Thursday, 31 July 2008

more misconceptions

Further to this post, I remembered something else today that made me chuckle.

I used to know a guy. He'd lived here forever, or thereabouts. He lived in Shieldfield for quite a while. Yet whenever he got drunk, he'd get into a taxi and ask it to take him to Sheffield.

Not quite the same place.

When the taxi drivers queried it, he was always adamant that he wanted to go to Sheffield, not Shieldfield.

I was always surprised when he turned up. I'm amazed he never got stranded in Yorkshire.


(I've been in Paris for a few days. It was very hot. Had a great time.)

Monday, 28 July 2008

note for readers

Posting is probably going to be a bit sporadic around here for the next couple of weeks. Will explain why once things are back to normal.

For the minute, here is a pic of the metro for Lane, who sounded excited about the metro in Newcastle in this post. It's a bit shy, so it's hiding in the trees:
Will see if I can find a braver one to get a shot of soon!

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Clubbing take 2

Last week I went out with the intention of going clubbing and didn't make it.

On Friday, I went out with the express intention of not going clubbing, of just going out for a drink. But this time I went.

Confused? I was too.

I went out with M again. Her sisters were out, along with with some of her friends. I knew they were going out for some drinks first and then on to the World Headquarters, but I didn't fancy it. Anyway, I used to go to the Trent House years ago, the sister pub to the World HQ. I loved the Trent House, but I never managed to find the World HQ - something always went wrong when I planned to go there. So I thought that something would go wrong this time.

And it did, kinda. I planned to get the late night bus home, but I managed to miss the one I was going for and M and the rest were going to World HQ. There was an hour before the next bus, so I went in.

It wasn't what I expected at all. Good, but not what I expected. No flashy lights; just orange lights round the edges where the tables are and lights at the bar and the DJ pit. Just loads and loads of people, dancing on a crammed dance floor, and some others sitting round the edges.

We danced for the next 50 minutes, then I made a dash for the next bus - realising in the process that I was rather drunker than I'd thought. Still, I got home safely and managed to make and ate some oven chips before falling into bed just after 3am. D was fast asleep, bless 'im, after a hard night on the playstation.

It was a good night.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Lucky lucky lucky.

For those who don't read Caroline's comments (and if not why not, eh?!):
I am on such a winning streak.

At the work quiz two weeks ago today (the day before I went to London for the Novel Racers meet), I had two raffle tickets; both won.

Last Saturday, at the barbecue I was at in Blaydon, I had one raffle ticket; it won.

Today I went to the bingo and won twice with a full house and my friend won with 2 lines; we came out with nearly twice as much as we went in with. (We decided the first time we went that we would split all winnings, but this was the first time that was put to the test; my friends were trying not to look too hopeful and were all genuinely excited for me, but they were so pleased when I said I would hold to our agreement and split!)

(On my second full house all my friend were watching my card and knew I was waiting for 18; I'd lost count so when it came up I didn't realise I'd won. They had to tell me to call. Luckily someone else had also called else I would've been too late.)

I am so winning Caroline's book and I am so winning Lucy's. And I am so winning the lottery this weekend too.

I am sooooo excited that I could scream. I had to hug all my friends on the way out.

I think we cracked the staff up, being so excited about our winnings. Anyone would have thought that we'd won hundreds each, not less than twenty quid. It was a fab night.

Edited to add a photo!

Edited again to add: if I win the jackpot on Saturday, the next novel racers meet is on me. If I win a tenner, maybe not......

Wednesday, 23 July 2008


I was chatting with other two people at the weekend who are not native to Newcastle. One of them was saying that he hasn't got to know Newcastle yet, to understand how the different areas fit together, because he doesn't drive here. He said he only knows the places served by the Metro. (If you click through, you can see that leaves large chunks of the area unknown; that's compounded by the fact that the map is stylised and that the gold loop goes north as well as east towards the coast, amongst many other things.) The girl we were talking to agreed, said she didn't understand places until she could drive around them.

I'm the opposite. Newcastle is so full of one way systems, of streets you can't turn down, that if you rely on driving then you will miss out on the obvious links. When I first moved here, I just understood the basics (Fenham to the west, Byker and Heaton to the east, Jesmond and Gosforth to the north, Gateshead on the other side of the river) but I quickly filled in the details over the time I was here. It's only a few months since we've had a car, so if I'd relied on that, it would have taken me a loooong time to learn the geography of Newcastle.

How do you learn these things? If you live in Newcastle, how did you work out its geography? (I suppose that question only works if you're not a native) If not, what's easiest where you live?

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


Summer has finally arrived.

This lunchtime, I went into town. I met two friends at Starbucks. We sat outside and chatted, watched the world go by. Drank coffee so thick that the stirrers stood up in it.

The sun was shining. It was warm. Friends walked past and said hi. It was just what I needed.

I've realised that I don't make enough time for fun in my life. I'm trying to change that. Today lunch with friends. Thursday bingo. Time with D over the weekend and next week.

I hope the sun keeps shining.

Monday, 21 July 2008

The Civic Centre

It's over a decade ago. I'm sitting with a friend of mine, A, and we're looking through her calendar of Newcastle photos.
'What's a carillon?'
'No idea. Why?'
'Apparently the Newcastle Civic Centre's the only one in England to have one.'

I never found out what one was until recently (sometimes I think that I am terminally uncurious; not the best trait for a writer to have). Largely because I couldn't remember what it was Newcastle Civic had that was so unique. But in the end some judicious googling paid off (doesn't it always?) and I now know what a carillon is. It's kind of like an automated bell tower.

I used to hate the Civic Centre. I still think it's a strange, strange building. You wouldn't think that the building in this picture was the same as this, but it is. (Hopefully my pics in this post will help you work out how it all fits together; shout if not. The second one I just linked is of the courtyard inside the four sides of the building.)

But I'm a lot more fond of it than I used to be.

What I want now is a shot of the Civic at dusk from the top of the town moor. I'm working on it.

Underneath is a little video of the Civic, so you can hear the carillon playing. It's not great quality, but stick with it; it gets clearer halfway through. I'm quite excited that I managed it!


Sunday, 20 July 2008

Near misses

I had a near miss with a club tonight.

I haven't been clubbing in more than 3.5 years.

This isn't bad in itself. But... I wanna!
*stamps foot*

Tonight, I was at a barbecue with some friends. One of them was going out to the Carling Academy for Bulletproof*, which was the best night when I was a student. Back in the 1990s. I realised I hadn't been clubbing in forever, hadn't been to Bulletproof since 1997, and was overcome with an urge to go.

I was driving, but I was happy enough to stay sober and just dance the night away. So I nipped back home to change my shoes and top and to give D the wine I'd bought for him on my way out, telling him I'd be back by 1.30am. Then back into Newcastle, to the Head of Steam where my friend was meeting the rest of the crowd.

Where we stayed.

And stayed.


Until 12.50am.

By which time, it didn't really seem worth paying the fiver to get in for ten, twenty minutes of dancing.


So now I'm home with a glass of wine and feet that are still itching for a dancefloor.

And next week her sisters are around and she doesn't know whether she'll be going out.

Oh well... maybe the week after.....

(or, does anyone in newcastle fancy bulletproof next weekend?!)

*incidentally, if you click through you can click through an archive of seemingly all the flyers that Bulletproof has ever done. It was such a nostalgia trip to see the flyers that used to coat my bedroom wall when I was at uni. I miss being 19.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Book book books

Lucy D has a great competition going on at her place. And the prize is a signed copy of her book!

I think everyone should go over and have a go, but don't expect to win. Because, y'know. I'm going to, obviously!

Also, my copies of Everything You Ever Wanted by Roz and Being Normal by Stephen Shieber turned up today. And now I wish I wasn't going out tonight.

Not just because I'm going to a bbq and it's throwing it down with rain. Because 38 pages into Roz's book, I just want to devour the whole lot in one sitting. Leaving tomorrow clear for Stephen's.

Oh well. Patience is a virtue, I hear....

Friday, 18 July 2008


Lane asked for sight of people's bookshelves a couple of days ago.

I had to get my novel racers pics off the camera and onto facebook first, but I've done that now. So here you go.

First pic: probably most of these are mine, although a handful are the hubby's, notably his Chuck Palahniuk collection. I'm not allowed to read them in case I break the spines. We have differing views on whether this is a mortal sin or not.

A noteable number of my TBR books are also in this pic. Feel free to guess :) Cas, Clare and Lucy's books are also there. They are definitely read and highly recommended!

This is a bookshelf that I had when I was a teenager. Most of the top shelf is D's. You can see my beloved Val McDermid collection and D's Terry Pratchett shelf. Also the complete Morse collection I got for something ridiculous like a tenner.

Some of my favourite books are in these pictures.

In this pic I have cunningly slid the double-layered books so you can see what is behind. There are now two copies of In Search of Adam visible. One less than I actually own!

There are also three of my wishlist books visible. Thanks again pierre.

Oh, and the Farscape DVDs on the next shelf? Not mine.

If anyone else wants to show us yer drawers, errm, shelves... go for it!

Thursday, 17 July 2008

M=Morissons, Metro, Misunderstandings?

The summer before I came to uni here, my parents wanted to see where I was going to be. We stayed in a caravan park in Whitley Bay for a couple of nights so we could spend some time getting to know the place before I arrived.

It was sunny, bright and sunny, but freezing and windy. Really really cold for July.

It was 1994. The roadworks for the Cradlewell Bypass were just barely beginning. The road into Newcastle from the Coast was a single carriageway, going down and up a steep slope through Jesmond Dene.

And I kept seeing yellow signs with the letter 'M' on in black everywhere. There are a lot of Morrisons stores round here, I thought.

I didn't get close enough to see the word 'Metro' picked out in white letters on black.

I felt a bit silly when I realised that it wasn't that Morrisons was the only supermarket in the north east. The signs were showing metro stations.

(any silly misconceptions you want to share?)

(also: more photos now available on the flickr photostream)

Handy hint

If someone sends you a .docx word file (ie MS office 2007) and you don't have that software, click here to discover ways to open it.

(brought to you courtesy of free weekly email. sign up (and read it!) if you don't already!)

Wednesday, 16 July 2008


I knew within ten minutes of getting off the train, the first time I came to Newcastle, that this was where I wanted to be.

I was 17 going on 18 and applying to universities. Mainly on the transpennine express route, for some reason. Before the open day in Newcastle, I'd decided to go to Durham. (It was inevitable that I would end up in the North East, really.) I loved the overnight stay I had in Trevelyan College at Durham.

But there was something in the air when I got off the train in Newcastle. The sun was shining and warmed the air in the station. The taxi driver who took me to the University was chatty, telling me about how they'd changed the traffic flows on Percy Street, how they'd caused havoc. (Fourteen years on, it does take quite a while to get down that road, now I stop to think about it.)

I knew immediately that this was where I wanted to be.

I dropped out of uni in the end; too much socialising, not enough work. Or maybe I was kicked out; I never did work out which really happened. I ran, tail between legs, back to my parents' house. I lived there another two years, going out every night to drink soda water and play (bad) pool at a pub down a dark country road, because I didn't want to face the fact that I wasn't where I wanted to be and didn't know how to change it.

Then I got a boyfriend in
Yorkshire and moved there once I'd found a job. I told myself that I loved the city I'd moved to - and I did. But it wasn't home. It was never home.

I split up with the boyfriend, got back with D, who I'd had a fling with years earlier. I applied for job after job and finally got one, moved back up north after three years in Yorkshire.

I never settled in Yorkshire. But ten minutes after moving back to the north east, I knew I was back home again. D's a geordie; he's never lived far from Newcastle. I can't imagine we'll ever leave.

Thinking about all this has got me thinking. Why do you live where you live? Was it something you chose or just something that you fell into? Do you feel like you are home? Will you stay where you live now? Is there anywhere you miss, or anywhere you'd pay to never go back to?

I'm curious.

Monday, 14 July 2008

more writing

I didn't want to join one hundred words a day because a hundred words sounds so small.

But I wasn't writing at all. And one hundred words is better than no words. So I joined. And tonight I wrote 206 words. And tomorrow I will write some more. It's the habit that's the thing. It's a genius idea. Genius!
Geordieness will return soon. But maybe not tomorrow as I am going out for a meal as a friend of mine is graduating.

(That's a post every day for a week. I am stunned. Stunned I tells ya!)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

travelling #2; the meet

I arrived in London at 8.40 and thought about walking from the station to the hotel. It didn't look far (just two stops on the tube) but the guy I asked for directions at the station must've been the only person working in London who knew less about the place than me. Anyway, I didn't fancy wandering round with my laptop looking like a tourist. I got the tube.

The hotel was right next to the station. My room was tiny but all I needed for a single night on my own and again there was free wifi. I wrote the skeleton of a short story before bed.

Paige arrived in London extremely early the next morning, apparently suffering the effects of a mere 2 hours' sleep on an overnight coach from Scotland but looking fantastic for it. We'd met up by 8.45am, thanks in part to the rude people in the room next door who decided that 7am was just the time they wanted to start playing loud music. By the time I'd called down to reception to complain, I was wide awake and far too excited to go back to sleep.

We then met Sarah *G* off her train. While we were waiting we heard the Inspector Sands code that I first heard about when reading Tom Reynold's book. Strange to hear it.

We then made our way to Waterstones, wandering round each floor of the bookshop on the way up, moving various people's books to be more noticeable and giving me the chance to spend money I shouldn't really spend. Hmm.

Then - it was time. We made our way to the meet, and it was fab. It was amazing to meet all these people who I've spent time talking to over the wonders of the internet. And noone looked blank when I introduced myself. Jen even knew it was me before I could get round to telling her. Aw.

It was such a buzz to meet up with everyone. I am grinning like a loon on all the photos and I couldn't stop laughing. I can't wait for the next one.

I wish I could've stayed another night. I considered it, but I needed a day to myself. As it happens, I made my train with only three minutes to spare (I thought it was 6.22; it was 6.19 so I was cutting it finer than I realised!) so I'm glad I left when I did.

The journey home wasn't as good as the day before. The seats had been double sold and the labels were on the wrong seats, so it was a faff to find a seat. I got one, though, and
devoured Lucy's book on the train to York; she'd signed it for me at the meet and I loved it.

Unfortunately, York Races had been on. People were smoking on the station and the train, when it arrived, was packed. I thought about trying to find my seat for about three seconds before giving up on that idea and falling into an empty seat next to a guy from Darlington who I chatted to for a while.

I called D on the way home to ask him to make me a couple of pitta pizzas. I hadn't had any tea and was hungry. He told me he'd just started grating the cheese for them. He is a mind reader.

I can't wait for the next meet.

(PS - I'm trying to get round all the blogs for the people I met, and the rest of the novel racers too. I haven't quite finished yet so if I haven't said hi yet, I'll be there soon.)

Saturday, 12 July 2008


I got the metro to the station. There was a punk on the metro with a pink mohican* and a full beard and moustache combo. And black-rimmed glasses. It was an arresting combination.

I was getting really annoyed about a train arriving onto my platform that wasn't due to leave until half an hour after my train. Then I realised I was on platform 3, not platform 4. When I went through to the correct platform, there was my train, ready and waiting and with 15 minutes to spare.

My seat was next to the window. There was a girl sitting in the aisle seat. She had put a fuscia pink shopping bag on my seat. I asked to get to my seat, and was then too embarrassed to ask her to stand up again, so I managed to slot my rucksack onto the shelf overhead and arrange myself, my laptop bag and my handbag without knocking into her. Well, much.

I didn't think to take a picture of the bridges over the Tyne until too late. Tomorrow when I come back it'll be dark and I doubt they'll come out, but I'll try.

The Penshaw momument, sitting on its hilltop. I should go there sometime soon. It's like my last anchor with home when I'm travelling; you can see it from the end of my road.

Noone visiting Durham for the first time should approach other than by train from the South. The terraced streets, the cathedral and castle dominating the city. So you can really understand the fact that although it's a city, because it has a cathedral, it's tiny.

Then I discovered that the wifi on national express east coast mainline trains really is free and started emailing and reading the blogs instead of taking notice of what is going on around me.

(I'm writing this on the train to London on Friday. I'm on my way to the novel racers meet and I'm tired and headachey (knew that drinking two pints at the quiz last night was a bad idea) but excited. I can't wait to meet up with everyone tomorrow. But I already have a post scheduled for Friday night, so this will publish on Saturday. Exciting! Isn't technology great? Won't be long before I've posted every day for a week. I guess the words have come back. Novel racers - inspirational even before you join/arrive at the meets! Oh, and who knows, maybe I'll post again on the way home tomorrow night...)

* incidentally, I've never known until just now that mohican and mohawk are just British and American words for the same hairstyle. Weird, huh?

Friday, 11 July 2008


These signs are in Heaton. One's on Warwick Street, one on Heaton Road.

I don't know whether the others are still there. I used to know of five around Newcastle. All saying different things. We used to look out for them, speculate as to their meaning. I've tried googling before, now google exists, but with no success. We tried rearranging the letters, to see if they were some kind of anagram. Putting the different signs together. No joy.

Last Friday I was walking through Heaton for my haircut (Leaf, highly recommended eco hair salon for both men and women) and saw them again. I snapped these photos, meaning to post and see if anyone could shed any light on them.

But I googled first. And google is my friend. I have finally found this.

It's an art project. And a great one that's been making me think, on and off, for the last 13 years. Quite impressive.

It's made me want to go and get photos of the ones that are left, while I still can.

(just in case it is unclear: the first says 'the crabs for the curves'; the second 'onwards and to drive out with')

(also, four posts in four days? i have no idea what's going on. blogger's scheduled post feature, though, is very helpful!)

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Disraeli Avenue

I cannot explain how excited I am about Caroline's limited edition release of Disraeli Avenue without you being able to see me run around in circles and go 'eeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!' a lot. You'll just have to take my word for it.

And the best thing is that once again, all profits go to One in Four. Cas, you are an inspiration.

I wish I could pre-pre order it right now.

But I had to make do with her mentee Rosalind Wyllie's book Everything You Ever Wanted, sold for £10 along with this book of short stories that looks really good (p&p free to the uk). I have a reading pile of approximately 20 books, so I REALLY don't need more, but I couldn't resist. These ones may skip right up the list....

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

My youngest sister graduated this weekend.

I am so proud of her. She has worked really hard and deserves success.

It's been difficult for me, though, to be honest. Bringing back memories of my less than illustrious university career. Making me think about what could be called my failures. These days, I choose to see it as having followed a different path. I am happy with where I am at the minute. But it's still hard to remember.

I am hibernating at the minute. I don't have many words coming out. (I liked the way spiralskies said they were fermenting!)

Little posts are filtering out. Nothing big yet. And I am still feeling antisocial. But that will change. I am a social bod, and a wordy one. I can't imagine this phase lasting forever.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008


I have been walking as if through treacle today. Sleep-deprived and sad and missing my family (I spent the weekend with them as my youngest sis graduated yesterday. I am normally happy to see them but also happy to come home. This time, though, I wish I could have stayed).

I dozed quite heavily on the bus home. As it stopped at the stop before mine, I jerked awake, realising that I needed to stay conscious to get off at the next stop. Just as I realised that I heard sirens and the cars opposite stopped, letting two fire engines screech past, sirens-blaring-lights-flashing. Towards my estate. 'I hope my house isn't on fire,' I thought, as I always do when that happens.

But as the bus pulled forward I saw them arrive at the fire. I saw the smoke a second before the flames. A car was on fire, flames high, dark grey smoke filling the road. 'Jeeee-sus,' I said before I even realised I was speaking out loud. I stood up as the bus stopped - the fire was blocking the road, stopping it from getting any closer.

I had my camera in my hand before I'd even left the bus, but even so it was too late - the flames were already out. I've never seen the fire brigade actually in action before, never seen them actually put out a genuine fire, so I was in awe at the speed and efficiency they worked with.

There is a road behind all that smoke. Honestly.

No idea what happened. There didn't seem to be anyone in the car, although they might have run before it took hold.

I was expecting there to be a smell. Of smoke and petrol. But not a thing. Of course, all the smoke was blown the other way. I feel sorry for anyone living in that direction who had washing in their garden.

D just arrived home. No more than half an hour later, there is no sign anything ever happened.

So that was the excitement for the day.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008


I saw a 4x4 that said
'Complete Polish Service'
on the side.

It may have something to do with the fact that there are suddenly lots of Polish supermarkets and restaurants in Newcastle.

Or it may have something to do with the fact that I have a Polish relative.

But I read it as a service for Poles, rather than a polishing service. Y'know, for furniture.


Anon, I have not fallen through to Australia, although I can't blame you for thinking that. I am just quiet at the minute. Thinking. I haven't got much in the way of words going on, on any level. I resent having to make small talk in the office. I am not replying to emails - even ones I want to reply to. I'm not talking to people on facebook.

I'll aim to post a few short snippets over the next few weeks. Just to keep me in practice. But I can't promise anything more at the mo.

Let's just hope I get more wordy before the writing course starts up again, eh?