Settle to Newcastle. 112 miles distance. 2 hours via car. 3-4 hours via train.
Living in Newcastle is so different to anything I’ve ever experienced before. Being in a city with such vibrancy and colour can be overwhelming sometimes; it’s busy and constant. The streets are filled with people, all going about their day, trailing into their jobs or onto campus to lectures or seminars. There’s nearly always music playing, whether it be someone playing guitar and singing, or the infamous beat-boxing Spiderman surrounded by a crowd. It’s easy to navigate and easier to access, I can go shopping without having to plan my day around it, I can go out for a meal without booking it in advance. When I finish university for the day I can go home and see my house mates, we can laugh and watch awful TV till midnight, pretending that we don’t have a stack of work to complete.
I enjoy walking into university and taking in the scenery, and I enjoy catching the metro at night and watching the lights flit by. But sometimes it’s too much.
When it is, I know my small town will welcome me back with open arms. The majority of it’s residence have known me since I was little, and even if they don’t they greet me as if they did. It’s quiet and peaceful, there’s no sound of people walking past your house half drunk at 11PM, or the sound of bass pulsing through the walls. The air has a distinct smell, when I try to describe it I draw a complete blank. Fresh, I think. I’m not sure.
It’s not got much to see, a limited amount of shops, a few pubs and one “club” that’s closed by 1AM, and of course an endless supply of walks across the countryside. It offers what I need sometimes, a few days away when everything gets a bit too loud.
When I arrive through the doors of my childhood home, I know my family will await me, genuinely greeting me with such happiness. My brothers will joke around; one explaining the new towel rail system, the other tells me how big my niece has got, the other asks about how my studies are. My mum will wrap me in endless hugs and tell me how much she’s missed me, and my dad will tell me the same on our long walks. In the evenings, I’ll sit down with a home cooked meal and a cup of tea, excitedly explaining what I’ve been up to at university, retelling countless stories of the house shenanigans, and how I fail to be an adult in the most simplest terms.
Sometimes those 112 miles feel painfully far apart; but I know whether I’m in the city in in a small town; I’ll always be home.