Saturday, August 26, 2006

The olds town

We had an evening meeting in Newcastle to put out a small work related forest fire. After an unexpectedly swift and positive conclusion we retired for a celebratory drink.

Our fifty-something, perhaps sixty-something, Geordie host and guide walked us down to a pub by the river, but not before admiring the 'winking eye' bridge and more specifically, it's hydraulic action.

Eventually we entered a pub with thundering pop-dance being played over the PA. The four of us had a combined age of around 190, the average reduced significantly by the presence of me and a colleague, not that this seemed to matter to the man who could have been the father to those around him. We were surrounded by immaculately dressed twenty-somethings, like an explosion at the cleavage factory. And this was a Thursday. The art of dressing up to go out was briefly lamented before leaving.

Having had only a sandwich, and it approaching 9pm, most of us were in that funny place between needing food and being OK for the time being. We decided to get a quick snack. We were lead over the winking eye bridge to Gateshead an old flour mill which was now a swish restaurant. It was closed.

The need for food was then apparently forgotten because we decided we needed to see the Sage Gateshead. Our host, an engineer obsessed with engineering (and not apparently food), took us through the minutiae of its construction before persuading a sleepy night porter to show us around one of the empty auditoriums.

We crossed back over to Newcastle and headed, finally, for something to eat. It was getting on for 10pm and we only wanted a snack, so we were met with a plethora of brilliant excuses for not serving us; my personal favourite being 'sorry we can't serve an espresso with a starter after 9.30, I have to go on a course for that'.

After several false starts and another stopover for a drink, we were accepted at Big Mussel for a half kilo bowl. We then strolled back towards our hotel, but not before quickly going to see the the nearby station, which just happened to have a bar in it.

Eventually we got back to the hotel for a final drink. That was a night out in Newcastle as defined by a semi-retired engineer. In structure, it was rather alien to me; we'd had about 4 drinks in about 8 pubs and one meal from 6 attempts. All of which was less unusual than returning home with an unhealthy understanding of the engineering merits of the city's finest landmarks.


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