I had a week off work for pottering last week, in advance of this week's Newcastle trip and as most of my cycling so far this year has been pretty flat I decided it was about time to drag myself and Angel (my bike, obviously) up a couple of hills. My first ride was part of the Green Circular, a fantastic walking and cycling route that runs for 26 miles around the outskirts of Dundee. The section I rode was the stretch from Drumgeith Park, through Trottick Ponds, Templeton Woods, Camperdown Park then back along Riverside and the docks, so most of the climbing is in the first half of the ride. It was a nice sunny day, but with a cold wind.
And a fine old tree at Camperdown Park, where I resisted the call of the cafe and made do with the flapjack I'd brought with me.
My second ride of the week was to the oddly named Carrot Hill, and no, I don't know where the name comes from! If anything, it was even windier for this ride, so on top of the challenge of getting up the hill in the first place I had the joy of a 20 mph cross wind cycling down through Wellbank. Not a problem to a more confident cyclist, I'm sure, but leaning in to the road to avoid ending up in a field isn't really my idea of fun! As this was a tougher ride I'd planned in a lunch stop at Dobbies, which at least kept me going up the hill. On the way up I passed two pheasants who, in local parlance, were 'having a square go', and just before the top a fox ran across the road in front of me.
Don't generally do selfies, but then I don't often cycle up Carrot Hill, so I'm making an exception, plus that's my favourite long sleeved jersey!
The view on the way down
If you're wondering about the title of this week's post, all is about to become clear...on Friday night I went to see a band I last saw in 1997, the Saw Doctors. This was a belated birthday present from two of my brothers, as the gig had been postponed due to Davy Carton, the lead singer, needing surgery on his vocal chords. I have to admit, I did wonder what impact this would have, but it certainly didn't hold him back - if anything his voice is stronger than ever. Between me, David, my dad, two brothers, one with a friend, one of my uncles and his friend we were a pretty mixed bunch, which reflects a Saw Doctors crowd. In fact the only thing this audience shared was a love of 'the craic', which the Saw Doctors deliver in spades. From the more sentimental songs like Clare Island to the sheer fun of 'I Useta Lover' and 'Joyce Country Ceilidh Band' both the band and the audience were in fine voice and having a grand old time. The Snoop Dogg interlude was a thing to behold, and yes, you kind of had to be there 😜
This was the Green and Red of Mayo...
And this is Leo Moran, causing a fair bit of guitar envy!
Saw Doctors fans have a reputation for loyalty, and from this show I'd say it's wholly deserved. I'm not sure how the venue felt about the 30 minute encore,but as it included some of their finest rabble rousers it went down a storm with the crowd!
I'm sure further reviews will pop up on #gadgees blog soon for a different perspective.
A small aside; the last time I saw the Saw Doctors there was probably still a risk of cigarette burns on your jacket at a gig, but how times have changed - a #gadgee who shall remain nameless was vaping something caramel scented, adding a certain Werthers original note to proceedings, so erm, thanks for that!
Oh, and this was the first time I'd been to the O2 Academy in Newcastle. I had it in my head that it was a bit of a flea pit, but actually it's a lovely space. Perhaps not surprising, as it opened as a cinema in 1927, becoming the Majestic Ballroom in 1959 - I'd guess the stunning ceiling is original.
On Saturday we blew away the cobwebs with a walk at Whitley Bay where the redevelopment of Spanish City seems to be making good progress.
No trip to the coast is complete without an ice cream, and we got ours from the award winning Di Meos. This is one of those proper old fashioned Italian ice cream parlours you get at the coast where they have so many flavours you always end up panic buying some odd combination of flavours, or is that just me??
Next stop was Wylam Brewery for the Battle of the Burgers, where 10 local companies compete to be crowned, well actually I'm not entirely clear on that part, but any event that involves eating burgers at a brewery was always going to make it on to the agenda. Slightly confusingly, Wylam's new premises are actually in the Palace of Arts in the Exhibition park in Newcastle - nowhere near Wylam. As you may have guessed, the building was built as part of a great exhibition in 1929, and considering it was a temporary structure built from concrete, it is still pretty impressive - well worth a nosy. I had two (small) burgers, from Longhorns and The Shilling which were both very good, but let's face it, we were really there for the beer! no burger photos as I'm not quite up to one handed outdoor burger eating, plus the fact they went down pretty quickly....
I've had a couple of Wylam beers before, and in fact the first one I had at the brewery was one I'd had before, a lovely cream porter called #3000 gyles from home, as it was the 3000th beer they brewed. Next up was Haxan, another new dark beer style for me - a black wit. A very herbal beer with a lot of cloves going on. It tasted like what I would imagine a medieval ale might taste like, with the flavourings coming from herbs rather than hops, and was refreshing for a dark beer. Finally I went light with a lemon balm and rosemary saison; the kind of beer you could definitely drink with a meal in place of white wine - lovely!
From there we wandered back into town via the RVI and University. It's funny how you see your home town differently when you come back as a visitor, but there really is some impressive architecture in this part of town.
Last stop before getting the bus home was Brewdog, who were celebrating their 5th birthday. I joined the celebrations with an Omnipollo/Buxton ice cream pale ale, which tastes exactly as you'd imagine!
I have managed to fit in another pub trip since starting this post, so an honourable mention has to go to the Keelman pub, home to the Big Lamp Brewery, who've been brewing great beers since 1982. Anyone who claims you couldn't get decent beer in the UK 10 years ago wasn't looking in the right place, mentioning no names.....
The bitter may not be an 'interesting' beer, but it's a classic pint, and the Keelman Brown could give some trendier beers a run for their money.
Sadly the weather's not looking promising for the week ahead, but I'm hoping for a couple of bike rides, a trip to Beamish, and a museum crawl before we go to see Lux Lisbon on Friday.