As I was travelling such a long way, I was determined to squeeze a bit of sight-seeing in while I was there. So as soon as I arrived at the train station, I popped over to the Black Gate and Castle Keep, as you can see from these frankly life-affirming photos in which I strike classic tourist poses while sporting a variety of fetching hats.
But all too soon, it was time to head over to St James' Park for the afternoon's exquisite torture, as you can see from this frankly thrilling photo in which I strike a classic rugby supporter's pose while sporting just one fetching hat.
This blog's resident troll asked me if I encountered any anti-Scottish sentiment in Newcastle, of the sort I had to endure on my shambolic trip to Arran the other week. The answer is no, although there was an intriguing incident when I got back on the train to Edinburgh. The people getting off the train were presumably Newcastle locals who were coming back up from London, or Birmingham, or wherever, and they greeted the waiting Scotland supporters like old friends. "Oh, congratulations!" "How much did you win by?" "Did you win? Woo-hoo!" An English chap standing behind me (and who I think possibly lives in Edinburgh) rather bitterly muttered : "You see, Scotland? That's how it's done. No need to take pleasure in others' defeats."
Hmmm. I couldn't help wondering how he'd explain the row of English people sitting behind me at the game, who were shrieking with delight every time Samoa scored. And they weren't alone - I got the impression that about 25-30% of the crowd were firmly behind Samoa. (OK, there were some actual Samoans there, but not that many.) I have no complaints at all about that - Samoa were the underdogs, and they were playing a fearless and attractive brand of rugby, so it was entirely natural for neutrals to support them. But I can't help feeling that if Scottish people supported an opponent of England's for any reason whatever, that would be classed as "bigotry" or something.
Here are some more photos from the day. As you can see, I wasn't short of reminders of home...