Stage Four – Oh My Darlo, or ‘Whatever happened to Day Three?’

I think this might happen quite a lot. Gaps in my blogging. I know you’re not weeping bitter, bereft tears. But I’m going to blog when I can as it’s a good aide memoire for me when I come to write the book and stuff.

But there’s so much to see and do and take in, and sometimes that will be several pints of New World Order IPA at 6.2%. I blame these people


I am indebted to Judith Sykes for tipping me off about The Quaker House, Darlington. From the moment I went in and heard Brick House by the Commodores blasting out followed by Ace Of Spades followed by the Isley’s Behind A Painted Smile (to which most of the bar staff and clientele cut various kinds of rug) I decided that this was my new favourite pub. When I left several hours later, nothing had happened to disabuse me of this motion. I am still of this opinion

A lot of the walk from Ferryhill to Darlo had been tough, gritty and noisy; trudging along the  A road passing juggernauts threatening to send me skirling into the bushes in their wake. Newton Aycliffe’s main drag is a Brutalist promenade that isn’t easy on the eye but folks of all ages and types  were pausing to meet and chat on the the windswept piazza so maybe some of the planners high minded civic rationale and dreams for their built environment has been fulfilled.

As a visit to the library told me, Newton Aycliffe wasn’t there when the Jarrow Marchers came by in 1936; it’s a new town that arose from a World War Two ordnance factory. A young woman there said that they actually had lunch in her home village of Aycliffe, that there was a community breakfast club there tomorrow morning, and that the go to guy for local history was Harry Moses. When I got to Aycliffe next morning after my night at the Quaker House, Harry proved hard to track down but David from the historical society showed me around the village. Then a nice lady from the WI gave me a bag of apples for my journey; it felt sweetly 1936, indeed a little Laurie Lee.

Through the villages of North Yorkshire then to Northallerton, one of which, Appleton Wiske, is a splendid English villages whose names are perfect for English supporting film actors of the 40s and 50s (“And now on ITV 4, a Rank Organisation  classic from 1948, The Vainglorious Heart, starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave and Appleton Fiske as Group Captain ‘Sniffer’ Daniels”) Just outside Northallerton, a man pushed his broken down vintage Vauxhall car onto the pavement in front of me. “Wow, what year is that car from” I asked and when I learned it was 1928, I was delighted to think that this car could have been on the streets of Northallerton when the marchers based through. “Can I have a quick word with you about it” I asked enthusiastically “Now’s not a good time, to be honest…”

After three days on the road, people said the Jarrow Marchers were putting on weight, so unused were they to regular meals even if it was just jam and bread, ham sandwiches and the occasional pot of stew (They had their own cook, Con Shiels, John ‘Music’ Miles grand dad) If I carry on going to to pubs and curry houses I will be doing the same. But it proved for good chat in Aroma and the Little Tanner in Northallerton and a nice explanation of North York’s traditional political allegiances (‘they used to say that they’d vote for a pig in a tweed jacket’) from a gentleman who’d been one of the rumoured ten people at the Sex Pistols gig at Sayers disco in 1976. It’s Club Amadeus now and I was told that the middle aged people turn left at the door and the young uns turn right. I did neither as I’ve an early start for Ripon 17 miles away

Where I’m going to eat a rocket salad with sparkling water



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