A little bank holiday at the start of May, so a little trip to Newcastle, hurrah!
Having travelled up after work on the Friday night we had the whole of Saturday before us. Emerging, after a good rest, late morning from the hotel I sent Heather off to the Metrocentre to shop while I wandered to the Three Bulls Heads to watch the football (which, like Hastings is best left unmentioned). Dreary performance over I then hopped on a train to the Metz myself, joining Heather in wandering around the shops (including the Lego shop 🙂 where minifigs were added to our collection).
After a quick drink in the centre’s Wetherspoons (I miss the Queen Vic…) we took a bus back to Newcastle (Heather completing her collection of passing over the seven bridges with the Redheugh). There was a quick call into the hotel to drop off shopping and then out to dinner. That saw us in one of our favourite Italians, Marco Polo
Sunday was a bit dull and raining so we headed for something indoors, the just up the road from the hotel Discovery Museum (which back when I was a lad was called the Museum of Science and Engineering—I have fond memories of visiting with my mother). These days one is welcomed into the cavernous main hall by Turbinia the world’s first steam turbine driven ship (basically revolutionising ship propulsion). I have a bit of a soft spot for Turbinia, remembering her from my youth when she was very neglected behind what was at the time the Military Vehicle Museum. She’s a very worthy piece to welcome visitors to a science/engineering museum with a local slant.
We paused off looking around to have some lunch in the cafe (stottie sandwiches, yeah!) up on the top floor. Refreshed we made our way through the “science maze”, an eclectic collection of objects from the signal box equipment via steam engines aplenty to the early car. The gravity spiral was fun to watch as a ball accelerated down a spiral track, while next to it was an unusual collection of lightbulbs. It’s a good mix of exciting hands on things aimed at keeping children’s interest and more serious exhibits (mind, when I came round as a kid I was happy just to have exhibits move by pressing a button—not enough buttons now).
A look through a soldier’s life followed (much more displays behind glass and a bit boring really) followed by an exhibit discussing the impacts of immigration on the region (and a chance to miserably fail questions from the citizen’s test—perhaps part of the perceived problem with immigration is that this test blatantly doesn’t ask the right questions to test if someone is integrated into real UK society). We were running out of time after that and so, after another closer look at Turbinia there was just time for the little shop (books, mug, fridge magnets and the like all purchased) before closing time.
We walked up from the Discovery heading for a very traditional venue (at least to geordies who have made the trek to St James’ Park). What we weren’t expecting to find outside The Strawberry was a pink flamingo (or, at least, somebody dressed as one) and a load more inside. A stag party from the west country who were loud and rowdy but fun until they moved onto the next place.
We left the Strawb behind and made our way to another favourite Newcastle watering hole in the Charles Gray. We stayed for a drink though not food, even though their tasty chips are tempting. We found our way down to the quayside in search of food, settling into the Quayside with a nice view of the High Level Bridge out the window while we ate. The only problem with that was having to walk back up the hill!
Leaving luggage in the hotel we headed into what had actually become a bright and sunny Newcastle. We found some breakfast in the Centre for Life’s cafe, overlooked by a model dinosaur. We were running out of time but still made it along the road to the newly restored Black Gate. The Black Gate was originally the medieval barbican to the castle but has since then had a house built on top (and was at a time completely surrounded by slums). The modern wood cladding encased lift running up the outside to make it accessible is an interesting addition. Inside are a number of displays explaining the history of both the castle and surrounds (and I had fun singing along to the local songs I recognised). There are a few too many doors marked private though!
We didn’t have time to explore the keep, though we’ve been before. There was time for another of our favourite pubs though, the adjacent Bridge Hotel, which proffered another pint with a, this time closer, view of the High Level.
There was no time after that though, just enough to collect bags and catch the train home (though on arrival back in London we did take our usual cheeky extension of holiday in the Euston Flyer)
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