Now a very cold wind blows and the sun shines. I've been neglecting my duties. But not my thoughts.
Council men out today clearing away a fallen cherry on the Battlefield, a favourite one which always came out in small white blossom early despite the season. No more. Even in it's final hours it went into the back of a lorry piece by glorious piece, as if a Japanese stage set were being transported not for chipping, but a display of heavenly beauty elsewhere.
I have been on a long journey, past grim concrete motorways, old red brick Victorian piles being transformed into new premises by men in orange overalls and bright white safety hats overlooked by a steepling crane. Lines of new cars arranged with pride outside showrooms where no one comes and goes.
A fashionable business park built over the site where another Japanese connection to this city was made; capital ships for the emergent Imperial Japanese fleet. Then on past newly restored and revamped (revamped! So much better than mere makeover) tower blocks speeding up along a dual carriage way guarded at its terminal roundabouts by a Challenger tank.
Sweeping up to the shores of the Tyne, here a reach – a perfect word for a sweeping bend of a river – and then over a dyke filled with reeds on into another Business Park, this one as still and formally chic as an Italian film set; Antonioni I should say. Detached, alienated. No one walks here so why comes the bus?
Then a Pottery kiln and scraps of fields, no small pied ponies on view today. A tremendous tumbled down wooden barn, partly see through, filled with splintered cars one above the other like a sculpture by John Chamberlain.
The rising valley landscape pushes in on the road that now swings and dips little better than the dirt cart track it once was connecting villages along the Tyne Valley to the west. A newly planted woodland, all thin and straight trunks; crossing and re-crossing an old rail track bed, today a dog walker's and cyclist resource posted with arty signs fashioned as if from old rails. Pigeon lofts, not at all lofty here, and a tiny stables compete with two skewbald ponies, tended not by the well groomed and well heeled, but youths with hair stained red or blue and rings through their faces.
A steep climb along new built town houses, a riposte to our city council's desire to build out over the Green Belt; if here why not ...?
Neat 1950s council semis, all painted stucco, white or cream, with attractive dun coloured roof tiles, raked at a positively Dutch angle. Graced by mature trees and available street parking, estates such as we do not build any longer. Why is that exactly?
I get off my bus stiffly and walk out into the cold blast of air rushing down from the Arctic, less than two thousand miles away. It feels less.