Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Eurocruise 03/06 A visit to 'toon'

Like in many regions in England and probably in Ireland, Scotland and Wales, accents are homogenising. In pure Geordie, as spoken by older people in Newcastle and still some younger, town is pronounced toon. Sister 2's husband is a proud Scotswood lad, and maintains his strong accent, no matter that no one like me or R can understand him. R's father had a strong accent, his mother did not. R has pretty well lost his accent, but when with family, it reappears, but not that strongly.

This day R and I went to toon on our own. We wanted to go on the bus. "I'll  drop you in and call me to pick you up", insisted sister 1's husband. No, we want to take the bus. It took some pressing the point before he realised that we really did want to take the bus. I thought I had picked up where the bus stop was, but I was wrong. That was a cross town route. R has worked out where the stop was though. Nevertheless, the husband insisted on at least walking us to the bus stop. It was a good fifteen minute walk, up a steep hill. Uphill is nothing for Sydneysiders, but a significant thing for Melburnians.  I suppose it was a good walk for the lurcher too.

The private bus company is Stagecoach. A return ticket would be dearer than two single tickest, so we bought a day ticket. I noted  that it was only a day ticket for Stagecoach buses, and not other bus lines, or the Metro railway. Oh, the absurdity of privatisation. The other dominant company seemed to be Arriva.

Only the number 40 serviced the route to toon from where we were, but we stopped off along the way at Sister 3's cafe for breakfast. From there we had the choice of the 40 and the 39.

Anti climb paint? Disturbing.

The 39 and 40 are double decker buses, but they are also hybrid electric vehicles. One day, I will have a closer look at them, but they were extraordinarily smooth riding, with smooth acceleration and braking. Why do our buses at home lurch, shake and rattle?

We arrived at the terminus, Eldon Square.

Green and pretty.

Part of Grey's Monument.

This was a fund raiser for a therapy pool for disabled children. ITV was there with cameras, maybe we were on the evening's news. BBC North East was due to arrive shortly.

The Grainger Market was very confusing. I can convert £s to AU$s, but there were weights as well to convert. I don't know if things were cheap or not.

I did conclude meat was not so cheap, but we were in the centre of town.

It wasn't the first time I had seen a shop like this in England. I recall one at Covent Garden, at least.

Yes, flowers and plants too, in Grainger Market.

This was the most fabulous arcade and the camera does not capture that every surface, apart from the tessellated tile floor and glass, were highly glazed ceramic tiles.

R was a little hesitant, but I marched straight into the Theatre Royal.

I liked what I saw.

I forget what this clock and statue was about. Sister 1 used to work in the business below, precious stones and gold. She told us later, once a very expensive stone went missing, and her boss, said, don't worry, it will turn up, and it did.

Seemed a bit out of place.

A bit more of Grey's monument, but still not the whole statue.

We were in St Mary's Place, but oddly the church was called The Church of St Thomas the Martyr.

Coffee time. R ordered, a latte for him and a long black for me. Staff said, I haven't heard anyone order a long black since I was in Byron Bay, Australia. It was his home town, but he had met a Geordie lass and so was living there.

We looked at this several times, and really could not work out what it was. But if you eyes are attracted to public art several times, I guess it works as art.

Barclays Bank. Solid, dependable. No? Was there a scandal? Oh yes.

We were on the 40 on our way home, with the 39 in front of us.

Hot young man got off the bus, so I grabbed the front seat, and hoped there was no diversion to the route that would involve low bridges. Some of the gaps the drivers fitted the buses between was amazing. They really are very skilled drivers, as are the London bus drivers. Being hybrid electric, they were very quiet, but I noted when stopping hard on a steep hill, something like exhaust or engine braking seemed to kick in. They were quick to get people on and off, as the design of the single entry and exit door was wide, and the doors opened at about 3 km/h and the bus could move off before the doors were properly shut. Very efficient.

Coming down the West Road. We spotted R's niece's business along the way, that is Sister 3's daughter.

That afternoon, our friends with whom we had been travelling earlier arrived at Newcastle Station. Sister 1's husband picked them up. Of course they had met a few times when Sister 1 and her husband visited us twice in Australia. Sister 1 and her husband stayed two nights at his niece's house, and took the lurcher with them. That evening we dined at The Keelman, another fine pub, this time in Newburn on the banks of the Tyne.

Scott and Mark have a big house, and so a larger and more complex hot water and hydronic heating system is needed, but for a two up and two down house, a simple system is adequate. Off, hot water on, hot water and heating both on and reset. Temperature dials for both and indicators for both. Nevertheless, the hot water took a good time to get the bathroom upstairs and was not high pressure. In 2008, when Sister 1 was a warden at old folk's home in a large apartment, there was an electric hot water shower too. Sister 2 also had and has an electric hot water shower in addition to the one from the boiler. Sister 1 apologised for not for not having one. What is the point of them, I asked? She did not really know. Answers please, if you know. You could have a hot shower if there was no gas, if the boiler broke down or you did not want to wait for hot water to arrive from the boiler? I don't know.


  1. Andrew, fruit and meat are expensive but for people who work in GB is not very expensive -it's reasonable price. I like Royal theatre the architecture is original and it makes it impressive. I have the same boiler at my home if you don't have gas or your boiler has broken down you don't have hot water it's obvious.

    1. Gosia, for our money fruit and vegetables are much the same price. Ours might be a bit cheaper. But meat in England is certainly more expensive. I noted the price of beef steaks on menus and it is more than we pay at home.

  2. A fascinating tour - but my mind keeps returning to Anti-climb paint. What is it? And why. Small things for a small mind I suppose, but wondering about it could well keep me busy for a while. I may even resort to google. Or perhaps will continue to wonder and wander...

    1. EC, after I read your comment, I had to google it and it as Scott says below. We could do with some of that in Australia.

  3. Anonymous4:38 pm

    Elephant's Child - Anti Climb Paint has a greasy surface which is difficult to grip, especially shoes will slip. The aim is to prevent vandalism and trespass/burglary. As for the showers and hot water don't get me started. Benefits of an electric shower are unending immediate hot water as it is instantaneously created in the little box in your shower. It also means that you still have hot water for a shower if your boiler breaks down. Easier to install too as you just need a cold water feed and electricity. Drawbacks are that the system is low pressure and that can be annoying - takes forever to shampoo and rinse! Having said that, if your shower is connected to the combi system pictured, the pressure and heat will vary whenever someone else runs a tap. Plus the hot water will run out. That's why we have gone for an unvented mains fed system - high pressure (at least 3 Bar...) and plenty of hot water as well as even pressure throughout the house. Having said that, we have hedged our bets and retained the electric shower on the top floor guest bathroom in case the boiler ever breaks down.

    1. All is perfectly explained Scott. I remember using the electric shower at Sister 2's house last time, which they use all the time, and it was quite low pressure. On the last day or so, I discovered hot water from the boiler and it positively gushed out of the shower and I wondered why I had been putting up with this low pressure electric. It was the same at Sister 1's. I don't even want to remember what it was like in the caravan at Hexham. This time, at Sister 1's place, it was boiler hot water only and was not particularly high pressure and yes, I froze a few times when water was turned on downstairs. But I think that system is heat as you go, like an Aussie instant gas water heater. Yours has a mains pressure storage tank. Electric hot water must be quite an expensive way to heat water, I would have thought but I can see it would be very useful for emergencies.

  4. Merci beaucoup for the trip arooond the toon Andrew :) Funny thing my Mum and Dad came from the same town near Edinburgh and right up until he passed at 84 and after living away from Scotland more than he had lived there, his accent was so strong many couldn't understand, yet my Mum had the loveliest accent.. and can you believe everyone thinks my accent is 'posh' English.. so funny :)

    1. Really Grace. Yes, some of the really older people are hard to understand. White people from Africa with English heritage do seem to speak very well.

  5. I have difficulty understanding the Geordie accent so i stand back in admiration as you two managed reaching your destination and enjoying so much of the 'toon'. Anti climb paint is very common in the UK. Whether it works or not I don't know judging by the amount of graffitti you see so high up on buildings etc.

    1. Fun60, the system was fairly simple to use. I don't think anti climb paint is in wide use here. I had never heard of it.

  6. Do they have conductors for the double decker buses?

    Gladys has some double decker buses trialling in western Sydney at the moment and as you would know they were common in Sydney when I was a child back in the last century.

  7. Victor, the driver takes the money but many have passes and so there is little delay.

    Double deckers in Sydney must be like our very long trams. Don't improve the service by adding more buses, just make them bigger.