Katie Bulmer-Cooke: Illuminations are a sign of winter

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Apologies in advance to all the summer lovers, but there is no escaping the fact that winter is well and truly on its way.

It’s not just the obvious temperature change that gives it away, it’s seeing the illuminations along the seafront!

I can’t wait to go along this week and have a stroll around Roker Park to see the full exhibition in all its illuminated glory.

It seems that the illuminations are going from strength to strength, year on year, and that the event is so popular that there needs to be a level of crowd control in place in the form of an online advance booking system.

Credit to the organisers for putting on such a fantastic family event which is clearly drawing in the crowds from Sunderland and surrounding areas.

I always have very fond memories of attending the illuminations as a little girl, wrapping up warm and heading out to the seafront in the hope of spending my pocket money on a spinning toy that lights up and getting a tray of hot chips - and being able to do the same thing with my little girl is very special.

Speaking of memories, this week I posted a video on my Facebook page that I took of my grandad recounting some of his stories from the time he served in the Korean War.

The video got an incredible response, with so many lovely and heart-warming comments.

Now 83, my grandad was only 18 when he joined the army, and the stories he has to tell of his time in the war range from humorous to horrendous and everything in between.

Many of the stories I filmed I have heard several times before, but I could listen to them another 100 times and never get tired of hearing them.

Listening to my grandad, and reading everyone’s comments on Facebook, really reminded me that it doesn’t matter how interesting someone thinks they are - they have nothing on my grandad and others of his generation.

It may well sound like a cliche, but my generation really don’t realise how lucky we are, and how much easier life is for us compared to how it was for our elders.

Despite growing up in a world that could never have imagined there would be such a thing as social media, I was thrilled when my mam told me grandad had been on her Facebook page this week, read all the comments and was over the moon with everyone’s kind words.

He really is my hero and a total legend!