Yesterday I left Newcastle via the very bridge you see above, embarking on a new chapter of my life: the working world. I moved down to Cambridge to work for a food testing firm (starting today!), and though I'm excited about this I'm also sad to be leaving such a great city. I've composed this list of reasons why it is so great, both to satisfy my nostalgia and to tantalise the minds of those of you who haven't been before and are looking for a new city to discover. Equally, if you've been before, this list (in no particular order) is full of reasons to return:
- Cheap sandwiches and bakery items: there there are an insane number of Greggs bakeries in Newcastle's city centre, at least one of which is open 24 hours. However, I do not condone their use of the word 'pasty' to describe their lattices filled with cheese and onion paste.
- Wildlife: Newcastle's city centre has a curiously large number of wild rabbits, cows and other animals that are generally only found in rural areas. Ouseburn Farm boasts a whole host of farm animals, whilst herds of cows are commonplace on the Town Moor.
Sheep at Ouseburn Farm
- Cheap fruit and veg: Newcastle's high street is lined with several market stalls boasting fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, often for prices much lower than in the local supermarket. My favourite find was 1lb (approx. 500g) cherries for just £1.
- Fun events: Newcastle's Quayside has been host to its very own beach every summer for the past few years. Next week is the first Newcastle Cocktail Week, a sort-of sequel to Newcastle Restaurant Week, which takes place every year and promises huge discounts in restaurants (and now cocktail bars) right across the city.
Seaside at the Quayside
- Gorgeous architecture: from the Rolex Building to the Theatre Royal, Newcastle's city centre is bursting with impressive buildings. Coming from someone who moved from Plymouth, the place where ugly new buildings are built from designs that were made two decades earlier, this place is beautiful.
Clockwise L-R: The Sage (Ok, I admit that this is in Gateshead, but you get the best view from Newcastle's Quayside); The Theatre Royal; The Arches at Newcastle University (the best university in the city, since you ask)
- A foodie paradise: from its multiple cafes and restaurants run by real Italians to its fantastic, sometimes award-winning, coffee shops, Newcastle is a great place to be if you enjoy your food. My favourite haunts are: Di Marco for real Italian coffee, ice cream, cakes and focaccia sandwiches; Slice for the extremely well-priced giant authentic Italian pizza slices; Flat Caps Coffee for award-winning coffee which tastes so good I didn't need milk (and I always need milk); Olive & Bean for mouth-watering cakes and bars or a wide range of sandwiches made to order. This is just scratching the surface, too - I haven't even got to the restaurants yet.
Giant Slice of Pizza (and yes, those might be bite marks at the bottom... I was hungry!)
- Very little rain - as someone who grew up in the wettest region of the country, the South West, I think I know what I'm talking about when I say it hardly ever rains here. You have to take a little (or a lot) of wind for your troubles, but personally I'll take so-strong-you-have-to-lean-into-it-to-keep-going wind over it's-been-raining-for-seven-days-when-will-it-end rain.
- A vibrant nightlife - I touched on this in my graduation post, but Newcastle's nightlife is famous for a reason. We have trebles (take a double then add a shot), skittles cocktails (sadly not actually made of skittles) and a huge range of clubs and bars (one of which involves a cage, another of which serves Mint Aero Bombs which actually taste like mint areos!). And of course, you know it's not been a good night if you don't hit up Munchies on the way home.
- The locals: Geordies are a very friendly bunch. I'm not sure you'd find such camaraderie elsewhere, particularly in the South East. Everyone is friendly and willing to help, for example if you're lost.
- The crazy graffiti: if you're a fan of crazy graffiti like me, you'll love it here. In my neighbourhood (Heaton) there are countless bizarre instructions or images, for example:
|The graffiti in the largest image appeared while I was away last summer. I have spent the entire academic year trying to work out what it is. Circus folk? Transvestites? Superheroes?|
So, hopefully you are now chomping at the bit to visit/move to Newcastle. Book your trip now! It is an unusually hot summer, after all, so while we're not being forced abroad to hotter climes this might be the best time to explore your own country.