A couple of weekends ago I went to visit a very old and dear friend of mine who lives in the beautiful countryside in the surrounds of Newcastle. A couple of months ago, Red phoned me up to announce that a little surprise would be making an appearance this summer, which prompted me to go straight on to the internet and buy myself a train ticket. I arrived bearing all the usual photographic paraphernalia and some extra warm socks (I've visited the north of our fair isle enough to know that you embark on house visits with LAYERS in case the central heating decides to give up the fight, or there's a sudden blizzard, or you have unaccountably grown too long for the bed and your feet stick out the bottom of the blankets).
I digress. Knowing me very well, being book obsessed (she worked in publishing for years) and star location scout that she is, Red helped me deposit most of my impedimenta in the car and led me straight through the doors and up the wide, faded red carpeted staircase of the city's Literary and Philosophical society http://www.litandphil.org.uk/. My jaw clanged open. It probably hasn't changed in 50 years. Hell, it probably hasn't changed in a hundred. Two stories of books, shelves upon shelves. At rather rickety old tables, on rather uncomfortable looking chairs, folk sat reading, or playing chess. They drank strong-looking tea from disposable plastic cups and one got the impression that the place is truly important to the community. If it was in London it'd be full of uber trendy types, and would be nicely restored, and your tea would be served (at £4 a cup rather than 20p) in some whimsical vintage china. I fell in love. And then we took some photos.
Newcastle is just gorgeous. I need to go back there and shoot properly in town. So many arches. So many bridges. Old... New... The city is crying out to frame the people I long to shoot there!
The next day, a lovely lazy Sunday, I shook off the dazed feeling of somehow having drunk most of a bottle of rioja (when one's friend is pregnant suddenly one drinks alone) and we set off on an adventure to Barter Books http://www.barterbooks.co.uk/ - which was once a first class waiting room and is now the most amazing, photogenic and frankly massive secondhand bookshop. Poetry overhead. Random rooms where one can take tea or a hearty sandwich to the side. After we'd taken a few shots of madame lounging on a lovely sofa I found the photography section and settled down to read...
We finished off with a trip to the beach. My first sight of the sea since I came back from Cuba at the end of January. Beautiful... Amazing... One heck of a backdrop! For the first time since I've known her Red got out of breath walking up the hill on the way back. I guess being 6 months' pregnant is just about an excuse.
Darling Red, I loved spending time with you. I've tried not to gush here in case you get all embarrassed. Thank you for being such a willing and amazing model. I can't wait to meet your little bambino when he puts in an appearance later this year. You can bet your arse I'll be taking his portrait too :-)