It was the smoothest, quickest most trouble free departure lounge I had ever been through and I’ve been in a few. Less than twenty minutes after arriving at Tyne Dock and we were stood on the deck of a Dutch passenger ferry. It may not have been the cruise of a lifetime or a trip around the world, but it was a break away for my wife and I to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary.
The view from the top deck of the ship was spectacular. Behind us a huge commercial ship was anchored to the dock wall: a huge complicated structure of pipes and corrugated metal walls towering over a colossal blue hull. Across the water the derelict remnants of the ship yards which once not so long ago sprawled along both banks of the river Tyne. What remained was beautiful in it’s industrial concrete and wriggly tin sheets, block buildings and expansive workshops. The rest had already fallen away to be reclaimed as new roads, grass verges and car parks, immaculate waiting to be opened for waves of tourists and memory seekers.
The journey up the Tyne was fantastic. The bird’s eye view of landmarks appearing out of the fog were breathtaking. The wooden piers at Tynemouth Fish Market, Tynemouth Castle , the lighthouses and piers at North and South Shields, the cliff tops layered between dense curtains of fog. Unfortunately the fog only grew more dense as we approached the Netherlands and Amsterdam was veiled in thick cloud of smog, which was not the most suitable weather for sight seeing or photography.
On Thursday morning our ship sailed back to Tyne dock, the fog was finally clearing and blue skies welcomed us.
Friday we spent the day in Newcastle. The morning of the first solar eclipse visible in the UK since 1999. I had not expected to get any photographs of it, the forecast was similar to the cloudy weather we had experienced at the last eclipse. We weren’t plunged into darkness, the birds did not go silent but when 9.30 came the partially covered sun was glimpsing through the clouds and so I was able to capture a few images.
Then another reason we had ventured to Newcastle. A rare opportunity to climb up the one hundred and sixty four steps of Grey’s Monument, which had been opened to the public as part of English Tourism Week. The view across Newcastle was incredible and revealed the details of much of the architecture which is hidden from the streets below.