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Reasons to Love North East England

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The North East of England holds a very special place in my heart. Although I'm a southerner born and bred, having been raised in the rural Suffolk countryside, I absolutely love Newcastle, York, Durham and the surrounding areas. I've spent many a summer holiday up in the north enjoying all the delights that it has to offer and this year has been no exception. This time I was technically there for work, as I was on the organising committee of a PhD study day held at the Laing Gallery in Newcastle, but I also found the time to squeeze in a day trip to one of my favourite cities: Durham. We were very lucky with the weather and enjoyed a beautiful sunny day in the city, so to give me a chance to share all the lovely photos, I've written an ode to the North East, sharing all of the reasons why I love this beautiful part of the world.

The people

I'm definitely not alone in thinking that people in the north are just so much friendlier. Maybe it's simply down to the fact that they don't have to deal with the hell that is the London tube system on a Monday morning (I've been on the receiving end of some pretty atrocious verbal abuse from pissed-off commuters in the capital more times that I'd like to remember). In the north, you can always count on a friendly shopkeeper, an amenable taxi driver, and a smiling person to chat with in a queue. Northerners are definitely very welcoming and I always feel relaxed and at home in their cities.

The accent 

I'm a sucker for a Geordie accent. I don't really have a regional accent - when I ask my friends what they think I sound like, I get told "Abbey you just sound posh". LOL thanks guys. I think that's part of the reason why I love other regional accents so much, they're a novelty for me! The Geordie lilt will always be one of my favourites and some of the regional dialect used in the north always puts a smile on my face too. My top words include "hacky" meaning "dirty", "canny" meaning "nice", and "scran" meaning "food".

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The food

The word "scran" leads us quite nicely into our next category. I'm not going to lie, not all stereotypically "Northern" food floats my boat. Pease pudding, for example. BLERGHHHH. It's all kinds of wrong. On the other hand, the northerners really know how to do their chips. Chip shop chips from the north cannot be beaten! They're always super fat, crunchy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. My mouth is watering Homer Simpson style just thinking about them. Oh, and speaking of carbs, there's Stottie cake as well. These huge, flat, round bread buns are packed with chewy, doughy deliciousness. They look very plain and simple but stuff your favourite sandwich fillings in the middle and you've got one heck of a tasty lunch!

The cities

There's so much to do and see in the cities of the North East, I have yet to exhaust them even during my many visits. The Angel of the North just outside Newcastle is a lovely place to visit for a photo opportunity and the city itself has some fantastic museums and art galleries. The shopping in this part of the world is also excellent, with the intu MetroCentre in Gateshead, the second-largest shopping complex in Europe, catering for every requirement. This summer, there's even more to see and do in Newcastle with the Great Exhibition of the North taking place. There are art trails, museum exhibitions, music events and loads more going on - I wish I was up there more frequently to take advantage of it all!

The architecture

Durham is definitely the jewel in the crown of the North East where architecture is concerned. The city is absolutely stunning. The cathedral is a world heritage site and is considered one of the greatest buildings in Europe. On the day of my visit, the graduation ceremony for Durham University was taking place in the cathedral so we couldn't go inside but I couldn't imagine a more stunning venue! Newcastle is also amazing for architecture, especially the bridges over the iconic rivers of the Tyne and Wear. Roofs of houses and other buildings are nestled just under the bridges meaning that some roof-top bars have to have coverings to protect diners from being pooped on by the cormorants nesting above their heads! I absolutely love the quirks of Newcastle's architecture.

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The countryside

Although the cities of the North East have a great deal to offer, I also love the fact that in just a short car ride, you can make it from the centre of a bustling city to the stunning surrounding countryside. Regular readers of my blog will know that I'm a keen member of the National Trust and the North East is jam-packed with beautiful properties to visit. Visiting Gibside, located near Gateshead, years ago was one of the main reasons why I first wanted to join the National Trust! The northern landscape is particularly special to me as it actually has hills! I'm definitely not used to rolling hills as my home county of Suffolk is extremely flat, so being able to explore the beautiful vistas of the North East will always be something that I enjoy.

The history

On one of my first visits to the north of England, I went on a day trip to the archaeological site at Segedunum, a Roman fort originally located along Hadrian's Wall. The fort was incredible to explore, especially with the 35m viewing tower that provides amazing views of the site as well as across Tyne and Wear. Another historic place that I've enjoyed visiting time and time again is Washington Old Hall, a manor house associated with the family of US President George Washington. This small North East town even gave the Washington family their name! The city of York also has amazing history with its Viking heritage, today told through the JORVIK Viking Centre's exhibitions. I'm a big lover of historic cities, so I'm spoiled for choice in this part of the world.

The prices

£1 in the north and £1 in London may as well be two completely different currencies. Your money will go a LOT further in the north, and I, for one, am not complaining on my visits! A decent two-course meal out at a Gateshead pub will set you back less than a tenner and I've managed to get a fairly nice bottle of wine for as little as £5 in a Newcastle establishment in the past. Not bad, eh? Grocery prices are estimated as being nearly 30% higher in London than Newcastle, on top of rent being 172% higher in the capital! I know where I'm more likely to move to in the future...

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Are you a northern lass, a southern belle, or a Midlands missy? Leave me a comment and let me know which area of the UK is your favourite!

Until next time,

A x