Saturday, 4 August 2012

Day 37 begins


Day 37 begins

Waking up under the watchful eyes of the Angel of the north was a rare and unique gift. Antony Gormley's 200 tonne statue was an impressive guardian here on the southern edge of Gateshead Tyne and Wear. Standing over the A1 looking south it is supposed to be a tribute to the 200 years of mining in the area and all those men that died in the industry during that time. Also it is regarded as the largest angle statue anywhere in the world, being 20 metres tall and with a wingspan of 57 metres it is almost as wide as a Jumbo jet. The base was constructed here beginning in 1997 and the Angel was built locally at Hartlepool Steel Fabrications Ltd, on Teeside. The transportation was by lorry and it came in several pieces before being lifted onto the support concrete base set into the ground, finally being put in place in February 1998. It must have been as impressive to see it being put together as it is now just standing silently here, as the guardian of the North of England. Antony Gormley its creator, has recently been given the keys of the city for his works' importance on the local area. It brings many tourists each year and is reportedly visited or seen by some 33 million people each year. Goodness knows how they counted that....!!
Well I sat and created a few works of my own to give thanks and raise a tribute to the Angels protectiveness to me over the night. I watched as so many people came to paw over its steel feet and take picture after picture of the massive creations stature. What they felt as they looked at it, I cannot imagine, as often they raced in and out again without so much as a backward glance. For if they had looked again they may have seen the Angel smiling down on them with bewonderment at the haste they showed, to spending a moment of quiet reflection. But then again not everyone has the time available that I do at this present time.

I was keen to see what else Gateshead had to offer me by way of wonderful sights and or interesting scenery. To be honest the place was a bit flat and dissapointing and nothing really caught my eye until I was leaving to cross the Tyne into Newcastle.
One man came to save the day, as he washed windows on the main road in. Dave Pickton from Aqua Clean windows was a man who wanted to know who this stranger was who walked the line through his hometown. We chatted for a while and he lifted my mood as we talked. I mean that so far the people of the area had done little or nothing to share anything with me let alone a smile. He stopped his washing to ask all about Imagine and my aims for the route ahead. I got a good feeling from him about the people of the area, despite all that I had felt earlier. Maybe it was me and I was off form today, or preoccupied with something. Anyway I hadn't made contact with Ian as of yet and set myself up to walk to Newcastle and see the Millenium bridge and the swing bridge and the great and impressive streets of their town center. Dave wished me well and we shook hand as I thanked him for a nice boost to my spirits.
Sure enough, the rest of the walk was not impressing my sense of wonderment, and the streets wizzed by quickly as I approached the Tyne river and crossed over into Newcastle. 

Looking back, still nothing to grab my attention, so I walked on hoping for more inspiration on the north side of the quasi/duo city. It is a bit of an oddity really, if this were London for example it would be all one city. Here Newcastle/Gateshead shared many things, (which is very good) in a kind of compatriotism for the sake of generosity and benevolence, and it was almost one place but for the river divide. Certainly Newcastle was the richer neighbour it would appear, the buildings were grander and more impressive. I don't mean to put Gateshead down at all, but it didn't do it for me.
I walked into the Cathedral here and then the streets of the old quarters. I had need of a Nero's and made my way to the nearest branch to use the internet.
Amazingly Ian had been in touch and said he would meet me for a while later in the afternoon. I sat and typed and then a guy walked up to me who I recognised but didn't know. Suddenly it dawned on me that it was Ian, a very much leaner version of my old pal from Nerja, Spain. I had to look twice, as Ian had been working out and eating far more healthily and was half the man, but twice the person I remembered. It was good to catch up after what, more than 10 years? He was working here again and is originally from the Newcastle/Gateshead area. He is one of those incredible people who knows something special about computers and programming and all that techno wizzardry, much like Aaron who is my web builder. In no time at all we were reminiscing and learning new things about one another and the day seemed to fly by. Unfortunately Ian was engaged this evening but he very kindly shared a great deal of his time with me and even escorted me to the coast as in his view not much would be missed of the housing tracts towards Tynemouth. I took his local knowledge as a sign of his desire to spare me some boredom, but wondered if I wasn't just cheating a bit. He showed me the sights of Newcastle in a drive by fashion and told me all about the history of Mr Stevensons rail inventing workshop where he invented steam engines and a bridge and many more wonderful works of engineering superiority. By the time we got to Tynemouth it was late evening and the sun was still warm in the sky. The beaches here were covey and often sandy and I was impressed to smell the sea air again. Like I said before, I don't worry too much over details like miles as I soon make up for it by walking around a place, as it is far more important to concentrate on the people I meet, and their stories. 

Ian and I said our farewells and I set out to see a little of Tynemouth rather than go north tonight. It had been great to see him and renew our old friendship, sadly his father had passed away and that was a shame.
It was a busy Friday night here and people were all over the streets as the sun was making the drinking outside possible for a change. A few guys were outside the Turks Head public house and I wondered if I would get drunken people casting eroneous statements as a sport. I asked a few of them if they knew of a chip shop that was still open, the one nearby had just closed and the smell of the fish and chips was enticing me. Rather than comments I found Scott and Rob who were rather more mature revelers and they engaged with me instantly. They then introduced me to Grant and George and I was invited to go into the pub with them for a nightcap. I said that I would not fit into a crowded room with my pack on but they just forced a pathway for me. I set my bag down under the bench at the side and began a lovely hour chatting with them all. What a lovely bunch of guys and what good manners from all of them. They made a weary traveler feel very much better and accommodated by the locals. Their conversation was informative and helped to boost my spirits again. They helped with my fund raising and supplied me with cool refreshments. Another random man came by and donated everything in his pocket, so thank you Dan. 

I learned the story about the old sheep dog who had died on the banks of the Tyne waiting for its master. See little story and picture of the actual dog that had been stuffed and was now cased and telling the story still.

Grant was in the merchant navy, Rob and Scott were Chefs and I am not sure what George did, but they really made my evening special so a huge thank you to the lads of Tynemouth and the Turks Head. Rob and Scott escorted me to the bay area where I found a nice spot beneath the castle to rest for the night. People may say its not right just to rough camp anywhere I like, but bear in mind that I don't often get a lot of choice and I will always be clean and tidy the area when I leave so as to leave no ill feeling to my having been there. The lads gave me a huge load of encouragement for my journey as they set off to finish their night out.
The ground was flat for a change and recently mowed so no problems checking for sharp objects that could cause ingress of water through the base of the tent. I had a quick look out to sea from the harbour entrance here, at the mouth of the Tyne river and surveyed the landscape to be familiar with it in the dark, though a few street lights illuminated the pathways here, and I esconced in the shadows.

Back in the tent, teeth brushed, sleep overwhelmed me though walking had only been a part of the days activities.

Day 37 came to and end.

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