City of Mabgate

Last week, in my infinite curiosity, I finally got around to trying the other local baths, which I’ll call B – It’s a bit further away, it’s not run directly by the council but by a community organisation, and its big draw is that it’s basically a perfectly-preserved Edwardian bathhouse. Opened in 1904, fell derelict at some point in the 20th century, then restored and reopened by the council in 1992, then threatened with closure in 2012, and passed into the hands of the community in 2013, where it’s now staffed by a mixture of enthusiastic volunteers and paid staff, and is a proper community hub again.

The most striking thing about it, from my point of view, is how green it is – Everything that in a “modern” bath would be blue is green – Green lane markings, pale green tiled walls, green wrought ironwork around the balcony and holding up the beautiful glass roof, green painted wood on the cubicle doors and even green lights in the corridor into the main bath. The slipper baths are long gone, and have been replaced by a gym, but there’s a hot plunge pool that I plan on investigating, and a banya that’s still in good working order and is frankly much needed. The pool is accessed by two sets of stone steps, the pool edge is brilliantly non-slip gritstone, and it ranges from 90cm to 175cm at the deep end – Not deep enough for anything other than a shallow dive, but also not so shallow that a tuck-turn is impossible (Though it is a challenge at the 90cm end if you’ve got long legs and shoddy technique, like I have).


When I was there, there were lane ropes in, and the swimmers ranged from “slow” to “standing completely still”. I’ll try a few more sessions to see if any sense of lane discipline can be instilled into the regulars, but if not I’ll make it my Official Floatytime Pool, where I go to relax and steam, rather than to train. And honestly, floating in salt water, lit by gaslamps, staring up at the stars? Not a bad way to spend an evening.


Relatedly: This is all making me very hopeful for the reopening of Newcastle’s 1920s Turkish bath and city pool, which I used to swim in as a teenager, and whose restoration was announced just a few months ago.


Anyway, I rode over on Monday night, parked in the incredibly convenient disabled parking space right outside the front door, swam about 400m, steamed, did a further 400m, steamed again, then 200m, then more steam, then rode home again. i might do the same in daylight later on this week.


Also this week, the social worker has been around again, has worked out that she can’t help me at all, other than to see if I was eligible for a personal budget to hire a carer, and now I don’t want anything, because the thought of having to talk to someone, even as an employee rather than a friend, is horrifying. On the other hand, having someone to take me swimming, possibly even swim with me in the water to help me keep pace, then ladle me back into my clothes and help me get back home could be useful.


And, finally, I’m researching bikes again, specifically “How on earth am I going to push a bike around the Mod 1 track?”


So here’s some stats; My 125 weighs 140kg, and is 95 inches long. The bike that I eventually want (That Suzuki Intruder VZ800 that’s been sitting at the local garage for months, calling to me…) is 98 inches long, and weighs 200kg.



(That’s her. That’s Trudy. 2010. Less than 9k miles. £4,ooo. She’s been fluttering her eyelashes at me ever since I picked up the Marauder after his 30,000 mile service.)

This is not a huge difference, but it might be enough to cause me issues. I think it’s about time that I booked in for some Direct Access lessons, to see how I feel about getting out and about on a big bike. Instinct and experience suggests that I’ll be smiling so much that the top of my head will be in danger of falling off, but caution also says that I need to really think hard and prepare well before trying a test.

Logic also says that since the Mod 1’s expiry is tied to the theory test’s expiry, I should try to do the two as close to each other and as close to the start of my DA lessons as possible, to give me the longest possible time before needing to re-take anything, in which to take my Mod 2.


As it stands;


My CBT was passed in August, giving me 21 months remaining.


The weather and, importantly for my mental health, daylight starts to pick up in about March, and that’s when I’d want to start doing my lessons. If I did my Theory in March, I’d have 18 months remaining in which to get my Mod1 and Mod2.


Finally, my lessons will take about a month or two, at the shortest (Starting with 8 and going from there), meaning that I’ll probably want to take my Mod1 in about April or May.


Assuming a pass in May, that’d give me a neat sixteen months in which to pass my Mod 2, and about five months before the weather got bad again and we lost the light going back into Autumn.


So, a vague timescale would be to take my Theory in March, my Mod1 in May and then my Mod2 in about July, giving me enough time to do plenty of lessons but not to have too long a gap after the last one before taking a test, since I know that I’ve already got bad habits on the 125 that I need to stamp out before doing a test (I spend far too much time with the clutch pulled in, for example).


It’s all pretty hopeful.


Finally, sadly, it’s pissed it down all day today, so I’ve not had time to take any pictures of my nice, clean, rust-proofed bike that I love possibly slightly too much to be natural. Tomorrow I’m going to wax him again and get photos before it gets too miserable.



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