Holy Island and Hadrian’s Wall
My parents died before I was 40 and my journey to Newcastle was part of a process of discovery, letting go and healing I’ve been going through. Holy Island has special significance for me and a close association with my mother; a Norwegian, she had asked for her ashes to be scattered at sea between England and Norway. Holy Island was visible on the horizon on the day I chartered a boat and took her out. So it’s a focus point now. My father is in the air, my mother is in the sea. Together they surround me here.
Getting to Newcastle I met with my childhood friend, Richy. He and I have known each other since we were both 6 years old. So it was really special, and quite profound to be doing this journey with him. He drove me north, along the bleak yet staggeringly beautiful Northumberland coastline. Holy Island is separated from the mainland and a tidal causeway is the only way to get on or off without a boat. By time we got there we had a 3 hour window to enjoy the place. I engaged in a little ceremony to commune with my mother.
Leaving Holy Island a solitary rain cloud came sweeping in, and then a rainbow sprung up. Very significant for me and the day my mum died. A beautiful moment to see it here.
The next day I joined another friend from Newcastle on a road trip, out on the A69 to Vercovicium – Housesteads Roman Fort. This is a magical part of the Northumbrian landscape which is generally flat, but this part is wild and rugged. A great place to park up and strike out on foot. You can walk for dozens of miles following the wall.
My friends and I watched the sun slide down through the sky towards the westerly horizon, flooding the landscape with light the colour of fire. Beautiful. Thought-provoking.
I wrapped up the brief trip with catching-up with another friend of old. This is Mike, one of the two tomcats who owned and ran Kitsch’n cafe in Jesmond. The cafe no longer exists but back in 2004 it was a great place to hangout and really unique for the area and the time. It’s where I wrote the majority of the sci-fi cyberpunk thriller, Iron Man Project. Not surprisingly some of the major scenes in the book unfold in Newcastle. A nice nod to the place that cradled my early years – and an interesting comparison to other locations used in the book: Seattle, Barcelona, Taormina and New Tokyo. Great to see Mike who has gone from strength to strength in his life, nearly dying in microlights (mid-flight refuel story) and still throwing himself up glaciers (ice-climbing) and distant mountains with his fiancée.
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