Back in the flatlands.

The trip to Durham / Newcastle was something of a success. Everyone appeared to have fun, no-one chewed anyone else’s ears off, and all was good with the world. The boat trip was fun, combining bottled Spitfire with youthful…. hmmm.. ok.. middleagedful… enthusiasm, and a 4 bunk set up which actually accommodated us pretty well! The drive up to Durham from Hull was painless, the only real incident of note was an appearance of a red kite along the way! I was impressed, though I’m not sure the rest of the car is quite so bird happy! Budgies seem to be a more acceptable size? lol! 

Mike’s mum and sister were as good a hosts as you could wish for. A real bed (i.e. not from ikea Esther!!!) which even I managed to zonk out on for a good 7 hours, though i did feel guilty that Mike and Lucia had only an airbed, made us rested for our meanderings, as did the sausage sandwiches for breakfast! The Doc Martin shop still existed from when I was last in Durham with Kate! £85 for a pair of shoes?? Even I cant vindicate that! Though I nearly… so nearly.. grabbed them anyway! If I have something to gripe about it is that we never actually did what we were supposed to do while there. We’re still tentless, and because of Esther’s ability to spend half an hour in a clothes  shop, due to lack of time, there were no jeans bought for me. 

Durham cathedral was beautiful, and as impressive a feat of architecture as you’ll ever run across given its age, and yet, when i saw it 16 years ago, it filled me with awe, but this time, I was more apathetic, which didn’t really do the place justice. I took no pictures, which says a lot. Maybe places like Canterbury and Sydney cathedrals have conditioned me to the more ostentatious gothic variety, I don’t know, or maybe it was because aged 22, I was somewhat less traveled and more impressionable, but for whatever reason I found myself slightly disappointed to have tarnished a memory. It felt like a starter at a good restaurant, great to begin with, but only a precursor to the main course. 

Speaking of food, impressively in the first day I managed Pie, Pasty, and a Sunday Roast!! All 3 food groups as Esther put it! It’s funny the little things you miss when living abroad. The ability to order Beef and Yorksire Puds on a Friday should be not limited to the shores of a small island off the coast of France! 

Newcastle was all about the football. Never actually saw anything of the city, but after managing to procure tickets we plunked down in a bar, then tested our digestive systems with a burger from one of the “death by badly grilled 1/4pounder” stalls outside St James Park! Heeding Mike’s warning that it gets cold in the stadium, we had trundled about carrying our coats, me secretly questioning the wisdom behind this as it was a gloriously bright spring day! The seats were brilliant, and afforded us a great view of the first, make that ONLY, goal of the game. Surprisingly there are no big screens anywhere to see replays, so the spectators are all in the same position as the referee , which is probably a good thing, as replays point out errors and make atmospheres more vitriolic! No-one wants 50,000 upset geordies on their back! As the sun slowly sank, first jumpers were donned, and then, the leather! Strewth the temperature dropped quickly! Nice one Mike! Listen and trust the guy with the experience Wiseman!

The journey back to Hull was taken via a scenic route, passing through Scarborough, a place I’ve not been through since I was about 9, when my parents were both not only still alive but actually pertaining to love each other! I swear we saw the cliff face where my brother Iain in his wisdom climbed halfway down, completing the secondary half rather quicker due to the medium of gravity, and breaking a leg to boot, which was slightly surreal. Time flies by. I wonder if the Chase Hotel still exists? Getting to Scarborough was entertaining! Having been given the role of shotgun, who was I to argue, and Mike took on the roads in a manner that suggests it’s a good thing he has his xbox back to let out some of that pent up need for speed! 

Boarding the boat at a reasonable time, Mike and Lucia I think were starting to feel the effects of Esther’s cold that she’d been suffering from, so when we wandered into the cabin at about 10ish they were dead to the world! Kids today eh? lol No staying power! A couple of Spitfires and a pleasant £50 win on a fruit machine from £2 stake (thank you Rileys and Cops n Robbers) and we too curled up!  Next stop, Rotterdam! 

And so we’re back.  A big thank you to Mike and Lucia for taking us with them, and to Mike’s family for putting us up and indeed putting up with us! lol The weather which had been so good to us over there, appears to have followed us here so it’s balcony weather! Which is where I’m heading now!

Til next time!

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