As the already-steadily-filling-up September page of the calendar catches my eye, I can hardly believe that the holidays are already well and truly behind us for another year. The wondrous freedom of routine-less living is once again a forgotten dream as the need to be places for a certain time kicks in once more and will, undoubtedly gather pace in the coming weeks.
It seems almost impossible to think that our time away over the summer is far behind us but, perhaps it’s as the busy-ness of term time reality kicks in that we look back and recall the memories we made when we didn’t have to rely on the calendar to keep us on track with where we were meant to be and what we were meant to be doing.
Our time in the Lake District was a wonderful escape and an opportunity to visit new places and even try some new things as a family, but when we moved on from there, it was an opportunity to re-connect with friends and family, as well as visiting some pretty amazing places.
When someone suggested to us that Seven Stories in Newcastle Upon Tyne could be an interesting place while we were staying in the area, I couldn’t deny that it looked interesting. When Annie (see above link for further information!) directed us into a pretty ordinary and inconspicuous street where we found a kerbside parking space, I must confess that I had doubts about where we had planned to spend our afternoon. Well, it is safe to say that any apprehension I may have felt disappeared within seconds of entering this fabulous venue.
As someone who loves reading and feels very strongly about the power of books and the positive impact they can have – not just for their escapism (for young and old) but also in the growing and developing minds of children, this place was a-maz-ing! ( To be read in the style of Craig Revel Horwood). Each of the seven stories/floors (I know – a name and a description all in one, what’s not to love!) oozed food for the imagination and a reminder of just how powerful and inspiring the written word can be.
Located in an old industrial building with areas of exposed red brick and large windows (if you’re of the Terri Hatcher Superman era, then think Clark’s appartment!), bright colours and inviting areas to grab a cushion and curl up with a good book – and that was just in the bookshop area alone – Seven Stories is unmissable. Being huge fans of Michael Morpurgo, we were very excited to discover that an entire area was an exhibition dedicated to him. From scultpures of some of his best known characters, to a mock-up of the gypsy caravan where he does his writing, not to mention actual notebooks containing drafts of his work, we were spellbound.
And that was just a visiting exhibition! Floor after floor offered up more treats – Nursery Rhymes brought to life, boxes containing props to match books, bringing stories alive for even the littlest visitors. Each door we opened threw us another room filled with delights for all ages. I reckon there are very few people who pass through the doors of Seven Stories who don’t, at some point on their journey around, dream of calling in some day to see an exhibition of their own writing in print!
As if that wasn’t enough, the top floor was the most incredible setting for story-telling and, although we weren’t able to fit in one of the scheduled story-times ourselves, we loved the Diagon Alley back-drop and the girls had a great time trying out the dressing up props.
My mere words cannot truly do justice to a place that can inspire the creative and imaginative minds of young and old and leave you wishing that either you lived closer or, that someone closer to where you had the vision and finances to create another … oh if only I had the money!!
If you’re ever in Newcastle, be sure to visit, I know we would be back like a shot.
If you had the vision and creative and inspirational genius to come up with Seven Stories, then, I congratulate you on bringing this amazing place to life.
For me, reading and even, dare I say it, my own feeble attempts at stringing words together in what could loosely be referred to as ‘writing’, is largely about escapism. Allowing yourself to move from the reality that is around you – even the reality that you love – and be somewhere else, just for a while. I think it is fair to say that part of the charm and success of Seven Stories is its ability to take you out of the real world, just for a litle while, and allow yourself to become lost in a whole other place. And, on a soggy September Friday afternoon, there are worst places you could become lost. Now though, I have to use the memories and be lost in those, as I hide from the busyness of reality. Just for a little while.