I have been to Newcastle UponTyne a few times before, and had enjoyed memories of meeting warm and friendly people and a City scape that I liked very much. I should declare that my mother is a proud Geordie having been born and bred in Felling and Gateshead. Indeed the only time that she was not in Newcastle was when she was evacuated to Cumbria during the Second World War, when Mr Hitler decided to disrupt the world order, by sending 11 year old girls away from their parents for 4 years. However, my mother survived the experience of being an evacuee and it left her with a fondness for the Lake District that she has enjoyed to this day.

The Malmaison hotel is located literally on the banks of the Tyne, and we enjoyed a rather lovely view of the Millenium bridge, located in the heart of the very swanky Quayside district of the City. Once the bustling centre for world commerce, today it enjoys a rather less industrious role as the home of smart apartments, designer flats, chic hotels, and comfy bars and restaurants. Newcastle has like many of the Northern Cities redesigned itself following the need to envelop new economies. Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Bradford, they have all over the last few decades adjusted to life beyond the mines, mills and forges that were the life blood of the Industrial revolution. Neccessity is the mother of Invention, or so they say, and Newcastle has done just that. As have the local Bus Companies.

Several years ago I attended an excellent Bus conference, organised by the late great Peter Huntley, the one time MD of Go Ahead North East. We were given a guided tour of the bus operations at the Metro centre, and highly impressive it was too. So, some ten years on as I travelled around Newcastle and Sunderland I was really impressed at the bright, innovative, and witty liveries that I observed. This included a speacial Black Cats red and white stripped livery in Sunderland in homage of the legend that is Sunderland FC. Interestingly, on the Saturday the Toon was full of lads sporting their Newcastle United football shirts prior to playing a crucial relegation game at St James Park.

Football passion has a unique place in the North East, always has, always will. It is pride that is manifest when you visit the place. What is also unique is the warmth of the people, all those we met were genuinely open , welcoming and friendly. It must be something in the air, or maybe in the Tyne, I do not know. The Geordie accent is also a potential challenge to the initiated, Ant and Dec, Alan Shearer, and of course Michael from the Alan Partridge years gives the non Geordie a flavour of the accent, but to be honest I always found it quite lyrical and compared to many, pleasing on the ear.

One place that we stopped at was a cat cafe called very wittily I thought Mogs On The Tyne, in tribute to the classic ditty Fog On The Tyne (I think that I have got a copy of Gazza’s classic single that he made in the nineties with his mate Jimmy Six Bellies somewhere rolling around in a cupboard). The premise is simple you pay a fiver pop in and play with domestic cats while drinking coffee. Ironically right next door is a dog cafe called Dog And Scone, so of course we did the decent thing and popped in to pamper a pooch over a Yorkshire tea and a Cappachino. Living life on the edge clearly but have to say enormous fun.

So, in conclusion if you have not visited the North East make the effort, it is a good place with friendly people and close by are the delights of Northumbria, Hadrian’s Wall, and of course Durham with its history and relaxed pace of life. Loads to do, see, visit and enjoy, and you never know you might just pick up a little bit of Geordie on the way. Haway Pet….

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