Newcastle – visiting family August 2019

As I get older I appreciate everything that my mum did for us all as we grew up – much that I took for granted at the time!  I don’t always take photographs when I go up north but this time I’ve included some from my sister who went up a few days earlier as she took some beautiful photographs of my mum and Pete who we’re very lucky to have in the family.  He takes very special care of my mum and has brought much love to us all  – thanks Pete!

A lovely photograph of Isabelle my niece, my sister Catherine and my mum and Pete on an afternoon trip to Bradley Gardens, Wylam – somewhere I will definitely have to visit next time I’m up north.

Bradley Gardens is described on the website as being “a hidden gem situated on the edge of the Tyne Valley.  Just 9 miles from the heart of  Newcastle, this tranquil 18th century walled garden has now been brought back to its former glory and is continuing to grow and flourish.”  Northumberland and the surrounding area offers so many choices for a day out – I really miss that down in Cambridge where there doesn’t seem as many options . . . though that’s probably me being nostalgic for what I still consider ‘home.’ 

I really missed out here . . . look at Pete’s pudding – that looks so delicious.  Here they went to The White Swan in Dinnington – quite close to where we grew up and another place that looks like a great place to visit and more importantly a lovely photograph of Pete and Mum!

Adrianos on Gosforth High Street – a great Italian restaurant . . . I am really missing out – thanks to Matt for taking the photograph – left to right there’s my nephew and niece Elliott and Imogen; then my sister-in-law Mel and on the other side of the table is my sister’s daughter Isabelle; Catherine; Mum and Pete! It’s not often that we get the chance to get everyone together and a photo of the occasion is a bonus.

Imogen is only six months older than Mila so it’s great when they get the chance to be together . . . though unfortunately we again missed out as we didn’t manage to come up till the next day – poor us!

More opportunities to catch up with family here’s my brother Matt and his son Elliott in The County on Gosforth High Street.

Ahh – finally after an early start we arrive in Jesmond where Isabelle, who is studying here, has great student digs . . . but first it’s time to get something to eat and what could be better than a local cafe called Cake Stories – coffee house and cakery! They have a great menu – not only cakes – though cakes for ‘afters’ obviously!

So much choice . . . 

Baked Camembert  . . . I don’t usually like relishes and chutneys but this cranberry chutney was absolutely delicious and with the toasted soda bread . . . wow!

A big thank you to Isabelle for allowing us all to stay at her student house . . . she made us feel very welcome.

Mila and I! I look a little unfocused, I’ll put that down to the long drive!

Having refuelled it’s time to visit the folks in Gosforth!

Mothers and daughters . . . 

After a busy day it’s time for film night at Isabelle’s . . . Poor Isabelle had to put up, not only with us, but also with all our stuff!  Her room was beautiful when we arrived though it’s hard to see under all of our things.

It’s quite tight but we all managed to fit in likes peas in a pod.

In the morning with time on our hands before visiting an old school friend Isabelle did a make-over for Mila . . . we all liked the curls.

Mila’s our little, well not so little any more, book worm . . . she’s rarely without a book nearby – but it’s finally time to set off to visit our school friend – Kathryn!

We really appreciated catching up and meeting her lovely dog Ruby.

Enjoying the view over the garden and valley below . . . but hey, you have visitors . . . .

Finally . . . I know it’s hard to drag yourself away from such a beautiful view but we’re glad to make your acquaintance!

I think Ruby is saying ‘Phew . . . that was exhausting . . . I think I need a little lie down already!’

Later that day it was lovely to celebrate Pete’s birthday with him.  Then it was off to visit other family – my mum’s brother Bill and his wife Linda together with their three of their children and two of their grandchildren.  As you probably realised Catherine and I are twins (my dad’s sisters, Hope and Magda, were also twins) but my aunt and uncle have triplets (William, Joanne and Katherine) and an older son, John, only a year and a half older . . . imagine how much work that must have been when they were all young but my aunt just seems to take it all in her stride and is never phased by visitors and always puts on a great spread of food!

Catherine, Mum and Philip.

A very close knit family – here’s Daniel with his aunt, Joanne and her dad, my uncle, Bill.

Father and son – William and Philip.

Daniel’s parents Pete and Katherine.

William makes a great climbing frame . . .

Great memories . . . 

Cousins together . . . triplets (where’s William?) and twins! 

A final photograph before it’s time to say goodbye . . . 

The next morning it was a beautiful walk into the centre of Newcastle where we had arranged to meet up with Mam and Pete in Mason and Rye Patisserie Cafe in Fenwicks.  Don’t the cakes above look so delicious . . . but which to choose and there are even more on offer . . . take a look below . . . 

They look like miniature pieces of art . . . 

If only I could try them all . . . 

Mam and Pete about to enjoy their choices and they were as delicious as they looked – trust me!

Including edible flowers and gold!

Now, fully refreshed it was time for a little culture with a visit to the Laing Art Gallery only a couple of minutes away . . . They had a number of great exhibition such as one called ‘Northern Spirit’ celebrating the art of the North East arranged according to the themes: Artists’ Stories, River and City.  There were so many beautiful pieces of art, sculpture and glassware . . . 

I enjoyed the explanations of how various objects were made and various scenes from the area.

The busy Tyne River in its hey day.

The view much as it still is today!

I really liked this painting and the one below showing the changing industrial landscape of the North East by Richard Hobson.  The painting above is called ‘Night Shift, Tyne Dock Engineering, South Shields, 2002’ . . . 

. . .  and this painting is called ‘After Closure, Tyne Dock Engineering, South Shields, 1999’.

One of the exhibitions was called ‘Watercolour at War’ which examines why artists have chosen to use the medium of watercolour.  The focus was mainly on art from the Second World War and the interwar period in Britain but also abroad as the painting above shows which is of Norway in 1940.  ‘At first this scene seems calm and still, until you notice the sinking ship in the background and in fact the artist himself, Eric Ravilious, was declared lost in action when his plane was lost off Iceland in 1942’.  He had joined a search party looking for a missing plane whilst working on a commission for the War Artists Advisory Committee – very sad.

Here we have a painting from the exhibition  ‘Wartime at home’ . . . the information panel explained that ‘Despite a national sense of unity, life on the home front was difficult and inconvenient during the Second World War.  Many lived with a daily threat of invasion, families were separated and displaced and extreme shortages of food and other resources were rationed to avoid mass starvation.’

The photo above is called ‘Pebbles – Rye Harbour 1940’ by Charles Ginner who shows the unusual view of the ramshackle margins of a stony beach with telephone wires criss-crossing the scene.

A really interesting collection of postcards.

A close-up of one of the postcards above with its important war messages.

Other exhibits were quite different . . . The painting above is called ‘Evening at Boothby 1953’ by Winifred Nicholson.  The view is from her home at Boothby in Cumbria and in the explanation panel we’re told that ‘She often painted flower and landscape compositions as a means of exploring relationships between colour and light’ – very interesting I thought.

This picture is in complete contrast to the previous painting.  It’s by Christopher R.W. Nevinson and us called ‘Twentieth Century 1932-1935’.  It felt quite apt in today’s political turmoil.  We’re told that ‘Nevinson has painted this picture in response to violent political movements in Europe in the 1930s, while the background reflects his experience of New York in America.  The huge central figure was based on Auguste Rodin’s sculpture ‘The Thinker’ and probably represents rational society threatened by the bayonets and guns of the marching crowds.’ 

Now for something lighter – I definitely feel the need to escape from the anger and uncertainty of today’s politics – an escape to the sea, I can almost feel the sea breezes and smell the salt on the air!  The large painting is called ‘The Beach’ by Dame Laura Knight (1909); below on the left is ‘Hospital Ship 1944’ by Stephen Bone and the picture bottom centre is ‘High Tide’ by Sheila M. Fell.  The painting on the right is ‘April – Boat of Garten’ by James Torrance.

So many beautiful paintings . . . I hope I’ve whetted your appetite for more.

Taking a little breather before the last exhibition we looked at showing the photographs of Chris Fillip called ‘The Last Ships’.  I’ve included many of the explanations displayed beside the photos in the gallery as they put the photographs in context explaining the importance of shipbuilding to the area – sadly a thing of the past.  Strange to think that this is part of my history though I didn’t grow up in this particular area we visited it at times during this period.

His photographs document the lives of working people and their resilience of spirit while at the same time recording the steady decline of industrial Britain.  The picture above is titled ‘Terraced Housing in the snow, Wallsend 1975’  The ‘Don’t Vote’ graffiti on the wall probably dates from 1974, when there were two general elections.  The 1973-75 recession severely affected industrial areas and resulted in considerable anger towards both the Conservative and Labour parties.

‘Don’t Vote’

Killip was fascinated but the way the huge ships and industrial cranes provided a backdrop to everyday life in Wallsend and South Shields.  On the left above is ‘Man on Camp Road, Wallsend’ about 1976 and the photo below is ‘Outside Readhead Shipyard, South Shields’ – The ship from the previous photograph has now been more or less completed.  The scene is quiet, as it’s just prior to the ship’s launch.  The photographs on the right show ‘The Ship Inn and Gainers Terrace, Wallsend’ 1975 – The Ship Inn closed in 2010, following the closure of Swan Hunter’s shipyard in 2006.  The photograph below it is ‘View from a back lane, Wallsend’ 1975.  The huge cranes at Swan Hunter’s shipyard dominated views of Wallsend.  After the yard closed, the cranes were bought by the Indian company Bharati.  The last cranes were shipped out in April 2009.

‘Outside Readhead Shipyard, South Shields’ – This shipyard was taken over by Swan Hunter in 1957 as part of a process of rationalisation of shipbuilding on the River Tyne.  Readhead Yard closed in 1984.  In this photograph, which features a rather terrifying shipyard ladder, workers stream past a large ship under construction.

Tyne Pride under construction’ about 1975.  This photograph reveals the geometric beauty of the ship’s construction.  No bigger tanker would be built at Swan Hunter shipyard after this.  Chris Fillip has said, “At the time I didn’t exhibit or show my shipbuilding photographs to anyone, as it was a personal obsession.  I had made them with a sense of urgency as I thought that all this was not going to last.  I had no idea how quickly it would be gone.”

Tyne Pride under construction, Swan Hunter Shipyard’ about 1975 and below it is ‘Tyne Pride at the end of the street, Wallsend’ 1976.  An amazing photograph.

‘Corner Shop, Joan Street, Wallsend’ and below it the photograph is of ‘Gainers Terrace’ 1975.

The top photograph is ‘Newspaper Sellers’ – newspaper sellers pass papers through the gates to shipyard workers as they wait for the gates to open at the end of their shift.

The photograph below again shows ‘Tyne Pride under construction’ about 1975.  The keel was laid in June 1974 and it was launched in 1975 and completed in 1976.  It could carry cargo of 119,821 tonnes and measured 343.5 metres in length.  The ship was broken up in 2005.

The top photograph above is titled ‘Boy looking into Swan Hunter Shipyard, Wallsend’ about 1976.  The broken door of this house in Gerald Street, beside the shipyard, indicates that it was already empty.  The street was demolished in 1977.

The photograph below it is ‘Shipyard workers looking at the Everett F Wells, Wallsend’ about 1976.  This tanker was the last super-tanker built on the Tyne.  It was built by Swan Hunters and could carry cargo of 250,000 tonnes.  It was launched in 1976 and completed in August 1977.  In the photograph, the corner houses in Joan Street have already been boarded up as the shipyard work dries up.

The top photo shows ‘The Launch of Everett F. Wells‘ in 1976.  The photograph below is ‘End of terrace housing, Wallsend.’

Finishing where this exhibition started – ‘Camp Road in the snow, Wallsend’, 1977.  A couple of years before this ps photograph was taken, the huge tankers at Swan Hunter’s shipyard had dominated the view to the right of these houses.  Although workers are still making their way down to the shipyard, no more use ships would be made there.  The houses were mostly empty and a fire has burnt out the upper floor of the house on the left.  These streets were demolished a few months after this photograph was taken.  There were other photographs not included here and it really is an exhibition worth visiting – the pictures here don’t really do justice to the large framed photographs on display.

Now for a complete change . . . 

Notice anything different . . . ?  Mila’s had her ears pierced now she’s about to go into sixth form she decided she’d like to be able to wear earrings!

I’m finishing this post with something light and fluffy to lighten the mood from the worrying current political situation – fashion . . . from earrings to fancy shoes . . . I’d love to be able to wear shoes like this – aren’t they absolutely gorgeous!  Isabelle has been working hard during the summer and has treated herself to some fancy footwear – and why not, you’re only young once!