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Tuesday, 27 September 2011


I'm working in Newcastle this week so thought I'd try posting from my laptop. (Be generous if I make a mess of this as it's my first attempt). Because it's work I've had to come in the car, but I've seen a few things of interest, first of which concerns motorbikes:

In carparks they have these bike locks. There's an extendable chain which you lock in place with your own padlock.

You  see the mechanism here. You insert a £1 coin to release the chain then lock it with your padlock. When you unlock, the pound coin is returned. This is to stop people leaving the chains lying on the ground. So the parking is free. I parked my car in a car park with these from 08:00 to 18:00 and had to pay £14!!!

I'm working in Royal Victoria Infirmary (maintaining electrical equipment - very boring!), and the 2 universities are near by (Newcastle and Northumbria). As this is the start of term, a lot of the local pubs and swinging nightspots are running promotions to encourage students to go, and one is offering a car as a prize based on 'The Inbetweeners' television show:

Yes, a tatty old Fiat with a non-matching door, just like in the show! Quality!!!!!

At the hospital I saw a rack of bicycles for hire:

You hire them by sending a text to the operator who texts you back with the code for the lock. At the end of the hire you lock the bike and text the code for the location you leave it at. Let's hope the system works and the bikes don't end up being stolen or at the bottom of the river!

Also nearby is Newcastle Civic Centre, a very large and striking building of, er, 'interesting' 60s architecture.

(Picture stolen from the Web as the ones I took on my phone weren't very good)

I'd always wanted to have a look at this ever since I heard it mentioned in the song 'Dan the Plan' by local singer Alan Hull. The song refers to T. Dan Smith, a local politician jailed for corruption in awarding contracts and connected with the building of the Civic Centre. The song contains the lines:

But the Civic Centre shines like money in your hand
Let's raise another glass to Dan the Plan

This isn't the first time I've gone to see a buiding mentioned in a song. I once rode across London to see the Hoover Factory, mentioned in the Elvis Costello song of the same name, and someone once wrote a song about the Luma lightbulb factory in Glasgow when it was being used as a caravan showroom 'Caravanland'

That's all for now, you might get another installment on my week in Newcastle. It depends on how bored I get sitting in my hotel room!


  1. Alan Hull, cool.

    He sang a song about Lidisfarne, or lived there, or was in a band called Lindisfarne - WHATEVER, just north of you, almost on the way home, just one photo, please!

    Don't get too bored.


  2. I've seen Alan Hull, playing with Lindisfarne (the band) at the Glasgow Apollo, and very good they were too. As for Lindisfarne (the tidal island) that was one of the first places I went on my Skorpion. There was an MZ dealer in Berwick, so we went to buy a manual and a spare set of cables. As Lindisfarne was just down the coast, we went for a look, but the tide was coming in and the road was very rapidly disappearing under water. If I finish the job early enough on Friday I might go back that way and hope my company don't notice. The car's fitted with a tracker and we're supposed to take the quickest route.

  3. Both of those seem like really good ideas, the bike lock and bike hire. The weakest link in the bike chain is that lock though...

  4. Yes, it looks a bit puny doesn't it! But as the rider supplies their own padlock, they make the choice over how good it is. Still, it's good to see a local council making some attempt to provide bike security.