Wednesday, July 20, 2005

19/7/05 Latest news from the north

The Hoppings

The Quayside

Only in England

The other day while walking to work I saw something very English. There was a man walking along who had a grey beard, trimmed perfectly. He had a hat, a tweed jacket complete with the leather patches on the elbows, a curvy pipe dripping from his lips while he puffed on it, and he was swinging a very thin, long black umbrella. As he puffed on his pipe as I passed him I realised that this could only happen in England. You so would not get away with that in Australia!

The Hoppings

The week after Chris and I went to the gorgeous lakes district there was a huge carnival in Newcastle called The Hoppings. It has been happening for over 100 years, and is the largest gathering of gypsies in Europe. They converge on the Town Moor, where they set up the spinning rides, fortune telling caravans, 2pence skill machines, and then all the games where you can win huge stuffed animals. The highlight of all the flashing lights was the huge ferris wheel. You can see the great view from the attached piccies. Chris, Adrian and I ate dubious roast pork rolls, and I ate the greasiest donuts ever. Chris and I also went on the lamest ghost ride. Unlikely name for something that rates glow in the dark paint as scary!

Interesting fact: if you have a cow, you can graze it on the town moor totally free! I want a cow.


I’ve been working away at the Life Science Centre. The Mars Quest exhibition is now installed and I’m producing material to extend what is there, so activity sheets, trails, hands on activities, powerpoint slides to rotate around, and info on all the latest space missions. I can’t say I’ve been much into space before, but it is interesting and exciting stuff so I don’t mind suddenly becoming in the know about all the latest space missions. Man there are some space-nerds out there though!

I had my 3 month review with my boss Linda today. She said I’ve been doing great work- much more hands-on than they’ve ever had before. Probably a result of the science circus I think… And the fact that ideas from Australia are deemed ‘original’ when you bring them to this country! (I haven’t stolen too many of the circus tricks ;) The only thing she was concerned about was that I sometimes look very sad when she sees me apparently, and she was wondering how I’m settling in. I think that’s just how I look when I’m concentrating! I guess it has been a bit tough adjusting to the work environment over here, but things are going fine now. I’m going to take up a few hobbies soon which should keep me more busy.

This week there is a science communication conference at my science centre – the British Interactive Group conference. I’m really looking forward to meeting science communicators from all over the country and going to some interesting sessions. The networking should be fun too.

The no-trip to Whitby weekend

The other weekend Nita came down from Glasgow and the aim was for us to meet up with out old Modern History teacher Mrs Pride from high school and take a pilgrimage type trip to Whitby, the home of St Hilda and the name of my old school (St Hilda’s). The morning we were to set off Mrs Pride stepped outside to no car. Walking down the street she discovered some crafty (drunk) young un’s had kindly pushed it down the street. After having the police come etc there wasn’t enough time to go to Whitby. We’ll have to go some other time. Nita and I went to Whitely bay instead where we had a proper English roast beef lunch with 5 veges at the “Down Under” cafĂ© (themed aussie style) which was perched right next to the beach. Went down to the beach and my toes touched the water and that was enough cold for me!

That afternoon we has afternoon tea with Mrs Pride and the people she was staying with at their house in Jesmond (the next suburb from me). She was staying with an old student of hers Penny who is now a Professor in English Literature at the University of Northumbria. Penny is also an author and Mrs Pride gave me a copy of her book ‘Tree of Angels’ which was a great read and I now have to pass on to Nita.

That week Mrs Pride came to the Science Centre and I showed her around which was good fun.

Also that weekend Nita, Chris and I went to the theatre to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company perform all of Shakespeare’s 96 plays in 2 hours. It was great fun, a hilarious performance. We treated ourselves to some Thai food after that. Thai restaurants are few and far between in this country. Quite tasty.

The weather (can’t live in England without discussing it extensitvely!)

We have had lovely weather here the past few weeks. Makes me feel much more at home when the sun is shining and the sun has some warmth! It has been around 24 degrees in the day time and mild at night. Quite summer-y. Although everyone says it wont last, which puts a bit of a downer on it all.

The parks

One Sunday Chris and I went for a walk/run through the parks around here- Heaton Park and Jesmond Vale. It is really beautiful in the parks, with their giant trees and overgrown greenery. In Jesmond Vale we randomly came across a petting zoo which had quite a good aviary. We said an aussie g’day to the lorikeets and rosellas. We had giant English breakfasts on our way home at Belle’n’Herb, well deserved at 2.30pm!

Tim and coffee

This past weekend Tim from the science circus came to visit. Was great to see a good friend in my new stomping ground. We sampled a few bars, went down to the quayside, checked out some art galleries and drank a few cups of coffee of course. Had great weather too. He’ll be passing through again soon and will be working in Cumbria, which is only around 2 hours drive from here. Another mate near by!

My Plans

I’ve booked a contiki trip around Italy for 12 days at the end of September. Very excited! Will be great to see some of Europe, and I’m sure it will be fun touring with a bunch of 18 to 35 year olds. I fly direct to Rome from Newcastle, only ₤96 ($250) return which I think is quite good, considering you pay that to fly within Australia. It is highly likely that the trip will give me a bad case of the travel bug, but with Europe so close I’m sure I’ll plan loads more trips soon.

Through some tourism initiative and as my work is a tourist destination I’m taking up Spanish classes. It is an intensive course for a year through Northumbria University that will give me a language certificate at the end of it. There are 4 hours a week of classes after work, and I will be a student again (ie. Student discounts)! I’m really looking forward to getting my teeth stuck into something like this. I walk through the Uni on my way to and from work everyday so the location is super handy too.

I was a bit hesitant at first about it cause it is a year long, but I figure I can always just leave if I feel the need to get out of Newcastle before September next year. I think I’ll stick it out till September next year, but I’ll see how I go. The only thing that I’m missing here is some good friends. I’ve found it difficult to meet people here, and although my housemates are great and friendly, a good group of friends is missing. So I think I’ll take up Pilates or yoga as well, to give me some more avenues for meeting people.

Chris and Adrian begin their 2 months around Europe at the end of September, so I’ll have my room back to myself then, and much more time on my hands too! They return in November but they’re not sure what they’re doing then.

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