Anyone who has travelled with me or knows me is aware of a very important fact. I. am. scatterbrained. No use denying it, every time I pack I use a list, despite my best efforts I arrive without something important; like a toothbrush or pyjamas.
So here’s me packing for a major trip, blasting my brains trying to think of what, how, what and more how. Thankfully my friends helped and patiently listened to me agonize over which suitcase, which shirt, which pants etc. Even with this I still ended up in the Walmart before I left getting ‘a few last things’.
This gives you some insight to how truly disastrous I am at packing. I wasn’t really that surprised when I discovered the little tiny piece off my universal adapter was missing therefore rendering my laptop useless. However my Aunt and Uncle being new to my inabilities were a bit confused by my statement of ‘I need to go electronics shopping’ the night I arrived.
So my first morning in Sunderland I was up bright and early with Uncle Les to go scouting for an adapter that would a) fit my Canadian HP and b) have a UK end. It was my first introduction to Sunderland as an adult and after hearing Aunt Alma’s description I was prepared for, well, nothing special.
My expectations were shattered! I love their streets! The rows of tidy houses and the street signs carved into the building is pretty. Also I love the smell of Sunderland, I filled my nose with crisp clean sea air. No this wasn’t always true, Sunderland was a ship building and mining town historically. Sadly economics have turned and all the ship yards and coal mines have shut; leaving Sunderland with clean air and 25% unemployment rather than the thriving community with the soot and smoke of 50 years ago.
Despite the industrialism or perhaps in opposition of it Sunderland is beautiful. I come from a country where the oldest building might, maybe, be 100 years old.
In Sunderland all around you is history, architecture and attention to detail. Even the newer buildings pick up the passion of their older neighbouring constructions to build something with presence, purpose and beauty. Because the flora, and architecture were all new to my eyes I was snapping pictures at every turn! I think it took us 25 minutes to walk a 10 minute journey.
Another new experience, when you’re with a Sunderlandite, is how friendly people are. I had 3 people say good morning to me on the way to the store and I was confused, one was a complete stranger and two were acquaintances to my Uncle. I suppose it’s not so odd to say hello to acquaintances but chatting on the street isn’t something I’m used to. I’m used to walking with my eyes on some distant point the horizon avoiding eye contact, ah big city living.
Now I knew my luck was running hot when I found an HP adaptor at the first store we went to. The gentleman was very nice and it cost 26% of what I would pay in Windsor, and that includes dollars to sterling exchange!
Quite satisfied we continued on our way over the bridge into Sunderland for a quick walk around.
If you look closely you’ll see tiny elephants carved in stone. Now tea shops are fine and well but I saw something on the corner that gave me a little thrill! A CANDY STORE! Yes that’s right a real, old school, ‘proper’ candy shop. Now there’s something Canada doesn’t concern itself with is liquorice, and I think this is a shame. To me black liquorice is the brandy of candies.
We were waiting for the bus to get home and I made a positive remark regarding the function of the Sunderland’s transit. Now my accent is like a beacon to everyone and an elderly lady turned to me questioned:
The lady “Really you think so?”
“Yes your downtown is lovely, the busses come often, on time and they take you everywhere in the city, that’s brilliant”
The lady “Where are you from then?” which sounded like “Wheerya frome the’n?”
“Windsor, Canada, it’s about the same size as Sunderland”
“They not have buses like this then?”
“Well we have busses but they don’t connect to the good shopping or the north end and they don’t run as nearly as often. Its difficult, without a car, to get to the good shopping”
“Well isn’t that the thing, they’re always sayin that t’other places are better now aren’t they and you’re just as well off at home”
(Remember my vow to say positive things? Well I did, I didn’t cut up our transit, but I was sincerely impressed with how well Sunderland’s system ran.)
This was my nice and easy introduction to Mack’em accent. My Aunt and Uncle speak a rather polite Mack’em. They’re well spoken and they, well, use an older slang which is equivalent to less slang and more real english. Saying ‘us’ instead of me or I caught me a couple of times, though because Gran and Grandad don’t use it. For the most part I can follow polite Mack’em being raised around Gran and Grandad.
Now what I canna follow is mates who speak full on Geordie: “Wor hob inna right, howay and mind the sneck, we’ll have a keek down lonnen for the laddie to havalook, its nigh on tea.
That’s right folks, that ^ is english. : “Our stovetop isn’t working, come on let’s go and make sure the door’s shut. We’ll go have a look down the road for the guy to have a look at it, it’s almost lunch”
Other favourites? Canny for a bairn. Not bad for a young guy!
Some brilliant Geordie accent jokes:
Workman visiting doctor: “Me leg’s bad, man, can ye give us a sick note?”Doctor: Can you walk?
Workman: Work? Y’a kiddin’ man, A cannet even waak!
A young Geordie was off to war and his commanding officier turned to him and said “Now Geordie, listen to that they’ve got War Drums”
The Geordie replies “Them Theiv’in Bastards!”
You’re puzzled right? War = Wor = Our, welcome to North East England!