Tuesday, 19 February 2008

A Full Relation Of The Scots Befiedging Newcaftle

One gets the impression, travelling by road from Scotland to England, that the English feel much more antipathy towards the Scots than the Scots do towards the English. Crossing the border into England, with its strategic lack of “Welcome to England” signs, one feels distinctly, well, unwelcome. Not so on the Scottish side of the road, where surely the great big welcome sign is visible from space. All welcome here. Even the Martians. Maybe they can teach the builders of the border wall how to lay stones in a straight line.

When in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne one must visit what’s left of the New Castle (unsurprisingly located on the River Tyne) from which the town got its name. Creative folks they were, back in the day (that is, in 1086)… “Well, everyone, we’ve just built a new castle on the Tyne, and we need a name for our illustrious city. Any ideas? Hmmm, anyone? What shall we call it? What, oh what…?”

The problem of how to find the castle is solved either by looking up and keeping the castle in sight while wending your way through the streets, or by looking down and keeping your eyes fixed firmly on the little castle icons embedded in the pavement at regular intervals, leading one to the front door.

The castle itself is a delightful building. It appears small from the outside, but, like Dr Who’s Tardis, contains entire universes of rooms and corridors all leading off from each other to more rooms and corridors, all eventually leading to the roof terrace with its beautiful views across the city.

One of these views is, of course, of the lovely Tyne River and the seven bridges which connect Newcastle to Gateshead. Each bridge has a character all of its own, from the old-fashioned Tyne Bridge and Swing Bridge to the ultra-modern Millenium Bridge (or “blinking” bridge to describe its movement when it lifts to allow ships through). The waterfront area along the Tyne is a very cosmopolitan area, with some great bars and restaurants. And no, Alien Wally and Mags didn’t sample them all, unfortunately.

Lastly, no visit to Newcastle is complete without a pilgrimage to the Angel of the North, which towers over the city and the A1. The statue is now ten years old and is the most visited in the world, averaging one point something visitors per second. This makes taking photographs of the statue by itself a tad difficult. But! Alien Wally and Mags are patient souls. Okay, no they’re not. They just got lucky when everyone moved away at seemingly the same time to take in the statue in its full glory. Here, it is then, sans people and with people. They are handy for scaling purposes, after all.

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