Sunday, 17 April 2016

Skipping the Light Fandango at The Mended Drum

I've been a bit quiet on the blogging front recently.  In March, I was kept busy with helping to run various training courses in Birmingham, Worcester and York.  In Birmingham, I spent half a day at The Beeches in Bournville - a lovely venue built by the Cadbury family in the early 1900s, only half a mile from Cadbury World. In Worcester, I spent a day at The Fownes Hotel (a converted Victorian glove factory) and, between these courses in Birmingham and Worcester, I was sequestered for a week at the former Victorian mansion that is now the Burn Hall Hotel near the village of Huby, ten miles outside York.  The staff at the Burn Hall Hotel were amazingly helpful (especially the ever-resourceful and cheerful Operations Manager, Leo.)

I was helping with a training course for the Tees, Esk and Wea Valleys NHS Foundation Trust who claim to cover a catchment area the size of Holland.  Their patch seemed, to me, to equate roughly with the old Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. Taking an evening walk to the village pub, with deer in the fields and kestrels flying overhead, it was easy to imagine I had travelled back in time to Anglo-Saxon Northumbria, and I was quite prepared for a skirmish with a few Vikings on my way to the nearest pub.  Fortunately, all I had to do was dodge the passing traffic and get out of the way of a few lumbering tractors before taking sanctuary at The Mended Drum (apparently a reference to  a hostelry in Terry Pratchett's Discworld.)

The owner of The Mended Drum has impeccable taste in music (1970s singer-songwriters) and a great choice of real ale. Me being a fan of beer and Procol Harum, I tried a pint or two of something called Whiter Shade of Pale which, thankfully, didn't cause me to skip the light fandango or to turn cartwheels cross the floor ... but it was very nice!

We only made it into York city centre once.  My favourite Mexican restaurant in York - Fiesta Latina - was still closed due to the recent floods, but we had a lovely vegetarian meal at a very hospitable place called the Go Down Restaurant (also in Clifford Street).

Returning home after all this training and travelling - a veritable passenger in time - I was pleased to find Wight Diamond Press had sent me a couple of books to review (including Felicity Fair Thompson's latest novel Hold Tight.)  And then yesterday I received the latest issue of Songlines  magazine (including a couple of CD reviews by yours truly) and a copy of The Persephone Biannually, including - in the section Our Bloggers Write - a snippet from this very blog's review of RC Sherriff's Greengates.  All of which makes me feel Passengers in Time is really connecting with the world of music and books ... as indeed it should.


  1. My partner Chris and I are fans of Northumberland's quiet beaches and beautiful countryside. On our last visit to Bamburgh we watched a production of Twelth Night in the castle. It was a chilly evening and we sat bundled in lots of layers of clothing but it didn't detract from our enjoyment of the production. We hope to make another visit later this year and after a run with the dogs on the beach we will be heading straight to Alnwick and Barter Books to while away a few happy hours with a selection of reading material and a cup of tea. Nice blog, Tony.

  2. Hi Linda. I imagine 'Twelfth Night' at Bamburgh Castle must have been very atmospheric. I hope you have a great time on your next visit to Northumberland. Best regards, Tony


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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, a freelance writer, trainer and musician. He is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing' (2002) and 'Creativity, Wellbeing and Mental Health Practice' (2018).