Drifting under your window

It was only recently that I became aware of the connection between Philip Larkin and Haydon Bridge, the next town along the Tyne, west of Hexham.  For some reason I take some delight in his shared knowledge of the area.  Since the by-pass was built a few years back, the town has returned to the pace of life which Larkin would have remembered. The second set of patio doors, overlooking the Tyne, is the back of 1A Ratcliffe Road:

Writer Philip Larkin and Monica Jones, his companion of 40 years, shared this secret love nest from 1961 to 1984.

“I thought your little house seemed … distinguished and exciting and beautiful … it looks splendid, and it can never be ordinary with the Tyne going by outside … a great English river drifting under your window, brown and muscled with currents!”

Philip Larkin April 1962

Drifting under your window ...

On this bright, frosty, December day, the Tyne was anything but brown and muscled – a sleeping giant. This is almost, but not quite, the view from the back of 1A Ratcliffe Road:

Almost but not quite ...

According to Wiki: “One of his better-known later poems Show Saturday is dedicated to the 1973 Bellingham Show, which they attended. They also went to the tar barrel ceremony in Allendale, and dined at Blanchland. It was a record of Tommy Armstrong’s Trimdon Grange Explosion which Larkin heard at the cottage that prompted him to write his own late poem The Explosion.”

Along the Tyne ...
Along the Tyne ...

“I am always trying to ‘preserve’ things by getting other people to read what I have written, and feel what I felt.” – Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica

Like many of us.



  1. easyweimaraner · December 5, 2014

    many thanks for sharing the song. I’ve got goosebumps while listen. it’s wonderful.

  2. LaVagabonde · December 5, 2014

    Beautiful song words photos. Like many of us indeed.

    • northumbrianlight · December 5, 2014

      Many thanks Julie, New Year is quite strange at Allendale – reminiscent of The Wicker Man if you know the film – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wicker_Man_%281973_film%29

      • LaVagabonde · December 6, 2014

        Oh dear. I know both of the films. So, I take it you don’t join in the, uh, festivities? 😱

      • northumbrianlight · December 6, 2014

        I have to be careful here – I have a few silent followers in Allendale 🙊 They are all grand, just don’t forget the string of garlic 😱😋

  3. 2far2shout · December 6, 2014

    Splendid post, wonderful pictures and a beautiful song…perfect!

    • northumbrianlight · December 6, 2014

      Many thanks for your generous comments – of course the real stars are Larkin and the Unthanks, not me 🙂

  4. socialbridge · December 6, 2014

    Such a perfect post for a Philip Larkin fan. Thanks very much.

    • northumbrianlight · December 6, 2014

      A Larkin fan as well – I am in very good company. Many thanks for your consistently kind comments.

      • socialbridge · December 7, 2014

        You’re more than welcome and yes a true Larkin fan. His collections surround me as I write this!

      • northumbrianlight · December 7, 2014

        So civilised – I imagine you with a peat fire, a tumbler of Jameson’s and “snow falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves.” Please don’t shatter my romantic illusions 🙂

  5. la_lasciata · December 6, 2014

    A VERY English post ! 🙂
    That makes it particularly enjoyable for an Aussie who was raised on all things pommy.
    Excellent images – just lovely! – as well.

    • northumbrianlight · December 6, 2014

      Many thanks, I hadn’t thought of that but I guess it is very English – sounds like you had a very rounded education. Good to hear from you.

      • la_lasciata · December 6, 2014

        In the late ’40s and ’50s, Oz was totally English-centric when it was being Oz-centric. 🙂

  6. travelingmind2anywhere · December 7, 2014


  7. Beauty Along the Road · December 8, 2014

    romantic river pics…

  8. Thom Hickey · December 8, 2014

    Brilliant photographs. Larkin – fine poet and strange cove! Regards Thom

    • northumbrianlight · December 9, 2014

      Thanks Thom – a very strange cove indeed, compensated by very fine words

  9. joshi daniel · December 10, 2014

    colorful beauty 🙂

    • northumbrianlight · December 10, 2014

      Many thanks Joshi – all down to the glorious sensor on the Fuji X100s – these as they were straight from the camera.

  10. restlessjo · December 11, 2014

    As I often do, I’m working backwards through your posts, Robin. What a contrast between 1 and 3 🙂 I’m not familiar with Larkin but I love that first quote, and your photos are beautiful. Would that it was always thus 🙂

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