Durham in the bag, I reached base camp at 13:30. The Premier Inn just south of Newcastle Airport is your perfect £40 location from which to mop up Tyne & Wear AND that irritating Northumberland straggler a mile over the border in Ponteland.

£5.40 for a Metro all-day ticket which will take you from airport to coast and over the Tyne to Sunderland’s beaches. Enticing. Though perhaps not on a chilly Thursday in February.

Chill apart, this was the most perfect day since the BBC got some faded celebs together to murder a Lou Reed classic, and 45 minutes after parking up I was arriving in Monkseaton in Greater Whitley Bay.

12 minutes between trains, so let’s take 20 minutes in the pub and 4 minutes to appreciate the art at a coastal gem.

Sadly, 4 minutes isn’t enough to do justice to Front Street, or to explore the world of possibilities that is Joanna Toys. Toys is an ancient Tyneside surname, I guess.

The Front Street Tap House had kindly stuck tables outside (rather ambitiously, I feel) to reassure me they were open.

Tyneside is arguably the centrepiece of the more crafty end of the UK micro scene, and this is a cheerily decorated place with Nightjar on tap and Michael Kiwanuka on the stereo.

Yes, a real Hebden Bridge vibe, and possibly the best beer in Newcastle since the imperious Town Mouse.

Just a shame I was the only customer, and with the guvnor working on his laptop I felt a bit out of place.

Perhaps I needed to join a pie club.


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