Sunday morning brought the strange and unaccustomed sensation of sunshine, so we headed off, blinking into the light, to the coast at North Shields in search of amusement. North Shields is a fishing port located close to the mouth of the River Tyne. The quay began life in 1225 as a simple village of shielings (huts) from which the town of North Shields takes its name. Like many of our UK fishing ports, it used to be a lot busier and was responsible for handling a lot more stuff fished out of the sea. As the stuff in the sea gets less, thus less can be fished out of it, so the Fish Quay has diversified a bit and there are now quite a few restaurants there and a giant indoor car boot/antique emporium, of which more later. HMS Tyne had docked there as a promotional opportunity for the Navy and members of the public were wandering about the ship, asking the sailors lots of questions and where possible, tampering with equipment.
Directing operations on the bridge
Who needs a Sat Nav with such a nice map
More messing about
HMS Tyne is River Class Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) and is actually a warship with big guns on it. Two General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMGs) and a large Gambo gun to be precise. HMS Tyne is the fifth ship to bear this name and previous incarnations were involved in things like anti piracy campaigns in the Caribbean and Baltic wars with the Russians. Today’s HMS Tyne is mainly engaged in Fishery Protection duties and makes sure that the stuff that is actually left in the sea now, is not all completely removed at once. She spends in excess of 330 days a year at sea with a small crew who were all, I have to say, extraordinarily polite, pleasant and informative. Maybe they were just pleased to have someone else to talk to. According to a happy sailor brandishing an automatic weapon, 50% of the UK Navy are currently being deployed to safeguard the Olympics. What can they be doing exactly, sailing up and down the Thames with their Gambo guns on aimed at Boris Johnson?
A happy Sailor
Giant spider for sale
Next we investigated the giant indoor car boot emporium which was held in one of the old warehouses opposite the mighty ship. An eclectic collection if ever I saw one. It is fifty pence to get in which includes a cup of coffee and at least half an hours amusement for that reasonable investment. All manner of bizarre things are for sale from gas converters to Beatles memorabilia, giant spiders and Cybermen. Ted’s Den of Antiquity was selling very dodgy furniture indeed and there were even lots of ‘trees’ made out of sweets for sale for those seeking an early dose of diabetes. The stall holders seemed to be adopting quite a casual sales approach and there weren’t many transactions going on but everyone seemed to be enjoying their Sunday shenanigans anyhoo..