PAUL WHITE speaks up on behalf of small, independently-run music festivals and the talented, hard-working bands that deserve our support
This Sunday marks one of my favourite days on the North East social calendar.
It’s not the first day of the Hoppings. I’m not talking about Sunderland Air Show. I’m not even talking about my annual Cup Final Day outing with “the lads” (none of whom usually have much concern over the result of said match, being largely Sunderland, Newcastle, Everton, cricket and F1 fans).
It’s Middlefest 2016, one of the many small, independently-run, not for profit music festivals that have sprung up in the North East over recent years. It’s small, but growing. They’re expecting up to 1,000 this year.
Unlike some of the other festivals in the region, there is no big name headline act (though credit to those who are now drawing those names – I still can’t get over the fact that Dodgy have now headlined a show in Shildon). It’s largely local acts who, in the past, have belted out a mix of their own music and covers, performing from the back of a trailer to an audience who sip beer, while lounging on the grass and, as the day progresses, even getting up and dancing.
It’s a chilled day, just as it should be. And the music is good, very good.
Festivals like Middlefest are made possible by the coming together of two groups – those selfless individuals who just want to put on a good event for the public, and those who dare to pick up a guitar or a pair of drumsticks and dream.
We’ve always had both sets of such folk in our region. I started following the local music scene in the late 90s, as a young reporter for The Northern Echo, and found that Darlington and Durham in particular had some great bands and excellent venues. The Filibuster & Firkin in Skinnergate (sometimes running four gigs a week), and O’Neill’s in Duke Street, along with the Tap & Spile, sat at the heart of the Darlington scene, with the Quaker House also coming along as well. In Durham, again O’Neill’s was a fantastic place for a Bank Holiday marathon gig.
Bands like Taller Than, Ethan, Lucas (later Stone Coda), Alex & I, and Teesside’s Little Pink Polliwog were always good for a night’s entertainment and, occasionally, hard-working venue managers, such as the Firkin’s Craig Sharp, would pull through a gem. I recall Sex Pistols legend Glen Matlock, Toploader and Bad Manners among the bands to grace that stage at the time. Let’s not mention Rock Bitch.
I saw Nick Harper play for the first time in the Tap and have been a fan ever since.
Now, we have bands of equal value playing festivals like Middlefest, where recent years’ highlights have included The Silence, Warning! (sadly no more) and Edenthorn, while our scene also boasts the likes of Black Nevada, Twister, Fire Lady Luck, Ten Eighty Trees and amazing singer-songwriters like Hayley McKay and Beth Macari. This is just scratching the surface.
The problem is, I said earlier that this is made possible by these two groups of people, but it actually requires a third group to get involved as well, and that is the music loving public. It’s easy to sit and think “oh, that sounds nice…but I’m quite comfortable in my armchair”.
Get out and find that live music before it’s gone. These acts and these events need support to keep going. They work a damned sight harder than many of the acts (I say many, not all) who try to make a quick win on TV talent shows, and they choose the difficult route of playing in front of three drunk men and a pool table, a dog if they’re lucky, and working their way up as they slowly get better and their talent is recognised.
Middlefest* is this Sunday, July 24, at Misty Blue Farm, near Spennymoor. Tickets.
*Other festivals are available.
As former North East football star Paul Gascoigne hits the headlines for all the wrong reasons PAUL WHITE argues that we need less shame and more compassion on mental health
I rarely take note of celebrity gossip these days, but I was saddened by the latest chapter in the Paul Gascoigne saga that unfolded this week.
Gazza is a sporting icon, fallen from grace. A tragic comic, some might say. Others, who only remember the antics, might argue the accuracy of the word “grace”, but not those of us who prefer to remember his skill.
Despite historic bitterness and rivalry between fans of our region’s top flight and Championship football clubs, there are some characters who transcend that and are loved and admired for their sporting skill and achievements, regardless of what team you support.
As a Sunderland season ticket holder, I have no qualms about putting Gazza at the top of that list, alongside Sir Bobby Robson.
Gazza is such a character that it is difficult not to be on his side through all the troubles he has experienced and it was heartening to see the positive side of social media, as people flocked to wish him well after this week’s tabloid tale.
But let’s examine that tabloid tale for a moment.
It’s fair to say that when Celebrity X walks out of a club on the arm of Celebrity Y, in front of a group of paparazzi, or Couple Z (list) are snapped on the beach, it’s planned to get the attention of the media. These things rarely happen by accident. Yes, Gazza and celebrity pals, even the non-celebrity friends, played that game in the day.
When a celeb is snapped in a place that you wouldn’t normally expect to find a tabloid photographer, have a think. Does the celeb come out of this well? Yes? Someone on their “team” probably tipped off the photographer. Does the celeb look a state and come out of it badly? Yes? Someone else did.
It’s fair to say that Gazza was stitched up on this occasion. If not by a professional photographer, then by a “citizen snapper” with a smartphone and an eye for a quick buck at someone else’s expense.
Yes, we can all see how heartbreakingly tragic a situation his life has become over the years. Yes, he undoubtedly went out in a dressing gown (sadly, so many people do these days) and I don’t see any point in disputing that it may have been a trip for booze and fags. I don’t even dispute the fact that it is of public interest that someone who is so loved by the British public has fallen so far.
What needs to be considered is the staging of such “shame” pictures that can do nothing but add to the troubles of Gazza.
Mental health and alcohol issues should be treated far more sensitively in the modern age. Gazza has talked about his problems in the past. Let those words be the lesson learned from the fall of a great footballer and entertainer, not these pics of “sick Gazza” in the street in a dressing gown. Sadly, there are too many people out there ready to leap on such imagery and mock someone when they are down and out.
It’s time to treat mental health more compassionately and not as a sideshow.
HELEN GILDERSLEEVE goes for a walk in the park and discovers a rich trail of history rounded off with award-winning beer
Park goers may have noticed a flurry of activity at the old Palace of Art in Newcastle’s Exhibition Park lately.
The much-loved park, used by runners, families and cyclists alike, is now home to Wylam Brewery’s new HQ after they closed their doors at their old brew house in Heddon-on-the-Wall.
The Grade-II listed Palace of Arts building is now a fully operating, working brewery and events space having remained almost derelict for nearly a decade. The venue now boasts guided tours and a Grand Hall which plays host to brewers’ markets, live music, pop up events, weddings and more.
Ale lovers can sample freshly made brews such as the award winning Jakehead IPA as well as a variety of heritage cask and keg beers in quirky surroundings in the venue’s Brewery Tap.
Forthcoming events at Wylam Brewery include brewers’ markets, Craft Beer Calling, Battle of the Burger, movie screenings and live DJ sets and gigs.
The Palace of Art building is no stranger to glory and entertainment itself, being the last remaining building from the 1929 North East Exhibition.
The Exhibition was an ambitious project built to celebrate and encourage craft, art and industry at the start of the Great Depression. It was a symbol of pride and industrial success of the region as well as an advertisement for local industry and commerce.
The exhibition lasted 24 weeks and a total of 4,373,138 people attended. Gold watches were given to each one-millionth visitor and it closed on 26 October 1929 with an impressive fireworks display.
The Wylam Brewery building itself is steeped in history. Until 1983 a Science Museum was located in the venue which housed Turbinia, the first steam turbine-powered ship and the world’s fastest ship in its time (now located in the Discovery Museum in the city centre). A military vehicle museum was then housed there from 1983 to 2006 and the building remained unused until the brewery took over this spring.
Exhibition Park has recently undergone a £3 million redevelopment funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. This included; installation of a new children’s play area and outdoor gym equipment, a new skate park, restoration of the bandstand, resurfacing of the tennis courts and new lighting and fencing.
North East science blogger ALBERT SIMPSON examines how we make something out of nothing.
SO, you think you’re something do you?
Well let me put you right:
You are NOTHING!
Well, 99 per cent nothing, but don’t worry, I’m just the same, in fact everyone and everything else is just the same. Let me explain. We’ll start by taking a look at the wonderful Bamburgh Castle.
When we look at this imposing fortress up on the majestic coast of Northumberland it is hard to comprehend that everything we see is more than ninety-nine percent nothing. How can it be that this grand stone building and the apparently solid rock on which it stands are mostly nothing? Not to mention that they have been photographed by a person who is also more than ninety-nine percent nothing – sorry son.
You see, EVERYTHING in our world is ninety-nine percent nothing.
That’s because the tiny atoms that make up our world are all over ninety-nine percent the space of outer space. For example, one billion atoms make up the diameter of a human hair and in each atom less than one percent are matter particles.
Matter particles are protons, neutrons and the much smaller electrons. The rest of an atom is nothing but empty space. Yes, the rest is nothing but nothing.
OK, so we are nothing, but how is it we FEEL and SEE the solids, liquids and gases that SEEM to take up so much space?
Well TOUCH is only a sense of contact
It might appear to us that when we push a car or when we make love that we are making multiple contacts, but that’s not so. Atom particles don’t easily make contacts. Their speeds of motion and their interacting ‘push and pull forces’ stop them from doing so – how unromantic.
Your feeling of an object is actually the object’s particle forces and your particle forces resisting the close approach.
But atomic particle forces don’t just push; they also have a pull capability. In solids such as Bamburgh Castle, these complex push and pull particle forces combine to bind atoms strongly together.
Such binding is less strong in liquids (like Bamburgh’s neighbouring sea) allowing greater flow, and weaker still in gases including Bamburgh’s surrounding air (air is a mix of gases) where atoms and linked atoms (called molecules) move freely.
The human body is a combination of solid, liquid and gases maintained as an entity by particle forces. All these particles feel the gravity pull of the earth’s particle forces yet when our body particles come close to earth’s particles, the forces strongly resist contact.
When you push a car your applied forces are transmitted via the car’s particle forces to every part of the car so that the car moves as a whole. In the process not one atom particle touches another.
You might think that when you push on a wall no movement occurs but trillions upon trillions of atom particles make tiny adjustments throughout your body and throughout the wall and throughout the ground, that both you and the wall push upon.
Your muscles’ forces are not steady and that leads to continuous particle movements each requiring small amounts of energy that sum to much energy use. You do not move the wall but you use a lot of energy moving particles.
Your brain ‘feels’ the push because sensors in your skin constantly respond to the local force and frequency stimuli. They send electrical signals (which are also atomic particle force related motions) to the brain along the nerve pathways that form your central nervous system.
IF IT’S ALL 99 PER CENT NOTHING HOW COME WE CAN SEE IT?
Okay so now we know – quite literally – how we all feel, so we should now be able to see things more clearly. Hang on though, how come we can SEE so much if it’s all 99% nothing?
Well, SIGHT is our brain’s interpretation of radiations
To explain how we see all this empty space we need to understand something of the sight process.
Radio and wifi waves, microwaves, heat waves, visible light, ultra violet light, x rays and gamma rays are all electro-magnetic radiations.
We experience these radiations in a number of different ways.
Our bodies feel heat radiations through skin sensors. Ultra violet and higher radiations might damage our skin while our eyes only see the radiations we call visible light . We see these as light because our eyes have evolved sensors able to monitor the small range of frequencies that make up the visible light radiations.
But what are these radiations?
Well, these radiations are supposedly mass-less photon particles that travel at the speed of light through the ninety nine percent space of atoms, as well as through atom free outer space.
Photons are the conveyors of energy packets. They are the parcel couriers of the Universe. And such couriers vary considerably in energy level which is frequency related. High frequency, high energy radiations are dangerous to humans; low frequency energies are not dangerous.
When a photon encounters atomic particles there is a probability that the total photon energy will be given up. Solids absorb almost all photon energies whilst liquids, glass and the gases of our atmosphere allow various levels of photon to pass through which is why we have varying degrees of transparency.
Sight involves photon absorption by the eye’s retinas.
Every point on each eye’s retina has numerous sensors designed to respond to visible light photons. Our eye lens focuses many radiations from a single view point onto a single retina point. Like piles of interesting informative packets of energy gathered together in some grand package delivery warehouse.
The brain receives electrical signals from the retina sensors, and interprets the data as an image of colours and shapes. So our brain is the sorting office that makes sense of it all and ensures we receive the information that help us make sense of the world.
Hot and Cold
High levels of energy emanate as radiations from hot particle motions, like those on the sun. But radiations also occur from cold objects which radiate any surplus energy they have. Like the sun, they radiate it in all directions.
In the daytime many objects on earth are absorbing sun-radiated energy and their atomic particle motions change as a result of the absorbed energy.
Some of the absorbed energy might be retained, leading to warmth or, in life forms, cell growth might result. However most energy absorbed is surplus and almost instantly given up as radiations in all directions.
The absorption and subsequent emission of energies by earth’s atomic particles is a never ending process. It is happening everywhere.
The shapes and colours of our world arise because the frequency-related photon packets of energy given up by earth’s objects are mostly not the same as those absorbed.
The radiation emanating from an object or life form is very much related to the object’s atomic structure. Such energies are released in all directions in a continuous process. Some energy goes back through our atmosphere and into space; much will pass to other earth objects for absorption and re-emission.
What our brain sees as the colours and shapes of objects is its own interpretation of the frequency of the energies radiated from those objects.
Man takes much pleasure in extensive experimentation with varying frequencies of radiated energies in our use of paint pigments, clothing dyes, make up and multi-coloured movie screens that can deliver desired results with so much visual satisfaction. Yet it is all so fundamentally nothing. Well, mostly.
So in summary, if you really think you’re something in this colourful, multi-sensory, hot and cold seemingly object dominated world, well you may want to think again.
Next time we will look at particle forces in motion or ‘electricity‘ as you will very probably know it.
Bees play a critical role in plant pollination, making them a crucially important part of our ecosystem. JONATHAN JONES visits a County Durham business that could make beekeepers of us all with the help of 21st century technology.
A COUNTY Durham environmental business hopes to take the sting out of beekeeping, and encourage more people to become beekeepers, with a 21st century bee hive, monitored through a smart phone app.
Long seen as a specialist industry, traditional beekeeping requires sometimes expensive equipment, can be time consuming, and land intensive.
But new business BuzzCloud buzzcloud.global, in Tantobie, County Durham, hopes to change all that, with the development of a bee hive, linked to the ‘internet-of-things’, which will enable anybody to become a beekeeper, and more importantly protect a species that is fundamental to life on this planet.
The ‘internet of things’ is a development of the world wide web, which gives everyday objects, such as vehicles and buildings, Internet connectivity, by embedding them with electronics, such as sensors and actuators, which can be monitored using a mobile phone.
Roger Lewis, director of BuzzCloud, and his colleague, Fraser Lindsley, are seeking funding to manufacture the first hives for public testing. They already have a number of hives at beta test sites across the UK, including locations on North Tyneside and in Leicestershire.
And they’re hoping to use crowdfunding, against bank lending or venture capital, to fund the production of the first hives available to the general public.
Crowdfunding works by asking thousands of people, not necessarily in the UK, for small amounts of money to fund the projects they are interested in.
BuzzCloud is seeking an initial $20,000 (approximately £15,500) on the Indiegogo site www.indiegogo.com, one of the largest crowdfunding sites in the world. The official launch takes place on July 15.
Mr Lewis explains: “We chose crowdfunding as it allows us to raise the relatively small amount of money required for the initial project, through people who have an interest in helping bees. We chose Indiegogo as it’s one of the largest crowdfunding sites in the world.
“If this initial crowdfunding phase raises the money required for the test hives, we’ll then look at future crowdfunding when we are ready to go into production of hives that will be available to the general public. Starting small like this also provides real market validation.”
The public launch will follow analysis of the initial information collected from ten beta test hives.
Mr Lewis, originally from South Africa, and who also lived in Malawi (in central Africa), plus other parts of Europe, before settling in Tantobie, is an electronics and IT professional who wants to put his skills to good use protecting bees.
He believes there is no other beehive around that can monitor the life of the bees within it so effectively, although hives have been developed in Australia to make the process of harvesting the honey easier.
As well as being able to monitor the hive remotely, using the BuzzCloud mobile phone app, users will also be able to change settings, such as raising the temperature of the hive, in particularly cold periods, or to help deal with pest infections, such as the Varroa Destructor mite, which can destroy entire hive populations, typically 40,000 – 60,000 bees.
BuzzCloud will use 3D printing and cutting technology to create the hives, using sources of recycled cellulose.
Once further funding is secured, it is hoped the first bee hives available to the public will be produced in a specialist, automated industrial unit, in County Durham.
And hives will be produced in a variety of sizes to meet the requirements of the urban beekeeper.
Mr Lewis said: “We’ll be looking to develop smaller hives, which can be put on a balcony, or in a confined space, in urban locations.
“Larger hives will be capable of producing 25kg or more of honey, with the smaller hives, half that amount.”
And as for those people put off beekeeping by the prospect of being stung, Mr Lewis said: “Perhaps the best thing about this new approach to beekeeping is that you don’t have to be a beekeeper!
“It’s no longer necessary to get suited up in a clumsy beekeeping suit and gloves just to monitor your beehive – we make it possible to do almost all the monitoring needed using your mobile phone or tablet. This does not mean that remote monitoring can eliminate all manual inspections, it does however sharply reduce the number of times the hives need to be manually inspected.”
HELEN GILDERSLEEVE discovers new light and a dash of continental style in a much loved corner of Newcastle
A gleaming canopy of lights and a Continental-style café and cocktail bar form part of new plans at Newcastle’s much loved Tyneside Cinema.
Plans were revealed in January showcasing the transformation of High Friars Lane, where the entrance to the cinema resides.
The hope is to give the once dreary alleyway a makeover with a full ceiling of sparkling lights in a bid to turn the area from grotty to grotto.
Hundreds of cinema lovers across the region have helped fund the cost themselves with the Tyneside’s Just Giving page appeal peaking at £4,990.
As well as the canopy of lights, the Tyneside recently opened the doors of its brand new café and cocktail bar Vicolo (meaning ‘alley’ in Italian- see what they did there?) The former Intermezzo bar has already received rave reviews from film, food and coffee lovers alike.
Vicolo’s relaxing, chic and continental ambience is inspired by chef Tom Adlam’s desire to create a foodie hang out which boasts unique treats like Vicolo’s own ice cream, ‘sandwiches by the inch’ and ethically sourced coffee.
The interior was created to look like it had evolved through time and the space takes references from Italian cafes, particularly those dating back to the 1930s, ‘50s and ‘60s with a retro stylish vibe.
Additional features to the outdoor area include; new signage to welcome visitors, the installation of bicycle racks and a new and extended pavement café.
The much loved art house cinema is no stranger to makeovers and has undergone huge interior changes in recent years, including a £1.3m redevelopment which led to the opening of an additional cinema screen and the ever popular Tyneside Cinema Bar Cafe in 2014.
Tyneside Cinema’s Head of Operations, Phillip Scales said “We are thrilled to be able to make this exciting transformation to High Friar Lane making it a safer and more welcoming place to visit. We have already had great feedback from our customers and we hope that this will encourage many more people to find and enjoy what Tyneside Cinema has to offer as well as being of lasting benefit to the city centre.”
Tyneside Cinema is an independent cinema in Newcastle and the city’s only cultural cinema that specialises in the screening of independent film and world cinema.
DAVID SIMPSON attends the opening night of the much-lauded Kynren and is astounded by its truly epic scale
The Saturday evening sunlight softly illuminates the glorious Gothic splendour of Auckland Castle as it awaits the unfolding of a great event from its lofty vantage point amidst the neatly manicured trees of the ancient bishops’ park. Close by, the ornate spire of the Franco-Flemish town hall peers above the treeline adding another beautiful backdrop to the verdant setting of an almost fairytale landscape.
Only the occasional chill of a July evening breeze sweeping across thousands of knees and the stark outline of a 1970s office block high above the valley (far enough away not to intrude) keep you grounded with a sense of reality in the present time and place. Yet even the office block seems like some extravagant addition to this extraordinary setting in which an epic two-thousand year tale of England is to be told.
Welcome to Kynren – an epic tale of England.
We wait, not quite sure what to expect, comfortable in the back row of the tribune. It’s the grand name for an auditorium of some 8,000 people but this is after all a daringly grand event. The wooden facade looms like some grand medieval citadel as you walk the winding yellow road to reach the setting, leaving your car behind, at the bottom of the hill – in Toronto. It’s just the beginning of a wonderfully implausible adventure.
It’s nearly 9.30pm. The moment approaches and an announcement is made: there will be a delay of ten minutes. A rumble of polite laughter rolls across the crowd. They know that this is the very first night for the volunteer performers, drawn from across the local community, children and adults alike. The expectant crowd is prepared, perhaps, to forgive the occasional glitch. They need not worry for despite the delay we soon see that the show, the spectacle, whatever we may call it, is in very safe hands.
“What’s this thing called again?” my eleven-year-old daughter asks, in slightly half-hearted fashion before it begins. She was looking forward to a friend’s birthday the following morning so this “history thing” had received little interest up until now. “KYNREN” I say, spelling it out not once but twice as she texts friends to explain where she is with a rather puzzled look on her face.
Kynren is Anglo-Saxon for ‘generation’, kindred, family’ and this epic show is designed to tell the story of generations of England’s history over two millennia, with much local flavour thrown in to taste. It’s an extraordinary challenge if ever there was one but we would not be disappointed.
And so the dream commences and a dream it surely is. The Kynren concept had all begun with the visionary dream of a City of London investor and philanthropist, Jonathan Ruffer, now the owner of Auckland castle, whose plan was to recreate the spectacular French outdoor shows of Puy du Fou, right here in the North East of England.
Ruffer, born in Stokesley in North Yorkshire, just a little outside Middlesbrough, hopes to bring regeneration and a new sense of pride to Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area and in this he will surely succeed. ‘Bishop’ as it is affectionately known, is the focal point for much of what was once the coalfield of south west Durham and was a place much affected by the rise and fall of coal mining. It is also a place with much potential and like many towns across the region, has seen something of a rebirth.
It is a town with quite obvious medieval roots just like its medieval neighbours at Durham and Barnard Castle and it lies in beautiful surroundings too with a history stretching back to Roman times. Sadly, it is too often overlooked by visitors who mistakenly believe it to be just another mining town as they head out towards Bishop’s historic neighbours. With millions of pounds invested, this is Bishop’s chance to shine.
In both the execution and storyline, Kynren is something of a dream in itself. Perhaps it is even a dream within a dream – a spectacular stream of multicoloured consciousness, where the amazing events of twenty centuries, both local and national, flow swiftly from one into another at a captivating chronological pace. Let’s be clear, though, this is no history lesson, it’s much more magical than that.
Surprisingly, the River Wear is the setting for much of the story and in often unexpected ways. It serves as the sea in several scenes and when it comes to technical effects has a major starring role in the show. It’s a role that it comfortably fulfils along with the grand castle that overlooks its river banks. It’s not the real river, though, but a magical man-made lake and it’s not the real castle either. Yet dreamily, the whole of the Kynren site is set within a broad loop of the real-life River Wear itself overlooked by the real-life castle. Don’t be confused and you won’t be. As I said, this is virtually a dream within a dream.
When the show finally kicks off, in football fashion, the audience is instantly captivated. I’m delighted to see my daughter immediately relates. She is enthralled. It’s a story told through the dream of a young Bishop Auckland boy, a miner’s son during the inter war years of the last century. Befriended by Hensley Henson, the Bishop of Durham, after accidentally breaking the window of the bishop’s lodge, the boy’s fascination for history is quickly kindled by the bishop’s passionate knowledge. The boy’s name is Arthur, the first hint that Kynren is to be as much a tale of legend, mystery and magic as it is a one of history.
As a historian and father to a girl who says she finds history disappointingly dull, I am rather relieved. There’s no need for me to constantly assess the accuracy of the facts – though most prove to be broadly true – and I don’t feel I have to inspire, or bore, with my insights or quiet narration as events unfold. This is a dream after all. It is theatre not a lecture. And yet the questions fall one by one: “who’s going to win this battle?” or more often “who are the bad guys? who are the good ones?” I explain, pragmatically that it’s usually the good ones that win or so history often tells us.
So how much should I reveal about this truly wonderful spectacle? Well, firstly you simply must go and see it for yourself and hope that it does not rain – though it would take much to dampen the spirit of Kynren. What I can say though is that you should expect the unexpected and also expect, with so much happening, to miss almost as much as you will see. In fact you may want to watch it all over again. There will be bangs and the flashes of fireworks too, so you’ve been warned.
Romans, Angles, Vikings, Normans, Tudors and a whole assortment of kings, queens and common people of many different eras will come and go in scene after scene as whole epochs flash past your very eyes. Scores upon scores of colourful, costumed characters, children, armies, live goats, sheep, geese, slaves, soldiers, peasants, knights, show-stealing horses, carriages, carts, ships and even a steam train will appear and disappear from nowhere and into nowhere as you count down the years and move closer to the present.
Distracted by colourful events in one corner of this splendid seven and a half acre stage, you may turn to see that you have missed the appearance of a whole building in another corner or perhaps a ship or an army. It is really quite something, like an epic Hollywood movie set, with a wonderful technicolor cast of some 1,000 souls.
You will see live battles, fabulous fireworks, water effects, magnificent creative lighting of a kind with which Durham is now so familiar and you will soon take for granted the magic of people walking on water – Dynamo style – or a whole ship emerging from the water complete with its Norman crew. “How did they do that?” you will wonder and you will surely ask yourself “am I really in Bishop Auckland?” Often you will utter to yourself “this is just plain mad”.
The amplified stories of the past are spoken by actors of all ages but this story as it is told is almost incidental to the whole visual effect and the accompanying, specially composed music. It is unashamedly and rousingly patriotic in places but never in a jingoistic way. It will leave you feeling good and is perhaps just the tonic if you wish to escape from the weary world of present day politics.
If you love the costume character magic of Beamish, or the lighting effects of Durham’s Lumiere, or the atmosphere of open air theatre and especially if you enjoyed the wonderful absurdity of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics, then you are in for a very special treat here. It’s not just me that thought this though. The standing ovation that brought the show to a close is a great testament to the many months of planning and work that have gone into this magnificent event.
As we drove back home towards the midnight hour, my daughter confessed with brutal honesty that history was her most boring subject at school and apparently even the way I explain it is rather boring too. “This was amazing though”, she declared, “it made history so exciting and so real” she then continued listing her favourite parts of the show one by one by one in yet another stream of flowing dreamy consciousness. For such inspiration, Kynren, I am eternally grateful.
This year there are a total of fourteen performances of Kynren – An epic tale of England on selected weekend days from July 2 to September 17. For booking and more details, contact the organisers, Eleven Arches at elevenarches.org
Beer Blogger, PAUL WHITE explores the region’s thriving range of craft beers and microbreweries
The North East is a fantastic place for food and drink.
We are blessed.
Whatever your culinary preference, there is something for you, and you no longer have to focus on Newcastle, and events like Eat! Great restaurants to suit all wallet sizes are now widespread across the region.
Likewise, we have some amazing drinks being produced in the North East, from Durham Gin to Wylam Brewery.
The craft brewing movement is as prolific here as it is anywhere. I use the term “craft”, because it is now in common usage, but many brewers will tell you that it has been around for years. Black Sheep Brewery, just a short drive south of the region, for example, will argue that what founder Paul Theakston was doing when he established the brewery in 1991 was craft – it was challenging bland beer.
People may look at the North East and think of our brown ales, from Newcastle and Sunderland (Double Maxim), but that’s just scratching the surface. Since I started my blog, Poets Day Pint, at the start of the year, I’ve blogged about a different beer most weeks and, both “professionally” and socially, I’ve sampled 67 different beers (source: my Untappd app, with which I check-in with each beer – correct at time of writing, almost certainly out of date at time of reading).
Many of these have been from the North East and I’ve found some fantastic beer. Wylam’s Jakehead IPA has become a go-to beer, I’ve found a lovely lemon and vanilla oatmeal stout from Northern Alchemy, I’ve rediscovered the joy of Camerons’ Strongarm, and stumbled into the Black Paw Brewery to sample its range, which is now matched with the outstanding food at the Michelin-starred Raby Hunt restaurant.
This is just a flavour, with microbreweries seemingly to be found in every town and village.
My urge to you, dear reader, is to give these beers a try, whether you see them on a bar, in a pub fridge, or in a supermarket. If you’re passing a local brewery, stop to see if it’s open. It may be selling its drinks, or even giving tours.
There’s a joy to be had in finding a new beer. It’s even better if you know it’s locally produced and that, simply by choosing it over a mass-produced generic “name”, you’re helping the local community and a small business.
Visit Poets Day Pint, a jargon free beer blog for the layman, not the drayman.
Why not try out our unique North East Eating and Drinking guide, a directory featuring more than 1,700 places to eat and drink across the North East of England as well as neighbouring parts of North Yorkshire, Cumbria and the Scottish Borders.
Decide how far you want to travel then set the distance on the map. You will be given a choice of venue types – pubs, Italian restaurants, Indian food, Thai – that are available in your chosen area and you can select as many of these as you wish.
Once selected you will be taken to our directory of places to eat in the area you have chosen. Here you will find all the contact details you need along with quick access links to your chosen restaurant’s website and even the Twitter and Facebook pages where available.
We’d love to hear from you about your favourite pub and restaurant. Contact us and we’ll see if we can include your thoughts and reviews of your favourite places to eat.