I’m having Newcastle withdrawal symptoms. They strike me quite regularly. The signs include gazing off vacantly into the distance while fantasising about renovating a little beachside hacienda in Merewether; imagining drinking a glass of pinot grigio while gazing at the waves at The Merewether Surfhouse; dreaming of popping over to Bistro Tartine to nibble on duck and cognac pate … generally being more relaxed, more cashed up, more free …
It’s an illusion really, Newcastle would come with its own particular set of challenges … not the least being this house I’ve discovered on Scenic Drive that has the perfect bones for the Spanish villa I’ve always dreamed of creating. So many arches!
Just imagine it rendered in a sandstone-colour with decorative wrought iron on the balconies, shutters and terracotta tiles everywhere. It would be AWESOME. Click here for more magic pics.
Strangely, Husband hasn’t been swept up in my real-estate frenzy for the place. What is WRONG with the man?
Anyways, a year ago I was in Newcastle, presumably for the school holidays. No more lazing around on school holidays for me now that I have a job.
This is what happened while I was there – on one of the nights at least. It was bulk fun and was the night I first met one of my lovely Twitter friends, Linda, in the flesh. I called it Deja Vu and Dingo Danglers …
I got all giddy yesterday. No, it wasn’t premature menopause. Or actual menopause (the latter being a more likely scenario). It was flashbacks or déjà vu or something retro and stomach spinny like that.
I returned to the wine bar where I (illegally) spent every Saturday night during my teens: The Gunfighters Rest, in Hunter Street, Newcastle. I met up with a friend who also spent her teens (illegally) within its battered walls. We didn’t know each other then, but it’s a fair bet we’d have brushed past each other on the way to the bar for a Dingo Dangler (me) or Snake Bite (her). And we surely sardined together on the tiny dance floor whenever New Order took a spin on the DJs turntable.
We grabbed a seat at one of the very same wooden tables as in our teens and shared a bottle of pinot gris. Very mid 40s of us. The bar no longer serves exotic cocktails fizzing with dry ice (although it does a roaring trade in vegan pies). Fortunately I have no anxious memories of accidentally swallowing a piece of it like my friend once did. I’m still awed that alarm bells never rang for either the management or the patrons over that stuff. Public liability NIGHTMARE.
Gunnies, as we affectionately called it, was shut for many years but has recently reopened as an alterna hot spot. It’s now called The Terrace Bar. Not quite the same ring.
The owners didn’t have much in the way of a decorating budget. I think they asked for donations on Facebook or something before they reopened. So it looks pretty much exactly the same as 25 years ago, with a bit of new lattice out back to stop people toppling off the balcony. No such luxuries in my day …
The resemblance to the bar of my youth was pretty spooky. Especially when an ’80s band (original, not covers) started playing where the flashing UV dance floor used to be – Pel Mel. They had a minor hit in the early ’80s called No Word From China. Apparently it’s on YouTube if you need a refresher.
I don’t know if it was the Pel Mel effect or just the usual crowd, but the patrons were kinda … old. As in my age or more ancient. And still wearing pretty much the same clothes as they did 20 years ago, just accessorised with new wrinkles. Lots of Doc Martens and shorts and strange hairdos.
Quite the visual spectacle.
And finally, no visit to Gunnies would be complete without a trip to the bathroom. There was still no toilet paper, so I dripped dry, for old time’s sake.
This is what the place looks like now …
What was your favourite late-night haunt as a late teen?