With: Canny Caroline* (born 1983)
Date: 11 August 2016
Where: Craster to Newton, Northumberland
Caroline is one of my favourites amongst the 20-30 'Couchsurfers' I hosted at Sydner Road. Her open invitation to visit had stood for a few years before I finally had the chance to accept it on my way up the Northumberland coast. Born and raised in Blyth north of Newcastle, Caroline is far too interesting a person to attempt to describe in a few words, so I won't even try. I stayed for two nights in order to spend a whole day with Caroline; that was a Thursday so I think she must have taken the day off work.
*Note: I don't actually call her 'Canny Caroline'. I've titled this post that way to differentiate the walk from the one I had with not-Geordie Caroline.
Caroline asked if I'd rather explore Newcastle or have a walk along the Northumberland coastline. I said I'd rather do whichever she'd enjoy the most. It wasn't an easy decision but in the end we set off quite some distance north in Caroline's car - stopping in Alnwick for takeaway fish and chips - to begin our walk in Craster. Skirting Dunstanburgh castle we walked across the vast beach at Embleton Bay (one of Northumberand's many stunners) to reach the Ship Inn at Low Newton-by-the-Sea, where we stopped for a half pint of ale brewed on the premises, before retracing our steps.
Like me Caroline is a candid conversationalist, and not all the subjects we discussed are appropriate to share here. Amongst those that are, travel is a recurring theme. Unlike me Caroline is an altruistic person who experiences some guilt when she travels without volunteering. She has done several stints of volunteering including in Greece, in Calais and in Burma, where she volunteered at a monastry that provides extremely basic refuge for disabled adults.
We also talked in general terms a bit about some of the older (usually post-care) teenagers Caroline has had living with her over the past few years, and about how she manages her own feelings when they act-out, or move on.
Caroline has a chronic condition called Ehlers Danlos, which means she's in some degree of pain most of the time. During the second half of our walk she told me her quietness indicated she was in pain. I asked if she'd rather I keep rabbiting on, or be quiet. She said the former would be fine, so I did.
On the way home I realised I was extremely hungry, so we began making plans to order an Indian takeaway as soon as we got home, to be washed down with some bottles of beer we'd bought at the Ship.
Thank you Caroline for the stunning walk, for the excellent conversation, and for your generous hospitality. I'm glad I was able to share one of my birthday bottles of Sicilian 'Ribeca' from Jen with you!