After the lovely meal at Hawksmoor I ambled back to my room at the LSE. It was a delightful evening – not too warm, not too cold. It was a Saturday night so the pubs were overflowing and it was a delightful 5 minute walk back. Along the way I bumped into Ms Robinson and Mary as well. Tron was a delight to see again and there was some talk of trying to get together again sometime in the week. I missed seeing V, and we valiantly tried to organise something via text, but sadly it was not meant to be.
Woke up early on the 21st to get my arse down to Gatwick to fly up to Newcastle. Newcastle? Yes, Newcastle. I had never been up there and I thought what the hell, why not. @miriamsaid lives up there, she’s lovely on Twitter and it’s for one night. Worst that could happen would be that we discovered we didn’t really get on, but I’d still be in a delightful hotel.
Flew into the luxurious Newcastle Airport, which is roughly the size of Vilnius’s International Airport — and my beloved readers know how huge that is 😀 .. Got picked up by Miri and her daughter Jess. Had brunch in the city centre and wandered about for a bit in a pedestrianised zone. Went into a Primark — which reminded me a lot of Wal-Mart here in the colonies. At this point I was quite tired so we went over to my hotel – The Royal Station Hotel.
My hotel room was only 50 quid for the night. It was quite lovely, the bed squishy (though not squishy enough for my desires). The room fridge came with complimentary (yes, I didn’t have to pay extra) juice, water, and chocolates. We sat about resting our toes, and then wandered over to a Starbucks and then towards the waterside for some lovely sight-seeing.
Next day Miri & Jess picked me up and we went all over the sea coast – wherever the tram/city trains went. I must say, the public transportation system in Newcastle is quite lovely, economical, clean, and efficient. I manage to arm-twist the ladies into having lunch at a McDonald’s in South Shield (?). My only truly touristy request of this trip was to see Hadrian’s Wall .. so Miri took me to Wall’s End, a small shit-suburb, but where the beginning of Hadrian’s Wall is. We scampered about, saw a reconstructed Roman Bath House. As well, there were some individuals on the grounds who were building what looked like a possible Roman kitchen garden.
Managed to meander back to Newcastle and to the airport. Had a lovely goodbye drink at the Starbucks, and then was abandoned by the two ladies. I had an hour before my flight so I decided to take advantage of the facilities. Then I hear my name over the loudspeaker. Turns out the pilot wanted to leave earlier than scheduled and I had 20 minutes to flush and get to the gate. I managed to make it 5 minutes before the closed the plane doors.
Landed at Heathrow and let me tell you, being able to jump onto the Piccadilly line and go straight to Holborn was so wonderful. Not that I had much in the way of luggage, just a small rucksack, but nevertheless, it’s nice being able to just sit back and relax without having to make line changes.
One thing that struck me is this great divide between “The North” and “The South”, the South being London. It seems anything about 100miles north of London is “The North”. And there seems to be this deeply ingrained distrust of the other. Newcastle was lovely, if people are willing to give it a chance. The architecture is astounding, has great history, has Hadrian’s Wall close-by, shopping is quite excellent.
So I don’t quite understand why my London friends kept asking, in shock it seems, “why Newcastle????” and my answer is “why not”. As a tourist I have no preconceived notions of what a Northern is or a Southerner. To me, a Canadian, the North is about 1000km north of where I am, not a scant 160km like in the UK. Maybe cos I’m use to a different scale of distance, as we tend to measure distance by time (how long it takes to get somewhere), but how something that is less than a 3hr drive considered the end of beyond just makes me giggle.