This post should have been entitled something like "Sketch Crawl: in the Ouseburn Valley" but things worked out differently. There was a time when Sketch Crawls began at a civilised time and lasted until it was time to go home for tea. Under more recent Tyne and Wear Urban Sketcher management they've become daylong events so I find that, if I don't arrive for the ten o'clock start, there's a danger that I won't link up with the other sketchers.
And so it was on Saturday. I'm not an early riser; never have been, never will be, but the current Lockdown situation has made it more difficult than ever to get up and out early. There's also the fear induced by getting onto a bus without knowing if it'll be full of people without masks breathing the Deadly Virus over me.
As it turned out, there were only six other people on the bus, all wore masks and were sitting in appropriately distanced seats, so I felt reasonably happy when I got off at the Baltic and urged my knees, now very stiff from months of sitting in the house, to cooperate in the relatively short walk across the Gateshead Millennium Bridge and along the Newcastle Quayside to the Cycle Hub where it was all about to Kick Off. Or where it was due to Kick Off at ten o'clock, but now it was eleven o'clock.
I looked in the Hub cafe, I looked down into the marina, I looked up and down the quay, but no sketchers visible. Maybe they'd moved up the Ouseburn? There's always something to draw in the way of derelict buildings, boats and ducks, so I headed upstream.
As passed under a road bridge, I noticed what, for me, is a new addition to the local decorations.
I've seen Candyman, so there was no chance of my saying the word ESSALAMUS three times and I passed safely through and soon came to the first of the day's boats.
I liked them and there were jolly workmen doing workman-like things to them, but my knees were aching, there was nowhere to sit down, the path was narrow and people kept passing by doing their best to socially-distance but inevitably failing, so I decided not to attempt a drawing and pressed on.
By the time I'd reached the area of the Cluny and Seven Stories I was developing a fairly clear idea that sketching would not happen. I sat on a bench in the sunshine opposite the pigs in the city farm, out of the annoying wind, and watched the ducks on the river as I contemplated my place in the world. Yes, it was that kind of day.
Having reached an accommodation with the day, I thought I'd walk on a little further up the valley to see what I might see. Round the corner I discovered a curious structure that turned out to be the Culvert Bandstand. I wondered how many unforgettable performances had taken place there without my ever knowing of its existence. None in recent times by the look of it.