The Toon is a beautiful city (award-winningly so, actually, since Grey Street was named ‘Best street in the UK’ by BBC Radio 4 listeners in 2002), and the reason I think it is so beautiful is because of the real mixture of styles and views and places.
It’s an old city, and that’s seen in the far from logical way that the older streets and suburbs are arranged; slotted together as each generation added their own stamp to place. The highway system that criss-crosses and loops its way around and over is confusing to drivers, but provides a concrete contrast to the elderly red-bricks of nearby churches and university buildings, or the ever-present cattle, grazing on the Town Moor.
Ancient abbey ruins and modern monstrous malls sit uncomfortably close together, and yet they do co-exist: oddly, but wonderfully.
On the way out to the sea you’ll find the foundations of a 2000 year old fort, sitting in the shadow of abandoned shipyards; and castle ruins looming over crashing waves and resolute fishermen.
And back in town, modern shops sit on Georgian streets; lairy revellers stumble along mediaeval chares in search of another party; and at the edge of the city a river runs beneath a multitude of old and new bridges on it’s way out to the coast.
It’s taken me a little while to warm to Newcastle, but it now really feels like my town. Weirdly, this is also the first place that I’ve ever lived where I have proper family ties. This old city is the land of my fathers, and I’m discovering the joys of being in a place where generations before me belonged, and there are family stories to be told or links to be made.
And of course, there are lots of little quirks that make the place extra special: cool, wee cafes to rest in, free art to provoke and entertain, intriguing relics of the cities past-life to gaze at, and random street signs to photograph: