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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

TRAVEL | A weekend in Sunderland

This weekend just gone, my friend Becky and I took a road trip up north to spend some time in Sunderland, a city where we'd both lived and studied around five years ago now.

We both attended the same university and became good friends and she even lived with me for a while. For around three years, back when I was 18 up until I was 21, I lived in Sunderland and it was essentially my home away from home.

We have both been back to visit briefly since, but not properly so this trip was long overdue.

It was exhausting. We packed so much into our short time there and considering it took us so long to drive there and back (the drive is around 4/5 hours long, but obviously this varies depending on traffic and taking time to stop and stretch your legs), I am really, really tired. We were out both nights, too, so haven't had much sleep and if I'm really honest, I found the whole thing emotionally exhausting too.

Being that the little city was my whole world once and the fact that right now, down south, my own world is kind of all over the place, it did bring back a lot of emotions. Seeing where I used to do my local shop, discovering what bars we used to drink in were still open...it was definitely a surreal weekend and we most certainly used it as an excuse to pretend to be 19 again.

Here's a quick recap of what we got up to.

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FRIDAY
Friday we were running late so we didn't actually to the hotel till half 12 at night - eeek. I was working until four and had also made the silly, silly excuse of going round a friend's house the night before for a couple of drinks, so I hadn't had much sleep the night before either. Luckily, I was so hyped up to be in the north east once more that the lack of sleep throughout the whole weekend didn't really effect me (although it's hitting me now!).

So once we arrived at the hotel, we literally threw our stuff down, got changed and headed back out onto the town. A lot of the bars that were there when we were at uni have unfortunately shut down, so we struggled to think of where was good to go! We went to some of our old haunts though, including the ever so awesome Arizona bar which plays tons of corny 80s music. We spent the night sipping on cheap drinks (the north is SO much cheaper then the south) and dancing along to the likes of Steps, Busted and McFly. Good times.

This was followed by a visit to Chillinos, the popular takeaway spot after a night out that does THE BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD. I was so happy to be reunited with my delicious pizza once more and, sadly, this was one of the highlights of the weekend because I am a complete and utter loser.

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SATURDAY
On Saturday, we headed to the seafront for the annual airshow which is a big deal in the north. I'd went just the once when I was studying, but had fond memories of the day. It was a really nice day because everyone really came together and it had a great community feel. We watched the Red Arrows, went on a few fairground rides and bought traditional fish and chips which we scoffed walking along the sea front.

I also took a quick drive to South Shields today which is kind of my happy place. I have so many fond memories of visiting there and sitting along the beach or walking around the seafront themepark. I only parked up for an hour, but sitting on the beach and watching the sea was relaxing and gave me some much needed 'me' time to think about things and how I felt about the weekend.

This was followed by an evening spent in Newcastle, something else that was long overdue! I'd had a night out in Newcastle a few years back with some other friends when we road tripped around the UK, but never actually did so when I was studying in the north.

Here, we went to Wetherspoons for pre-drinks then holed up (or down, rather, considering the bar is in the basement/underground) in Madame Koo for the night which was very fun. It's the perfect smoky but friendly bar to duck into on a night out and played a good selection of music, with even some popular rock music thrown in like songs from Blink 182 and Feeder.

It also reminded me of just how friendly everyone is up north. I lost count of how many times a man grabbed me to spin me around or just danced with us in general - not in a pulling sense - but just because everyone is so laid back and friendly and willing to talk.

I find that down here on a night out, you don't really get that. You can't really 'just' talk to a guy on a night out and if a guy tries to pull you, it's certainly a lot more forward than that - for the most part, anyway.

It was a fun night and I was pleasantly surprised at how cheap the taxi was on the way home, too.

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SUNDAY
Today we woke up with sore heads unfortunately! But there was no time to waste as we had to check out of the room. We quickly packed and then drove into Gateshead for a pit-stop visit to the Metrocentre to grab some lunch. We had a brief look round and it was here, before heading off on our journey back, that it really hit home to me just how different life is up north.

I noticed how laid back everyone was and how friendly they'd been towards us all weekend. Everything was just different from a fast-paced life in London and everyone just seemed so settled down and happy, even at a young age.

We didn't plan to, but when we realized how near we were to the famous Angel of the North on the way back, we parked up there to see it in person and take some photos for the first tim ever - even when studying there, I'd never once 'visited' the Angel of the North, which is one thing that Sunderland (well Gateshead) is best known for!

But, back to the point at hand. 

It was odd to think that had I not moved down south after I graduated, that would be my life right now. I have no doubt that I would probably be married with one or two kids and although that was the last thing I wanted at the time, being back up north this weekend has made me think that if I had stuck it out, maybe I would have actually been happy.

Life - it's a weird one, eh?!

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26 comments:

  1. Just yesterday I thought I want to go on a roadtrip. Sounds like a good weekend away though, it's amazing how much you reflect on what could've been when visiting old haunts! x

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    1. Thank you! Yeah it definitely led to a lot of reflection :) x

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  2. I've never been to Sunderland but it looks lovely! I might make plans to visit this summer :)

    Ashleigh x

    www.beingashleigh.com - UK fashion, lifestyle and travel blog

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    1. You should! It's a really nice area close to the beach and there's lots of quirky stuff nearby like castles etc x

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  3. It looks like you had a great time! It's always nice to be able to spend some time at the beach.

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    1. Thanks! Yes for sure, I wish I had the chance to stay a little longer but it was nice for a fleeting visit :) x

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  4. It's funny how things work out, isn't it! I always find it strange going back to Sheffield which is where I went to uni. It sounds like you had a good weekend though!

    Jess xo | The Indigo Hours

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    1. It definitely is. Would you ever move back? What did you study when you were there? x

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  5. What a nice little getaway! It's great that you were able to catch the airshow and that bar sounded like fun.

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    1. Thank you :) Yeah it was just what I needed really x

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  6. I can't believe you didn't have a night out in Newcastle the whole time you studied at Sunderland! Love your red arrows pic xx

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    1. I know, it's crazy isn't it! I mean I went into Newcastle quite often for shopping and evening activities like to the cinema and stuff but never a proper night out! x

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  7. I really want to do this trip to my uni city with friends! Such a great idea!

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    1. You should! Our visit was long overdue x

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  8. Lovely photos. I would love to visit Sunderland.

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    1. Thank you. You should visit, it's definitely affordable x

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  9. I've never been to sunderland but it sounds like a great place to visit :)

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    1. It really is, especially as it has loads of links to nearby places like Newcastle and Durham x

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  10. Sounds like you had a fantastic mini break. It's nice revisiting places that hold happy memories for us.

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    1. Definitely, it made such a difference for me going back there x

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  11. Wow looks like you had a lovely time - your pictures are great. I've never been to Sunderland before!

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    1. Thank you! You should go, you'd love it x

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  12. I feel the same way about Hatfield everytime I visit and though it's not a city it's definitely a town that has all my university life memories and moments

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  13. Omg that cake art looks so cool! I've never been to Sunderland before but looks so fun! :D x

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    1. It's a lovely place, I can't wait to go back again :) x

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