A Learning Experience


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Published: August 22nd 2019
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Northumbria University
It had been an eventful weekend. A monsoon of deluge proportions had left parts of the UK under water. The M5 was a nightmare, even more so than usual. We were in Exeter for my nephew's wedding. The fingers were firmly crossed for a dramatic improvement in the skies or an outdoor reception might have proved an unfortunate choice. There was an element of Four Weddings And A Funeral about the day. The bride rocked up 10 minutes late. I was contemplating that I might sneak in the 2nd half at the local non league football about a mile from church as a contingency..... no point wasting journey. We had plenty of mistakes from the vicar during the service, who was determined to give Rowan Atkinson - the "movie vicar" - a run for his money. The family side was already vastly outnumbered by the bride's local connections. A mild heart attack on Friday night for one of the number depleted us even further. It was good news in the end, but the delights of a wedding for one were swapped for the confines of the Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital. I stepped up and did more journeys to a hairdressers
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Northumberland CCC v Cambridgeshire CCC
in Topsham than I was planning.



Two days on, I am back in more familiar territory. A 370 mile journey sees me alight in Newcastle, which was fortunately bathed in pleasant sunshine. Sun is equally handy for cricket matches, as well as wedding receptions. I set about making my usual mental notes as part of my one man crusade to blog the North East. I wandered through the city centre and grabbed a free coffee from those nice people Waitrose. A floral tribute on the edge of Eldon Square marked the spot of an unfortunate incident just prior to the weekend, where the youth of today had once more got handy with a blade. There was a much higher police presence than you would normally see on a weekday morning to reassure the public. It was not quite 10 am, when I deposited my bag at the hotel. Flags fluttered from the lamp columns on the adjacent streets. They were highlighting the World Transplant Games 2019 ongoing across Newcastle and Gateshead. The qualifications for participants included the obvious, but also presumably a bit of funding to make the venue. The competitors and their families wandered round either
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exploring or on the way to a venue proudly wearing team tracksuits. The badminton and table tennis were scheduled in the indoor sports complex of the University of Northumbria, which hides away in the city centre just off the central motorway. The various countries were busy going through their warm ups on the courts in the cavernous hall. The complex seemed also to house a swimming pool and to my amazement, I discovered a 60 metre indoor sprint track. The title of Sport CentraI was no exaggeration. I nipped in to watch a bit of the badminton practice. Great Britain will be victorious based on flags of support, but time will tell. I headed off towards Jesmond, where I would see my first Minor Counties cricket match. The roads were quiet and the only excitement was the aftermath of a Sainbury's delivery HGV, which had attempted to rearrange the safety fencing opposite the Arriva bus garage on Sandymount Road. Northumberland were hosting Cambridgeshire in a 3 day game at the home of Newcastle Cricket Club. The suburb of Jesmond is a leafy, pleasant place and home to some of the finer townhouses in the inner city area. The prices reflect
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the desirability. I walked past the official residence of the Lord Major of Newcastle situated in a grand old Victorian villa. The cricket ground was tucked away off Osborne Avenue. A 1970s modern pavillion come bar / restaurant dominates, but somehow looks a little out of place. The old scoreboard had been retained for matches when the electronic version was not deemed a requirement. Northumberland share the venue with Newcastle Cricket Club and the Royal Grammar School. Day 1 had seen Cambridgeshire rack up a massive 401, before putting the squeeze on Northumberland before the close. They resumed on 65 for 4 in front of a small band of cricket enthusiasts. The sound of leather on willow wasn't as regular as Northumberland would have liked, but they reached 150 for the loss of 7 wickets. A follow on still looked very likely. The Cambridgeshire following of 1 looked happy enough with events. He had come prepared with his own deck chair, which he established in his favoured spot. He then spent the whole 1st session of play elsewhere and didn't sit in it once! Seats weren't exactly in high demand, as the crowd swelled to 33 when a few strays wandered in on their lunch break. The free entry didn't seem to be a draw for the school kids in their holidays. The thrills and spills of the T20 Bash were not in evidence in NE2. However unsuccessful the Toon Army, the North Eadt remains a "hotbed" of football and not cricket. I can't say I was too distressed about the latter. My recent experience at Trent Bridge had been tainted by the "new" cricket fan, who seems unable to sit still for long .... off to the bar, off to get food, off anywhere. Northumberland battled on. The eventual total of 262 would have looked pretty sorry without the 155 knock by number 4 batsman Mike Richardson. He specialised in the cover drive for 4 runs through the offside. It saves running. The extension of the innings allowed me to identify another 3 from the Cambridgeshire neck of the woods, who seemed to be family members of one of their bowlers. The stalwart batting had been a limited success. The lead in runs was still substantial, but the bowlers were flagging. The expected enforced follow on didn't materialise and Cambridgeshire elected to bat again. I retreated back into the
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city to check into my hotel. The delights of Prudhoe awaited later.

The first allocated hotel room had a toilet, that steadfastly refused to flush. "The pressure is really low and sometimes you have to press really hard", the reception helpfully added. I figured that I could live without that inconvenience and swapped rooms. I moved higher, which was fine for me but others might have been worried given one of the lifts was out of action (and according to the reviews, had been for months).The toilet flushed a treat. Simple things. I also had a more panoramic view of the central motorway and the modern Northumbria University building that resembles the Sage. I grabbed my jacket and headed back to Newcastle Central. Prudhoe is situated about 12 miles up the Tyne Valley towards Hexham. I had been on the same line to Wylam recently. The journey time in the rails was only 22 minutes. The bus via the Metro entre took ages. It was a simple choice that would backfire on me later! I purchased my off peak day return. The train follows the southern bank of the Tyne Valley. Prudhoe Station sits below the town and it's most famous landmark. Prudhoe Castle is visible, as you alight. I knew it was closed on Monday and Tuesday, but I tried without much success to get closer to take a few decent photographs. The Castle is a throwback to cross border raids by the Scots. The Percy family controlled it for years, but now the commanding views over the Tyne Valley is under the jurisdiction off English Heritage. A huge mosaic of a badger on the adjacent hillside compensated for the lack of Castle photographs. I made a note to check the relationship between Prudhoe and badgers.

I climbed the hill into town. The attraction of Prudhoe is somewhat limited. The high street was fairly quiet, as l studied the options for something to eat. The standout option is Glorias. The mun offered an early bird special between 4 and 6 pm. £7:95 buys you 3 courses from pretty much every section of the normal menu, except the dessert section. I climbed the stairs to the surprisingly large first floor premises. The street outside had been quiet, but the secret of the early evening menu was out among the locals and a fair few were already tucking in. The portions were huge, so I opted for a coffee as my dessert selection. Meanwhile from the first floor window, I had spotted the Wor Local Micropub. It seemed rude not to give it a go. At £2 a pint, the Tyneside Renegade went down well. I headed off to find a football ground.

Newcastle University are one of the newcomers in Northern League 2 this season and have adopted Kimberley Park in Prudhoe as their home to fit in with league ground requirements. They romped the Northern Alliance last year. A simple social club set up with roof extension to the front provides covered standing. A seated stand lies further on the same side. The obligatory bus shelter stand sita between the two. New looking floodlights complete the package. The master stroke of the Uni is to play some home games on a Monday, which allows the wandering, itinerant football fans in the North East the opportunity to take in another game. At £4, it is cheaper than the usual Northern League 2 prices as well. The opposition was in the form of other newcomers, Carlisle City - the second team in the Cumbrian city. The FA had
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forcibly moved them from the North West sections of non league football as part of their latest shake up "to improve the game" The trip tonight was the closest Carlisle would get to a local derby this season. The match itself was looking good for the students, until a wonder strike for Cumbrians on the break gave them self belief. Carlisle City would s or 2 further quality goals in the 2nd half to run out 3-2 winners. The crowd of 105 headed off into the night satisfied by level of entertainment. I walked swiftly back to the railway station. Arriving 10 minutes before the due departure time of the train back to Newcastle, my night was was ruined by an automated tannoy announcement. "We are sorry to announce the cancellation of the 22:18 service to Newcastle and Hartlepool. The train has developed a fault". It was another 59 minutes to the next train at 23:18. The 59 minute delay quite conveniently restricts the amount of delay compensation you can claim. I was only plessed it was a mild night. I rolled into Newcastle Central somewhat later than planned. The bus would have been quicker after all. You live and
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learn!



Appendix 1

Unicorns Championship Minor Counties Cricket (Eastern Divison)

Northumberland CCC v Cambridgeshire CCC


Date : Monday 19th August 2019 @ 1100 Hours

Venue : Newcastle Cricket Club, Osborne Avenue, Jesmond, Newcastle, Tyne & Wear. NE2 1JS

Attendance : Est 33

Scores : First Innings - Cambs 401 for 7 (90 Overs) & Northumberland 262 All Out (70.2 Overs)

Second Innings: Cambs 187 All Out (54.1 Overs) & Northumberland 276 all Out (80.1 Overs)

Cambridgeshire CCC win by 50 Runs



Appendix 2

EBAC Northern League Division 2


Newcastle University FC 2 Carlisle City 3

Date : Monday 19th August 2019 @ 1945 Hours

Venue : Kimberley Park, 2 Broomhouse Road, Prudhoe, Tyne & Wear. NE42 5EH

Attendance : Est 105

Scorers : 1-0 Christie (NUFC) 13 Mins 1-1 McCartney (CCFC) 26 Mins, 1-2 Bradbury (CCFC) 50 Mins, 2-2 Browne (NUFC) 57 Mins, 2-3 McCartney (CCFC) 64 MIns

Newcastle University FC: Curran, Scott, Blanch, Hall, Atkin, Robinson, Browne, Naill, Chilufya, Scott, Christie Subs: Redford, Blachouse, Derrandji, leach, Douglas

Carlisle City FC: Townsley, Atkins, Bradley, Allison,
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Kirkup, Seggie, Palmer, Simpson, McCartney, Armstrong, Vipond Subs: Potts, Newton, Graham, Studholme, Palmer


Additional photos below
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22nd August 2019
Prudhoe

The Badger rockery artwork on the hill at Prudhoe has had a make over done over the half term holidays by young volunteers from the Princes Trust
22nd August 2019

Thanks for sharing!

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