Gerry’s view: The Egyptian Rat Trap


England! We were a day late crossing the border – but that is the way of our chosen quest, today’s ride took us from Kelso, further along the Tweed to cross this

The Beautiful River Tweed.

The Beautiful River Tweed.

beautiful river at Norham. We had to mark the occasion by stopping at the first pub, The Masons Arms – which also happened to be in the good beer guide.

Scotland is now behind us...

Scotland is now behind us…

Excellent – this was truly a pub from a bygone age. The landlord, sat on the wrong side of the bar greeted us with a grunt in a dialect I couldn’t recognise, but quickly responded to my request for a half of Allendale Fermata, probably even weaker than the famed Watneys Red Barrel at 3.1% – but what taste! Our host responded in the negative when we asked if we could get anything to eat – but seemed to warm more to us when we did not react in a shocked way, adding that we would be welcome to cross the road to the bakers and bring some food back to eat in his pub. Janet was dispatched to find suitable fare and I was tempted to try the slightly stronger (4.0%) Golden Plover, also from the Allendale brewery, another pleasant ale.

Fortified, we set off to improve our daily kilometre tally by heading for Wooler. We checked in the interesting, if not great, hostel there. The place was originally built for the land army girls, stationed there during the 2nd World War and still gave some of the ambience of an army barracks of the time. All the rooms were actually named after a girl from the time, with a brief description of their character and duties – ours was Audrey Forrester whose claim to fame was rat catcher! I think she used to keep some of them as pets and would not be surprised if some of their descendants are still around. I do not mean to criticise the hostel, but it was not the best experienced so far – I would still recommend it for an inexpensive nights stay, if passing through.

I will probably not be allowed back, if not because of this report, then because of the Return of Mr Bean: The system with the bedding in this hostel is that they supply pillows, mattresses and quilts along with a sort of bag that doubled as pillow case and cotton sleeping bag for you to sleep within the other elements, effectively isolated from them. The idea being, this ‘bag’ is then the only item needing washing after you have left.

Well Mr Bean went to bed in his bag, OK, but these days, especially if there are not on-suite facilities (wait this is NOT another lavatorial anecdote) the need for an early visit to the bathroom is guaranteed. Not wanting to disturb Janet I did not turn on the light and when I returned I climbed back, so I thought in my bag. A while later, getting myself comfortable, I realised I could feel the actual duvet on my chest, so rummaged around to try again to enter the bag. The more and more I wriggled, the more and more bag, or cotton sheet seemed to materialise until I was wrapped and trapped like an Egyptian mummy. By now Janet had been disturbed ( she was in a different bunk by the way – no hanky panky in this hostel) She came across and asked what the hell was wrong, by now I had what seemed to be a bridal train running out of the bed and across the floor… I had to vacate the bed for Janet to investigate – it did not take her too long to pronounce that I was debagged – in fact there was no bag to be found – just acres of cotton – we will never know how this happened or indeed how anyone could actually make a small sleeping bag from SO much material.

Oh well, on towards Bellingham tomorrow – pronounced BelingJam by the way?