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Originally posted October 31 2010 at 11:10 (which was Halloween) under General and Friends and Moments. Comments Disabled. Trackbacks Disabled. Last modified: 31 October 2010 at 18:56

(Went) Oop North

I always seem to say it takes me ages to write about anything but, well, it has taken me ages. Anyway, a couple of other things are jogging around my mind so need to get this out into the old memory collection. Went up north a few weeks about two month(!) ago for a bit of a break back in the homeland. All the tasty details and pics follow, in no particular order.

Farewell To An Icon

Photo of half demolished car park

The car park almost exactly half gone. View large

So after all the years of talking and delays and promises Tesco have finally been allowed to start pulling down one of the great icons of the town. The drive to do so really has been going on for years—my huge car park post, detailing why I believed it worth saving, was written three years ago. It was almost exactly half down when we were there, looking untouched from some angles`and nought but rubble from others. I still think that its loss is a great shame and certainly unlikely to be matched by what is intended for its place (and for a laugh try reading the bollocks about bell mine shafts influencing the design).

A photo across the wasteland

A wildlife meadow? Or just wasteland? From a photo by hartman045

At least that is something in its place, whatever its (many) failings be (perhaps at some point I’ll post a longer opinion piece on that). Given Gateshead’s track record of removal without any clear plan or replacement that at least must be seen as a positive. Or perhaps, for example, the barren waste land which has replaced this old cinema really is, as Jan and I decided the marketing department might declare it, Gateshead Urban Wildlife Meadow.

Other Icons

Photo of the second half kickoff

Kicking off the second half against Aston Villa

Of course being in the north east gave the opportunity to take in another great landmark, St James’s Park, where I had the pleasure of watching the lads trounce Aston Villa six-nil (after a shakey start) in our opening home game. If only the rest of the season could be that good!

Long City Walk

Photo of a duckling on Leazes Park lake

Late season duckling

Catching up with remembered towns and cities seemed to be something of a theme as Jan and I took an impromptu, quite long walk around Newcastle. We started off wandering towards Leazes Park (managing to miss the Trent House somehow—does it still exist? The last Beer In The Evening review is from 2008). In the park, amoung the fishers and strollers, it was nice to see some late season ducklings swimming around with their parents.

We carried on up past the moor—where Jan was surprised to see actual cows (which gave me the chance to relate the Castle Leazes legend that some enterprising students once got one in the lift). One pub definitely sadly now seemingly gone is the Belle Grove, which actually does have something of a historical significance (random personal memory: Watching the last game of the season there the year Newcastle threw away the league. Sad to see that unlike my day the student population haven’t kept it going. I did manage to navigate us to one old haunt though; The North Terrace certainly still seemed to have a studenty feel but as there were no students around at the time this meant it was so empty it took the barmaid a while to even notice our custom and we couldn’t help but wonder why they had bothered to open.

More Walking

Photo of countryside around Hollinside Manor

The view out across the countryside. View large

From the cityscape to countryside as Jan and I headed for a stroll along the Derwent Walk, not really knowing how far we were heading. In the end we wandered up to Hollinside Manor, an old (probably thirteenth century) ruin offering wonderful views across the countryside. From there we wandered in a bit of a circle round the old coke works to a deserved pint in Winlaton Mill’s Golden Lion. We even had enough energy to walk back to Jan’s mam’s!


Photo of GIbside monument

Liberty atop her column at Gibside. View large

Had we kept wandering along the Derwent Walk, we would have eventually found ourselves next to Gibside. Strangely, having grown up so close to it, I’d never been to visit Gibside before. I’m glad we hopped on a bus there though. It’s tranquil, and pretty, and it was certainly fun to wander round without a map, emerging from being confused in the woods to be suddenly standing beneath the central monument. From there we could work out our way back round down the hill, past the sacred lake to head back down the avenue to a refreshing ginger beer (with actual alcohol).

Coastal Walk

Wandering around was certainly something of a theme. As well as Newcastle, around the Derwent Walk and Gibside we also gave the coast a shot, taking a walk from North Shields to Tynemouth. It’s hard to claim that North Shields offered that much of interest to be honest (apart from the pub where the landlord seemed quite incapable of getting any of the pumps to dispense beer), but the stretch between there and the much more familiar realms of priory and castle I hadn’t been along in years.

Duck Race

Photo of plastic ducks racing

The ducks race towards the Millennium Bridge. View large

Speaking of water, something I’d heard about but never seen, a duck race! Not real ducks of course, but 5000 (pink) plastic ducks. Released into the middle of the Tyne by the Baltic we watched as they (somewhat confusingly due to the tide) raced their way to the finish line beyond the Millennium Bridge. Possibly the most amusing part was watching the organisers attempting to catch all the floating ducks which managed to break free. I like to think that our duck, 1101, was leading the little enclove we later spotted sheltered in the piers at the base of the High Level Bridge. Gone a couple of days later it’s nice to think of them floating around the waters of England, spreading the word to other plastic ducks of all colours.

Home Time

Quite a bit to fit into the couple of weeks really, given we did the whole seeing family bit as well. Still, home again home again, to promptly write a little post for the blog…

Photos: Toon v Villa | Duck Race | Hollinside Manor | Gibside


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

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