A promenade to Roker

Grab your coat! It's time to go.

Grab your coat!  It’s time to go.

It’s Monday, my usual day for a walk.  Do you fancy a stroll?  I’m starting out today on the banks of the River Wear at Sunderland.  Ship building used to be the mainstay of this area, till foreign competition priced us out of the market.  For a lot of years nothing much happened around here, but gradually life is creeping back in.

The National Glass Centre blazed a trail and it is the start and end point of my walk.  At the river mouth a small marina huddles against that sometimes biting north east breeze.  In its absence, this is a very pleasant stroll, with some quirky sculptures along the way.

But best to head off round the marina

But best to head off round the marina

What can I tell you about Sunderland?  I expect you’ve heard of Geordies, people who hail from Newcastle-on-Tyne, but have you heard of Mackems? The name Mackem (‘make them’) may have derived from the Wearside shipyard workers, who would design and build ships, which would then be taken by the Tyne-siders.  The expression “mackem and tackem” (make them and take them) seems to refer to the rivalry which has always existed between these two cities.

My favourite sculpture is the stained glass boat

My favourite sculpture is the stained glass boat

Beyond the marina the river mouth opens onto the beach front at Roker, newly made over.

With more sculptures

With new sculptures and seating

And numerous rock pools

The beach is full of tempting rock pools

Just the place fro walking your dog

It’s just the place for walking your dog

And admiring the lighthouse

Or admiring the lighthouse

This area is not without its admirers.  Lewis Carroll wrote some of his works in neighbouring Whitburn and local landmarks are believed to be the source of inspiration for his “Alice in Wonderland”.  The painter, L.S. Lowry, regularly stayed at the Seaburn Hotel, here on the front.

The promenade stretches off into the distance and you can walk as far as you like.  Buses run all along the coast so, if you overdo it, you can always hop on a bus back to Sunderland centre.  I think we may have walked far enough for this morning, so it’s time to retrace our steps, and maybe pick up an icecream en route.  A  short detour through pretty Roker Park will bring you back down to the beach.

The lighthouse at Roker

Upper or lower promenade at Roker lighthouse?

An old drinking fountain

An old drinking fountain

Back to the beach, from Roker Park

Back to the beach, from Roker Park

The National Glass Centre has a very nice riverfront restaurant where you can take some refreshments, and maybe fit in a free tour of the glass factory.  I love glass blowing.  Don’t you? But more of that next time.


    1. There’s a writing desk, if you prefer? It was part of a tableau and not easy to get a shot of the whole. The walkers were disappearing off into the distance, too 🙂
      I’ve just returned from taking moonlit shots of a lighthouse. The strange things some people do, Paula 🙂

      1. I expect I can work it in somewhere 🙂 I hope to go back to Sunderland to walk the other way along the river some time soon. Thanks, Paula 🙂

    1. Yes, definitely looking up at the minute, Sue. I tend to forget about Mackems too!
      How are you? Saw on Jude’s that you’d been ‘off’ lately. Posting the glass factory tomorrow on windows. 🙂

      1. I’m OK, thanks Jo, just been doing a bit too much recently hence no blogging the last few days. I have a couple of posts I want to d o, but need to rest a bit so we’ll see! Have you got some old industrial buildings to post?

      2. Sorry, Sue! Went off to download some more photos. It was lovely here today and the camera never stays in my pocket for long. The Glass Centre’s been there since ’98. I really love it. 🙂

  1. Oh I so enjoyed my walk with you today Jo! I love the history about the ‘mackems and the tackems’, never heard that one 😉 Yes, I do love glass blowing and remember visiting a glass blowing factory in Italy in 1976 and my mum bringing home a blue, glass swan which she still has! The sea air and the wonderful sights certainly blew away the cobwebs, thank you 🙂

    1. I’m just looking at my glass factory photos now, Sherri. My mum collected glass bells and the like, which always lived in a china cabinet in the ‘good old days’. I’ve inherited her love of them. 🙂

  2. Enjoying my revisit. Wonderful, rich blog. I’ve never been overseas so these shots are a window out to the world for me.

    Let me know if you’d like to participate in the Race (info on my front page). You could share your stories on my podium. I’d be happy to promote your blog.

    1. Many places I have yet to visit and most of them, like Asia, will only be reached in my dreams. 🙂 Thank you for your kind offer. Your blog makes interesting reading. Someday I might be able to contribute.

  3. I absolutely adore creative art! While I enjoyed looking at all of the sculptures, the broken door and abandoned coat in the first photo really grabbed my attention. Thanks as always for sharing Jo 🙂

  4. Thanks for taking me along with you, Jo. Such fascinating history you’ve shared, and I so enjoyed seeing all the wonders of this lovely area. I absolutely adore your first pic. That sculpture is brilliant, and the stained glass boat is so beautiful 🙂

    1. That first sculpture is part of a kind of “writer’s corner”, Ad, but I didn’t really get a good shot of the whole. The walkers were disappearing off into the distance and I didn’t want to linger too long. They tease me and call me Snappy as it is (and I’m nothing like a crocodile!) 🙂

  5. veramente affascinante questa passeggiata e la mia guida anche! ho amato la scultura di vetro, moltissimo, e la strana fontana portatile ha ha ha, non ne avevo mai viste,
    I colori molto ad acquerello credo rispettino assolutamente quelli locali.
    Aspettando altre passeggiate, ti abbraccio con affetto
    really charming this walk and my guide too! I loved the glass sculpture, a lot, and the strange portable fountain ha ha ha, I had not ever seen,
    The watercolor colors I respect absolutely local ones.
    Waiting for others stroll, I embrace you affectionately

    1. The area is such a strange mix of old and new, Ventis, but it’s good to see a little money being spent to improve it. Next we’ll go inside the glass factory. Not quite Murano, but fun anyway 🙂

  6. We have glass blowing in Wheaton Village a little ways from here. Only been there once but it is fascinating. Saw a paper weight there that I loved but didn’t buy it. Duh! I’ve never been able to find another. Lesson learned. Great shots, Jo. Thanks for the stroll.

    1. Doing my home run of north east promotions, Gem. 🙂 It’s beautiful again here this morning but I’ll probably soon wilt as I was up till 3.30am watching Rafa lose in Indian Wells 😦

    1. It’s not obviously beautiful, but if you know where to look, like a lot of places, it has its nice spots. Glad you liked it and thank you so much for commenting. 🙂

  7. I am loving these recent guided tours Jo, I’m learning something new each time. Never, ever, thought to ask the question, ‘why mackems’, don’t need to now! Thanks 🙂

    1. Since I go out with the walkers most Mondays, it seemed like a good idea to do a regular walking post, David. One of these days I’ll persuade the tourist board to give me a job. Use your influence? 🙂
      I’m usually a week behind the walk I’ve done, so I was actually in Durham today, because Mick had a job up there. Long may this weather last 🙂

  8. Every time I take a walk with you Jo I remind myself why I want to live nearer to the coast. Lovely photos, and lovely sculptures. And I adore that old fountain! I am now trying to decide what accent you have… and I can’t wait to see the glass blowing 🙂

      1. Nah, I don’t believe you have the dreadful glottal stop accent. I’m thinking more in the lines of bUtter instead of bAtter. If you know what I mean 🙂

    1. I forgot this little sandstone scene was there, Colline, so it was a nice surprise to come across it. 🙂 Coloured glass is one of my favourite things so I loved the boat too.

  9. The trail is just beautiful! I love these two sculptures. The “walking you dog” is a wonderful capture 🙂 Thank you for the walk, Jo!

    1. I love the humour of the sandstone sculptures, Amy. They’re in a place where you would least expect them 🙂 And the shiny one with the view through to the lighthouse I like too. Have a happy week!

  10. Interesting history associated with the glass center and glass making. Corning & Pyrex have been such a part of our lives, hard to believe that has closed. I like the sculpted coat and door in you opening photo. Lovely views from the promenade, Jo. Keep strolling and sharing. 🙂

    1. The sharing makes the strolling even more pleasurable, Lynne. 🙂 The Glass Centre used to charge for tours, but, sign of the times, it’s free now. A very enjoyable afternoon watching the glass blowers.

  11. Oh I missed the stroll and the lunchbreak :(. These views are captivating.. among shots I am in love with the circle frame of a lighthouse!!!

    1. Shame about the lunchbreak, Paula! I had lasagne and salad with a very nice glass of white. I don’t often eat much at lunchtimes but Michael was working in Durham so me and the camera went along. Photos for another day!
      That lighthouse shot has my legs reflected in it, Paula 🙂 One day I’ll learn to use a camera properly. But I still rather like it.

  12. Glad I had my all-weather boots on today. Stunning photos, Jo … I have a fetish for lighthouses. Never heard about Roker before – very interesting place that you have turned so beautiful. I want to walk a bit more … love all the public art. Never heard about Mackems neither, thanks for the background details, but I have never been into small boats.
    I’m built for comfort *smile
    My favorites is the lighthouse through the round hole and the back of the beach.

    1. Thanks, Vivi 🙂 I forgot about the reflective qualities of shiny sculptures so that lighthouse shot has legs! But I’m relying on the view through to the lighthouse to distract. Cunning!
      Hugs xx

      1. All of your photos are just FAB! What kind of camera do you have ???? Your photos are always so strong in colors .. and clear. You two are a good team.
        The large photo of the lighthouse is fantastic, but the little is much fun .. and creative. Keep on doing what you’re doing. *smile

    2. It’s just a little Canon digital, Vivi. I wouldn’t know what to do with a proper camera. It doesn’t like bright sunlight so I’ve taken a lot of photos today which I deleted straight away. I’m better than I used to be but still a long way to go. 🙂

      1. Canon’s cameras is the best …. it takes fantastic photos – no need for a big camera … keep it simple.
        I have learned to never take photos in the middle of the day – before 11am and after 3pm – the best light.
        Done the mistake so many times, so I’m not even out with the camera in the middle of the day anymore.

      2. Yes, I will close up the shop now … have to fit for fight when Bengt, the handy man, comes tomorrow – have to empty the bedroom to give space to turn the bed on the side. *smile

    1. This was last Monday’s walk, Cathy. The weather was lovely today and I was up in Durham. Mick had a job there and I now have a camera full of photos (again! It’s addictive, isn’t it?)
      Waiting to see what kind of mischief you got up to on your walk 🙂

      1. It is certainly addictive taking walks and photos, Jo. I walk every day just for exercise, but sadly many of the walks are not that interesting or scenic. However, I do have an interesting one I’ll share soon. Having fun with photography lately though. 🙂

    1. It’s very pleasant today, Viv. Wall to wall blue skies 🙂 Not really warm yet (maybe 13/14C) but going in the right direction, and flowers budding everywhere.

  13. I love seeing regeneration of areas like this … great post and stroll along with you there Jo .
    I followed a link and see that the Museum of Glass are holding Paperweight making workshops for Mother’s Day .. wow that would be fun , it really looks a fascinating place.
    I’ll get me coat … 😉

    1. Yep, grab your coat! Don’t need a brolly this week. It’s gorgeous!
      I can spend hours watching them blow glass, Poppy. I got a few photos (for later in the week 🙂 ) There used to be a charge to watch but now it’s a free tour.

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