Tony & Rob's visit

Tony & Rob, a couple of Mike's stateside mates, visited us in June. They started their journey in Dublin, moved on to Belfast for a few days and then took a ferry over to Scotland. We met up with them in Edinburgh where we had a lovely meal in the Grassmarket area and spent some time at The Last Drop - one of Edinburgh's most infamous pubs. The next morning, after being awakened at 3:00am because someone thought it funny to pull the fire alarm, we bode Edinburgh goodbye and headed to Hartlepool via the coastal route. We thought the boys would like to see Holy Island, but unfortunately, we arrived at high tide - poor planning on our part as we forgot to consult the tide tables! Holy Island can only be reached two times a day by a tidal causeway. The island's connection to Christianity dates back to 634 and was originally called Lindisfarne - the name Holy Island came into being around 1083. A beautiful poem by Sir Walter Scott describes Holy Island's crossing:

"For with the flow and ebb, its style

Varies from continent to isle;

Dry shod, o'er sands, twice every day,

The pilgrims to the shrine find way;

Twice every day the waves efface

Of staves and sandalled feet the trace."

Although, we pilgrims did not find our way across that day, not all was lost. Bamburgh Castle, a beautiful seaside fortress, was only 10 miles away. We arrived at the castle just before closing but were able to tour the castle and grounds. The views of Holy Island and the North Sea are absolutely gorgeous from high atop the castle.

We had a wonderful time showing Tony & Rob the sites in and around Hartlepool. They toured the HMS Trincolmalee at the Hartlepool Historic Quay (Key) while Mike & Gabi increased their knowledge of Hartlepool in the museum. We also took them to Teesside (not far from H'pool) for a walk through the Tees Valley Nature Reserve where we saw a seal colony, many birds, and a few WWII bunkers. (The Germans constantly bombed Northeast England and Teesside during WWII due to its industrial centers along the coast.) Sadly, Tony had to get back to the states and left after only a couple of days with us. However, luckily for Gabi, Rob stayed and helped with a surprise birthday party for Mike. Rob's beef tenderloin with a stilton sauce was to die for - or as one of our guests said, "spot on"! Earlier that day Mike and Rob spent some time exploring Hadrian's Wall and parts of the Lake District, but made it back home in time to celebrate Mike's birthday and watch the Football Championship game with our guests. Other excursions with Rob included Whitby and York.

We had a fantastic time and hope to see them again soon!

The Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Scotland:

Rob, Gabi & Tony in front of one of Edinburgh's most famous pubs - The Last Drop:

Tony enjoying a cigar at The Last Drop:

Mike, Tony & Rob posing at the border of Scotland and England:

Mike & Tony experiencing high tide on the causeway leading to Holy Island:

Rob, Mike & Tony at the entrance to Bamburgh Castle, Northunberland, England:

Looking back toward Holy Island from Bamburgh Castle:

Three of the "The Horsemen" at the Bamburgh Stables:

Rob & Tony after touring H.M.S. Trincomalee at the Hartlepool Historic Quay:

Rob, Mike & Tony on a nature walk - looking for seals and WWII bunkers - along the coast of Teesside:

We found the seals lounging on the shore of the esuary:

Tony, Rob & Mike enjoying a few beers and steak flavored potato chips (or crisps as they are called here):

Rob & Mike having a pint after our drive through the Yorkshire Moors:

Rob at Housesteads Fort along Hadrian's Wall:

Coniston Water in The Lake District:

Can you find Rob? What a tree!:

Rob posing in York:

Mike & Rob on the Red Bus in York:

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