Newcastle and Tynemouth

I recently went to Newcastle to visit family. I’ve been there so many times before, but only ever seen the insides of relatives’ houses. This time I was determined to get out and about, especially now I can walk again after surgery on my feet in February. My mum and I went together on the train and stayed at my auntie’s house. We ate Thai curry then did a pub quiz and came second. It was very different from the pub quizzes I’m used to – there was no one reading out the questions, just a sheet of paper to fill in over an allotted period of time. Our prize was a dubious-looking bottle of wine (7% alcohol!)

The next day Mum and I went to BALTIC, which I loved. I like the fact they have a library there too, and a viewing platform from which you can see the Millennium Bridge, The Sage etc. We had lunch in the cafe and it was great . We had egg and cress sandwiches and fries. The portions were generous and they gave us extra free coffees to apologise for the wait (just brought them over without warning while I was just thinking I could do with another coffee). My favourite exhibition was the Lorna Simpson retrospective incorporating photography, video and film. Her work challenges conventional views of gender, identity, culture etc.

I then found a nice skirt in a charity shop for £1. Ridiculous. Mum had to go meet her sister but I stayed in town and went to the cafe in Waterstones and then the Laing Art Gallery, where there was a lovely watercolour section. I particularly liked the work of Luke Clennell (who was around in the late 18th/early 19th centuries) and was inspired to try out some new techniques in my own painting (I usually use watercolours).

It was an unseasonably cold and rainy day so I hopped from shelter to shelter. I had a look round WH Smith and resisted buying any magazines, even though their selection is much better than the York branch (I still miss Borders…) I browsed in Travelling Man and checked out some comics I might get at a later date, then went to meet an old uni friend at the station. I also bumped into two friends who live in Leeds and we had a chat. I ended up doing a little tour of pubs with my friend and failing to eat dinner, which was a bit silly. But the pubs were good and I had a massive sandwich when I got in.

The following day, my dad came over from York to meet us and we all went for lunch in Tynemouth. It was really nice, and bigger than I remembered from when I last went seven years ago. It was also sunny so it was easier to walk around and explore a bit. Dad drove us home and the sun stayed out all the way to York, which seemed positively balmy in comparison.

There is so much more I’d like to do in Newcastle now that I have more idea of what’s going on there. I will have to go back for a longer period of time at some point. Let me know if you have any suggestions on what to do next time.

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