This time I didn't have to ask. She told me what I had to photograph.
She said, "A not working security camera."
I said this was quite an unlikely thing to see and asked how I would know whether the security camera was not working.
She said "Use your imagination."
She then gave me a second challenge for the day.
She said "A white horse."
I had planned that this day would be a day of rest. I wasn't feeling good. My chest hurt. And I knew that the probability of me being at choir in the evening had been reduced to zero by virtue of every time I tried to sing a note it either came out as a croak or a silence. It's a shame. I like to sing. And one of the choir songs had been stuck in my head for two days.
My plans for rest were discarded in favour of a white horse. It wasn't going to be much of a search. I knew where I could find such a creature. Providence had sought fit to provide me with the technological marvel of a search engine and the engine had provided me with a positive result. It was quite an exciting result for me too. The white horse was in a place I had never before visited. I would have to take the Metro to a station I had never used before. And then I would have to walk for an hour along streets and through parks that were unknown to me. It was all quite exciting. And then, after the horse was seen, what adventures might await me? The A to Z road map looked promising at least.
So I set off, full of cheer and anticipation of an unexpected good day out, giving thanks for my bus pass, without which days and adventures such as this would be out of the question for me. That bus pass has helped transform my life. Who could imagine that a little plastic rectangle would improve the mental health of an autistic woman as much as it has? I love my little plastic rectangle!
As I waited for the Metro I walked to the end of the platform and took a picture of this.
As ordered, I used my imagination and imagined that this security camera was not working and that there were hundreds of railway workers staring at a blank screen at that moment scratching their heads and wondering what had happened to their most important security feed. In reality of course I had perhaps been carefully watched walking to the end of the platform just in case I crossed the "No Trespassing" sign and the little barrier, setting off a major security crisis and cutting down the whole of the Tyne and Wear Metro until a troop of armed police managed to pin me down and drag me back to the platform. Or perhaps the security crisis is just my imagination getting over dramatic once again.
In any case, this was almost certainly a working security camera. But my imagination said it was not working. And that's what was called for. I decided that was good enough for the challenge. It was finished. And she accepted this. My brain though thinks it's not quite good enough and will now be on constant alert in case I see a security camera that is obviously not working. One day. One day. Just as one day there would be a fluffy white dog too. A real one.
My Metro journey was typical of an autumnal Metro journey. Everything was subject to delays due to low rail adhesion. We sat at South Gosforth because the driver wasn't there yet. And the Metro I changed to was taken out of service. That was okay though because it meant I could stand on the platform at Jarrow and take a picture of the relief commemorating the Jarrow Crusade, which had been completed just eighty years and two days previously.
I finally reached my destination at Tyne Dock and began the walk. A board at the station told me about a six mile sculpture trail and I was tempted to throw away the challenge of the white horse and walk the trail. Temptation is a dangerous thing. It can lead to catastrophic photographic challenge failure. Calamity and misfortune. I stayed strong and refused to be led astray from the one true horse path. In any case, part of the trail and part of my route fitted together well. I would walk that part of the trail. I would find some absolutely thrilling sculptures.
I set forth and soon came to the site of the first sculpture. I could not find it anywhere. Disappointment. So I set forth and headed to the site of the second sculpture. The journeying was pleasing even though the lack of that sculpture had been displeasing.
The shape of this dead tree pleased me. As did the fact that I was obviously on an old railway line or a waggonway. We are fortunate here that there are so many waggonways that are now paths. Sometimes it makes for urban walking that's much quieter than it could be. There are some really good waggonway walks not far from here. Very close to our house is a path under the Metro. Many years ago that was a mineral railway line, an extension of the Kenton and Coxlodge Waggonway which ran from near hear all the way to the River Tyne at Wallsend. Much of the route is now walkable as a footpath and I'd recommend trying it.
Wow. Sidetracked myself there looking up waggonways and John Blenkinsop's work. Blenkinsop designed the first really workable railway locomotive. His first loco was Salamanca built in 1812 for a railway in West Yorkshire. His third loco was sent to the Kenton and Coxlodge Waggonway. Yes, the third ever workable locomotive worked just down the road from here. This was, at the time, a rack and pinion line and I seem to remember hearing at a local history event that our precious locomotive blew up.
I walked on to the site of the second sculpture on my trail. I couldn't see it at all. Maybe it was there, inconspicuous. I decided that taking a short detour to a third sculpture might not be advisable under the circumstances. And so I followed my main route to the site of a fourth sculpture. I searched. And I searched. Until I found it. Here it is:
All that work for such a little reward. Those are hazelnuts in the picture. Obvious, isn't it? I walked on and left the main path for a while and found an area under the trees with a bench for resting. It was obvious that many people had visited this area before me. Less than perfect people with an obvious disregard for their surroundings. I am not sure I have ever seen this much litter in a park. Ever. Blob Thing was especially disgusted by the actions of so many people here, just as he had been disgusted by the people who had left lots of litter in one spot at Finchale Priory. And yes, he's still telling me we need to go back there with Winefride.
I walked back to the main path, saddened by the way humans so often spoil that which is good and without having any reason to do so. I have a friend called Julie. It was obvious she had not visited this area. She is a good woman who takes it upon herself to pick up litter. And she picks up a lot of litter.
I did manage to find a second sculpture from the sculpture trail. This is it and it's possible that you will never see a less impressive sculpture that's been named as an attraction on a trail. Possibly this is a sculpture of a dog. I am having to use my imagination again.
Further into the park and there was another disappointing site. In a large area surrounded by a high metal fence I saw this. A slide. It must have been a really exciting slide once. But now it was totally beyond its life. A dead slide. One of the saddest sights in all of Temple Memorial Park.
I left the park. Happy to be leaving it. If I'm honest. It wouldn't be long now until I reached the white horse I was looking for. I passed through a housing estate and then onto Quarry Road, a road which once led to a quarry although I didn't know that for sure as I walked up it. The road rose, past another park and there to the south I could see Cleadon Water Tower, which was once used by the Luftwaffe as a navigation aid when they were bombing Liverpool. Originally it had a more savoury use. I was tempted again to abandon my horse quest and walk to the tower instead. I knew that from there I would be able to find open country at the ruined windmill and then descend to the coast before walking on towards Sunderland. But no. The quest was more important than a windmill. Hunger was speaking to me so the sight of a chip shop helped to cheer me up. If ever you're walking up Quarry Road then let it be known to you that the chips are good.
And then I reached the end of the road. Or at least the end of the tarmac. The path beyond is still known as Quarry Road.
And at the end of the road. The white horse I had been aiming for.
I was here. And I was happy. Yes, I admit it. I hadn't been aiming for an actual living creature at all. I had been aiming for a pub. But this is of course THE White Horse. This isn't A white horse. And it's a building. Not a horse.
I would have taken that as a win. But I was in luck. The pub sign put a big rubber stamp on the success of my challenge. A white horse. Ta da!
Yes. The challenge was over. But the adventure had just begun. For this would be a day for standing at the top of a quarry clifftop and having a moment of absolute clarity about my life. And it would be a day for experiencing total ecstasy being covered in salt water spray as the sea crashes over a harbour wall. I wrote a little about that last night. Without the challenge of the white horse there would have been no adventure. And without the adventure there would have been no clarity and no ecstasy.
But those wonderful, gorgeous, thrilling experiences can wait until another blog post.
[1802 words. Gosh!]