Born in London, Geoff and his family returned to his parents’ native North East following the sudden death of his father, over 50 years ago
I know we all moan about commuting and traffic jams here, but until you’ve worked in other regions and cities – including London – you often don’t know how fortunate you are to be able to live so close to work and generally get about easily.
My favourite region of the North East is Northumberland, because it’s easily accessible and offers beautiful towns and communities, an unspoiled remoteness and outstanding scenery.
As a keen cyclist, I spend a great deal of time enjoying the freedom the local countryside offers, from Weardale to the Scottish Borders. Within a 15-minute ride from my home, I can benefit from almost traffic-free roads as well as the best views in England. Also, it gives me some quality time to think away from the office, my mobile phone and email. The weather can be bleak at times but it’s generally only cold for the first five minutes.
Newcastle is a stunning city with outstanding architecture and it has benefited from sympathetic regeneration over the years.
So much business today is conducted on the end of a mobile phone or through email. Face-to-face meetings really are a bonus – especially if they’re in a place where good coffee is served.
The best corporate facilities I’ve experienced in the region are at the relatively new Crowne Plaza hotel at Newcastle’s Stephenson Quarter. It has very well-equipped meeting rooms and splendid hospitality.
The best view in the North East is looking across the River Tyne from the Free Trade pub above the Ouseburn. Boasting modern architecture with industrial Tyneside in the background, it’s stunning.
I’m sure this has been said many times but what makes the North East for me is the people. My work today takes me all over England, but there is something special about returning home, the warmth of the people, the Geordie dialect and the real compassion and friendliness you only find here.
My ‘hidden gem’ in the North East is Upper Coquetdale. I only discovered this a few years ago and this area is amazing. Just don’t tell everyone, as we don’t want it to get too busy.
My favourite bike ride is along the Tyne Valley from my home up to Bellingham. I stop for coffee at the Fountain Cottage café and then there’s any choice of routes I can go along.
If I could change anything in the North East it would be to make a larger network of employers to provide more opportunities for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to help improve their life chances. And, to create a safer infrastructure for cyclists across the urban areas of the North East.