While I’m generally very happy to have moved from Brighton, I do miss the sea, and coronavirus has of course kept me away from the beautiful coastlines we have here in the North East. So despite slightly inclement weather, I was thrilled when my friend M offered to take me to the coast for the day.
We did a drive down past North Shields and Tynemouth – which were surprisingly busy – and ended up at St Mary’s Lighthouse. This was busy without being packed – though lots of people were ignoring the fact that the path to the lighthouse was supposed to be closed by that time honoured tradition of walking past the cones – and we managed a walk along the beach (sand in my toes!) and fresh donuts before the weather turned.
I’m both impressed by how people and institutions have adapted to the new reality, but also dismayed by how many shortcomings of of current system are being shown up. Leaving aside the social / economic inequalities that have been exposed, it just proves how badly so many of our places are designed. Too few toilets (all designed with the fairly icky assumption that people don’t wash their hands, or at least not properly) so any sort of queue becomes insane; too few bins (and those that are around, not emptied enough), so litter becomes an issue (also: too many people are just pigs). I know it’s all about money, and I know that many institutions are struggling, but I think if we are going to move forward safely there needs to be a fairly radical overhaul of how we use our spaces.
Still, social angst aside it was a delight to be out and about and enjoy one of the best bits of our region.