Whitley Bay has an ice rink. It is built like an aeroplane hangar. I've never been inside. It's a kind of rite of passage in and out of tweendom - like the stretched limo party-ride from St Mary's Lighthouse to Newcastle's Millenium Bridge. It's also home to the Whitley Warriors, who, Wikipedia says, were big in ice hockey in the 1980s and early '90s. They ice for Whitley still.
As I left the Metro at lunchtime I was called back by a trio of students. They wanted to walk to the ice rink, and had journeyed all the way from Sunderland to do so. Actually they'd travelled even further - one from New England, USA, the other two from Dortmund, Germany. They were argumentatively amazed at each other for attempting the journey on a day when the Metro system was snarled up, and frankly a little pissed that there was another twenty-five minutes' walk to go.
We passed our house and I gave them a smart old A to Z, and waved our dog-eared new one at them to say, hey, it's okay, we've another - which, thinking about it, may not have convinced them too much - and they went their way.
My gran on my mother's side grew up in Chile. We treasure lots of stories from them. As my gran grew older she suffered Alzheimer's, but could still remember a pair of penguins she kept as pets, briefly, when very young. There is a photo of them, by a brook, on the family's land. They didn't last long in the Santiago heat. Two sailors had brought them as gifts for the family all the way from the Antarctic. The story goes that Gran's family, and other colonial townsfolk, had put Shackleton's exploration party up as they passed south on one of their journeys, and again on the way back.
So after today I figure we're not so different from the heroes of the past after all. The fascination of ice; great explorations; reciprocity. Isn't it great the way history repeats itself, mostly? Except in smaller doses, of course.
Another organisation that ices for Whitley is the Cake Dec Centre, around the corner from us. In case you're peckish.