Having survived yesterday’s walking session, I decided to go for a repeat performance today. First I had a wander round Saltwell Park – my first in quite a while. I was aiming to get some autumnal pictures, and when I get them off the camera, I’ll let you know if I succeeded. Then I walked to the Millennium Bridge. When I was there yesterday, I saw that it was supposed to open at 1pm today, and I managed to arrive just in time to not see it open. It would seem that the timetable I saw yesterday referred to some quite different week, and that I’d missed the show. Again. I’ll try to catch it later in the week.
Then I walked up through Newcastle, trying to ignore the Christmas decorations which have appeared. Too early, I tell you, too early!!! My main target for the afternoon was the Great North Museum, the modernised, expanded and generally improved version of the Hancock Museum of fond memory. I’d made one brief visit not long after it opened, but didn’t stay long as it was a bit too loud in there, due to a combination of hammering from a room where something was being set up and the traditional large number of screaming children…
And I have to say I was quite impressed. The collections from the Hancock have been set out in a much more accessible manner, the Hadrian’s Wall stuff from the Newcastle University Museum of Antiquities has been laid out very nicely, expanded and generally made quite lovely.
I paid to get into the temporary exhibition on Lindow Man – one of those remarkably preserved bodies from a bog. I recall seeing a TV documentary about him, so it was interesting to see more. And I went to their quite spiffy new planetarium, where I saw a quite nice, if depth-free, 20 minute show. And I was the only one in for that sitting!
I then wandered about a bit, stopping for an espresso and a sandwich at Caffe Nero. And then I just vaguely wandered until it was time for the highlight of the day, my extra special birthday treat: a lecture from Doctor Bad Science himself, Ben Goldacre at the Centre for Life. I’ve mentioned Ben before, particularly when I talked about his book, and since then I’ve continued to read his site, his column and his tweets. In fact it was from Twitter that I learned he was coming to Newcastle today, and I knew I really should make the effort to go along. And quite remarkably, given my record of tuitlessness, I actually managed to get there, and get there early enough to get a good seat. The room filled up, and the staff had to produce more chairs from wherever extra chairs hide.
Ben in person was as entertaining and informative as his writing. OK, he didn’t say much that wouldn’t be familiar to his readers, but he said it all well, and filled the hour very well indeed. I’d have been happy for him to continue for another hour, but he had some excuse about having to catch a train home.
Oh, and he totally looks like he’s a younger version of Sylvester McCoy’s Doctor Who. Not a bad thing, really…
 A lovely little place that I suspect most people never saw
 Ever so slightly older again