Ode to the North
For most people who travel to England, London is the place to visit. And rightly so. Not only is it the capital but it is the country’s cultural and financial hub. After London, the rest of the country could be seen as taking its place on the second wrung. The south and east -- like Dover, Brighton, Southampton, Bournemouth, and Dorset -- have the coast, the west has Bath (where centuries-old Roman baths are located) and Bristol, and then there’s the north. Many Londoners haven’t been past the “Watford Gap,” which is where the north of England starts in many minds.
And it’s grim. Apparently.
The north of England is home to the Beatles and Oasis, has an abundance of football (soccer) clubs, has thousands of square miles of national parks or AONBs (areas of outstanding natural beauty), and is dotted with towns and cities full of lovely people. Also, chain bakery store Greggs and the National Football Museum have their foundations in the north in Newcastle and Manchester, respectively, as well as a castle built by William the Conqueror is located in York.
Although London has the vibrancy in its city, the north has its vibrancy in its people. Located in the northwest, Manchester and Liverpool are two of the most important cities in the country. The northeast, however, is something different. Encompassing towns and cities such as Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Durham, Sunderland, Newcastle, Alnwick, Bamburgh, and Berwick-Upon-Tweed, the northeast could be seen as a big family with siblings of all ages and personalities. Some are close to one another whilst others are a bit distant yet still kind and homey as individuals and to each other.
Newcastle, though, is the town to focus on. Newcastle could be seen as the loud, boisterous one that gets the attention for some of the wrong reasons (to catch the drift, that is where the famed Newcastle Brown Ale has its origins). However, once the tipple is out of the system, the city might still be fierce, but it has a lovely banter and a spectacular character to it.
Newcastle, only 3 hours by train from London, and about an hour and a half away from Edinburgh (by train as well), has a mind of its own.
The town is passionate, stubborn, cheeky, refreshing, and humble. Newcastle, despite its hubris that it’s known for on nights out in England, or even for the cold, damp, unforgiving weather, is a city of history, knowledge, friendliness, and warmth. And though Newcastle is known for loving a good time (which, in good times and not in a pandemic, who doesn’t?), it’s also known for loving its football (soccer to all the Americans reading this) and for being some of the most welcoming people in the country.
Remember that for your next trip to blighty (England, that is), consider venturing to the north of England, especially the Newcastle region and the greater Northumberland area. Not only does the northeast have history and culture, but the sport is good, the food and drinks are delicious, and the people are some of the best you’ll ever meet.
But also remember that it’s grim… apparently. ;)