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UK Bus Tour, Part IV: Leeds – Stirling, May 22nd – 29th

Day 4: Newcastle – Sunderland


After our energetic day in sunny Newcastle, the enthusiastic campaigners returned to our hostel for rest and recuperation. Following an Italian dinner, we embarked on some drinking games with a difference…the punishment for failure was not alcohol, but a deadly concoction of milk and the luminous Irn Bru (apparently a Scottish delicacy). Many rounds later, with most participants feeling a little strange in the stomach, we retired to bed at some ridiculous hour in the morning.

After a beautiful day in glorious Newcastle, the idea of spending a day in nearby Sunderland was not so tempting, however after breakfast (some were brave enough to have the full English….), we made our way to the coast and to Sunderland. As usual the bus trip was lively with Miha playing the tunes, most notably ‘Number 1’ and ‘In for the Kill’, two songs of the tour! As we approached Sunderland it began to reveal itself. Unlike its neighbouring city Newcastle, it would be fair to say Sunderland doesn’t have the same visual impact. Largely industrial, Sunderland seemed dreary in comparison to the vibrant and cosmopolitan Newcastle. Despite our initial impressions, this would not dent our energy and willingness to promote the European elections.

Having arrived in Sunderland we spent about 15 minutes preparing materials. In particular a long chain of balloons; this would form the centrepiece of our campaign in the early morning. With ‘Y vote’ stickers all over our bodies (even on our shoes too) we started to advance into Sunderland. Like a well drilled military machine, General Mario and Lieutenant Miha led us on a march singing the infamous ‘Y vote’ songs. We certainly attracted attention like this as we paraded through the streets of Sunderland.

Upon arrival in the centre of town, Mario led us in a rendition of the ‘Tell me why?’ song (totally different from anything the Backstreet Boys may have ever sung). The girls provided the reasons for voting on June the 4th while we boys simply asked ‘Tell me why?’ Our next task was to spend some time campaigning in the central shopping centre in Sunderland, giving out bracelets and making people aware. After this we had lunch and then a short time for shopping. We left Sunderland behind us and made our way to the coast. We managed to find a cute pebble beach, and this was a welcome relaxation after the last few days, the sun even poked her head from behind the clouds to show us a quick smile. Some of us threw stones, some made stone statues, some bathed their feet, and one even swam! A few photos later and we were back on the tour bus to Newcastle again.

Our Spanish ladies decided that this was the night for Sangria, so a few hours later we were preparing Sangria in the hotel, and had Pizza for dinner (well something pretending to be pizza anyway). More drinking games followed, but the participants were tired and it showed. We slept at a more ordinary time, as the next day we would make the great voyage north and across the mighty Hadrian’s Wall, the only barrier protecting England from the fearsome Scots. Little did we know at this point, that our vision of Hadrian’s Wall was far grander than reality, but that is another story…


James, AEGEE-Oxford


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