I have always liked the Northumbrian Pipes and felt I couldn’t travel to the area without listening to some of the traditional music of the area, and looking on the internet to see what might be available, guess what, the annual concert of the society was due to be held in Gateshead. I phoned to book a ticket and see where I might be able to park nearby. They had a carpark at the venue but it was only small, though there was a coach park quite nearby. I know how councils feel about folk other than coaches in the prescribed bays, so emailed them to ask for suggestions as to where to park in order to be able to attend the concert.
There was some consternation at the council offices, and now I have travelled through central Gateshead I can see why, but in the end having checked that no coaches were booked in for the time I wanted to be there they decided that it would be permissible for me to park, so off to Gateshead we set
Now you remember I had seen Gateshead in the distance the day I got lost earlier and turned round headed back away as soon as I could, but this time I had to do the deed and get right in the centre of the city right next to the Sage
I decided it would need to be an extra early morning start, but I have to say that Gateshead is one of those places that never sleeps. Although we were exceptionally early the traffic, although not heavy was constant and swift. By now I have been up the M6 and though Spaghetti Junction a few times, but Gateshead is something else. But we survived and arrived at the deserted coach park just as the light was breaking.
Now you know I have almost no knowledge of geography. Well in the dark I passed over a river on a very large bridge, and it just did cross my mind that perhaps it was the Tyne and that it was the Tyne Bridge I had gone over and guess what, it was! and to increase my knowledge even further I then discovered that Newcastle on Tyne was one side of the river and Gateshead the other, rather like Windsor and Eton, but a bit more industrial !!!
So there we were, good and early for our evening concert, and it proved lucky when later that evening Newcastle were playing at home and the match was delayed for an hour causing the city to come to a complete standstill.
But back to the morning. I had checked the times the Millennium Bridge opened and so was there in plenty of time. It really is a spectacular bridge.
Before it is due to open all the pedestrian and cyclists are cleared off, and then totally silently and imperceptibly the bridge begins to move in order to allow shipping to travel up or down the river. A beautiful design, perfectly executed and fitting so harmoniously in its surroundings
Having watched it I was then able to cross over, and decided to follow the river bank, mainly to see actually how many bridges there are. When I first saw how many there were I wondered why they needed to keep building new ones, and not just use what they had, but my short journey up the river bank made it obvious that each and every one of them is used to full capacity. Six bridges in total and the tunnel further up the way. As I say Gateshead and Newcastle are a bit of a traffic nightmare.
As I travelled along the bank with strollers strolling, cyclists whizzing, and fishermen with multiple lines fishing I thought what a lovely place it is. So vibrant and full of life, then there was music blasting out from a huge bank of speakers and some sort of installation. It went on for a terrific length and I couldn’t resist following it to the end - though when I got there it was only the end as in that was as far as they had got in constructing it. Apparently there was to be a sponsored race the next day and this was part of the route. The idea being the runners would be encouraged by the music and giant arches. Just for fun I ‘raced' down through it on Super Scooter, and here is a little clip
On my way back I stopped in at Sage Gateshead a wonderful arts centre. Having had a mooch round the stunning interior I stopped for some lunch which I ate accompanied by various live music acts, then listened in to a drop-in training session for young folk musicians conducted by skilful, young and enthusiastic French lady. As I say a vibrant and thriving community on both sides of the Tyne