I had my best weekend away last week in the North East in party city that is Newcastle. So many little things made these few days in Newcastle and Gateshead so special. With restrictions easing from Monday 17 May, it was an opportunity for a bit of freedom and pure escapism. I met up with some great friends that I had not seen in ages. People all around were welcoming, helpful, smiling, chatty and just being human and nice to this southern lad. It was wonderful to see young people out queuing for bars and restaurants looking so happy and gay. It was definitely a time to celebrate a major milestone of new freedoms. And it was good to see life returning to a level of normality that at one stage looked like we may never see it again.
On the way to party city
The 8. 30am train from Kings Cross was really busy so I went to my allocated seat but lots of people were sitting socially distanced in nearby seats. This was a big problem for me as I am medically exempt from wearing a mask and needed to be in a coach away from other people. I spoke with an exceptionally nice young man from customer services and he moved me to a much quieter carriage. He was understanding and keen to help. He had a brilliant attitude, saying “customer services were all about passengers and without them he was out of a job”. A real ambassador for LNER.
Across the river, looking at party city
I enjoyed my scenic walking route to the hotel on the Gateshead quayside close to the Baltic. The shops pubs and restaurants were all busy and everywhere signs of life and vitality were evident. The scenes reminded me of pre- lockdown days. Crossing the Millennium bridge and looking up river at the many bridges and sights this time with a strong breeze to assist me was exciting. Despite checking early into my hotel, they found me a room and the warm local accents were so friendly genuine and welcoming
Not being a local, on entering Gateshead interchange it was confusing as to where to go for the metro. But quick as a flash a young local woman pushing a pram on the elevated section towards the shops said “Mister if you are looking for the metro it’s straight on.” Before I could say thank you, she was off in the distance. I was temporarily stunned by her observation and kindness and these few words set me up for the entire weekend.
My trip out to Tynemouth was full of interesting sights on the way but on arrival, a howling wind and heavy rain greeted me. Nothing daunted I got into the car with my lovely lunch date as walking to the sea would not have been fun. However, the amazing sights and sounds make up for the rain and the tour of the area was so enjoyable. It was even fun being blown back into the beach restaurant because of the wind and sand in our faces. We visited another mutual friend afterwards and was able to introduce the two of them physically for the first time. This pandemic has not been kind and has made meeting friends impossible.
On day two I took the metro to Seaburn and walked to the seafront in Sunderland. Sitting by a bench watching and listening to the sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks was therapeutic. I certainly didn’t miss the sound of traffic, sirens or just the buzz of London life. A local friend joined me and we walked almost 12 kilometres by the sea towards South Shields. We absorbed the fresh air and goodness from the North Sea.
Eurovision in party city
On Saturday we became like tourists in a foreign city and did the bus tour of the toon. We laughed so much and the craic was mighty indeed. This all prepared us for our mini Eurovision party in the evening.
We ate a gorgeous pub meal, the drinks consumption commenced in earnest and the pub staff turned on the TV to Eurovision. We as a group never laughed so much and had so much fun. It was great to unwind and to laugh in person with our friends. Our group was a bit noisy and excitable. It was especially lovely for my Italian friend who was out with us as her country won!
The last year has been tough and depressing to put it mildly. We needed this mini party in what is known as ‘party city.’ Life is all about living and we lived a years’ worth in a day and a night in the famous Toon.
Memories of constant laughing and sheer fun will resonate for a long while. We got a vaccine full of energy and of renewed zest for life, whilst staying safe in party city.