Last night I got close to the shops. But not too close...I had a cunning plan and that was to drop off the various shoppers and then test myself against the urban jungle that is Newcastle.
I put a quid in the meter which paid for an hour and took off up Westgate Road. It follows the line of Hadrians Wall, but there was little evidence of it among the take-aways, motorbike shops and hairdressers that litter much of the road. No proud centurions or rampaging Scots (other than me, that was..)
The road climbs then falls steeply toward Denton and I cut left after 3 miles and down toward Scotswood Road. There were bright Christmas lights in the windows and on the cars with the occasional blue light from a passing police car. A few well lit cyclists buzzed past. When can you have too many lights? One had five on his rear after his front light caught me in the strobe. I passed the Vickers factory with a glum centurion tank parked at the gate...or is it a challenger. I read the place has been there in armaments since 1847 and made tanks and guns, not to mention the undercarriages for Lancasters and Spitfires...so I won't mention that bit. Onwards I ran past the Hydraulic Crane, or at least the site of the last pub that served the shipyards. Then down along the flat quayside to the Swing Bridge with the Christmas lights reflecting on the serene, black waters of the Tyne. Not many folk around.
Question: How Many bridges has Newcastle got?
I ran back up the Side and along Collingwood Street which once housed upmarket, busy offices in the 80's, but now seems to be an extension of the Bigg Market with ground floors now occupied by pubs attracting the punters.
I realised my hour was nearly up, but that was OK as I got to the car and there was no sign of any wardens. Later I bought myself a new pair of trainers. Well,....it is Christmas!