Warning: the following column contains the phrase: “Hie-thee-hither”.A couple of weeks ago we spent the afternoon on Whitley Bay seafront with our lovely friends C & N (which is the abbreviation I use when I text them). For a bit of context, me and the wife (wor lass, the missus, my partner, my SO, my OH, etc etc,) play mahjong with C & N, and while the game is great and sharpens my brain, it’s just as much for the chat and camaraderie that we meet a couple of evenings a month. We put the world to rights and click some tiles. We manage two games now and it takes us less than an hour to set up (we’re getting on a bit) but we’re on fire when it comes to mahjong. So, it was lovely to spend time with them out in the sun, listening to a fab local band called Salida and enjoying some great street food from the market outside Spanish City. It was a warm day, there were lots of families, people drank cocktails from coconut shells, kids danced to the band and hugged each other in front of the make-shift stage providing industrial levels of cuteness, seagulls wheeled by and there was a real sense of community in the air. It made me even prouder of my stomping ground and the place where my Dad lived as a boy. And do you know what: with all of this happening I was thinking that soon we could give any US boardwalk a run for their money. Venice Beach? Old-hat now Whitters has upped its game. We have rollerbladers and microbreweries now you know, and alongside the family run pizzerias and ice-cream parlours we have a new seafront hotel attracting lots of visitors from mainland Europe. (Let’s enjoy being European while we still can). So, if you’re new to the north-east, or you’ve not been down to the coast lately, hie-thee-hither to Whitters. And to close I have to point out that it was N who suggested I write about Whitley Bay this month, so I have – thanks to him for that!