ulu siut tempat kau. sounds familiar?

a while ago, a friend was on the phone with his mate who made a similar remark. we were studying in newcastle then. fair enough, as the toon is a bit of a trek from simply anywhere. the irony was the mate of my friend was studying in, err… aberystwyth. yes, that centre of the universe, cultural icon of wales and probably europe.

my northern sojourn had made me realise what a good idea it was to leave newcastle when i did. don’t get me wrong, the city’s fantastic. it had changed tremendously for the better and has become bloody expensive, too. great for those who had invested in property for the past five to ten years. nothing wrong with staying put (i’ve a batchmate who went to university, trained as a surgeon and currently a consultant at the same bloody city) but it’s a real good idea to move about before settling down. not in the kahwin sense.

i was here for six years and a bit after which i left. it was painful at first, which saw me traipsing back 200-odd miles each way like every bloody weekend. looking back now, i’m happy where i am. i have been in south yorkshire longer than i had in tyneside, actually. so, what’s the difference now? why not move down to nottingham or brighton since it has been ten years?

i used to grade the coolness factor of a place by the existence of a starbucks outlet. shallow you say, but sheffield didn’t have one until like 2003, i think. when the only cafe that had a similar setup existed in town, i was told that aberdeen already bloody had two starbucks outlets. digressing aside, coolness factor or not, my measure of a place worth living in, apart from the feel of sheffield which i had grown to love, was its distance to other english cities. nottingham and manchester are roughly an hour away by car. the train to london takes 2 hours and a bit. i used to remember missing stuff that my batch did down south, all because of distance. if time was a factor, it wouldn’t have been a problem as GNER has the fastest fleet of trains in the country (2 hours 49 minutes to london kings X from newcastle). it was the cost.

even now, as a person who earns more than what he did as a student, i wouldn’t travel to london from newcastle at a drop of a hat as i could from sheffield. if you look at the map of england, you’d see how isolated tyneside is from the other main english cities.

i can always come back to visit, like now, but i’ve no regrets to have left.


if you are ever walking down the royal mile in edinburgh, i strongly recommend the hub cafe. the decor’s really yellow (like my home office – i told ya it works, ya bleedin’ detractors) and has the prettiest waitress serves the tastiest vanilla latte and hot chocolate i’ve ever had. the fishcake/cherry tomato/lemon mayo combo was delish and dad had a really scrumptious choc and apricot muffin which looked like it was made to order on the spot.

i missed japonaise, saw italienne, and now… *sigh*