Oot and aboot

Newcastle – a spontaneous day trip to Seven Stories, Baltic, and The Quayside Market

Abbotsford House – home of Sir Walter Scott, nestled in the beautiful Scottish Borders

The Georgian House – an Edinburgh townhouse beautifully preserved in the heart of the New Town

I had a birthday. Edging ever closer to 30 doesn’t scare me quite as much as it used to. It was not a big celebration, but it was a fun one. And good things are happening in my life (like this) and it makes me excited for more of it.

I hope everyone is well and happy xxx

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Back to Londontown

Yesterday I was extremely lazy. I pretty much read, watched television and ate yummy mozzarella, tomato and avocado salad that Anna made. We went for a walk to the pub for dinner and then went for another walk to another pub for a pint. Anna and Nige and Sarah-Jane have been such great hosts. We left just before lunchtime today and hopped on a train back to London. It was our last National Rail trip for the holiday…weird. Now we’re in Generator hostel in London. The next couple of days will be interesting ones, but its not long now until we hop on the plane. That will be interesting to, with my legs being the way they are. Attempts to get moved to a seat with better leg room haven’t proved too fruitful. The quest continues…

Tynemouth

We got up this morning (myself a lot slower than Sean, as usual) and Nige, Anna and Sarah-Jane kindly took us in the car to Tynemouth Market. We went on a biiiig walk, with some beautiful views of the river and looked through the market which conveniently included a book fair…before having lunch in front of the ruined castle and priory, all in brilliant sunshine. We drove home along the coast and it reminded me of the more beautiful parts of the Mornington Peninsula.

I had a nap when we got home, and Sean and Sarah-Jane had slinky tournaments down the stairs. The girl is only five and is being taught about Monet, and has thus produced a vast quantity of Impressionist drawings. Amazing stuff. Nige’s parents came over and we went down to their allotment, which is their plot in the community gardens where they are growing heaps of vegies, herbs and even hops! (Nige runs a micro-brewery). Then Nige’s sister and brother came over and we all had Sunday dinner with vegies from the allotment, and rhubarb crumble, also made from allotment grown ingredients! Nige’s mum used to be the children’s librarian for Newcastle and knew authors like Jacqueline Wilson before she was famous. Sarah-Jane and I made Lego masterpieces and later we watched Crazy Heart (SJ was in bed by then) before I headed upstairs myself. In another staggering display of generosity, Nige and Anna have insisted we stay another night, free of charge. Bless this house!

South Shields and Newcastle

After a day in which Sean went exploring and I stayed home because of my swollen knees (but I found Pottermore and then it wasn’t so bad), we had Chinese food and red wine with Nige and Anna and chatted and laughed at bad TV. Then this morning, we headed into South Shields. South Shields is not far from Newcastle (about half an hour on the metro) and Sean’s grandfather is from there, so it was a special place to visit. We had a great time hobbling up the very trendy shopping district until we got to the ferry docks. We went for a walk along the waterfront, and Sean took lots of pics, before we got stuck in a rainstorm and ducked into a nearby pub. We then whiled away the next hour or so, chatting to the bartenders and two regulars about travelling and the UK and Aus and history and leather repair (Dad!) and beer and all manner of things. There were also some old photographs around the pub of what the area used to look like, which was pretty special. Once we made our farewells, we went for a bigger wander, all the way down to Ocean Rd, stopping to look in the pet shop, and even a small museum of South Shields (though it was closing and we only got as far as the gift shop). At about 6, we met up with Michael, Sean’s great-cousin. He was really, really lovely. It’s always weird meeting up with someone you have never seen before, but he was really warm and inviting. We had a few beers (cider for me) and talked for at least a couple of hours. On the way home my knees packed up from a day of walking. Even with crutches and compression bandages they couldn’t stick it out the whole way home, so I went back to the house and Sean went and got us delicious Indian food for a late dinner. Cheers!

Singin’ In The Rain

I have now sent home 7 packages, and I hope that will be it! Yesterday we did some routine errands – finding a post office, booking Matilda tickets, calling Sean’s relatives in South Shields – before heading off to the West End to see Blood Brothers. The box office people were kind of unhelpful, but to cut a long story short, we didn’t get to see it. No matter, we wandered down the street, just to see, out of interest, if there were any reasonably priced seats available for Singin’ In The Rain. Neither of us had ever seen the movie or the show – I know, terrible of us, really terrible – but we ended up getting seats for 25 pounds (they were classed as ‘restricted view’, but we had no trouble with the view at all). After an insanely delicious dinner at a Mexican place, we took our seats in the auditorium. I loved it!! The dancing and the chorey were just mental. I’m not a dancer, but I know mind-blowing steps when they’re done in front of me and this stuff was so good it hurt. Particularly, of course, the climactic numbers in the actual rain. The first four rows of the audience got a generous soaking, but we were safe back in row H. The girl who played Kathy was the standout, but we saw the Lina Lamont understudy and she was wonderful. I’m so glad that our first Singin’ In The Rain experience was a production of such quality and magnitude. Afterwards, we hightailed back to Shepherd’s Bush to make sure we got in before Tim and Helen went to bed. We thanked them for having us, though there is no way we could possibly repay them for their kindness, and wished them luck for Egypt (exciting!) before dropping into bed. This morning we got up, packed up and headed to King’s Cross where we caught a train to Newcastle. We are staying in South Gosforth in a place we found on airbnb. Our lovely hosts are Nigel (away at the moment) and his lovely wife Anna and their beautiful daughter Sarah-Jane. And their cat, Buttons, who I shall be taking back to Aus with me. Sean and I went for dinner at a nice Italian place, had a quick pint at the pub, and came back for an early night. Phew!