In March 2004 I found myself in Tallinn, Estonia presenting at a pre-accession IT conference. Nearly spring at home, the temperatures remained determinedly below zero throughout as the streets rattled to the sound of studded tyres on tarmac. On one of the short days we escaped to Kadrioru Park by the shores of the Baltic and walked upon the water – the sea was deeply frozen as ferries navigated in and out of the port through roughly carved channels.
The return flight banked over the Baltic and some years later we returned by a defrosted sea on our return from St Petersburg. Thus I have floated on the Baltic, walked on its waters and flown over its deep seas. A couple of weeks back I even went inside:
Actually, I have been inside the Baltic Mill, Gateshead on many occasions. It is a wonderful building but the content rarely lives up to its fine exterior.
(this is another image courtesy of the smartphone).
It was around this time twelve months ago that we were preparing for a Christmas cruise around the western Med. Pleasant though it was, we have no desire to repeat the experience; without wishing to display too many prejudices, it was akin to a hospital ship. One day we will be in a similar predicament but until we are we will choose to holiday elsewhere. This reminded me of Cannes where the ship moored at sea and we were ferried ashore; as we boarded the tender an ‘ambulance’ boat was approaching to collect one or more passengers.
I was quite taken by Cannes out of season when a walk the length of the seafront proved that all human life is there, many with a penchant for small snappy dogs bedecked in unlikely winter clothes. Our ship sat out of scale in the bay whilst at the other end of the nautical scale, these two paddled their way along the coast:
I couldn’t work out why they seemed so familiar and then I realised they remind me of Antony Gormley’s Another Place on Crosby Beach. Gormley is most famous for the Angel of the North but he has displayed other work in the North East. In 2003 he mounted an exhibition at the Gateshead Baltic entitled Domain Field: “Volunteers aged from two to eighty-five years were moulded in plaster by teams of specially trained staff. These moulds were then used to construct the individual DOMAIN sculptures by a process of welding the steel elements together inside each mould”. It occurs to me that I could have worked with some of these people – there were a handful I would have paid handsomely to be set in plaster, permanently: