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After several days working from home I’ve managed to escape the confines of the office and do some research for a forthcoming article. Dawn dropped me off at Huddersfield station on her way in to work at ‘ACoRP Towers’, allowing me to pick up a train to head East

I’m now in the lap of luxury – a six car TPE set working a local Leeds stopper! Whilst this is lovely, I can’t help wondering about using 100mph Class 185s on such a service. It hardly strikes me as a sensible use of resources.

Still, I’m not grumbling, it beats bouncing along in a Pacer or a 150!

14:31. South Gosforth.

I’ve moved a bit! I’m now on the Tyneside Metro en-route to Whitley Bay after a stop in Durham to sample the new station bar – The Waiting Room. This is the latest edition to the stable of stations with decent pubs and it’s a cracker!

The rooms have been rescued from dereliction after their previous use as a newspaper delivery room and restored to a very high level. The bar has three hand pumps, all dispensing beers from the region.

DG305953. The waiting room pub. Durham. 29.8.18crop

DG305956. The waiting room pub. Durham. 29.8.18crop

18:42 Aboard a TPE service back from Newcastle to York..

Today’s been busy – and suffered from a lack of internet access so I’ve not updated this blog as much as I’d hoped to. That said, it’s been a fascinating day. I’ve not explored the Tyne and Wear metro for several years, despite planning to – and today’s trip was very spur of the moment (so apologies to Paul Young when he reads this). My diary’s very few empty days in it right now, so when needs must.

What can I say about the T&W metro apart from the fact that it’s showing its age and it’s not just the trains? OK, it dates from the very early 80s (which makes it younger than the Merseyrail network which has been refurbished) but it has a lot of brutalist architecture and stations that really don’t feel that welcoming. It’s almost a throwback to the Thatcher years in someways. I travel the length & breadth of the country every year and I’m stuck to think of many places with stations this dispiriting, never mind a network of them.

To be fair, there are older (far more attractive) stations on the T&W network, but that just goes to show these ones up even more. Travelling round today reminded me of the former East Germany in some ways.

It’s not all bad. I stopped off at Monkseaton station which is a fine example of North Eastern Railway architecture and boasts a wonderfully eccentric real ale pub (The Left Luggage Room) that opened in 2016.

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It’s a fabulous jumble of mismatched furniture and tables, books, guitars plus a piano (Sunday nights are buskers nights). There’s even a rhino’s head on the wall behind the bar. Oh, and where else in the country can you play ‘Rhino Quoits’?

DG306012. Left luggage room pub. Monkseaton. 29.8.18 crop

15:00 Whitley Bay.

I nipped along the line one more stop to have a look at Whitley Bay. In the last century it was a popular resort for Geordies taking a break from the mines or shipyards. Like most seaside towns the death of heavy industry and the emergence of the cheap package holiday abroad spelled trouble. After years of decline investment is coming into the town and there are obvious signs of improvement as derelict building have been replaced with new developments, but it’s still a bit of a sorry place. Many shops are vacant (when charity shops close and the local British Legion’s up for sale, you know a place is in trouble).

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But there are green shoots, like the local Whitley Bay brewing company, who’ve recently taken over this wonderful looking pub on South Parade.

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There’s also new developments like this, which until recently was a derelict site on the corner of the Promenade and Esplanade, directly down from the station.

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Even the station’s come up in the world as it now possesses both a cafe and a bar/restaurant. The café (Coffee Central) is decorated in whimsical style and possesses a large covered seating area outside as well as a cosy interior.

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On Tuesdays you can even get Spanish lessons there (see sign on right)!

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The bar and restaurant (Olives) occupies another wing of the station and also has a large outside seating area.

21:00. Leeds

I was trying to pass through quickly but delays meant that it wasn’t to be. That said it was an interesting experience when I nipped through the barriers to grab a sandwich. The diminutive woman (and sole member of staff) crewing the barriers was trying to deal with a 6′ 4″ transvestite who was trying to attract attention (in every wrong way), as I crossed the concourse there was the obligatory drunk trying to make friends with any poor mug who’d sat down & was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

21:24.

Escaped again! My connection was running late so I’m on a different train that will arrive in Halifax with just a few minutes difference. This is one of the beauties of an increase in Calder Valley services – I don’t have to hang around for long. OK, we’re not at London metro standards yet, but when I look back at Calder valley timetables from the 1970s-80s this is luxury.

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