A former teacher and charity worker from the North East of England, I love people and places and like to try out new experiences wherever possible. Capturing that 'perfect pic' is all part of the pleasure. Access issues are a particular interest.
Update June 25th 2014
The 2014 South Tyneside Summer Festival, (also widely known as the 'Cookson Festival') is about to spring into action for another year. Take a look at this year's line-up.
It's All Going On South of the Tyne
It's all going on in South Tyneside's Summer Festival
Parades, music, fun and a festival atmosphere are all in order for the South Tyneside Summer Festival 2013.
The Festival, for many years known as 'The Cookson Festival' in honour of local author Catherine Cookson, is back again this year with a programme of all your favourite events and some new ones. It is funded by South Tyneside Council with many events free to locals and visitors alike, attracting crowds from far and wide.
As the festival proceeds, I will be adding new photographs as we go along.
The start of the Festival is marked by a parade from South Shields Town Hall to the coast and The Bents Park. The sea front at South Shields is graced by not one, but three, huge public parks designed in the Victorian era for the recreation and pleasure of the local population and they are still enjoyed today. Alongside its sister parks – the North Marine Park and the South Marine Park, each with their own individual style, The Bents Park is a designated area for open-air events, exhibitions and public gatherings en masse.
The Festival has gone from strength to strength over the last three decades, especially with its offerings of free concerts from well known artists such as The Drifters, Rolf Harris, Leo Sayer and many other artists over the years.
Two years ago, local 'X Factor' winner Joe McElderry attracted a crowd of over 25,000 people to his concert in the Bents Park.
Visitors can stand or bring their own folding chairs or blankets to sit on the grass in the park while refreshments are usually available from stalls and vans – or bring your own.
Tommy the Trumpeter Among the Crowds at ST Summer Festival
Other popular events include an evening and weekend music programme at the sea front Ampitheatre and 'Tommy's Parties' – Children's entertainment this year in its final year as local entertainer 'Tommy' (played by actor and Director of the Customs House local theatre, Ray Spencer MBE, will be retiring from the role at the end of the festival.
Some of the events to look out for include:
22 June Foghorn Requiem – a unique musical experience using actual foghorns alongside a music score especially composed to mark what is seen as the end of an era, with boats at sea near Souter Lighthouse, at Whitburn in South Tyneside taking part in this extraordinary display.
23 June Armed Forces Day, with bands, stalls and activities for the whole family, including a display of classic motorbikes and cars as well as some military vehicles, as part of a nationwide celebration in support of our armed forces.
6 July Opening Parade from South Shields Town Hall to Bents Park 1pm - 4pm, followed by the Royal Signals 'White Helmets' motorcycle display team at the Bents Park.
Tickets cost £20 from the Customs House, Mill Dam, South Shields call 0191 454 1234 or online here
Some fans from further afield are already making a weekend of it. Ocean Road (among other areas around the seafront) has a number of guest houses offering bed & breakfast. Not all have their own website but here's just a few. Annie's Guest House, Forest Guest House or maybe you may want to try the excellent Sea Hotel.
Ocean Road, which leads from the Metro station to the seafront and parks also has many restaurants, from traditional Fish 'n' Chips to Indian, Italian and Chinese as well as plenty of pubs serving food and bars and clubs open 'til the early hours.
If family entertainment is your main agenda, why not treat the kids to some time at the Ocean Beach Pleasure Park, just across the road to the South Marine Park, or take a miniature train ride around the park itself. Fun for all the family.
South Marine Park Miniature Railway
South Shields is well connected by Metro, bus and ferry and there are pay and display car parks along the seafront area of the town. The Bents Park is on Sea Road just off the A183 Coast Road and can be reached via the Tyne Tunnel and A1300.
The town centre is about a 15 minute walk away while bus no. E1 takes a coastal route along Sea Road to and from Sunderland every 20 minutes.