Unfortunately these are the only photos I have of Scotland, taken through my hotel window.
After a couple of days in Scotland for work, I then travelled to Newcastle after work on Friday, staying with old university friends in Jesmond (which reminded me of Clifton in Bristol). Smart neighbourhood, though full of over-monied students to my mind. On the Friday evening we stayed in and had dinner.
On Saturday, my old friend O and I had a day out (her other half was off to football in the northwest) so we headed to Warkworth Castle which was pretty. Dating from the 14th century, it’s fairly low key compared with the mega castles of Alnwick not far away (where Harry Potter was filmed) and also Bamburgh Castle. We’ll do those next time, and also the holy island of Lindisfarne which I would like to go to.
Had a lovely fish and chip lunch in the village of Warkworth. Then drove to the coast for an extremely bracing walk along the beach at Alnmouth. Bitterly cold with huge waves breaking and an icy wind coming off the North Sea. We then drove down along the coast to Tynemouth (where my friends are eventually looking to move to). Wandered round ‘Tynemouth Village’ and then had a coffee in a cafe on the beach overlooking the sea. There were surfers out in the water (air temperature around 2c, wind-chill around -10c in my opinion). They’re made of fairly tough stuff up here.
I forgot how strong regional accents can be, especially in this part of the world. A very strong accent Geordies have, but I like it, far better than that awful Thames Estuary / working class ‘southeastern’ accent we have down here (think Wayne and Waynetta) which is too awful for words.
Back to the flat then got ready for a night on the town. Short disclaimers from friends along the lines of ‘Newcastle on a Saturday night can be a bit of an eye-opener’ and so it was! Certainly different to a night out in London. Neither men nor women seemed to wear any type of coat (did I mention it was about 2c). Rather more peroxide and Primark than I’m used to but many of those out on the lash are salt of the earth types (disclaimer: I know people will think that patronising, I’m just saying it as I see it) and actually I rather liked it in contrast to the faux-sophistication of so many southerners. There is a sense of community and identity which I noticed as we knocked around some of the pubs and bars, something that you’d struggle to find down south. I was reminded of Clocking Off, actually, though I forget where that was set.
Dinner was at what the close friends told me was the most fashionable Japanese restaurant in Newcastle (and perhaps the northeast!). I’ve lived in Japan so I’m on the fussy side but I did enjoy it. Rather a ‘theme’ restaurant (again, not something I’ve seen a lot of down here) and I had to point out, unfortunately, that the chefs were Chinese rather than Japanese – but we had a good time, a fun atmosphere and decent food. We had a reservation (still had to wait 40 mins to be seated!!) as it was absolutely rammed. Apparently the footballers go there and thus all and sundry in Newcastle want to as well!
Took this video from where we were sitting.
So a fun evening on the tiles. We caught the metro home (one of the only other tube network in the UK, the other being Glasgow).
Today we went for a walk to Jesmond Dean and then I was dropped – rather earlier than we’d anticipated – at Newcastle Central Station. Had an hour to wait for my train (as you can’t go on one you’re not booked on to) so I got somewhat chilly at the station. Slightly surreal initially as police dogs were baying and there were a lot of officers at the station. Turns out it was ahead of the Newcastle v Sunderland game later in the day at which it might not be uncommon for there to be trouble.
So that’s it. Enjoyable trip and proof that you don’t have to go abroad to find good things.
This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,–
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.
William Shakespeare, “King Richard II”, Act 2 scene 1
English dramatist & poet (1564 – 1616)