Friday, June 13, 2014

Glottal, and other stops

There are no Ts in Newcastle. Middle Ts, that is: compu'a, bu'a, be'a. And it's not Newcastle, actually, it's nooCassw. So far I've only spoken to tourism people and taxi drivers, who make allowances for non-Geordie speakers, but it's still fun to be surrounded by such a distinctive accent.

And the city is very appealing, too: full of grand and elegant streets and buildings, a bit like Bath in places, but with unique surprises like an untouched Victorian pub, a coaching inn with a turning bay and two-storey stables, a cathedral honouring war-dead cyclists and veterinarians, and even a 1960s Council building that has architectural merit.
It's small, which means it's easy to get around, and also that, like Avis, it tries harder. My Green Guide, Gwen, gave me a 2-hour tour that was full of superlatives - most bridges in a quarter mile, smallest cathedral, oldest M&S, most difficult building to design (Norman Foster's shiny Sage Gateshead), and many more. I did feel that it was a little desperate claiming that the cathedral is 'the second least visited in the country' but I sympathise with the city pride.

It's well-founded: the place has lots to appreciate and enjoy, from the Quayside Seaside with its summer-special sandy beach and deck chairs, to the double-decker bridge with its great story about Queen Victoria's knickers, to all its pubs and Michelin restaurants.

I highly recommend the Broad Chare pub and restaurant: good, friendly service, lively vibe and excellent food (potted shrimps, yum) and beers. And Jesmond Dene House is a lovely place to stay: leafy, historic, comfortable, also with great food. Come here!

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