area’s nothing short of stunning.

This 1,756th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 190: Ouseburn and a foxglove

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Today’s photo shows another bit of the Ouseburn, on its meandering path from somewhere near Newcastle Airport to the Tyne.

I’ve featured various bits of the Ouseburn in the last 190 days, and Wendy reckons it’s now become boring and repetitive. She suggested I photograph and feature this foxglove:

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So two for the price of one today: the Ouseburn and a foxglove!

This 1,716th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , .

Photo-a-day 169: Tyne Riverside Country Park

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I featured Weetslade Country Park as my photo-a-day picture in both April and May, as it’s probably our nearest Country Park.

Today’s picture comes from the Tyne Riverside Country Park, which is another green space owed to our industrial heritage – it’s another landscaped ex-colliery, but this one sits on the bank of the Tyne. It’s really quite lovely, and there are lots of picnic spots if you’re that way inclined. I imagine it gets pretty cold and windy in the winter, though!

I had thought that this was the third of the North East’s Country Parks that I’d featured, because I thought I’d featured Herrington Country Park back in February, but I actually gave that day over to the Penshaw Monument next door. So, for the purposes of boosting the numbers, here’s a shot of Herrington Country Park from 11th February, as seen from next to the Penshaw Monument (it’s the bit across the road).

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As it’s Father’s Day, and dad’s a twitcher, I’ll point out that at Riverside you can see water rails, cormorants, and goosanders (according to the council); at Herrington, you might spot black terns or marsh warblers (according to the Fog Blog); and at Weetslade, you could see meadow pipits or grey partridges (according to the Northumberland Wildlife Trust). As a non-twitcher, I wouldn’t know any of those birds if they flew into me!

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Photo-a-day 127: Alnwick’s pink tulips

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These are a few of the 600,000 pink “mistress” tulips in The Alnwick Garden’s remarkable cherry orchard. At least, I trust that there were 600,000 altogether – I didn’t personally count! It certainly looked very pretty, though!

This 1,636th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , .

Photo-a-day 63: A tale of two rainbows

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As I was going about my business this afternoon in Gateshead, this extraordinarily clear rainbow appeared.

This was remarkably co-incidental, as I had already been planning to go and see Yvette Mattern’s Global Rainbow kicking off the Cultural Olympiad in North Shields this evening. It’s also visiting Preston (not far from my family home) and Newtownards (not far from Wendy’s family home) in the next few weeks, and has already visited New York, Berlin, Toulouse, Nantes, and Utrecht. It is a far more impressive sight than the photos here demonstrate, and has been spotted from 15 miles away in Sunderland.

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To give a sense of scale, the white smudge on the right of both of these photographs is the famous St Mary’s Lighthouse.

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Neither the real nor the Global Rainbow are especially easy to photograph using a mere iPhone, but I don’t think these turned out too disastrously!

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Photo-a-day 55: Tebay services

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This is the view from the independently-owned and frequently highly-rated Tebay services, on the M6. It might look pretty, but the last time I was here I paid about £7 for a chicken curry that was inedible. Today, I’ve just stuck with a bag of Mini Eggs – though, as a public health doctor, I’m not sure I should admit to either of those choices!

This 1,539th post was filed under: Photo-a-day 2012, , , , .

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