Today’s task has been to visit every station on the Metro Coastal Loop, which starts and ends in Central Newcastle and goes all the way out to North Shields and the glorious Witney Bay. There are around 30 stops on this section of the system and we explored every single one. Hurrah! It was, however, a fairly perilous journey. Every time we got off at a station, we ended up skating around on glass-like ice. I fell over twice; once rather spectacularly at Wallsend, on our way back from Hadrian’s Wall.
It was a fabulous day; bracing, but the sun shone throughout, and the sky was a deep cornflower blue. Highlights have to include eating chips in beautiful Tynemouth, the art deco windows in Monkseaton glowing magically in the late afternoon sunshine, and standing knee deep in untouched snow at the top of a multi-storey car park at Northumberland Park. Alistair was a great companion throughout the day and we’ve found some wonderfully quirky little corners, which will work fabulously on screen.
Visiting Byker was a particular thrill, although I was very disappointed not to see Spuggy sitting on the platform. I was also disappointed to learn that the building featured as the grove in Byker Grove, was actually nowhere near Byker itself. To make matters worse it’s recently been bought by an Islamic group and earned itself the new nickname, "Burka Grove."
I’ve just met a Northumbrian piper who is going to be taking part in our film. He played a few airs and jigs and almost broke my heart. What stunningly beautiful and delicate instruments Northumbrian Pipes are. I'm so excited at the prospect of writing something for him.
Speaking of Northumberland, we’re off now into the wilds of that particular county to listen to a former colliery brass band in Morpeth. They've also expressed an interest in being involved in our film and I can’t wait to hear them. It will be nice to take a little trip up the A1 as well. It’s been a while since I’ve been on the single carriageway stretch of my favourite road. As you'll no doubt have sensed; I feel incredibly lucky today and extremely happy.
Saturday 8th December 1660 and Pepys went to dinner with his wife and Mr Pierce the surgeon to Mr Pierce the purser’s house. Family fortunes again! It was his first visit to this particular residence and Pepys was impressed, describing Pierce as living “plentifully and finely”. They ate a lovely chine of beef, whatever a chine of beef is, and Pierce’s daughter played the virginal. Pepys returned home by lantern and went to bed with his head spinning as a result of too much alcohol. He also had a rather chronic case of flatulence, which isn’t an image I particularly want to maintain in my mind. Poor Elizabeth!