Newcastle – capital of the great land of the Geordies – is one of Britain’s most distinctive and most characterful cities. Plunging down into the valley of the River Tyne as it does and to that iconic group of bridges gives it a powerful visual image. But the city is every bit as flourishing artistically as its redeveloped Quaysides suggest. There’s a lot going on here. Up in the town there’s an elegant, Georgian heart around Grey Street which is called Grainger Town – it’s all one development – all 450 buildings – and built in the 1830s. Shipbuilding has gone now – although I can remember when Swan Hunter was still in business in the early 1970s ! This is where Sir William Armstrong built battleships and tanks and machine guns for the world’s armies. Newcastle-built ships fought each other during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905-6. The Japs won. Armstrong went on to built the fabulously located and technically advanced Cragside House a little north into Northumberland… do visit that too ! The Newcastle guide runs to nineteen minutes.