I know this is a well trodden subject to talk about but it has fascinated me on my travels around our island so far. Regional accents! I have life long experience of the punctuation of sentences by means of the extra heavy right foot stomping of the Dengie peninsula’s home grown and have enjoyed listening to the various twangs as I have sailed along on this journey. I’ve enjoyed the sweet tones of the Emerald Isle through to the gentle Scottish symphony which became harder and harder to understand as I went along and once coming down from the northeast corner it may as well have been Swahili. Strangely, once in Amble the accent had reverted to something far less remarkable and after that I was immersed into the beautiful tones of our friends the Geordie’s! ‘Why aye man you’s a fookin cockney man’. I have been in Newcastle for a few days now and I love the Geordie’s! What a friendly bunch I am surrounded by in the marina and in the local boozer which is about two minutes walk from Fiesta. On my second day here I met a girl when I was walking Max through a local park. She appeared alongside me with her dog’s nose firmly up Max’s arse and within 30 seconds she was calling me a cockney and asking whether or not I was familiar with the ‘Famous Geordie slut drop’?!!!! ‘Actually I am’ I replied while hoping that I wasn’t about to get a demonstration. I don’t want to sound mean but there wasn’t anything that might be revealed by such a manoeuvre that I had any desire to see despite the fact that it sounded like it would be a freebie as opposed to paying 20 quid to watch the performance of this manoeuvre to the shortest song in history punctuated by cheap perfume, an unbelievably insincere line that goes something like ‘No. I really like you’ (code for get your wallet out you mug) delivered by a vacuous babe wearing nothing but see-through shoes’. Well, at least that’s what I’ve been told happens in those places.
I digress. In summary I suspect Max’s arse would have been the better end of the deal and fortunately she went merrily on her gurning way clearly having a wonderfull chemically fuelled stroll around the park! I don’t really care how anybody get’s their kicks as long as they do no harm to others and I have simply added her to the list of friendly characters that I have met since being in Newcastle.
The trip up river to the marina is about 7 miles from the entrance and reminded me of a mini winding River Thames with plenty of old docks and remnants of industries past. The entrance to St Peters Marina is the trickiest marina entrance that I have come across. It is 24ft wide and Fiesta is 16ft wide and even my maths tells me that only leaves errr, well some feet each side! It is tight! Tight is not really an issue but with a 3 knot cross tide it is very difficult to line up and you end up having to give it a bit of power and aim at the solid wall as you crab thoroughly sideways through the tide before an emergency astern manoeuvre is required as soon as the front half of the boat is in the gap because as soon as that bit is out of the tide you just head straight for the wall. I reckon I stopped about two inches short of the wall before dialling in some opposite lock, straightening up and heading in. This successful manoeuvre was preceded by a panicked emergency abort manoeuvre when I realised that I had got it wrong on my first attempt and was about to be slammed pretty hard amidships onto the wall. Throughout this merry little dance I had an audience of pedestrians who were watching from the entrance as their path had been blocked because the footbridge has to be raised to allow boats to enter through the gap. Then there were a few people inside the marina watching Fiesta squeeze through and once tied up I was told that they had only ever had one other catamaran attempt entry here! As I have said before, Lady Luck is always a very welcome and necessary friend to have!
On Friday night I went to the local pub. This was my first pub visit since being in Stornoway and I immediately realised I was in the right place. There were a lot of punters having a lot of fun and the bouncing and totally enthusiastic Geordie youngsters behind the bar recommended that I try the ‘C’Monster Ale. At 6.5% and being well off race pace following such a long period of pub abstinence, this was like a three hour sustained kick in the nuts before I wobbled off back to Fiesta having met plenty of very friendly, very funny Geordie’s who were all thoroughly excellent at p*ss taking. I really enjoyed myself and fell asleep fully clothed with the music going only woken when a less than impressed Max pulled the early morning reverse and park arse on nose manoeuvre as the sun came up. Lovely, cheers Max. I guess that’s called a ‘Dog slut drop’.
Joanna arrived on Sunday after a 5 hour drive from Essex and we went to the pub followed by dinner onboard. The next couple of days involved about 15 miles of walking around Newcastle, site seeing, lunches, dinners and a sh*t load of talking. It was fantastic to be able to have a proper catch up and especially good for Joanna as she had a rare treat of ditching those pesky kids and only having to worry about herself. It was a great opportunity for Joanna to see first hand that a life devoid of responsibility, with no one else to consider, only yourself to please and nothing to do other than what you love to do isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be! Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I am doing this….
Joanna left Fiesta, Max and I and headed home on Wednesday morning after sneaking up to the marina and paying my mooring fees!!!! Very underhand, totally unnecessary and completely lovely of you Joanna, thank you.
On Wednesday night I caught up with my mate Adrian, last seen in Largs and before that, on the maiden voyage to Dover. He was in Newcastle for some work, leadership, motivational, corporate type conference malarky and we met up to discuss our lives swinging around the same axis but poles apart! I know I know, it’s not everyone else, it’s me.
Life can be tough and I see from friends and family that raising kids might start with a relatively satisfying 30 seconds but thereafter becomes a 24/7/365/25 year nightmare. No. I mean a totally rewarding life affirming experience and all I can do is try and console myself that unfortunately the 30 second part is the only bit that I will get to experience and other than that I will have to make do with my lot in life…..
In keeping with the stream of visitors and indeed the 30 seconds of pleasure (albeit one sided but who really cares), Sarah is due to arrive by train tomorrow and will be with me for a week. I’m really looking forward to that and her arrival will mark the end of a 90 day drought (well, for me at least)! I reckon she will really enjoy Newcastle and as long as I translate for her I am sure she will love the Geordie’s too. The Canadian in Sarah will also love the continuing British theme of everything being more than five minutes old along with the history that comes only through struggle, strife and conquering rather than being gifted a country by the British Empire.
Now, I know that’s not really accurate but I am confident that a flippant comment like that will leave one normally sweet, kind and placid Canadian girlfriend absolutely seething and yes Sarah, you are right, I do need to be punished!
For the last week I have really enjoyed not looking at the weather but now that I have, I see that the UK might be getting the tail end of hurricane Ophelia which may keep us in Newcastle into next week but thereafter it’s fingers crossed for some fair winds to allow for some further progress South. The aim is four stops until Wells-next-the-Sea at which point it really will feel like I am just a hop skip and a jump from home. I’ve seen some truly beautiful coastlines, enjoyed some picture postcard harbours and magical secluded anchorages far from civilisation and despite all of that I am pleased to say that I have missed the Essex Coast. I’m not sure if it was a phrase coined by my Dad or if it is a more general term but he always used to say. ‘Ah yes, The Magical East Coast’.
I’ve always loved it and despite the fact that some people will avoid it because of it’s shallowness, sand, mud banks and often featureless coastline, it delivers stunning estuaries and creeks in which to explored and disappear from view through to beautiful towns and villages far up meandering rivers. Ok, the water is muddy and even if it wasn’t there are no dolphins to see nor hidden harbours or fantastical rocky bays and headlands but nevertheless, as it was to my old man, it is to me ‘The Magical East Coast’ and I’m getting excited about being there again.
The entrance to the Tyne, a view of North Shields, graffiti and getting close to the ships in the narrow channel
Wandering around Newcastle. Surely ‘love padlocks’ are not ideas put forward by blokes???? Ridiculous!
Millennium Bridge and Jesmond Dene Park