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  • Chris Jones

Day 28 & 29. Sun, Mon 5 & 6 Feb. Whitley Bay to Blyth.

Google maps let me down while trying to find the Masonic Hall in Whitley Bay. After talking to the natives, I eventually found it and it was just under 2 miles when I got back to where I started !!! 😡

The lodge doors were open which surprised me so I went in. The foyer was packed with mums & dads waiting for their children who were attending their ballet class in the lodge room. What a great use of the facilities which undoubtedly helps with the upkeep of the building but I guess also helps to raise the profile of Freemasonry in the community. That said, a back handed compliment I received from one of the mums might make you think differently. I was chatting to the group of parents about what I'm doing snd why and one of the mums asked if I was a Mason, I am indeed I proudly replied to which she responded.... "surely you're not old enough to be a Mason" !!! 😂 I'm having that one... what with these boyish good looks and toned muscular physique... 😇🤪 I think I'm nearly old enough...

I left with the biggest grin on my face, mentally feeling like the 18 year old that young lady clearly saw, physically feelng like the knackered old 52 year old I really am...

It was a nice steady walk up to Blyth, I enjoyed fish 'n' chips at Seaton Sluice which I hoped would be a good soaker as I fully intended on finding a decent pub when I got to Blyth as the Rugby Six Nations was kicking off and I really fancied an afternoon of rugby and maybe a pint, or two... as it happened, I couldn't have been luckier. The first pub I came to, I stuck my head in the door to ask if they were putting the rugby on or if they were watching 'fagball' ?? Newcastle were playing so it could have gone either way but they were just switching the channel over to the rugby and get this, the Guiness was just over £3 a pint and they had a spare room which included breakfast for £40 !! What had I done to deserve all this good fortune ??? 😇 We don't need to dwell on the rugby results, suffice to say I'll be getting up into Scotland in the next 2 weeks so no doubt I'll be reminded of the score a few times.

What I will say though, I could very easily have walked straight past the Oddfellows Arms for fear it might have been a bit rough for a young, gentle soul such as I. And what a treat I would have missed, I met some absolutely lovely people, we had a great laugh, the staff were great, the room was spotlessly clean and the breakfast set me up for the day. Thank you all. 🥰

It wasn't all rugby, beer and fun though. The many conversations I had with numerous people, there didn't appear to be a single person that hadn't been affected in some way by the unbelievabley high number of suicides in Blyth. A man who's daughter was constantly on suicide watch, her 3 friends having all taken their own lives. The owners of the local take away who lost their son in his 40's leaving 2 young children, a very talented young man and an excellent motorcycle racer.

Everybody had a story and every story a sad one. In the morning, I went down for breakfast at 9am. I was a little shocked to pass a couple of guys at the bar having a pint and I'm ashamed to admit, I made a judgement as to the character of them both. I'd finished my breakfast and was saying goodbye when the landlady explained to me privately that one of the men at the bar had found his son who had hanged himself. That would be hard enough to bear but his second son then took his own life a short time later... 😔 How the hell does a man deal with that ? How do you function every day while trying to cope with that kind of pain ? How dare I judge a man having a pint at 9am in the morning when I can't even begin to understand what it must take for him to try and get through each day.

I shook the man's hand, perhaps trying to say sorry, perhaps trying to absorb some of the pain he must constantly be trying to endure. He simply smiled and thrust a ten pound note in my hand, crack on son he said, raise as much money and awareness as you can... it's a worthy cause....

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Cousin Janet
Cousin Janet
Feb 10, 2023

Oh so sad these stories from Blythe, I could not imagine the pain


Feb 10, 2023

... lordy, not much to add to that Chris, may they RIP and may your walk support and raise awareness for others before they get to 'the same place'

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