Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Friends in England

I have a few friends who live over here and no trip would be complete without being able to try and see them. Before I left, I sent my friend Andy and note and said that I was coming across and that I would like to come up to Newcastle (NE England by the coast) to visit him and his partner Caz (Caroline). I met Caz & Andy last summer when they came over for my friend Susan's wedding and they ended up staying with me. I reminded Andy that I am from Alberta and that to travel 3 or 4 hours to visit someone overnight was not unheard of, so I would like to come up and visit. So on Monday, I hoped on the train and headed up to Newcastle for a quick visit. I had a lovely train ride through the English countryside - we stopped briefly in York and a few other little places - in all it took me about 3 hours to get there. Both Caz & Andy took the day off to show me around Newcastle which is completely different than London. For one, it is a much, much smaller city and thus way less crowded and visit. After dropping off my bag, we went on a nice little walking tour of the heart of Newcastle (they have some lovely streets), then headed down to the Quay and walked along the Tyne River and stopped for a coffee. There is a bridge in Newcastle that was built by the same guy who built the Sydney Harbour bridge - will post a picture when I get back - they look the same, although this one was much smaller. In the evening we went to this great restaurant that had the most amazing collection of furniture, that you could buy if you really wanted it. Here I had the requisite English fish & chips with mushy peas. Can't say that I ate the peas - I don't like them to begin with, so why the hell would I want to eat them all mashed up?!

Yesterday morning after having a lovely breakfast made by Andy (my request of scambled eggs whites mystified him as they weren't setting up right at first - just crank up the heat), we headed out to the coast (which is about 10 minutes away) to Tynemouth and walked a long the beach. The water here was bloody cold (it's the North Sea). We also went out to see St. Mary's lighthouse but it is on a small island that you can only get to when the tide is out, as you have to walk across, but the tide wasn't far enough out, so we could only look at it from the mainland. What a lovely little seaside town though. . .I can just imagine what homes cost there! (subject of another post!) After a quick visit to the coast, I hoped on a train back to London. All in all, I was in Newcastle for about 24 hours but it was worth it! It was great to see another part of England but even better to see some friends!

When I got back to London, which happens to be sitting in the middle of a massive heat wave (it is supposed to be 32C today), I hopped on the tube (during rush hour) and went down to meet my friend Karen for supper. We ended up going to the famous Brick Lane for Indian. They say that the food here is more Indian than in India and I would tend to agree. You can't come to London without having a curry. It was probably by the far one of my cheapest meals yet. For 3 of us, it was only 43 pounds (which for here is cheap) - we managed to negotiate the wine for free. As you are walking down Brick Lane, there are guys who stand outside of the restaurants trying to get you to go into theirs (we are talking tons of Indian restaurants) so as a patron, you have negotiating power - we asked for wine and got it! Had a most lovely evening out with Karen - it was so great to see her and to see another part of London.

Today I am going to go and do a bit more wandering around/shopping and then head over to Trafalgar Square for the Canada Day celebrations. Before I left, I bought myself a Canada Day 2009 t-shirt at Old Navy that I intend to wear. I am damn proud of being a Canadian so I am going to show it today. Plus, got to show all of these Brits that we aren't part of the colony anymore! LOL!

Happy 142nd Birthday Canada!