Monday, 6 September 2010

Allendale - Old Stories and New Ventures

  Rhoda Carlisle lived in Allendale.  She didn't really, I made her up. I dragged my poor flu laden kid up to Northumberland on Boxing Day to see the place in winter, the year that I wrote my book, Snow Angels about shipbuilding, the Tyne valley and the girl who came from Allendale in the valley of the River East Allen, eleven miles from Hexham.  For me it's still the place where Rhoda lived, I can't go past the church or through the market place without thinking of her. I love that area, I go to Allendale to walk around the river and write in the cafes and shop at the co op and the very good butcher's and waffle about the gift shops.  I went there a couple of weeks ago with the top down on my car because it was a perfect day. The road there is winding and the moors were covered in bright purple bell heather and everywhere there are the remains of the lead mining, once a most important reason for people to go and work there. It even had its own temperance hotel which can't have been much fun. You spend all week working your socks off ( if you possess any ) and then you don't even get a drink at the end of it. Horrors!
Incidentally, the house on the cover is Belsay Hall which I adopted, along with several other country houses, as mine. I think I love Belsay best and then I think of the others, Cragside which I used in The Singing Winds and Wallington Hall which I've used but Belsay is the best and all because I spent a wet day walking my spaniel around the quarry gardens.  The colours ran into one another and I was entranced.

I took a picture of the new arts centre which is being built just to the left of the other photograph in the main part of the small town.

This is what I found when I was about a mile out of Allendale, the Allen Mill site which I knew nothing about, since I hadn't been to Allendale in some time. There is a cafe which makes its own bread,( The Allendale Bakery) a brewery, a recycled craft workshop and several other offices and small businesses, all worth seeing.The people who run MAKE,, sitting outside in the sunshine. They have free workshops on Thursdays from 10a.m. until 5p.m. It'a wonderful little shop with a tremendous atmosphere, selling all kinds of crafts and new goods but also encouraging people to reuse what they already have. Upstairs is the workshop and those who take part also get tea, coffee and biscuits.
The van belonging to the people who run the brewery. I liked the bit on the back about the beer!
Remains of an old mill at the other end of the river just below the town.
The river East Allen, what a lovely colour, it looks a bit like whisky.

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