There's a reason I'm not a poet

Posts tagged ‘things to do with a time machine’

Wey Aye Man!

Last weekend I was over in Newcastle visiting two friends of mine who are currently working over there. One of them went to school with me, so I’ve known him for a fair amount of time, but obviously as we’re now living on different islands I don’t tend to see them as much as I’d like. So, I decided to take the opportunity to play the rude card and invited myself along to stay with them. (Thankfully they didn’t seem to mind)

They’re both Real People now, with jobs, a mortgage and two cats. The set-up they have there is sweeeeeeet, living in a really nice apartment in a new development with a bunch of their friends living nearby and some fruit and vegetables growing on their balcony. We spent the first wee while catching up and chatting before playing some Super Smash Bros (standard) and heading out for some cake (also standard) in a wee tea house in a nearby town. Such yum.

I didn’t really know much about Newcastle before I went; all I’d really heard about the city was that it was a really fun place to go to university in, so I’d kind of envisaged a 1970s-style city filled with block-like grey buildings. Which was wrong: because of the Tyne River, there are a whole load of bridges around the place, which actually run through the city, so you can end up walking along streets underneath these humongous adqueduct-style bridges, which cut an impressive shape next to all the sandstone buildings. So yeah, it made for a very nice city.

But it is known for its night life, if the number of hens and stags you see traipsing about in tiaras and fairy wings are anything to go by. So we went to a pub on the Friday night, which is one of the oldest/if not the oldest pub in the city. It used to be a market and so is filled with apothecary drawers and more nooks than you can shake a cranny at. Because I’d ended up staying up late pretty much every night of the week playing Final Fantasy, it ended up not being too late a night out.

We got up the next day and after I had some caramel cake from the tea house for breakfast (ideal) we headed out to Beamish, an outdoor museum showcasing the history of the North of England, looking specifically at how life in towns and the country was around the turn of the 20th century. With coal mines, a pre-war school, ye olde sweete shoppes and a Freemason hall, it made for some good viewing and was great fun. They were also running a 1950s day, so lots of people had dressed up specifically and were getting their hair did in the style of women back then: it was all very impressive!

Carrying on in that theme, after a yummy Chinese stuffing-of-the-faces that evening we headed out to a swing dance night! One of my friends’ pals is into swing dancing, and the group she’s affiliated with were doing an event for people to come along and learn a few steps before a swing band started for people to practise their moves. People were encouraged to dress up so I pretty much just wore my oldest-timey work clothes and dance my little white boy heart out. Turns out it was some serious fun. It ended up being one of the sweatiest nights out I’ve had in a while what with all the jumping about and lack of air con, but I ended up being pretty decent at it and had bucketloads of fun.

So yeah: Newcastle is officially sanctioned by me!




Four days in Italy and I am happy. It’s not a bit of wonder that Italy was the location for the getting fat portion of Eat Pray Love- there was so much nomming going on. And in fact for the first time in several years I physically wasn’t able to finish a plate of food! Partly because the entire annual production of ricotta cheese was inside that calzone pizza, but still- koodos to Italia.

When we were looking to go on holiday, we checked out the destinations that our nearest airport flies to and picked our favourite. We flew into Naples but swiftly headed out of there- imagine what would happen if some people decided to make really nice architecture look dirty and unkempt; throw in graffiti, litter and a splash of ugly 1970s buildings and you’ve got a fair idea of the city.

We were however interested in a specific attraction of the area: Vesuvius. Before you get any ridiculous ideas, I was not looking to go on holiday and climb a mountain- rather I was excited about getting to see Pompeii and Herculaneum. They were both really impressive sights, and I was surprised at how different they both were: Pompeii is a vast city, with impressive monuments and buildings but sadly much of it has been destroyed. Walking around the city though gives you a fantastic sense of immersion and idea of life in Roman times. Herculaneum on the other hand, is a small town with less impressive buildings but due to different geological factors is much better preserved, and boasts intact mosaics and frescos that Pompeii either lost to the volcano or the museum.

My favourite part of Pompeii may have been getting to see the house of Lucius Caecilius Icundus, a banker in the first century who was used as inspiration for a textbook we used in school. Unfortunately, it was fenced off for some reason and you weren’t allowed to get in and explore. Millbag and I weren’t too happy with this, and may or may not have climbed over something that may or may not have been a gate. It may or may not have been fricking awesome to be in horto.

We stayed in Sorrento, as I mentioned in my previous post. It’s in a part of the world famous for lemons, in particular these massive oedematous fruits that looked more like film props than actual food. Growing so many, they naturally have to make them into alcohol, which is where the tasty limoncello comes in.
Our hotel was class- we were staying in the top floor with a balcony overlooking the street below, and our room and shower both had this weird (awesome) ‘chromotherapy’ ceiling lighting. The place was fantastic value, and right in the middle of Sorrento, next to the picturesque alleyways and gelateri. Meaning that ice cream for breakfast needn’t just be a dream (pistachio & dulce de leche, in case you were wondering).

On one of the days we had initially planned to go to the island of Capri, and pick up some shorts. But the boat trip was a bit more expensive than we thought it might be, and instead hopped on a bus along the Amalfi Coast. Here’s a photo I took-


It was beautiful. We were a little unlucky in that we were occasionally darting indoors to avoid rain showers, but as the day went on it cleared up. Aaaand if you have to go inside a place serving gelato it’s not exactly the worst possible thing. Positano and Amalfi both had the small sloped streets and alleyways that your mind associates with Italy, and they were both lovely to walk around. The bus ride back at night offered an equally impressive sight, with the cliffs illuminated by all the little houses perched on their edges.

All in all, the whole trip was bellisimo. And much craic was had with my friends, so it’s a bit sad to be back in the UK now and knowing that I’ve gotta go do some work… Va fa Napoli.