Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Sensory assault

Monument is an assault to the senses right now. I smelled it before I saw or heard; the Continental Market is back. I could smell the smoke from the Bratwurst cooking, the scent of the Gluehwein. And then as I got closer to Monument, I could see it. All the stalls, selling so much stuff. Turkish delight. Croque monsieur. Clementines with big green leaves still attached. Kaki fruit (otherwise known as persimmon or sharon fruit). Marzipan. Handbags and soaps and all manner of meat.

The market was there last year too, just before Christmas. They had some amazing potato dish, fried with garlic. I shared some with my parents; it tasted fantastic. I hope that's back this year.

(My husband, allergic to garlic, loved us in the car journey back home.)

That market is on til 8th December. I'll have to take my camera in and have a proper explore before then. After that is a Winter Christmas market (... I'm not quite sure how that is different, but I'll report). There's a Fairtrade market in the Grainger Market on Saturday coming (unfortunately I'll be away) then Art and Craft Markets, again in the Grainger market, on Sat 8th, 15th and 22nd Dec.

Also, as I mentioned there, I'm away this weekend. Visiting one of my sisters who lives on the continent, as we say. Not strictly accurately; the UK is part of the continent of Europe, but we still say 'on the continent' for anywhere outside the UK. Not like we don't see ourselves as part of Europe or anything. D isn't going; he's working this weekend. So I can have some quality time with my sis. Yay!

Not sure if I'll be able to update again til I get back early next week, so my sudden burst of posting at the weekend earlier this week will just have to keep you going til then. See ya soon....

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

New Newcastle site

I am loving this site. Some fantastic photos of Newcastle. Well worth a look, and definitely well worth going back a month or two.

Two versions

Town is full of people. Getting under my feet; stopping at the top of escalators and walking straight out in front of me, chattering inanely. They are frowning, miserable; they only care about being the first to buy the Christmas presents they won't even need for another month. It's dark and the air is cold on my ears and neck; I can almost taste the ice on my tongue. The buildings are grey and imposing, pressing down on me, and the air smells stales and wintry. All I want to do is just buy what I need and get out of there.

Town is full of people, the hustle and bustle of a pre-Christmas Saturday. Excitement is in the air; people stopping to exclaim over shop windows, chatting with friends and relatives, checking their lists to see what they still need to buy. It's dark and gloomy, but the Christmas lights glow and sparkle, brightening people's faces, making them smile. I can taste ice on the wind, tickling my neck, and I look hopefully for snow. I can't wait for Christmas.


I've been looking at setting recently on my Creative Writing course. It's an important lesson for the writing, but it's also important for life. It's possible to choose how you look at things. And why choose to look on the dark and gloomy side?

Monday, 26 November 2007

I'd like to know whether I would have liked the 'It's beginning to look a lot like christmas' Argos ad quite so much if it wasn't based in Newcastle.

The first time D saw it, I wasn't really watching. 'Hey, isn't that Newcastle?' he said suddenly, and I turned around to see a shot that looked like it might have been Monument, but equally might not be. But it's hard to say from a split second shot. 'Maybe,' I said. 'We'll look next time.'

The next time I still misssed the beginning, but soon realised that it really was Newcastle. People running down Dean Street and Grey Street, a quick shot of the Crown Posada, a shot that's clearly taken from Monument when you see it properly. And I got really excited; it's nice to see a place you love on TV. And it's not a horribly over the top Christmas ad like most of them - it's gentle and funny, and I keep going around singing 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas' - the irony being that it's not yet, of course, and that I am completely unprepared for Christmas. (Oh, and the fact that I bloody hate Argos.) But this ad makes me feel like Christmas isn't such a bad thing.

One thing in the ad is funny for people who know Newcastle, though. All these people would never be running down Grey Street and Dean Street for their Christmas shopping. All the proper shops are up in the middle of the city, not down near the Quayside.

I just love the first shot at the beginning of the ad at the bottom of Dean Street, right near the Quayside. I think it's taken from the top of the Tyne Bridge. It always amazes me when I'm reminded quite how much of a slope Newcastle is on. The Tyne Bridge is actually below the level of the top of Newcastle, but you can see how much further down the ground slopes. This really is an amazing city.

Of course, there's also the fact that this was blatantly shot in summer. The lack of Christmas lights and the sunshine give that away pretty quickly, trees and Santa hats and coats and scarves notwithstanding. Heee.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

bus into town

I was listening to music on my walkman, but that didn't stop the lady I sat next to on the bus into town yesterday from talking to me. 'Cold, isn't it?'

I agreed; hard to do anything else at the minute. The snow was one thing; at least that went fairly quickly but the constant ice in the air is harder to deal with. Half the time my ears seem to be numb, and the wind rarely feels strong, but I often find my hood blown down in the wind. 'It really is. Did you see the snow yesterday?'

'Oh yes love, early for this time of year.'

She was quiet for a short while, but then started talking again. I put the volume on my walkman down, then switched it off entirely, not wanting to be rude.

She told me about her son, his trips to South America for work. His plans for Christmas with his family. Asked what I do, what my husband does. I'm not sure if she noticed the ring or if she just assumed I must be married. I told her about the trip I have planned to visit one of my sisters, where we all work. She told me about her friend who moved to Newbiggin by the Sea; said she doesn't understand why anyone would move away from the city - everything you need is close by, from the amenities to the seaside to the countryside. She told me about a distant relative who moved away to Norfolk, lived there for 30 years, visited with his family for the weekend and decided by the end of the weekend to put their house on the market and move back up here. That noone talks to you down south; people are friendlier up here. (I thought about arguing that point, but decided that on balance I agreed with her.) I told her that the first time I came up to Newcastle, I'd decided within ten minutes of getting off the train that this is the place for me.

She asked if I belonged here, and it was a hard question to answer. D does, without a doubt. He was born in the Princess Mary Maternity hospital that used to be in Jesmond; it's one of those things that makes you a 'real Geordie'. He's never lived more than about 50 miles away and even when he has lived further afield he's moved back quickly. I can't imagine him ever moving away. But me? Belong here? It's hard to say.

I told her the truth, that I was born on the other side of the country, that I've lived here six years, that my husband is Geordie, that I can't imagine we'll ever move away. She nods, satisfied with the answer. But I'm not.

I asked D before. Do I belong here? He asked if I want to stay. I do.

'Then you're a true Geordie lass. Gan canny, pet.'

That'll do for me.

Oh yes. I saw a single rabbit before, sitting nibbling grass at the side of the road while we were on the bus back from D's grandparents'. I'd missed the bunnies. I'm glad they're still out there.

Friday morning. On the way to work.

All I notice at first are the tiny damp marks on the front step as I lock the front door behind me. But as I turn to leave I see the first white specks whirring through the air and I'm so surprised that I actually ask out loud 'Why is it snowing?' I assume it's going to stop as sudddenly as it's started, but no; the flakes slowly get thicker as I walk to the bus stop.

It can't decide whether or not to stick, at first. The first couple of flakes half-melt as they hit the concrete, but the next stay cold and white. And the next. As the snow starts to fall faster, heavier, a thin smattering lies on the ground.

The bus arrives and we all clamber aboard, stamping our feet to shake off the snow as we move towards the seats. I watch, hypnotised by the whiteness outside.

But within a few seconds of reaching the main road the flakes have got smaller again. Turned to nothing. By the time I'm halfway into work it's just about stopped and when I finally reach my destination, my colleagues look at me blankly when I ask if it's been snowing here.

The first snow of the winter has fallen. I'm sure it won't be the last.

i meant to say...

There've been a few changes round here. Mostly superficial, so they shouldn't make a difference, but please let me know if anything isn't working.


Saturday, 24 November 2007

Great North Run sponsorship update

This seems like an awfully long time ago now, but I've only sent my sponsor money in recently, so it's only a couple of days ago that I received my certificate to say thank you.

£423 I raised, officially; £443 including the incredibly generous pierre l's donation which wasn't through my official sponsorship channels but was still totally great. Thanks again pierre. Add in gift aid, and that's over £500. Amazing.

Thanks for all the moral support I had on here; that really helped me get through.

i've never tried this before

But what the hell. I can't stop listening to Nine Inch Nails and Editors at the mo. So here are the best songs.

Monday, 19 November 2007


I sewed a button on a shirt that has been missing said button for almost a year today.

That's the heady heights of excitement that are being reached around here at the mo.

I could tell you about managing to lock D out while I was drunk last night if you're interested?

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Markets at Shields

North Shields wants a market. But South Shields is stopping it.

The problem is that South Shields has a charter from the 13th century enabling it to block anyone who wants to start a market within 'a day's donkey ride'. That's taken to be 6 2/3 miles. North Shields is right opposite South Shields on the mouth of the River Tyne, so whenever the idea is raised, they seem to wave their charter around (literally or figuratively, I've no idea) and put the stoppers on it.

Thing is, I really don't get what's going on. Sure, they're less than 6 2/3 miles away - as the crow flies. But you wouldn't get very far trying to ride a donkey across the river. And going around the long way is longer than that.

People are strange round here, that's for sure.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Drunk. Been round to a friend's house and drank far too much wine. I normally don't drink much, but the last week or two have been developing a tolerance. ie can drink 2xglass wine without getting tipsy and giggly. must stop now.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

oh, also?

It's freezing here. It was sleeting yesterday evening, and it looks like it might be starting again soon. I've had to dig my hat out, for chrissakes, because it's just too cold at the bus stop. I'm sure it was only a couple of days ago that I was nipping to the shop across the road from work without bothering to put my coat on. Now it's like an arctic mission; coat and scarf and gloves to be out of the building for all of 70 seconds.

The weather forecast on the BBC is claiming that it's currently somewhere between 0 and 3 degrees C outside, but it's a damned sight colder than that.


My shopping came to £8.04. I looked at the woman on the checkout, a little confused. "Are you sure that's right? I added it up as I was going along and I thought it was more than that."

She looked at me like I was insane. "Yeah, that's right."

"Are you sure? OK," I said, still hovering, not giving her my money yet.

She nods and smiles, but she starts checking through the list on the till and suddenly exclaims. "You're right. Your wine didn't go through."

I pull it back out of the bag and pass it back and she scans it. But the wine comes up as £4.99, and I thought I picked up the £3.99 bottle. (Yes, I'm a cheapskate. Hi, I'm B! It's still nice wine though.) I asked her to check the price, sending apologetic smiles to the people queueing behind me, who make comments about how nice it is some people are still honest.

When the guy comes back and tells us the price is right, I smile even more apologetically and say I want the £3.99 bottle. The display is only feet away, so I ask if I can just nip over and pick one up, but the woman sends the price-checking guy out again. He goes over to the display, looks confused, then wanders off with the bottle. He's gone for a minute, who knows where, but finally returns with the correct bottle. The woman scans it. I pay, thrust the wine back in the bag, and apologise one more time to the people behind me.

This time they don't meet my eye.

As someone in my office pointed out when I got back, if I'd kept my mouth shut I could have enjoyed the £5 bottle of wine for free. Damn my conscience.

But then, if I had no conscience, I would never have discovered Co-Op Fair Trade wines. Highly recommended; good for your self respect and your palate!

Sunday, 11 November 2007


I got the bus into town today. I was aware it's Remembrance Sunday, but had forgotten until I got into town at a couple of minutes past eleven. I got off the bus near the Civic Centre, and Barras Bridge was completely blocked off. Hundreds of people were there, remembering the dead.

I had to go, I was late for somewhere I needed to be. But I took a minute first to stand, thinking of my grandad and others who risked their lives for us in wars, who would never really be the same again.

I'm a pacifist, but I still respect the sacrifice they made.

It was a beautiful day, and somehow that seemed right. Sunny and crisp.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

motivation, or the lack of it.

It just seems at the minute that things are piling up, both literally and figuratively, and I don't know how to do anything about it.

I miss posting here. I write posts in my head, but I can't be bothered to type them up. I'm driven insane by the piles of stuff lying everywhere, but they are so big I don't know where to start tackling them. I enjoy writing my NaNo, but I can't be bothered to sit down and do it. I am enjoying my course, and yet I've inexplicably stopped.

I can't be bothered to make the tasty, healthy food I normally make. I haven't run in ages. Work is mixed; half the week was good and half bad, with no real inbetween. I got a text message on Thursday that seemed to be asking if I wanted to meet up with some friends on the way home from work; I did, but it turned out they were asking if I wanted to go later. I could justify popping in on the way home, but didn't want to go out again later (too dark too cold too much time).

I don't know what's wrong with me. I wish I did, because right now I want to ask for help, but I have no idea what kind of help.

I don't know why I'm posting this here, but I think I just need to get it off my chest. This post may self destruct by the end of the weekend.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

i know i promised a proper post

... and I actually have it drafted in my head, but I've been ill and I can't be bothered to type it up. So instead I will just say EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL, EIGHT NIL...!

I wish I'd watched the match....

Monday, 5 November 2007


Maybe tomorrow night for a new post?
Just been caught up in writing my OU assignment and nanowrimo.