“The best kept secret in England” is how Tony Heron described Northumberland County at the Sunday January 8 meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club. Master of Ceremonies Richard Silverberg introduced Tony noting that he had previously spoken to the Club about the ins and outs of the fur trade which was his vocation for many years before retiring and moving to Pattaya in 2005. This time he wanted to share the beauty and history of his birthplace in Northern England.
Tony started by showing the geographical location of Northumberland, which is England’s northernmost county bordering Scotland. It is one of the most scenic areas in England. Also, because of its long history of border wars, it is home to 52 castles. Further, Tony said there were 28 more whose remains are ruins. It also has miles of North Sea coastline that has been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contains the largest manmade lake and manmade woodlands in England.
Tony Heron waxes lyrically about his home county, that of Northumberland, the northeastern most county of England. Said (by Tony) to be ‘the best kept secret in England’, Northumberland includes Hadrians Wall and 52 existing castles, and another 28 castle ruins. Other features are the beautiful coastline, and extensive lakes and woodlands.
The scenic and historical tour started with Tony describing one of its most popular tourist attractions which is Hadrian’s Wall. Roman Emperor Hadrian began construction of the wall in 122 AD and it extends 73 miles across England. It was built by soldiers of the Roman Legions based in Britain and took 6 years to complete. Tony showed several pictures of the Wall and surrounding area; explaining its purpose and construction which included mile castles and turrets that extended above the wall. The mile castles were spaced about one roman mile apart and housed about 60 troops. Later there were forts constructed that housed about 800 troops.
Proceeding further north into Northumberland, Tony showed pictures of several of the castles that can be visited along with their surrounding countryside and, for some, beaches along the coast. One of these castles was Alnwick Castle, the home of the Percy family for centuries. Tony pointed out that many should recognize it as it was the location for all the Harry Potter movies. It was also a locale for the 1998 film Elizabeth, the 1991 film Robin Hood Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner, the 1982 film Ivanhoe, the 1971 film Mary Queen of Scots, and the 1964 film Becket with Richard Burton and Peter O’Toole. Another was Bamburgh Castle, an ancient site completely remodeled and rebuilt by Lord Armstrong in Victorian times, which looks out over the North Sea and the Farne Islands, which is home to thousands of different birds and in the winter Grey Seals come there to breed.
Conducting the Open Forum, Roy Albiston allows ‘Hawaii Bob’ Sutterfield to get in a word about Frugal Freddy’s activities for the week, dining at 2 or 3 of Pattaya’s better value restaurants.
Tony’s tour stopped at many other beautiful locales including historic towns and country lanes. Tony concluded by showing one of the Lindsfarne area’s famous products, Lindsfarne Mead, a unique alcohol fortified wine manufactured on the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. The honey which is used in the production is drawn from the four corners of the world and, on the island, it is vatted with fermented grape juice, honey, herbs, and the pure water of an artesian well and fortified with fine spirits. It is world famous and to many it is regarded as the “nectar of the gods.”
If nothing else convinced the Club members and guests to consider a visit, the lure of strong drink was an added incentive. But, then Tony dampened their enthusiasm when he demonstrated why he is living in Thailand instead of Northumberland by showing a couple of pictures; snow covered ground and the final picture being a snow plow. Even so, he said that Northumberland was still the best kept secret in England.
After answering several questions, Richard Silverberg called on Roy Albiston to bring everyone up to date on upcoming events and conduct the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about expat living in Pattaya.
The Pattaya City Expats Club meets every Sunday at the Amari Orchid’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant. Read more about the club’s activities on their website at www.pattayacityexpatsclub.com.