Today is a bus day so we got started early. It’s another grey day but as long as it doesn’t rain we shall be fine.
For breakfast we picnicked briefly on a bench in Eldon Square then went into the nearby bus station to take a bus to Beamish, “The living museum of the North”.
On arriving at Beamish the first thing to do was have a cup of tea in the rather Spartan cafe. When it came to buying tickets to go in, we received a 25% discount because we had come by bus – a nice piece of environment-friendliness.
Beamish resides on a beautiful and large site. Its size allows for various forms of transport to be put into meaningful use. There are several areas to explore. You will find a map of these on the Beamish Web site and I will just mention four: the Town, the Pit Village (and coal mine), Home Farm and Pockerly Manor. Each of these contains appropriate buildings built from parts of genuine period houses, banks and shops rescued from demolition in various parts of the UK. Here is an example, a branch of Barclay’s Bank as it would have appeared in Victorian times.
There were two trams in action and the first one we rode on was a single-decker.
I have to admit that my favourite part was The Town. That’s where the bank is, together with a row of beautiful old shops. There is also a Freemasons’ Lodge, and when we visited it, someone very knowledgeable – a Mason himself – was there to explain things to us.
We visited the garage and cycle works, that you can see in the above picture, the Co-operative store, and – not least – the first-floor tea-room! In the clothing shop, Tigger tried on some of the hats.
We visited all parts of the Co-operative store, had a quick look inside the pub – which was doing a good trade as an actual pub – and then went for coffee in the large tea room above the Co-op.
We had a look inside the large and well appointed Beamish Board School dating from 1891. I managed to squeeze into one of the desks, something I had not done for… for… well, for quite some time!
There is a row of miners’ cottages beside the drift mine. Each cottage is furnished and decorated in the style of a different period.
To go back up the hill, we took a ride in this magnificent saloon car, whose design dates from 1903. It is an exact replica and was driven by a very informative chauffeur.
We also travelled on the double-deck tram, the site being large enough to give you a realistic trip. We thought of going upstairs but as the tram had been built in an era when people were smaller, it would have been a bit of a squeeze, so we stayed downstairs!
We had a very busy time at Beamish but did not cover the whole site. There were parts we gave cursory attention to and others that we missed altogether. We could go again and there would still be plenty to see. Our tickets are valid for one year, so we might well return.
We went to the bus stop outside the entrance, hoping to travel on to Chester le Street before returning to Newcastle. A bus soon arrived but it was for Newcastle. The driver told us that the next bus in 5 to 10 minutes would take us where we wanted to go, so we waited. Either he was lying or the bus alluded to didn’t run because it never appeared.
We waited 40 minutes until another Newcastle bus arrived and we boarded this one, now having lost our enthusiasm for travelling further afield. We were in fact feeling quite tired and thinking that we should return to the hotel for a rest.
After our rest, Tigger’s idea was to go down the Quayside as we had not yet seen it and there are plenty of eateries and perhaps more choice than in the centre. If all else failed, we could always come back and eat again at Tandoori Nights.
We boarded bus Q2 with destination St Peter’s Basin and Tigger pinged the bell at what looked like a good place. We dismounted and found we were at Quayside. Here we were spoilt for choice as there were restaurants of every kind. Walking and looking at menus, we chose an Indian restaurant, called Simla, offering vegetarian thali. This one had an interesting twist: you could choose any three items from the list of side dishes. They would even do matar paneer even though it wasn’t on the menu.
After dinner we went for a wander along the bank of the Tyne. With all the lights, the scene was very beautiful. We crossed the Gateshead Millennium Bridge to the south side of the river, in Gateshead. Very soon a Q1 bus hove is sight and we ran towards the stop, hoping to catch it. The driver kindly stopped and we boarded. The bus took us on a complicated trip around the quay area of Gateshead but eventually crossed the river into Newcastle and deposited us within easy walking distance of the hotel.
Today’s visit to Beamish was certainly one of the highlights of the trip. We probably saw no more than half of it but our tickets are valid for a year and we will try to return within that time to see some of what we missed.
This was our last day in Newcastle. Tomorrow we return to London. I can say that Newcastle held some surprises for me, and that there are many interesting and beautiful things to find here. The people are generally friendly and helpful. I sometimes wished they came with subtitles, though, and they didn’t always understand me straightaway, either.
Was it a good trip? Yes, undoubtedly. Would I come again? Yes, but not immediately. There are other places I would like to discover or revisit first.
Tomorrow we return to London and I am looking forward to it, as always.
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