I knew already before this trip that Northumberland was an infinite succession of amazingly beautiful landscapes, but, what has striken me the most has been its people. My previous visits to UK were all limited to London; big metropolis are, in a certain way, all alike. A melting pot of different cultures and people, a place in which, for a Spanish living in Italy, you will never die of hunger because ninety percent of the waiters in the restaurants are Spanish or Italians. Therefore, this was my first trip to the “real” Great Britain; I would sleep in a small town in the middle of the island and I would arrive there with the train from Newcastle, hoping to have memorised well the road to walk from the train station to our bed & breakfast. I must confess also that I wasn’t able, before leaving, to forget completely one of those absurd commonplaces which, in the mind of an Spaniard, equal British people to a race not very amiable or kind. I know that it sounds something very absurd to read in a blog in which the vast majority of their posts is devoted to a certain English Gentleman. But as I told you, we are talking about an absurd idea printed in the dna of the average Spanish citizen after a childhood spent watching Erroll Flynn’s films with Claude Rains playing the naughty Spaniard and Erroll Flynn the corageous Englishman.
Nevertheless, common places are made to be denied with reality, and so it was. Starting from the flight; we flew with an English
low cost company, the only one with a twice a week direct flight between Rome and Newcastle. When we were about to land I was making with hubby the usual tourist-comments about what I was seeing, but I guess that one man sitting in the seat in front of me was not very happy at all to hear that I thought Durham was Newcastle and what I thought was Newcastle’s stadium was Sunderland’s. Therefore the gentleman informed me very kindly of what I was really watching from the window… panic. I did not understand him. After making him repeating thrice what he was saying, I gathered the meaning by the only words I understood (Newcastle – Durham – Sunderland) and by seeing from the window a definitely bigger city approaching. I thought that the communication problem was due to that annoying buzz you hear inside a plane, but when making the passports queue and, once more, not understanding the first time the question the lady organising the flow of people asked me (if I travelled alone or with someone else) I realised that I was not made to understand northern accent.
In this trip we were very lucky, not only with the patient people we met who had to repeat frequently twice what they were telling me, but with the weather. As you see, sun shined between the clouds but the temperature, for us, was definitely brisky. I longed for cool weather after the furnace heat we left in Rome but I realized, watching the people in Newcastle or walking in Haltwhistle that afternoon in t-shirt and sandals, that non only our English, but also our thermostats were callibrated very differently.
The list of incredibly friendly and nice people continued with our landlady (who spoke an absolutely intelligible English), the girls in the pub, the couple of tourists from Lincoln who chatted with us while we were waiting for our food, the bus driver… The next day when we were making a stroll in town a very kind gentleman asked us if we were lost. As I was in a holiday mood I didn’t even think for a moment that it was a polite way of saying “what are you doing here?”, as would have thought the usual and cynical me, but I felt absolutely happy because I understood him without saying the usual “sorry?”
I must write more posts about this trip. Unfortunately, inspiration has completely run dry now. I guess it’s because I’m hungry.