The needlessly arty and contemplative picture that newly graces my general profile was taken by the otherwise sensible Neville Whaler during my visit to the Tanfield Railway a few days ago. The photo you see above, on the other hand, was taken when the Big Blue Bus visited the site five years ago. You will not be surprised to learn that the kilt - of fine, handwoven Northumberland plaid - hasn’t fitted me almost from that day to this, more’s the pity. Why can’t you get kilts that don’t shrink?

I’m delighted to say that Neville was one of three folk who turned up at last night’s AGM at the Tyneside Cinema. The others were Hildie and Chris and a splendid time was had by all. Until, that is, we all got a bit of a shock when Hildie started to choke on an errant slice of cucumber. Believe me, this is no joke. It was an extraordinarily frightening experience for us, let alone for her. Our grateful thanks to the Coffee Room staff and to the members of the public who came to Hildie’s aid. I’m glad to report that she recovered fairly quickly and was declared to be as fit as a fiddle - well, more or less - after a visit to the General Hospital. Well done, Hildie - and well done, too, to Chris for looking after her so well.

As a matter of fact, I didn’t even get a chance to thank Hildie for bringing with her some information you may find useful. She has ‘connexions‘ (don’t ask) with Birkheads Nursery and Secret Garden. This is a truly awesome place where visitors can not only choose from a wide range of plants - many of them quite rare in these parts - but also slurp a lovely cup of tea and dribble cake crumbs all over the patio before wandering off to look at the ‘Secret Garden‘ and take in the fine views.

Hildie’s information? Well - although the season doesn’t start until March 14, the Nursery, Garden and Coffee Shop will be open for a special Snowdrop Weekend on March 7 and 8 between 1000 and 1630. From March 14, they will be open Tuesday to Sunday, 1000 to 1700. And that’s not all. Throughout March, entry fees will be reduced - two for the price of one (£3.50).

I know what you’re thinking. They’re paying me to tell you this. Amazingly, they aren’t. Believe it or not, there’s nothing in it for me.

Birkheads is just across the fields from the Tanfield Railway. How about visiting them both? What an awesome day out!

...as promised, will be on Saturday 21 March in the Coffee Bar of Sunderland’s Winter Gardens. I will be there from about 1400 to about 1600. Join me!

Post comments on this blog or email me: truckshunters@googlemail.com


Ellie said...

Morning everyone -
Firstly I hope Hildie is fit and well after the choking bout ~ yes it is scary.
Secondly - I'll see you on 21st March at Sunderland Winter Gardens assuming I can find them!!!!
Thirdly - I wasn't made redundant so poverty has been staved off for a while.
The garden sounds interesting so will make a note in diary x

Sid said...

Morning everyone, I have been in touch with Hildie this morning and she is bruised but fine. Friday is her teaching day, but I'm sure she will be back here later tonight.
I hope the other Truckshunters are okay today. It must have been a terrifying experience all round.

Ellie, I'm very glad you still have a job, long may it continue.

Vivienne said...

Hi everyone,

I'm sorry I returned too late from my excursion to attend the Committe Meeting last night. My sister and friend didn't turn up until 4.45pm. We had a tour around Rheged then went for a meal. It was 8.30 by the time I returned home, so guessed the party would be over by then.

Poor Hildie! Was it the sight of Ian wearing your fascinator that caused you to choke? Did he give you the 'kiss of life'? Although it sounds as though Ian needed the kiss of life too! I hope you're fully recovered now.

I hope to make the next meeting in the Winter Gardens. Although I've shopped in Sunderland lots of times, and attended meetings and training oourses in College & University buildings on different sites across Sunderland, I'm ashamed to say I've never taken the time to explore the Winter Gardens!

Ellie, I'm very pleased to learn that your job is safe, at least at present. I'm looking forward to meeting you on 21st March, all being well. As I recall Mowbray Park (Winter Gardens) is in the centre of Sunderland, about 5-10 minutes walk from the Bridges Shopping Centre? Please correct me if I'm wrong!

Inga, I think you said you were due to return home about now? I hope you've had a relaxing holiday and that life has returned to normal back home, or as normal as it can be under the circumstances.

Ellie said...

Thank you for your good wishes Sid and Vivienne - I was elated when the news was sent to me but then strangely, I began to feel selfish for feeling good when others were loosing their jobs...a mishmash of emotions.
I'm looking forward to meeting you all too on 21st March and I will probably become a gibbering idiot when I meet Ian...
I have absolutely no idea about how to get there so will probably go by train then taxi. I think I've said this before but I really am hopeless when it comes to navigation.
Anyway, I'm looking forward to it.

Loz said...

Thanks for replying to my text Hildie..... so very , very relieved to hear you're fine (despite the bruises) after that shocker... so pleased we have people around who know the Heimlich as a matter of course.... it's really something we all should know how to do.

All the best


Sid said...

Morning everybody, I first saw the Heimlich manoeuvre being demonstrated by a fireman on the television about twenty years ago.
Little did I realise that I would be using it on my daughter Gillian within the week. In our case it was a small piece of pineapple. My legs still turn to jelly when I think about it.

Alfie Joey is doing the Mike Parr spot next week, and Sue Sweeney is standing in for Alfie at 1 o'clock. I can't help but reach for the dial and listen to something else. You know, not rough, but Smooth...

The last music Ian played on his show was 'One day like this' by Elbow. If you like it, then have a listen to the recorded live version with Elbow and the BBC Concert Orchestra, plus the choir Chantage. I think its fabulous. It's on Youtube. Search for Elbow and the title of the song, the version with the orchestra is in the list.

Vivienne said...

Hi Folks!

Thought you'd like to know I received a postcard from Inga and Wendell today from The Gulf Coast. (I've scanned the picture from the front of the postcard and inserted it into my profile photo for you to see)

Inga said they are having lots of sunshine but the temperatures are a little cooler than in previous years. However, they don't have snow or ice but do have electricity 24/7. So they're very pleased about that!!!

Inga doesn't have access to the internet so we'll have to await her return before we hear from her again.

It's good to know that they are enjoying their holiday after all their trauma at home, caused by the ice storm. Inga said that there aren't many tourists in the area where they are staying, so I guess it will be quite peaceful and relaxing for them.

Hildie, how are you now? Fully recovered I hope.

Love, Vivienne xxx

p.s. My sister apologised for delaying me on Thursday. When we were in the middle of our meal that evening she suddenly remembered I was supposed to be at Ian's get-together, and was horrified to think I'd missed you all because of her lateness!

Vivienne said...

Hi again,

I've just clicked on my photo to see if the picture looks ok. It's better when you click again for full size. However the photo is still very small. You may be wondering what it says along the top of the card? The words are, 'Just Another Day in Paradise' and 'The Gulf Coast' is printed along the base of the postcard.

Hildie said...

Good morning everyone and I have to say I am feeling very glad to be alive! I should be coming on here to tell you what a lovely time I had at The Tyneside Cinema on Thursday night ..... believe me I would have had a great night had fate not taken a hand in the proceedings. It all began very nicely .. my son arrived home from work and said, "Are you ready, Mam?" He was taking me to the cinema for the meeting, so I popped on my jacket and off we set. It was nearing six o'clock when we got into Newcastle and the traffic was extremely busy. We got stuck for a while near the cathedral and just then, "One Day Like This" started to play on the radio. Liam gave me a sideways glance and a grin, and his hand went to the "UP" button on the radio. As we arrived at The Tyneside, and I stepped out of the car, the track was just finishing. It seemed so weird yet so right!

I'm really sorry - have just had a phone call from my sister and she has asked me to go to the Metro Centre with her to help choose her "Mother of the groom" outfit! Be back later! x

Vivienne said...

Hi Hildie,

It's so good to hear from you after your misadventure on Thursday evening. I'm curious to learn what happened next! I hope you and your sister have an enjoyable day at the Metrocentre.

I've posted on murphyanddora.blogspot.com four photos taken at The Tanfield Railway during August, 2003.

Audrey said...

Hello evryone. I was pleased to hear that Hilde is recovering from her experience. I was looking forward to attending the AGM in the Winter Gardens and meeting up with everyone, however, I'll be away that weekend. Lynne lives in Scotland and my other daughter is in Nottingham, and that's where we'll be on the 21st. I still can't figure out what was wrong with the local lads!
As for an alternative name for your meetings, Lynne suggests the Tyne & Wear Lethagy Action Group :)
Regards to all

Maureen said...

Evenin' all. May I add my best wishes to Hildie, that's a meeting you won't forget in a hurry Hildie!
I've been away for a couple of days and come back to all of this news. Every one seems so busy at the moment don't they? Thanks for the mention of Birkheads Ian. Anyone wanting more information might like to take a look at their website: www.birkheadsnursery.co.uk/
Anyone looking for the Winter Gardens in Sunderland might remember the old Binns stores, now Wilkinsons and Wetherspoons?, it's opposite there, annexed to the old library and museum (Mowbray Park) You won't need a taxi, Ellie, it's only 5 minutes walk from the railway station!

Sid said...

Audrey I think the alternative name is brilliant.

Hildie said...

Hi Ellie,Sid, Vivienne, Loz, Neville, Audrey, Maureen,
it's not just Ian who's all haggard and frazzled - I lost a long posting earlier .... I came back,continued my tale, clicked to post it and then it disappeared - into the ether ! Promise
I'll try to redraft tomorrow.
Our trip to the Metro Centre was also fruitless..... no wedding outfit for my sister .... we got back about four thirty, so we had tramped about for hours and my feet were killing me .... and all she had bought was a necklace!
Sid, you're right, that's a great suggestion from Audrey.

Ian Robinson said...

Good to hear from you Hildie - and what a shame you lost the rest of your posting; it was turning into a real good read!
Ellie...Maureen's right. Unless you're at all immobile, don't bother with a taxi from the station on March 21. Come out of the station, turn left then right and Bob's your uncle...

Hildie said...


Strange, isn't it, how life can take such twists and turns? When I stepped out of Liam's car on Thursday evening I could never have imagined that, a few hours later, he would be picking me up from the General Hospital.
I got out of the car, walked a few yards, rounded a corner and there outside the Tyneside Cinema were Ian and Chris waiting for me. We did a quick role call and , realising that Vivienne and Lawrence hadn't made it, we went into the cinema entrance.
Ian pressed the button for the lift, as the coffee lounge is on the second floor. I wouldn't get into the lift with him, despite his reassurances that he'd be really nice to be stuck in a lift with! Anyway, we met on the other floor a few minutes later and got ourselves seated in the coffee lounge with cups of divine coffee in front of us. There was lots of chit-chat and we were treated to a look at Ian's newest piece of technology (I think he's getting more like Paul!). I wish you could have seen it though, his new "I-POD TOUCH", it's incedible what information can be stored on such a small device. We were dead impressed and, you know what, he was so thrilled with it. Boys and their toys!
Before long we decided it was time for another coffee and a bite to eat. We chose paninis (bacon and brie, drizzled with cranberry sauce) - and served with salad. I do wish now that I'd gone for the toasted teacake.

To be continued.

Hildie said...

It was not long before the incident happened, I hope you will all forgive me if I do not dwell on the details .... suffice to say
I was in great distress and truly believed that I was going to die.
Poor Ian, poor Chris, nobody knew what to do until, that is,
a young man eating in the coffee lounge with his girlfriend, came over to us and began the Heimlich
Manoeuvre for which I shall be eternally grateful. It seemed to go on for a very long time, the distress of the situation. There were great thumps to my back, there seemed to be more and more people around me and more and more of a hulabaloo going on. Eventually, I became able to breath again ... you cannot imagine how I felt at that moment!
The manager of the coffee lounge (Gemma) had somehow managed to locate a doctor on the premises and she was talking to me, asking how I felt. Someone had dialled 999and handed me a phone, I found myself talking to a man at the ambulance response unit. Both he and the lovely, young lady doctor were telling me I needed to go to hospital. I honestly , by then, felt so good that hospital was the last place I felt I needed to be!
However, it was best to follow medical advice so I acquiesced and arrangements were made.

To be contined.

Hildie said...

I cannot begin to tell you how well the management at the coffee lounge dealt with the situation, it was in an exemplary fashion.
Gemma brought me a drink of water when it was all over, and she took all my details, she not only ordered a taxi to the hospital - but gave Chris the taxi fare. When I took my purse out of my bag to settle the bill, she downright refused to take any payment from me. She came out with us to find the taxi and explained things to the taxi driver. The following day she even rang me at home to ask how I was.
Andy, the taxi driver, was next on my list of rather wondrous people I met that night. I was mutterering to him that really it wasn't necessary for me to be going to the hospital and wasting the time of doctors and nurses ... but he was telling me that if you've had the Heimlich -
then they need to check if you have broken ribs, and they need to know if food has been inhaled into the lungs.
Last, but not least, on my list of the wonderful folk I met that night .... and I've emailed Ian about this ..... was Leigh, the doctor in Casualty who attended me. Talk about a total stunner!! He was gorgeous as well as kind, and chatted about the Tyneside Cinema and enquired what we had gone there to see.
I have also to thank all my Truckshunter family for their text messages and their good wishes written on the blog. We're a unique bunch, you know. As Ian keeps saying, it's never been done before ... let's keep it together and see where it takes us, that's what I say! Anybody fancying Ian's suggestion of the trip to The Secret Gardens and Tanfield Railway?
I forgot to tell you earlier
that, before I left the cinema, I got the chance to meet Neville. I'm really glad I managed to do that. He had arrived just as it was all over! Thankfully, we were able to leave Ian in Neville's invigorating company to recover from all I had put him through!
It's a shame how the evening turned out ... things had been going so swimmingly! And, as it says in the song that played me into the Tyneside that evening ....
one day like this a year'd see me right.

Vivienne said...

Hi Hildie,

Thanks for taking the time to write out your saga again. It's good to know that there are kind-hearted people around when you need a helping hand.

Yes, I like Ian's suggestion - to visit Birkheads and Tanfield Railway together. Are we planning the excursion as another Committee Meeting? If so, when?

I'm working on the flag Ian!

Maureen said...

Hi All,
thought you might be interested to know that waxwings are being sighted in large numbers this week at Birkheads. A bit chilly for sitting on the terrace this week perhaps? Wrap up warm!