So if you read last week’s blog all about ten things to enjoy in the North East during July you will know that we left you hanging with a teaser for the last idea. Well this week our blog is all about a rather wonderful experience.
If there is one thing for certain in the North East it is that we have an extremely rich history and heritage worthy of celebration. If the musical, film and television history of our region is something that interests you then we have just the ticket for you, guaranteed to fill you with North East pride.
Tyne Idols tours have been running for a few years now and “celebrate the enormous wealth of talent born of our region”. These are no ordinary tours that the Tyne Idols crew organise and what a dedicated and passionate crew they are with a vast amount of knowledge between them. Tyne Idols experiences range from heritage tours of Newcastle and Gateshead, the locations and people that inspired the legendary Viz comic and a genuine “Magical Mystery Tour”. For the purposes of our tour that we were booked upon we were going to be treat to a Sunday afternoon hearing some fabulous stories about some of North East Coastal Heroes.
We met for our excursion in glorious unbroken sunshine just outside the Gibralter Rock restaurant, the tempting smells of the Sunday carvery couldn’t stop us boarding the bus. It was a bit of a For The Love Of The North excursion as Lucy and I were also joined by our very own Debra and Jonathan (also of @jcbtourismsolutions).
Now this where the uniqueness of Tyne Idols kicks in as we are talking about no ordinary bus. Our carriage, a Leyland Atlantean which first saw service in Huddersfield (perhaps ferrying Compo, Clegg and Foggy on adventures). Today it has a new lease of life painted in the livery of Newcastle Busway’s yellow and white. Our bus crew for the day, the fabulous Julie Clay who ensures everything runs like clockwork, the man behind Eastcoast Taxi’s and who has dabbled in the musical heritage of the North East, Paul Irwin, driver Tommy Thorpe and master of ceremonies himself, the genuine bona fide North East coastal hero Mr Ray Laidlaw. What can you say about Ray? Pivotal in the history of the North East music scene, former drummer with the iconic Lindisfarne, collaborated with so many legends and champion of promoting new and up and coming musicians and artists. We were in the safest of hands.
“All Aboard” and we were off on our way. Now for the purposes of this blog it is a spoiler free zone as we have no desire to ruin the fabulous experience for others.
Ray guides us along the North Tyneside coastline with a plethora of stories and facts about some of the most well known figures in North East music, film and television and some of the stories that all occurred along our beautiful coastline. Obviously given our guide there is music to enjoy and with everyone in such happy spirits, ourselves and our fellow passengers joined in with the odd sing-a-long.
Our trusty bus received a mystery coastal hero guest who regaled us with some tales of their affinity of living right on our coastline and how it has influenced their work. On such a beautiful afternoon there were a couple of very welcome stop offs to enjoy a cooling libation and each pit stop an experience to enjoy into the bargain.
You genuinely feel such a rising sense of pride in our region over the course of the three hour tour and realise how much talent the North East has and continues to produce. Taking in all of the North Tyneside coastline and touching into Northumberland it was time to head back for one last proud look at our coastline to the soundtrack of an iconic number that has the hairs on the back of your neck standing up.
It wasn’t quite over as after the tour, included in the £10 per person ticket price was a free gig at North Shields Magnesia Bank which showcased our musical talent and a very special guest on drums. We were all in great spirits after our wonderful afternoon and the experience stays with you for a good while after.
With such a fabulous ambassador for the North East as Ray Laidlaw in our presence we asked him why he loves living in the North East and a tourist tip of his own:
Ray, what makes living in the North East so special?
Well, we have beautiful countryside, coastline and fantastic buildings. We’re awash with good music, theatre and events but if i had to single out one thing it would be the people.
Where would you go on a spare day?
I’m usually happy enough to stay put in Tynemouth but the other special place for me is the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. I’ve been going since I was a small boy and regularly took my kids up there too. Lesley and I had our honeymoon and celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary on the island. I’ve made films and played music there on many occasions so I really look forward to visiting for any reason at all, Lindisfarne has an atmosphere and magic all of its own and I love it.