The wind howls, lurching onto the house. An eerily comforting sound–stay inside, stay safe it cautions. Fresh cool air gushes through the open porch door. Listen carefully. Is that rain? No, not yet anyway. But any second now, surely.
Stuff it. Driving on my lonesome is a chore, draining, worthless. I’m going out tonight and by bike it is. There can be no other way.
I get changed and shove my bike lights into my panniers–I’ll need them for later. Out the door and on the road. Hey, its not so bad after all, the weather. The view from inside, it seems, can be deceiving. The breeze light, cool, perfect after a hot Autumn day. I ride on, apparently too quick to judge. A huge gust, hectic! On through Islington I go, then, alongside a widening Throsby Creek. The wind picks up over the open water. I know what’s coming. Crossing the main road at Hannell Street, the trees fall away and suddenly l’m at the mercy of the wind. It tries to push me back, I push on, beckoned by the promise of the night and the sheer pleasure of the ride, truly. Time to cheat, I swing into a side street and down a back lane fronted by garages, offering some protection from the wind. This is no ordinary lane though. I’m riding through the compact community of Maryville; what was industrial land now modern terrace living. Balconies overhang the lane-way, a car moves slowly, children play ahead. This is no sterile place.
I continue on, passing the fish market. My contest with the wind continues as the City’s skyline emerges. Eventually I divert from the foreshore onto Hunter Street, and then reach my destination: The Press Book House. A place that for me, tonight, epitomises the laid back, yet entrepreneurial spirit of Newcastle; an undercurrent of the culturally appreciative wannabe intelligencia, bubbling at the surface, spilling out onto the urban fabric, all in one quaint little coffee shop/second-hand bookstore (read more about the Press House over at West End Adventures).
The cafe’s cool-headed owner, Murray Harries, together with the talented crew of Idea Bombing Newcastle are hosting a talkfest as part of the Newcastle Writers Festival 2015 #nwf15. The topic:
In the era of digital media, how relevant are print publications?
I step inside, joining the back of the crowd. The atmosphere is warm, intimate. I’m late, but I still get to hear from Dylan Smith, photographer and creator of the brilliant 2hrsnorth project, and the guys behind Newcastle’s rad new art and culture zine, Newcastle Mirage. Then, a chance to catch up with some friends and meet new people. Newcastle really is full of amazing inspiring people. Everyone has a fascinating story to tell about themselves or why they think Newcastle is the best thing since sliced bread. And the best part: the chances you’ll run into them again sometime in the near future are ridiculously high (everyone knows its three degrees of separation in Newcastle). Meanwhile, people “bomb” their ideas on the back of old covers of Danielle Steel novels (how fitting) in answer to the question of the night–why print?
Here’s a pic of the idea wall.
And here’s someone’s answer that resonates with me:
This one is good too:
I exchange details with Dylan Smith from 2hrsnorth, hoping to grab some remaining copies of the printed booklets showcasing local photographers’ work.
The evening draws to a close with people leaving for the opening night spectacle of #nwf15–big name authors talking about books that changed them, at City Hall. With no plans I decide to make my way back home. By this time the wind has eased a little. The ride home is absolutely perfect: the wind blows in my favour, pushing me along, cool air, the light smattering of rain. And I get my own spectacle: the circling silhouettes of hundreds of fruit bats flying against a backdrop of orange-grey clouds, lit up by the nightly glow of the City.
At home, I find myself still buzzing from Murray’s good coffee, so I drag my housemate outside and we sit in the evening light and discuss life, the universe. Later, Ange arrives home and joins us. We eat and chat. Life is good.
And the irony of this post is not lost on me.