After the stressful events of this year and the start of 2015 literally being the worst possible few months of my life in every way, we decided a trip up north was warranted and booked a stay in Newcastle for some fun and frolicking a few hundred miles from home.
David also has family there, being the northern lad he is, so after a few quick phone calls we arranged to meet with them all for a proper Sunday lunch.
The train journey, and England’s terrible roads
The weekend admittedly got off to a bad start. David was at a conference in Manchester and had planned to meet me, who was travelling from King’s Cross, at York. Being the general klutz I am, David had all my tickets, and I was in charge of remembering my one ticket from King’s Cross to York.
All I had to do was go to work, come home, leave the cat with a kiss and three days’ worth of food so he didn’t starve, resist his adorably manipulative chirrups as he rubs against my leg begging for just one more hit of the ‘nip, pick up my suitcase and ticket, and leave.
Which I did.
Oh dear reader, you thought I’d be taking about how I forgot my ticket and only realised when pulling into Liverpool Street, prompting a frantic tweeting session at Virgin Trains East Coast begging their leniency and hoping the QR code on my phone would be enough.
Well you thought wrong, and I’m quite frankly insulted at the insinuation.
No, the issue here was that Manchester was holding some kind of event during the weekend which meant half the roads were closed off. Making his five minute taxi ride from the conference venue to the station a thirty-five one.
Now, as I mentioned, I’m not one for politics. In the words of that guy who wrote Game of Thrones, and words I also happened to see in an Audible advert about five minutes ago, I don’t care what games politicians play. I have no interest in lefts, rights, blues, reds, greens etc. All I want is a warm summer, rain when I’m trying to sleep so it makes that nice pitter patter sound on the roof, health for my family, and DAMN ROADS THAT ARE OPEN WHEN THERE ARE TRAINS TO CATCH.
His train was missed of course. And my tickets were with the boy halfway down the country. Thanks Manchester.
Cows don’t roost, and it’s always cancer
I panicked. And I will admit I was fuming. After being told – nay, INSULTED – how rubbish my organisation is it was I who was on time and ready as planned. Oh how the cows had come home to roost. I felt a smug sense of gloat overtake me before the panic set in.
Now, being the negative person I generally am I imagined a thousand problems at the moment I got that fateful text. I couldn’t wander up to wherever the train manager was as I had my camera and laptop in a heavy suitcase and the train was rammed, so instead of a quick conversation with train staff, I was left to imagine the possible outcomes for a whole two hours.
1. I would be kicked off the train. I’d be left standing in the rain in some grim town no one even cares about having to hitchhike my way back to Essex.
2. I’d be accused of fare dodging and be given a £200 fine.
3. I’d need to buy a new ticket, costing who knows how much (a quick google showed it was only going to be £33) and forever be known as That Idiot Girl Wot Couldn’t Even Find Her Ticket by my fellow travellers.
Fortunately, nothing really happened. The train conductor came down and after prompting me for my ticket I explained what had happened. She needed proof I wasn’t some fare-dodging scum (this time) and after the email was produced and she realised I was either telling the truth or failed to grasp the basic concept of printers, she tottled off.
Geordie girls love puddles
I was still fuming at this point. I had a heavy suitcase to lug around a rowdy city in the pouring rain without any help. The rain was lashing down, the station itself was slippery, and of course all the taxis were busy ferrying drunk idiots from one pub to the next.
I didn’t even know where the taxi rank was.
After circling the station and being pointed in the right direction by a taxi driver who had his light on but apparently wasn’t taking passengers (WUT) I found the rank. A rather eccentric woman with one of those massively long brown trench coats and flowery hats glared at me as I scootched past her to get out of the rain.
I was tempted to tell her to calm down, I wasn’t pinching her space, when I saw a sight that was glorious to behold.
In a tiny dress
Knickers clearly on display
One shoe on foot, one in hand
In a puddle.
Her friends were all in an alleyway having a fag in the dry, literally laughing at her.
Oh Newcastle. There are many things you could call that city. Classy is most definitely not one. And I’m from Essex.
#BANTS and a group who would definitely be up for a cheeky Nando’s
After waiting what seemed like my entire life for a taxi, I managed to get to the hotel. Travelodge Newcastle Central pretty much lived up to its name – it was right on the Quayside and in fairness it would have been a decent stroll had the clouds held off for a while. Even still, it was only a £7 cab fare, and it was worth every penny for arriving slight dishevelled, but slightly dry.
I heaved my case up the few steps and joined the queue at reception. Bearing in mind it was now clocking almost 11pm, there were people out eating in the little restaurant/breakfast area, people checking in, and loads of people on their way out.
A group of lads (they definitely looked the type to say Bantersaurus Rex more times than is acceptable in a night out. You know the type. Jeans skinnier than the tightest jeggings, V neck t-shirts, slicked back hair, designer stubble, reeking of Davidoff, discussing what banter they’d be getting up to) checked in in front of me, and then it was my turn.
Thankfully the reservation was found, key loaded and I was given directions. Walk through the doors, turn right, turn right again, over the glass walkway, right again, up the lift to floor two and there you go.
The room was a sight for sore, enraged eyes, so I slumped into bed and waited for David to arrive. Falling asleep to Dante’s Peak will give you really strange dreams btw.
‘Er hello, may I have all the ketchup please?’
After a fairly restless night (the Banter Brigade and friends decided 3am was a wicked time to shout about how much they all loved each other outside our room) and I apologised for my grumpiness the day before, we got up, threw on last night’s clothes and made our way down for breakfast.
Is it still breakfast at 10:45? Are there rules about when breakfast ends and brunch begins?
We gave our names to the lady who confirmed we had breakfast included and weren’t chancers, found a window table, and helped ourselves to the food on offer. Sausages, creamy baked beans and scrambled eggs for David, which I scoffed at.
You see. When it’s a buffet, it operates much like a three course meal.
Start with a bowl of cereal and coffee. Something to whet the appetite. Perhaps Coco Pops, or Frosties. Follow this with toast and sausages, beans, and eggs, and a cup of fairly strong tea. Then finish with yoghurt – natural preferably – and a glass of orange juice.
One thing was missing from my feast: ketchup. I grabbed a passing waitress and asked for a few packets of the red stuff. She looked at me like I was a bit mental and went off to open a new box. It was only when David reached into the condiment pot and pulled out the five packets already on our table I realised how knackered I was.
Hey. Maybe some people just really like ketchup.
Grey skies and no plans makes Laura a dull girl
After eating more delicious breakfast/brunch foods than is acceptable we went back to the room and settled back in bed. The rain was still pouring by this point, and it was so cold outside, whereas the bed was dry, warm and soft as a puppy.
After doing some minor mathematics, the only possible solution to the equation was to stay in bed. So that’s what we did. We bet nothing on the horse race that was on, we watched two episodes of Jeremy Kyle, we had showers, and at 16:00 decided it was time to get up and out.
I don’t regret it man. I really don’t. It’s been a long time since we’ve both been able to sit and chill. And with grey skies looming we took the opportunity with tired, weak arms. The shower was hot and powerful, and the room was just too tempting to resist. The bed was comfy and although the rooms are basic, comfort is key. So blame Travelodge, not me. It was totally them.
Seagulls, stairs, and way too much shopping
You’ve read a lot by now. So here’s a little picture diary of what we got up to. Basically we went for a walk, went shopping, went to The Botanist, and then went back to the Travelodge with a bottle of rose and a packet of Revels.
Sunday lunches and saying goodbye
Sunday looked a lot cheerier when we woke up at 10am, and as check-out was at a extremely pleasing midday, we had another lazy morning. David went for a light breakfast, but after the feast the previous night I was happy with a cuppa (and the rest of the Revels).
After showering and packing we dropped our keys in the little reception box and went to have a meal with family. It was such a fun time, laughing about Blackpool shenanigans, terrible gardening, mini dogs, and copious amounts of cheesecake.
We discussed the crazy house prices in London, with family not really realising that actually £1200 is probably how much you’d pay for a little one bed studio anywhere near public transport in London, and that £400 a month for travel is actually quite reasonable when it gets you in to the city in 25 minutes.
Of course, conversation then turned to the fact up north you could live in a five bed detached country manor for that amount, and a seven day buss pass works out £1.30 a day, but never mind.
With promises we wouldn’t leave it as long next time, we were dropped back off at the station and started our journey back.
Greater Anglia, you shame yourself
They journey back home was fairly eventless. A girl annoyingly kept leaning her head on my laptop (ain’t no one touches my MacBook Air without losing a finger) and they kept talking about how they hadn’t filed their timesheets so expenses were going to have a field day hahahahaha which was slightly loud and annoying, but we managed to entertain ourselves despite their idiocy.
Getting back into London was a breeze, and after ordering my Laura Combo at Liverpool Street Maccies (a chicken mayo and a cheese burger no onion – a steal at £1.98) we waited for a train home to Essex.
Which was late. Of course.
We decided to treat the occupants of another train with the beautiful smell of the Laura Combo, which I’m 100% sure they all appreciated, and then waited at Shenfield for our train to arrive. When it FINALLY turned up, late and filthy, like a dog who managed to finally prise open that last fence panel and frolic with the sheep that so quietly taunt him every day, we were just glad to be out of the cold.
The cat was obviously disappointed we were still alive by this point
Walking through the blue door, we dumped our cases down and popped the kettle on.
The cat was highly offended we had returned and hadn’t perished, and as such signalled his dissatisfaction at us still being alive by yowling loudly and staring at me while I slept the entire night.
Well done if you managed to read this far. I got slightly bored talking about it all in case you couldn’t tell, but I appreciate your effort. We had a great weekend, thanks to Travelodge for the stay, and a well-needed break/recharge of the ol’ batteries. It’s something we’ve decided we need to do more often, to new places rather than the same destinations.
The UK is full of lovely little towns and cities – yeah, London is my one true love, but it seems silly always heading that way.
Where to next? Brighton looks nice this time of year…