9 Reasons We Should All Pack up and Move to Newcastle
Does your have a city have a football team called West Allotment Celtic? Game over
Newcastle upon Tyne is the city that gave birth to Viz, so who better to extol the virtues of the place than the current editors? If you’re worried we’re entering “fat slags” territory, don’t – they’ve picked out public transport signs in Latin, 15th-century Flemish musical instruments at the top of towers and football clubs with delightful names like Heaton Stannington. Pure class.
1. The Quay to the City
The North Shields Fish Quay, with its busy waterfront and dozens of boats of all shapes and sizes, is the ideal place to take a photograph to turn into a jigsaw puzzle. It’s also one of the few places where you can still watch trawlers come in in the morning to unload their catch. But the best thing is the row of chip shops where the fish is so fresh it has barely stopped flapping before it’s dipped in the batter. Eat in, or take it to the seafront car park where, for a handful of chips, the local seagulls will recreate a scene from Hitchcock’s The Birds, with you playing Rod Taylor or Tippi Hedren.
2. The Beaches are Better than Copacabana
The beaches at Tynemouth and Whitley Bay are the best in the world bar none. And just up the coast, the beaches at Bamburgh and Druridge Bay are even better. Consisting of empty miles of fine golden sand, they are spotlessly clean and perfect for slowly ambling along looking into the sunset with a longing sense of something or other. But while the sea, like the sand, is perfectly clean, it can only be described as very, very, very, very, very bracing. Take a wet suit or tub of goose fat.
3. Amsterdam is a Night Away on the Ferry
The Bigg Market is the centre of Newcastle's nightlife and should be enough to satisfy anyone's drinking and partying requirements. The name is nothing to do with its size – in fact it’s quite small and is named after a type of coarse barley called bigg, which was sold there in the Middle Ages. (What would we do without Wikipedia?) But if the Bigg Market gets a little too tame for you, or you want to go somewhere you won't get laughed at for wearing a coat, you can jump on the DFDS ferry in North Shields at teatime and be in Amsterdam by breakfast the next morning.
4. The Wilds of Northumberland are on Your Doorstep
Northumberland has the most spectacular scenery in England and, unlike the Lake District, you'll always be able to park your car somewhere in order to get out to look at it. You'll find seals, deer, red squirrels and a herd of wild cattle that look like they have just walked out of the Neolithic Age. And there are more castles than you can shake a stick at, assuming your arm gets tired after about 24 castles.
5. It’s Full of Roman Stuff
Newcastle is so desirable a location that the Romans left their sunny Mediterranean climate in about 120 AD and moved up here. They set about building a massive wall and when they left, they forgot to take it with them. The 118km-long structure weaves its way through Cumbria and Northumberland and into Newcastle, where bits of it turn up, accompanied by little plaques, in petrol station forecourts, housing estates and roadside verges. It eventually finishes at Segedunum, a spectacular fort in the aptly named town of Wallsend. And as a tip of the hat to its place in the history of the Roman Empire, the Metro station at Wallsend has its information signs displayed in both English and Latin. That's class for you.
6. We’ve Got the Best (Non-League Football) Teams in the Land
Forget about watching millionaires prancing about the pitch in their yellow boots, Newcastle has dozens of fantastic non-league teams all within within 30 minutes’ drive. Bedlington Terriers, Heaton Stannington, West Allotment Celtic, Jarrow Roofing, Blyth Spartans... the names alone are worth the ticket price. You could visit a different ground every weekend of the season and a tenner will get you entry, a tray of chips and two cups of coffee (or Bovril for those who find the footie stimulating enough). A great atmosphere and good-quality football is guaranteed, and you won't have to leave the game ten minutes early to beat the traffic.
7. We've Got the Best (Basketball) Team in the Land
If football isn't your thing, go and watch the Newcastle Eagles basketball team in the BBL. Whereas the Toon often struggle to find the net once per game, the Eagles regularly put 50 goals (or baskets as they like to call them) past their opponents. The whole Eagles set-up is run by the nicest people you could meet and the crowds are passionate and friendly. A Friday night home game at the Sports Central Arena is a lesson in how sport should be played, watched and enjoyed.
8. You’ll Learn a New Language
Move abroad to somewhere like France or Italy and you are certain to pick up the language. After a year, you'll have a working knowledge, after two you'll be able to converse on any non-technical subject, and after three, you'll be virtually fluent. No one is saying that learning Geordie will be so easy, but you will pick it up eventually. The local dialect has the same Anglo-Saxon base as the rest of the UK, but with bits of Danish, Scandinavian, Dutch and Scottish hoyed (thrown) in for good measure.
9. Our Civic Centre Has Got a Carillon in it
At weekends, the muted sound of bells may sometimes be heard coming from Newcastle Civic Centre. Traditional local tunes, such as “The Blaydon Races”, “The Lambton Worm” and “Bobby Shaftoe” float out from the slatted louvres of its tower. The source is a carillon, a medieval instrument consisting of 25 fixed bells, the clappers of which are controlled by a keyboard played, not surprisingly, by a carilloner. Why in the 1970s the City Council decided it could not do without a 22-tonne, 15th-century Flemish musical instrument in the roof is anybody's guess, but whatever the reason, putting it up there was a stroke of genius.
Graham Dury and Simon Thorp grew up in Nottingham and Pontefract respectively before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1987. Now living in nearby Whitley Bay and not quite so nearby Hexham, they write, draw and co-edit Viz Comic, Britain's third or fourth funniest magazine. Possibly fifth.
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