Friday, 8 October 2010

Saltholme - Not Just for the Birds

I once set part of a book in Seaton Carew, the little seaside town which became a popular bathing place for the Darlington Quakers early in the nineteenth century. I sent my family - a middle aged woman, her son, lodger and two smaller children away from the pit village where they ran a pub, The Golden Lion and gave them a week on the coast. This the book that my daughter and her friends read and liked when they were teenagers because it starts when the four main characters are about thirteen. I didn't know I had written a teenage novel until then.

Yesterday I went back to Seaton Carew and what a pretty place it is with its different pastel coloured houses and hotels on the front, its green, its arcades and fish and chip restaurants. We ate at a wonderful place called  The Almighty Cod.  We had cod, chips, mushy peas, white bread and butter and a big pot of tea for £4.99 each and the fish was as fresh as you would expect it to be, wonderfully flaky, the chips were thick and well cooked, the tea was strong - who could resist the smell of fish and chips freshly made?

And then we went to Saltholme Wildlife reserve and discovery park and I am going to go many many times, it is the perfect place to write. It's run by the  RSPB and their staff and volunteers.  There is a big play ground for children, a cafe for those who have been out in the fresh air. All the windows are huge and look out over the lakes and the hides, the land is flat, there are wonderful walks laid out to the hides and around the lakes. It exudes a feeling of complete calm. Kate Humble, RSPB President, officially opened Saltholme in March 2009.

Above,the famous transporter bridge from one of the hides.
You get into Saltholme free if you arrive on foot or by bicycle. If you come by car it's only £3 and members get in free.
Lapwings in flight.

Designed to resemble a kingfisher this is the main building at Saltholme with its glorious views.

People sitting upstairs outside. It was the perfect day, warmer than most of the summer has been, with barely a breeze.  We spoke to two volunteers who had been in a hide all day, I can't think of a better way to spend time, with a flask and a sarnie, and one of those big binocular type telescopes or whatever they are. One gentleman let me look through and see a redshank, I was really pleased! There were coots and ducks and we could see way over flocks of noisy geese. It's a paradise on earth for birds and other wildlife and for people too.

The shop where you can buy everything you need for the birds in your garden and a lot more besides!

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