Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

30th June 2014

Geordieland Champion
Posted by at 7.57pm | No responses | Out and About

As is traditional, here is my end-of-trip tidying up report.

Transpennine 1st Class

Transpennine Express

I travelled to Newcastle and back on the new direct service from Liverpool which commenced on 12th May. I say “new”, it’s actually a reintroduction of a regular service which used to run until the timetable was rejigged a few years ago, diverting most services to Scarborough.

For once, the Transpennine Express is worthy of the name. This trip is FAST – the end to end journey time is just a shade over 3 hours, and the time from Liverpool to Manchester Victoria is just 32 minutes, non-stop. We hurtled through St Helens at 80mph – always the best way to experience St Helens.

In a fit of extravagance, I had booked First Class tickets. As I slumped into my extra-wide seat, the friendly First Class host approached me to offer a drink and a pastry. We hadn’t even left Lime Street. Thumbs up for attentiveness there!

He came around again after Manchester, offering further snacks – embarrassing for me as I still had my previous croissant on the table. He appeared again after Leeds, and York. He came around again for a final patrol at Chester-Le-Street, just 12 minutes before reaching the final terminus.

Maybe I was lucky to get a good train crew, but I was very happy to be plied with snacks for the length of the trip.

Baltic Arts Centre

Yes, yes, it’s in Gateshead, not Newcastle. I didn’t have as much time to look around as I would have liked, but I did see an interesting exhibition by Lorna Simpson. I then headed up to the 4th floor where some amazing views over Newcastle could be had. There were a disconcerting number of nesting gulls immediately next to the viewing platform.

Baltic Centre Nesting

Afterwards I headed to the centre’s cafĂ© for a sandwich and a drink, and an exchange which became quite familiar during my stay in the city.

“What would you like to drink?”
“A Coke, please.”
“A Currrk?”

Scouse vs Geordie, there.

At the gift shop, there were Angel of the North bookends on sale, which I just couldn’t resist. Every home should have one (or two, depending on how your shelves are arranged).

Angel Bookend

As he wrapped my purchase, the man on the till told a tale of how, one Christmas, the Sunday Times recommended the bookend to its readers as a last-minute gift idea. This resulted in 500 orders arriving 10 days before last posting day, resulting in panicked manufacturing of extra product and a last-minute dash to the Post Office in a van. Yet again, a Murdoch publication causes suffering to the common man.


Shallowness time: Geordie men seem to have an above-average level of handsomeness. Maybe I’m biased – ever since I first tuned in for Neighbours and saw Andrew Hayden-Smith sign off at the end of CBBC, I have found the Geordie accent heartstoppingly gorgeous. As I walked along the Quayside on Thursday night, I repeatedly turned my head as another impossibly beautiful man passed me. Maybe it’s good breeding, maybe there’s something in the water, but there’s a certain je ne sais quoi which pleased me.

So yes, I very much approved of Newcastle. It’s a most agreeable place to spend a few days. Get yourself a cheap Advance ticket and see the sights!

Tyne Bridge

If you haven’t already done so, check out my Station Master blog, where I have been recording the stations I visited while in the North East.

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