There is just something about hearing someone whose accent sounds just like yours. Someone who understands what you mean when you say you miss your Chipotle burrito bowl and those days spent wandering the aisles of Target filling your cart with everything you want and don’t need. Living abroad is full of fun new adventures, but every now and then you just want and need some normalcy. This week, a friend from the States passed through Newcastle for a visit! Ahhhh, sweet, sweet American accent. One of the best parts of a friend visiting is that you get to do all of the cultural things you should have already done.
We went to undergraduate together and it was so good to see a friendly face from years ago in this new setting. She was traveling through the UK visiting various friends scattered around the country. For her Newcastle portion of the trip, we had a day on the town. We started our day at the Laing Gallery in the City Centre. Several of the museums in the Newcastle area are free and this is one of them. I am consistently impressed by the high quality of these free museums and this was no exception. The gallery was fairly small, but it had three rooms of exhibits. These change periodically, but there is one installation on the first floor that is permanent and walks you through some of the cultural and artistic history of Newcastle, including an interesting background on glassblowing!
After the gallery, we decided to head down toward the Quayside, which is the riverfront area of Newcastle. On our way, we passed an English Heritage site, Bessie Surtee’s house. We took a quick look around, it was an old house from the 17th century, but has since been restored. Unfortunately, the only history we were able to glean from the plaques in the house itself was that Bessie Surtee climbed out the second-floor window to elope with John Scott who later became Lord Chancellor. Yay for forbidden love?! Anyway, after a quick pit stop there we got some tea and I had to leave my friend to her own devices while I ran to class. She was able to visit The Baltic, another free museum that shows mainly modern art before she toured the Newcastle Castle. We rounded off the night by going to the Christmas Lighting Ceremony in the City Centre. It was freezing cold. Literally. The temperature was at freezing…but after an hour of music and jumping up and down to keep blood circulating, the city officially lit up and Christmas cheer was in the air! All in all, it was a whirlwind of a visit, but a fun reminder of home while I’m here.