Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Geordie Riviera Gives Brief Respite from This Wretched Winter; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Geordie Riviera Gives Brief Respite from This Wretched Winter; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Gutteridge

ON Saturday, I read Jo a news report which claimed Tynemouth not only boasted one of the 10 best beaches in Britain but was also at that very moment the warmest place in England at 2C.

"See," I said. "Who needs California when we've got the Geordie Shore Riviera?" The flying hot-water bottle missed my head by millimetres.

We were supposed to be coming back this weekend from a month in Laguna Beach. Sadly, Jo's slipped disc had other ideas, so instead we've been hunkered down in our ancient farmhouse with its four-foot-thick walls and enormous fireplaces, pretending we live in a nice snug medieval castle.

Jo, wrapped in layers of blankets and with a woolly hat permanently welded to her head, has been spending the days emailing me with links to properties for sale in California.

She attaches the weather forecast to each one: Avocado Farm in Santa Rosa Valley - today's weather 76deg and sunny, our farm in the Wansbeck Valley - 32deg and sheets of sleet, or I think that's what she meant to write. At least she can't complain that life here in Northumberland has been dull.

Boots, the new puppy, keeps everyone endlessly entertained. On Friday night he wandered into the sitting room doing a credible impersonation of the Elephant Man: face and nose twice its normal size, eyes swollen shut.

He was twitching, scratching and turning in circles. We thought he was dying. Luckily our lovely next-door neighbour is a vet.

"Unusual," he said. "Dramatic, even. Absolutely fascinating."

Jo was having palpitations with fear, I was frantically looking up the number of emergency animal hospitals.

Meanwhile Dick, our evercalm neighbour-vet saw our elephant puppy as a medical curiosity. "Very weird," he mused, then, realising Jo was beginning to get hysterical, he said: "It's just an allergy, nothing to worry about."

Dick reckoned Boots had inhaled something strange. We peered out through the sleet to the garden to spot the source of the problem.

Nothing at all was growing and even the snowdrops had shrunk back into hibernation. …

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