- Chris Jones
Day 24. Tues 31st Jan. South Shields back to Sunderland.
It felt very strange, after a month walking the coast with the sea on my right side, to set off back from South Shields to Sunderland, the sea on my left. Having jumped a lift up to South Shields to get to the meeting, I still needed to walk this stretch of the coast.
I'd only been on the promenade a few minutes when three speedo and cossy clad nutters ran across in from of me heading for the water... There was a huge black cloud rolling in behind me which was just starting to open and the fierce wind was icy cold... A chill went down my spine watching these three mad buggers, but I found myself compelled to watch them.
There was none of that poncing about dipping their feet in to test how Baltic the water obviously was, these three were on a mission, straight in and fully submerged... In sympathy for the bloke, I found myself repeatedly swallowing hard trying to return my external body parts to their rightful places... 🥶 I felt frozen to the core watching them...
There is much said about the benefits of this desire to submerge onesself in ice cold water, both for your physical and your mental health. I do think I need to find out more but being a complete tart and not being embarrassed to be seen in a pair of high waist thermal pants and a nice pair of comfy, fur lined slippers, I may need to do some reading to find out more before I try it out... I do apologise to the men reading for putting that vision in your mind, to the ladies, you're welcome. 😘🙄
I left them to their freeze fest, I needed to warm up and I didn't want to be standing there watching when he came out of the water, that would have just embarrassed the pair of us...
Thankfully, the strong gusting wind was on my back and it was whipping the sea into a frenzy which was mesmerising to watch. I walked the same path I had walked last Saturday at the park run with the Durham Freemasons which passes along the road that is transformed into the final mile of the Great North Run. If you've ever done the half marathon you'll know, you run down the hill to the sea, turn left and the huge crowds with the street lined with soldiers gives you that final boost you need to get over the finish line. What you don't realise as you break into a half sprint is that the road goes on for ever !!! I was nearly on my knees back in 2007 when I made that mistake !!! 🥵
If you were to drive this route from South Shields to Sunderland, I think it's about 7 miles. By the time I'd got back to Sunderland, had a walk down to the old town to see the Lodge building and got up to the hotel, I'd walked just over 12 miles.
Walking the back streets trying to find the Lodge, a young lad startled me when he shouted over the road asking if I was lost. There were three of them sitting outside the building so I went over for a chat. Three year nine lads, studying an alternative curriculum at this training centre because they weren't getting on very well in school. Learning to lay bricks of all things.... In a flash, I was back at Build-a-Future having a good laugh with these young lads, mostly at my expense. Cheeky little rascals but everything said was with good humour. I do miss those early years when I first created the training centre, all those lads we had through learning how to lay bricks, weld metal joints and butcher up bits of wood. It always had its challenges but the staff and kids alike had a great time, it certainly wasn't like a real job...
Sadly, that was a long time ago, a time I can't go back to and even if I tried to, it would never be the same. I shared a few nuggets of advice with the lads and said my goodbyes.
Time was getting on, I still needed to get to the other side of the city and I was looking forward to having a day off. A bit odd having a Wednesday off but there was a meeting in Sunderland on the Wednesday evening that I was really looking forward to attending.