Search This Blog

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Newcastle - 'boisterous self-confidence of a chosen people'

Our recent visit to the UK entailed a trip to Newcastle upon Tyne to gain an unusual perspective on that city, a place close to my birth, a place that is familiar yet has transformed remarkably over the last couple of decades.

First, we drove a short way past the city centre down to the riverside, and viewed the mud-flats – redolent of Dickens and Victorian fiction rather than the twenty-first century, despite the renovated paved walk.

Low tide, mud...
Next, we went beneath a trio of bridges where we found the city’s farm. Again, some unusual views. Ouseburn farm is in the Lower Ouseburn Valley, about a mile from the city centre, and has been established here as a charity since 1976. Originally called Byker City Farm, it was created by local people to encourage youngsters to work with farm animals. It was closed in 2002 and reopened and renamed in 2009. The farm is a charity and its website is

Ouseburn farm, Newcastle

This time last year, Newcastle was voted by the readers of the Guardian ‘the UK’s favourite city’, an accolade handed out at that newspaper’s annual Travel Awards. Which city will take the award this year? Maybe it will be Edinburgh yet again; particularly since it has won more than 12 UK best city awards in the last eight years. Though there’s no reason why Newcastle can’t do it this year too.

Newcastle has excellent shopping facilities, a wide choice of restaurants, bars and hotels and then there’s their attractive quayside and cityscape. Not forgetting the legendary warmth and personality of the people.

Pulitzer prize-winning author Jane Smiley visited Durham and Northumberland and in a travel item in the New York Times, she was effusive about Newcastle’s Grey Street, commending its graceful elegance and blend of old and new.

A quotation from the Guardian of last November sums up the place, perhaps: “Newcastle’s atmosphere of almost pathological friendliness and good humour stems from one simple thing: all Geordies believe themselves blessed to have been born here. Theirs is the boisterous self-confidence of a chosen people.”

And since almost twenty million people now visit Newcastle and Gateshead annually, quite a few would seem to concur.

No comments: