The blog of a travelling psychiatrist and football lover. Who happens to be a halfway decent photographer. Takes a cynical view of the world

Archive for the tag “newcastle”

An hour in Newcastle on Tyne

As with many trips there is never enough time to see a city properly . But if you have an hour just walk down to the quayside area . The choice is walk along the Tyne. Walk over a bridge. There are plenty to choose from.

The lower level bridge is my favourite for no good reason. One is undercover and the smell of urine is not far away. But a few curious aspects. The padlocks are interesting. To read the inscriptions . Compare the different types. Wonder how many of the couples who placed them here are still together?

The views are also good of all the other bridges. When you reach the far side you are in Gateshead. And it does seem as though you have left Newcastle.

This is a great city and a friendly one too. Well worth an hour wandering around

Reflections on Sydney Australia

A few hours is never enough to form cogent opinions on anything. Australia seems a vibrant enough place, hot, it was 37 c in the Olympic Park area and very crowded. An evening walking around Sydney Harbour was not unlike a football crowd leaving a major stadium. But what memories remain?

Australians clearly like their lager, Crown lager was a good example, but I saw no evidence of the kind of drunkeness that one might see on the streets of London or Newcastle. In fact warning posters cited large fines for drunken behaviours. But folks were clearly enjoying themselves around Sydney Harbour drinking wine in couples or in groups. Many huge hotels line the harbour area and the streets around. An eclectic mix of different mainly small restaurants and food wagons. Sad to report but my dinner that night consisted solely of ice cream bought in the Guylian Chocolate cafe. Thoroughly recommended. A single red telephone box adorned the corner of a street. Remaining on the ice cream topic there were many more examples of nice ice creams that one might see in the UK. A greater variety for example of Magnums.

The harbour in addition to being lined by people, wine, noise, ice creams and magnums, also was lined by plentiful small boats and a huge cruise liner , Carnival Spirit, docked at the terminal right in the harbour. Interesting food such as little what I termed ” Domino cakes” also was available. Despite all this lively atmosphere there was also another side to the city with evidence of homeless folks and begging. It was very difficult to say if they were genuine as the beds and the begging seemed somewhat co-ordinated. But left a sad feeling nonetheless.

Away from the central city is the Olympic Park home to the 2000 Olympic games. A large area with hotels and not much else. ANZ stadium is home to many concerts including that weekend Taylor Swift.

Sydney was selected as the host city for the 2000 games in 1993. Teams from 199 countries participated. The United States won the most medals with 93, while Australia came in 4th with 58. The games cost was estimated to be A$6.6 billion. The Games received near-universal acclaim, with the organisation, volunteers, sportsmanship and Australian public being lauded in the international media.

Last and not least the mysterious Australian Barbie. 


Around Sydney Harbour



Australian Barbie



Domino Cake



Domino Cake



Sydney Olympic Park ANZ Stadium

Sydney Olympic Park




Sydney Olympic Park


The First Ever I Phone photo I like. Let us rejoice.

photobeerSomething just a little atmospheric about this photo despite taken with the dreaded I Phone.


Bizarre plane and Curious Airline. Antonov An- 74. Cavok Air. Old bag come fly with me to Newcastle Airport

Landing this morning at Newcastle on a routine British Airways flight I noticed a bizarre shaped plane that looked deformed with CAVOK written on the side.  My first thoughts were  some sort of spy plane, but a little bit of research informed that that Cavok aero are indeed a real company and they live here

The plane itself I was tweeted by Newcastle Airport was an Antonov An -74.  Here you see a snap  I took with the disappointing I Phone camera ( Apple please improve your camera, forget the filters that hide the poor quality but the basic camera is really poor) and one that Newcastle Airport tweeted back.

Cavok indeed are real and this is what they say:

CAVOK AIR was established in 2011 and start its operation since 26.04.2012 – the date of receiving Airline Operator Certificate from Civil Aviation Administration of Ukraine.


What do they do? Well here with some interesting use of the English language we find out. As a prelude what is really encouraging is that they do ” Ground and Flight stuff”

The main activity directions of CAVOK AIR are:
— Air cargo transportation
— DG and special cargo transportation
— Cargo charter operations with 24H flight watch
— Planning and flight support
— Obtaining diplomatic and special permits

I like the bit about a Ukrainian air cargo company obtaining diplomatic and special permits. What exactly are these? Maybe more examples of ground and flight stuff………


So onto the planes themselves. Never actually seen anything like it ever.  This is what Cavok have to say


Antonov An-74 is a twin-turbofan airplane designed to carry up to 10,0 tonnes of cargo at a cruising speed of up to 700 km/h at a cruising flight altitude of 10,100 m.

The engines have low fuel consumption and high level of reliability. They meet ICAO requirements for aircraft engine emissions and noise. High engine arrangement practically precludes ingestion of foreign objects into engine air intakes at takeoff and landing even when operating on pebble airfields. Landing gear with low-pressure tires allows autonomous operation of the aircraft on both hard-surface runways and unpaved strips.

  The rear fuselage features a mechanized cargo door used for loading/unloading cargoes, wheeled vehicles, livestock cargo, …. . The internal crane enables to load and move inside the cargo compartment pcs up to 2,500 kg.    

This is all good news. Many travellers, mostly in front of me at Heathrow this morning seemed to have 2500kg of luggage so this might be the airline for them.

What however is weird is that they just dont look right. Why those huge engines seemingly balanced on the wing ? The plane also looks like a small passenger jet and not a cargo plane. Anyway great looking plane and seemingly great little company.


Holy Island AKA Lindisfarne Island

Holy Island is a small island off the Northumbrian coast about 40 miles north of Newcastle. The Lindisfarne Inn that sits on the A1 at the junction with the road that takes you to the causeway is the best place to stay. The island is connected to the mainland by a causeway that allows accessibility at some stage most days, usually for around 6-7 hours, and the tide tables are easily visible on the internet, in pubs and in fact almost everywhere you are advised to check! If you do not then your car will get turned into a boat and not with a James Bond happy outcome. 

The island has a castle run by National Trust which is well worth a visit. A decent walk uphill to the castle is a good start to the day. The downhill walk leads firstly to some coffee shops, where it is obligatory to stop off and have scones, cakes, paninis and maybe all of these. Next door is a fudge shop that does some good flavours, including Salty Caramel, pronounced the winner. Then the Lindisfarne Priory with St Marys Church in its grounds. The choice here is pay for the priory or get the church and graveyard free. Another choice was go after closing hours and hop over the wall into the priory as a number of folks did ( not us). 

The drive back over the causeway is a great piece of fun too. Go there!ImageImageImageImage

Airport Security – what is your opinion?

Over the last 5 days I have travelled on 8 flights through various continents and been subjected to varying degrees of airport security . In general terms it has been tedious with slow queues essentially due to too few people and sometimes too few scanners to walk through. Sometimes the belt I wear sets the alarm off and sometimes not. That is not the reason for the blog. The reason is the security specifically at Newcastle Airport this afternoon. To give context the airport is incredibly busy with folks setting out on holidays and filling the bars beforehand to give them a headstart. I saw a family with two small children, they both looked about 2 in a double pushchair. The gate was unlocked to allow the pushchair not to go through the scanner. Looked sensible to me overall. I then saw a male security guard ask to frisk the children. The girl was taken out and given a totally perfunctory patting down because she was howling and trying to reverse rapidly away from this man ( totally predictable and understandable). The boy remained asleep in the pushchair during his also somewhat perfunctory examination. He was not moved so actually anything could have been underneath him. The parents and grandmother seemed not to object. My conundrum is that I would have objected if this had been my youngsters on a number of grounds. Firstly if the exercise was in airport security, then ” nil points” as any item could have remained undetected. Secondly it did all seem so unnecessary. We really have to use some common sense in security and mostly this seems to happen. I tweeted this story and Newcastle Airport tweeted back and to their credit send an email address to where a complaint might be made. I am not going to make any complaint as this did not happen to my children and presumably the parents will not either.

A strange sunday

Well not all stange. Saturday we had the pleasure of the Burlington school fete, which lacked some of the side shows of previous years, in fact lacked all of them. Then headed down to see Sarah for dinner. We were met by Alice demanding that I came upstairs to see her tidy bedroom and show me the baby hamster ( that looked more like a petrified shrew). Alice was on form and not happy to be sent to bed at about 9 pm. Wine and champagne was consumded to celebrate Sarah having this literary agent represent her. We stayed down at that Fareham hotel as too old to drive back late.
Today we got back around 1pm and was happily sitting in the garden. Temperature around 30 today at least. Suddenly saw a small white dog trotting at the top of the garden, a sort of cross between a poddle and a king charles spaniel. Nice dog. Clearly thirsty. Collar but no details. So elena and I spent 2 hours trudging the local streets to see if we could find anyone looking for their dog. Knocked at a few doors that the dog seemed interested in but no joy. So in the end the Merton dog warden came, scanned the nek and a chip was there and took the dog to hopefully find its owner. Funny old day.
am driving again to Newcastle early monday morning, another 350 miles……….joy.

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