We were having a wonderful time in our quest for a white dog. We had achieved a partial success in finding a mostly white dog. While it was true it wasn't a fully white dog and while it was true is wasn't a real dog we decided that it was close to being a successful conclusion to the challenge.
We walked on from the snow dog. I was now in an area of Newcastle that I confess I have never walked in before. Just a few streets. But in our years of living here I have never walked down them.
This plaque is one the side of the Boiler Shop. Established in the 1820s this was the first ever locomotive factory in the world. As the plaque says. Rocket was built in this building in 1829. Sometimes it's possible to explore the inside of the building and sometimes food and music events are held there. I should try to join the exploration sometime. It's impressive isn't it? Stephenson was only 20 when the factory opened. I am rather more than 20 and I still haven't opened a single locomotive factory. There's still time!
We walked on from the Boiler Shop and encountered these sights. Over the roofs I could just see the High Bridge and Tyne Bridge and just visible beyond was the roof of The Sage.
In the other direction I could make out a partial view of the metro bridge. I wanted to get higher but that would have either involved climbing over a big fence into a locked car park or standing on a narrow wall with a fifty foot drop on the other side. Neither option appealed.
Walking on we found a long section of the walls of Newcastle. I hadn't even known that this was here. The town walls were built in the 13th and 14th centuries to keep out the Scots. They were two miles long. Now only a few sections remain but the scale of the wall is still impressive. These days Scottish people are welcomed into the city of Newcastle. It's a city of sanctuary and we even welcome Scots and have forgiven them for attacking us 650 years ago.
I left the walls behind and walked a little way down a footpath. There I was faced with a wall of colour. Autumn is beautiful. Now there's a statement that contains a value judgement rather than an objective truth. Possibly. I was thinking about beauty during my eighth photo challenge and asking whether anything is innately beautiful. Isn't our response to the world around us culturally conditioned? Is it genetically conditioned too? Would we still see beauty without our cultural background? There were many other questions too, all of which have been asked before by some of the great thinkers.
I look at a sight like this and see beauty. I look and know I want to see the beauty more, appreciate it more fully and to never grow complacent about it. Each day I pass things of beauty. I want to live those things. Each day too I pass things of ugliness, things of pain, things of sorrow. And maybe I want to live those things too in order that the living might transform me and draw me into the place in which I join the work of transformation in the world.
Now, this blog post is about a search for a white dog. It may not have escaped your notice that it has not included a dog yet. Don't worry! The dogs will come. Unleash the dogs of white!
Newcastle is fortunate in possessing some lovely buildings. Here's an interesting one. The facade isn't exciting but it's fronted by this:
Some people might not like this but I thought it looked really attractive. The students living in the block might not like it because surely it mucks up the natural light in all the rooms behind it. From the inside, the metal covering might be a very annoying monstrosity. But from the outside it adds to the building and adds to the range of contrasts you find when walking around the city.
One last photograph before leaving this street and the Stephenson Quarter. A little more of the beauty of nature. It is so easy to walk past things like this and not see them. I want to see them. Always. When we lived in Wales I felt the same. If you walked to the top of our street and turned left you could see a cliff face. The rocks and the plants around them were staggering and we felt very fortunate to have that view. As you walked back down our street you could see the Menai Straits and Anglesey on the other side. Absolutely gorgeous. It was very easy to get complacent about these views. To forget the beauty. To forget wonder. Every now and again I would notice that I wasn't noticing such sights and enjoying them and would resolve to live them again. And then I would forget. And then remember. A periodic cycle.
Leaving the Stephenson Quarter I walked to the Anglican Cathedral. I knew that I would be able to find a dog there. Yes, a dog. This is a dog post.
This dog is called Wor Geordie and was painted by students at Newcastle College.
Blob Thing and Winefride were very happy because they had been wondering when they would be able to sit on another dog. I promised them there would be more dogs. But then we encountered someone who was most definitely not a dog.
Blob asked me when we would find another dog for him to sit on. I promised him that it wouldn't be long. He said that he hadn't come out to see monkeys. He wanted dogs. By the end of the day he would be very pleased. There were a lot of dogs.
Blob asked me last night whether we could go and see every single snow dog before they are taken away. I have refused his request. I must admit it is something that would tempt me but there are problems with such a quest:
First, one of the snow dogs in Sunderland is missing. It's gone. So the complete quest is now impossible.
Second, there's the small matter of snow dog number sixty-one. Yes. That dog is a problem. Because that dog is in a park at Kielder.
I have looked it up. I could get to Kielder. Yes I could. That's doable. There's a bus from Hexham. And I could walk from the Kielder bus stop to the snow dog. Yes I could. That's doable. Just about. From the bus stop to the dog and back would be 11 1/2 miles. Doable. Just about.
But then I would be faced with a bigger problem. Getting back from Kielder. That would be harder. A month ago it would have been easy enough to do. On a Sunday. Just on a Sunday. But now it's hard. Because now I couldn't travel back on the same day I arrived.
So unless someone wants to offer to drive me and my soft toy friends to Kielder Water for the day I will not be able to photograph Snow Dog sixty-one. Any offers? Please?!
Poor Blob Thing. He'll never be able to go and find all the dogs. I'm not doing it because I can't contemplate it without a possibility of total success.
That's a long enough post. I promise you that the next one will be entirely dog related. By the time I headed home with my friends we had seen a lot of dogs. And we had taken pictures of them all. I will tell you right now that one of those dogs was pure white and that Blob and Winefride greatly enjoyed sitting on it because it was the only furry dog they met that day.