The weather being at last a bit more reliable, I decided to take a stroll around the small villages which lie around Newcastle Airport. After rather a nightmare walk along a surprisingly busy minor road leading northwards, cars zipping past me at tremendous speeds, I came to a little country lane leading to Dinnington Village. Why does everyone drive so fast along country roads? I even had some prick who flashed his lights at me as he bore down at about 80 mph in his 4x4, as though I had no right to be a pedestrian, encroaching on "his" domain.
But soon my spirits were restored by the leafy lanes, resplendent with wild flowers and venerable old trees. This part of Northumberland is flat, broad, rich agricultural land under big skies - it lifts the spirits.
As I entered Dinnington village I immediately came across the White Swan, a large sprawling building advertising good food and real ales. Nothing could have been more welcome so in I went with great alacrity. They had Black Sheep Bitter and Ruddles County on tap and I ordered a pint of Black Sheep, one of my favourite brews. After some kerfuffle, I received the answer I have grown accustomed to in my ale-wanderings.
"I'm sorry, that one's not on today".
Never mind, I tried the Ruddles County, which turned out to be a dark, fruity old-fashioned type of beer with a good head. It was none too clear, but that's the way of it with real ales. It's a mistake to think that a rather cloudy beer is undrinkable. In fact, I have read that many years ago, most real ales were a bit opaque. It was a good pint, though rather expensive for my part of the world at £2.60p. Glancing around, I could see that this was one of the "gastro-pubs" that have become a feature of the modern drinker's world. There were menus everywhere (quite pricey for bar fare) and the bar was a tiny enclave compared to the "restaurant" section. As a simple drinker, I felt a bit out of place, especially as the loaded question "Anything else?" was asked so pointedly when I ordered my ale.
A nice enough place, the White Swan, but not exactly my idea of a pub. I decided to push on and see if the village had anything else to offer.