Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Our Lifestyle Adventures: Having the Pleasure of Bill's Company around Newcastle

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our Lifestyle Adventures: Having the Pleasure of Bill's Company around Newcastle


a family of swallows at the Housestead Visitor's Center On the Hadrian Wall Path
the Millenium and Tyne Bridges on the River Tyne
that cuts through the Newcastle City Centre
It has been four months since April and Clint were wed at Guthrie Castle in Scotland. I had posted articles on their wedding, including the two-day tour of the Highlands, the tour of Edinburgh, and arrival at Newcastle of the bride and groom’s families. Let me now tell you about the five weeks I stay
ed at their home in Newcastle after. The poor newly-weds could not go on their honeymoon! Anyway, they did not have vacation days left so the honeymoon had been scheduled for a later month.

Carol at the Roman Fort Houseteads
on the Hadrian Wall Path
When everybody else had gone on to tour London (which we had done prior to the wedding), I had the pleasure of Bill’s company alone for a few days. We toured around Newcastle upon Tyne, commonly Newcastle, the most populous city (200,000) in the Tyne and Wear Metropolitan County, a conurbation of Newcastle and four other cities with a combined population of nearly a million.

We played Archaeology Detectives
Among Newcastle’s main icons are Newcastle Brown Ale, a leading brand of beer, Newcastle United F.C., a Premier League soccer team, the Millennium and Tyne Bridges. It hosts the world's most popular half marathon, the Great North Run, since it began in 1981. The regional nickname and dialect for people from Newcastle and the surrounding a
rea is Geordie. We understand this is the most difficult to understand of British accents. When we rented a taxi, we could hardly communicate with the driver.

Chester 
We first visited the Hadrian Wall, a defensive fortification in Roman Britain, begun in AD 122 during the rule of Emperor Hadrian. A significant portion of the 80-mile wall still exists and was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the most popular tourist attraction in Northern England. It is a common misconception that the Wall marks the boundary between England and Scotland. It lies entirely within England, from less than a kilometer to 110 kilometers in the east south of the border.
the yellow Hop-on-Hop-off Bus
from Hexham to Carlisle on Hadrian Wall Path 

Caesar's Stone at the Clayton Collection in Chester
Chester was the first Roman fort we visited. There were three separate groupings of ruins. A bonus was the Clayton Collection of Roman stones one of which had the name of Caesar clearly inscribed. But it was Houseteads that gave us a full view of the Wall across the hills and the fort’s many features.  April and Clint could not believe our fascination with stones and walls but, for us, it was a reminder of Roman might, their invasions and conquests and how they occupied vanquished lands.

Bill and Carol with parts of Hadrian Wall
beside and behind them
Although it can be followed on foot, we used the Hop-on, Hop-off service available from Hexham and running to the east in Carlisle after a bus ride from Haymarket, Newcastle. Embarrassing to tell but we made one mistake after another. First, we rode the longer bus ride to Hexham, costing us about thirty minutes. Next, we missed the Hop-on-Hop-off bus at Chesters to go to Houseteads so we had to go back to Hexham to catch another service, costing us another hour. We got to April’s home past 6 pm, very tired, but very happy that we had again ticked off an item from our bucket list, together. 

Durham Town Square
Durham Cathedral
On another day we went to Durham City where Bill’s nephew, Bill Palucca, was supposed to have completed his masters. The city sits on the River Wear, to the south of Newcastle upon Tyne. Durham is known for its Norman cathedral and 11th century castle, both World Heritage Sites. The castle has been the home of Durham University since 1832. The Durham Cathedral, on the other hand, founded in its present form in AD 1093, replaced the 10th century "White Church" built to house treasures including  the head of St Oswald, the remains of the Venerable Bede, and three copies of the Magna Carta.

Durham Castle
After a traditional English meal of roast beef and mushy peas at the market, we did some looking and inquiring about Bill’s nephew’s college. When we found nothing, we called Bill’s nephew and found out his school was actually in Hull, about a couple of hours away! 

rowers on the River Wear
a riverboat cruising on the River Wear
But our trip to Durham was not a waste. First, we found out that, although Alnwick Castle was the principal locations for Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, some scenes were filmed in the Durham Cathedral over a two-week period, including shots of the corridors and some classroom scenes. Second, we walked around the Wear River bank, chancing upon cathedral views, watching row boaters practicing, and a river boat cruising. After the walk, we gave the ubiquitous vanilla ice cream vendor at the town plaza a try! 

vanilla ice cream, everywhere in England
But my pleasure soon had to end. Bill had to go home to follow up on his volunteer work as a CASA, having been away for seven weeks. I did not know how much more North Eastern England had to offer but April and Clint and their friends were ready to fill in Bill’s shoes!