Back in The Toon

When I graduated from Northumbria University in July 2015 and left Newcastle, I was convinced that I would be making regular trips back to my favourite city over the year to come. My friends still lived there, it was much better for shopping than Scarborough and I liked being there. I knew that I had hopes of travelling during the year ahead but I fully expected that, when I had some downtime between my trips abroad, I would return to my favourite city and not let Newcastle become the place where I used to live. In reality, I moved back home, then I moved to Finland. A few months later I came back home again, then travelled some more and I was busy. My friends were now in their final year of University, they had lectures to attend and dissertations to write. I’d met new friends while I was working abroad and, rather than returning to Newcastle, I visited my new friends because I was all too familiar with the dissertation stress that my University friends would be experiencing. I didn’t want to bother them during the crucial last few months of their degrees or take up the valuable floor space that would inevitably be covered by miscellaneous lecture notes and textbooks.

Although I have made the trip ‘up north’ a couple of times since my last proper visit at the end of September, I hadn’t found myself back in Newcastle City Centre until a couple of weeks ago. I’ve visited relatives living in the surrounding area, flown from the airport and I’ve popped into the metro centre on the way home but you can’t really class that as returning to Newcastle and doing all of the things I used to love. A couple of weeks ago after Kelly and Molly had FINALLY finished their dissertations and exams Sophie and I went to stay for the weekend. We were back living the student life in a student house (although it wasn’t quite Mowbray Street) doing some of the things and visiting some of the places we used to love. I know that this time last year I wouldn’t have believed that by the time I returned I would have been away for eight months.

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Upon our arrival, we dumped our bags, reapplied our lipstick, left Kelly’s house and walked into town, through the university of course. It was strange being back, everything seeming so familiar yet I could see some obvious changes. I had a strange feeling of not belonging there any more, I guess I don’t. I’ve graduated and moved on, but Northumbria was a big part of my life and I’m always going to feel part of it regardless of the fact that I’m walking through the campus half expecting someone to shout out ‘she doesn’t even go here’ like Damien in Mean Girls. Molly met up with us in Coffee Trader for lunch. It’s a bold claim to call it one of my favourite coffee houses considering the variety Newcastle has to offer. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a long list of favourites but Coffee Trader makes the best white chocolate mocha I have ever tasted. The last time I remember drinking one is the morning I handed in my dissertation, while I was waiting for it to be bound!

After a late lunch we headed over to Lane 7 for a spot of ten pin bowling. Lane 7 describes itself as ‘Boutique Bowling’ and has a unique atmosphere that I’ve never quite experienced anywhere else. As well as bowling lanes, they’ve also got a bar on each floor, a restaurant, ping pong and pool. We met up with some other friends to make our team of seven, at which point Kelly decided to write down silly nicknames for everyone to go up on the screen, typical Kel! Our bowling lane was down in the basement where there are just two lanes, a bar and some pool tables and, for the majority of the time, we had the bowling area to ourselves. For once I didn’t come last, I came second to last but that’s as much of an achievement as winning for me!

Later that evening we went to EXIT, which is a live escape game where your team is locked in a room for an hour and you have to solve clues and puzzles to work your way out. We played ‘Volatile Laboratories’ where we were trapped inside a top secret infected laboratory which had been sent into lockdown and we had one hour to find the antidote and then escape from the room. We escaped in 54:31 and definitely thought that we weren’t going to make it out in time! We all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I would definitely go back and do one of two their other games.

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The next and final stop of the evening was Mr Lynch’s for some fancy, yet student priced, cocktails. It’s a cocktail bar so you would generally expect the variety they have but I honestly love it when bars have more than the usual cosmopolitans and mojitos on a boring bog standard cocktail menu. Mr Lynch’s literally has pages full of different options and there are some really inventive cocktails, all presented beautifully. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you can have a DipDab Tini with sherbet and a lollipop, just like the DipDab sweets all 90’s kids will remember. They’ve also got a drink called Toblerone which tastes like an alcoholic chocolate milkshake. If you’re feeling fruity you can order a cherry flavoured cocktail which will be served in a popcorn box with popping candy sprinkled on the top and, if you’re feeling extra exotic, you can have a tropical flavoured cocktail served in a wooden tiki bowl.

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On Saturday we took our grand plans and long shopping lists to the Metrocentre for some retail therapy. Despite the meticulous planning that went into this weekend we failed to acknowledge the fact that we were going to end up in the Metrocentre on a Saturday afternoon in half term so, naturally, the place was really busy and crawling with children. There was however, a silver lining to this more stressful shopping experience… we got to see the Metrognomes! The Metrognomes are costumed characters who put on a show to entertain children who are bored with shopping. I used to love them about fifteen years ago but I didn’t realise that they still existed! They announced their next performance while we were having lunch at Pret, the others didn’t understand what I was freaking out about because they never saw them when they were children. I’m not ashamed to admit that the Metrognomes were definitely the highlight of my day.

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On Sunday morning, before heading back home, we had breakfast at the Butterfly Cabinet which is THE BEST place for breakfast in Heaton, where we used to live. I went for my usual favourite USA Breakfast which has sausage, hash browns and bacon with a huge stack of four pancakes and maple syrup. Maple syrup on bacon shouldn’t work but it really does, those Canadians know what they’re doing with food! After fuelling up for the journey home, it was time to wave goodbye once again to my favourite city, I promise this time I won’t be away for as long.

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