This is the third instalment of my diary/travelogue/waytorememberitinyearstocome recording a couple of weeks spent travelling around Europe shooting black and white film.
Other parts are here:
Part 1 – Cossington, UK – Wioska, PL – Bratislava, SK
Part 2 – Bratislava, SK – Orosháza, HU – Szeged, HU – Cossington, UK
Sunday 23rd April – Cossington to Newcastle
A late train and the nightbus got me home just before midnight. I abandoned my bag, poured a (modest) whisky and slumped in a chair. Six and a half hours later, I woke up with yet another headache (or maybe the same one that I’d had for a week), with no chance of getting back off to sleep as I made mental lists of what I needed to unpack from the first part of the trip and prepare for the second.
The second part, a roadtrip to Scotland to see the Kylesku bridge, would be more about taking pictures and at a slower pace than the previous week. Being with my family meant a schedule to keep, regular meals times and a whole lot more organisation. This second week, travelling with a like-minded friend, would be much more casual.
We’d be taking our time getting to the bridge, stopping off at points along the way to serve our mutual interests in carscapes, motoring infrastructure, 20th century buildings and beer.
It was a beautiful morning. The apple tree in our garden had come into blossom while I’d been away and the pink flowers looked perfect against the clear, blue sky (but these blog posts are to show the black and white film pictures I took, so you’ll have to use your imagination about the tree!).
It was an easy drive north in Iain’s super-efficient, hybrid Toyota. I don’t often travel as a passenger and so I enjoyed the opportunity to look around and see the countryside a little more than I might if I’d had to concentrate on the road.
After a brief pilgrimage to the hyperbolic paraboloid roof of the Markham Moor service station on the A1, we called off at Durham to see more concrete. This time, it was the threatened brutalist lump that is Dunelm House, the student’s union building of Durham University.
As with so many buildings of its type, it isn’t protected, has suffered from poor maintenance and is threatened by demolition and ‘regeneration’. For some reason, this era of buildings is not faring well, with many disappearing in recent years. I understand that it needs money to maintain in good condition but it seems shortsighted that because of their construction materials and the nature of design, people would sooner remove these brutalist structures than preserve them for what they are – an important period of building design just like any other.
The current refurbishment of Westminster Palace will cost £7 billion (yep, £7,000,000,000!), surely we can find a few quid for buildings like Dunelm…
The magnificent Kingsgate bridge crosses from Durham’s old-town peninsular to Dunelm House. This elegant footbridge, high above the Wear gorge is made from the same materials as the adjacent building, but does have a grade 1 listing, protecting its future. It’s a special combination of weathering, grey concrete and delicate design.
Sir Ove Arup (1895-1988), academician, champion of ‘total architecture’ and doyen of 20th century structural engineers. He personally designed every detail of Kingsgate Bridge (1963), and was structural engineer and architectural advisor for Dunelm House (1965).
His bust keeps an eye out for those developers…
Back on the road we took the short drive from Durham to Newcastle and quickly arrived at our city centre hotel.
I’d only visited once before, but the city was just as spectacular as I remembered. The array of bridges over the Tyne gorge; the mix of c19th stone built neo-classic streets, carved apart by bright ideas from the 1970s and the relaxed, bustle of a major city that does things differently to those further south.
No visit to Newcastle is complete without a visit to the Free Trade Inn. It has a spectacular position looking west towards the city centre, directly aligned with the bridges across the Tyne. On a cold, bright St. George’s day, the Geordies were making the most of the evening sunshine.
After more than a few fantastic beers from north-eastern brewers like Almasty, Wylam and the Out There Brewing Company, we took a slow walk back along the quayside, enjoying the light in the sky, much later than it would have been back home…
All pictures were taken on a Leica M6 with a 35mm Summicron-M ASPH or a Fuji GZ690ii, using Ilford HP5+ or FP4+, developed in Ilford Ilfotec DD-X before being scanned at home.