April 16, 2022 5 min read
Hi, I’m Natasha (Tash) Eldred. One year ago, I would never have believed you if you told me I would be moving from Phuket, Thailand to live in England! And yet here I am, living in the Baltic climes of Whitley Bay.
To be fair, my circumstances in coming over here were not ideal. The pandemic took its toll on my industry and niche – travel and hospitality PR and Marketing - and I spent most of two years not really working. There was no sign of recovery in sight and my savings were dwindling. In addition, my mum was diagnosed with myeloma cancer, so it felt like the right time to return to the U.K. and start a new life.
Getting back was no easy feat, I had to fly from Bangkok to Paris and get two dogs over to the UK and myself and another dog over to Switzerland to avoid quarantine hotels due to the UK government placing Thailand on the 'red list'. You could not make it up, it was one thing after another to potentially scupper my return, but miraculously in September, we all made it back.
Since I moved from such a friendly and vibrant place like Phuket, I missed a lot of activity and socialising that had become a vital part of my life. I knew I needed to find a similar vibe in the UK to flourish. I had visited my bestie several times up here in the northeast and had already fallen in love with Bamburgh (who wouldn’t?), and when I came back up to Whitley Bay, I knew it was going to be my forever home.
So, you know why I am here now, but what I must tell you is what I have experienced since I have been living here in the North East. If I come across as waxing lyrical, that is, because, well, I love it here! It was a challenge getting somewhere to live, for a super dog-friendly location landlords are not pet-friendly but miraculously I found a lovely flat, right in the heart of Whitley Bay and just the right size for me, Dudley and Lola, the beagles.
Jackie and Chloe from Trading Places were my first Whitley Bay buddies. They pushed for me to have the flat and luckily my landlord, who is a Gosforth chap has dogs and was completely fine with me having dogs too. I struck gold! Great flat, brilliant landlord, little coal-miner’s yard (that desperately needs some second-hand furniture and Alan Titchmarsh), awesome location literally a 2-minute walk from Monkseaton Station, Churchill Playing Fields and 2 minutes to all the fab shops. Winning!
In the next few months, I set out to explore as much of the local area as possible. With two dogs in tow, it’s easy to get out and see what is around. The beach is the obvious place to start, and although I love the prettiness of Cullercoats and Tynemouth beaches, Whitley Bay has that old-school seaside town feel to it that I love. When you have lived away for so long it is easy to feel nostalgic about England and the ice-cream parlours, the smell of chips and general vibe is reminiscent of holidays I had on the coast when I was a kid. I also met my first dog-walking friend on the beach, Shakila. She is fabulous and has a cute rescue hound called Clifford, she also introduced me to the beagle meet up walks every Sunday morning on Longsands Beach which are great fun for two-legged as well as 4-leggeds. So, the beach really is the place to be!
Being a big foodie, there have been some real gems to discover, and I have not even scratched the surface in neighbouring places yet. Most notably for me has been the Rustic Cup, amazing coffee and yummy food and was the place I went for a first date with my new chap. Hinnies was also a big hit, and I need to return to try their gluten-free sticky toffee pudding which I was sadly too full to have the last time I was there. I love the chips at Fisherman’s Bay, and I also love the Shakshuka breakfast and the Bloody Mary’s at Fox and Finch but have not been able to squeeze in there for weeks as they have been so full, so Kith and Kin have been utterly awesome too – we are so spoiled for good cafes around here.
The Ticket Office in Whitley Bay station is my favourite drinking spot, I love the way that they are so passionate about live music and the Left Luggage room at Monkseaton is also great for sharing a nice bottle of red with a good friend. I am also in love with the Jam Jar – how awesome is it to have an independent cinema right on the doorstep? I know there is so much to explore, but now we are entering Spring this also opens a whole new opportunity for exploration.
I have only recently discovered the Waggonways, and the walks have been fantastic. The historic 19th-century Waggonways network was once used to haul coal to ships on the River Tyne from dozens of coal mines in the borough. The council have transformed them into cycling and walking routes and the amount of nature and lovely scenery does not disappoint. The dogs love walking on them as there are so many scents to enjoy and for me, the promise of a good pub along the way is always a great incentive. The Beehive has become a favourite stop and the walk is just long enough to work up a thirst, and I recently joined a group of gals ‘The Waggon Warblers’, for a long walk through to Seaton Sluice (via the pub) and back into Whitley Bay, that was a stunning walk, albeit a tad brisk walking back along the coast. I am thinking I will see a lot more of the Waggonways in the Summer when the beach becomes busy with visitors and not an ideal place for two hungry beagles, way too many picnics to steal!
There is so much good stuff to say about my first few months in Whitley Bay, how friendly the people are, the way I can strike up conversations with just about anyone about all kinds of things, the community spirit I love at my spin classes at Snap Fitness has also been a lifeline for me. I know it is early days still and I have not really made a tribe of pals yet or even explored outside of the bay area, but I have the next few months for that. Next goals are to discover Tynemouth and North Shields and make more connections – the place is important, but the people more so, and I don’t think you can find friendlier than folks in the North East.
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