"I grew up in the 1950s on Moorside Estate, which, in those days was a council estate and is located between Backworth and Shiremoor, about four miles from Whitley Bay and ten miles from Newcastle upon Tyne.


The family car was not a common sight then and if I remember correctly there were no more than two car owners in our street. The bus and the train were our means of transport and we were lucky enough to have both a bus stop and a railway station within easy walking distance of home. The only landmarks I knew were those that could be seen from public transport and the lighthouse at Whitley Bay was the one I was most fascinated by, but it was a long way from both the bus terminus and the railway station and too for for a nine or ten year old boy to venture too. Life changed completely when I got my first proper bike. A Sun Snipe Plus, a thing of beauty with green metallic paint and derailleur gears. This was my release from the shackles of public transport and I was now free to go where I pleased.


Fortunately, at about the same time, a couple of boys who lived in the same street as me, also were given bikes and we were allowed to go out together. We tended not to go too far during school term time but during the holidays we could go where we pleased.


St. Marys Island is only a few miles from where I lived but it became my favourite destination. The journey was prepared for carefully, with pop and sandwiches being packed into our haversacks and off we went. I favoured American Cream Soda (later discovered to be made in Hexham) and Shippams Beef Paste sandwiches. Sometimes swapping sandwiches took place but I was always careful to avoid swapping sandwiches with my best friend Alan, who had a fondness for Horlicks powder filling in his sandwiches.


After checking the tide tables, which were printed on the back of the Whitley Bay Guardian and Seaside Chronicle as it was then, we would set off. We would go through Shiremoor, up to Earsdon, down Hartley Lane, past the Beehive pub to Old Hartley and then turn along Blyth Road, on to The Links and along to the causeway. Once on the island we spent most of out time rock pooling which gave me a first taste for natural history which has stayed with me ever since.


A break would be taken for the consumption of the pop and sandwiches, exploration would resume and it was time to head off home before you knew it. If there was any time to spare because of the tides we would sometimes have a ride through Holywell Dene on the way home.


Once home and after getting cleaned up and having tea, the Observer’s Book of The Sea and Seashore would be pored over to see if I could identify any of the magical things I had seen on the day at the lighthouse."