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Sunday, August 02, 2015

Sojourn To The North-East

Daniel, my step-son (Carol's eldest son) is currently at Newcastle University doing a degree course in computing. (I'm not exactly sure of the name of the course, but it's to do with gaming.) His current tenancy of his flat was about to expire and he had found another flat in Newcastle and needed to move his belongings this weekend, so we were asked if we could drive up to help him move his things in the car. Obviously we couldn't not help. We were originally going to go on the Friday and do the move with him and then drive back that evening, but as it's at least a 5-hour journey there it would have meant another 5-hour drive back and it didn't seem such a good idea to do it in one day, so we asked our neighbours, Michelle and Gary if they would mind keeping an eye on our dogs, Alfie and Poppy, coming in and feeding them and letting them out a couple of times a day. Just one of the disadvantages of having pets, I suppose. They agreed, so that put our minds at rest, and meant that we could spend a night in Daniel's flat once we'd done the shifting of the belongings.

We packed up our things to take with us, not much as it would be just the one night, and set off at 5.30 a.m. on Friday. We were expecting to drive up the M1 to the North East, but when we drove to the Milton Keynes entrance at Junction 14. Having driven all the way there we then found that it was closed off. We later discovered that there had been a major accident on the motorway and it was closed off up until the next Junction due to 'exploratory work.' So we didn't know exactly what to do as we didn't want to drive up to the Northampton Junction in an attempt to get on the M1 there only to find that the Motorway was closed further north there, so we came to the decision that we would have to travel north on the A1 and drive across to the Black Cat roundabout. This is the roundabout on the A1 between the A1 and A421 (formerly A428) just south of St Neots. We had to cut across Milton Keynes and head towards Bedford and the by-pass. We had to waste a good hour or so in the process, but at least it meant we were travelling north towards Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. We stopped after about a further hour's driving and had breakfast in one of the many service areas and then proceeded with our journey, arriving eventually in Newcastle at around noon.

The next problem was that we didn't have Daniel's address. Neither did we have a street map. Instead we rang his mobile and he directed us to his flat via him speaking through the speakerphone and we eventually found the flat after some convoluted directions. It was then that the real problems began, because as we were about to drive away from his flat to go to the agency for him to pay his deposit for the flat Carol said there was something wrong with the car. She wasn't sure what, but she was having difficulties shifting the gear leaver or something. We thought at first it might have been due to the extra weight of having Daniel sitting in the back of the car. We drove into the centre of Newcastle as at first Daniel needed to go to his bank to withdraw the cash for the deposit on the flat. We parked in the most peculiar carpark which was like a spiral and it made me for one feel really giddy as we kept driving up and up and round and round and eventually found a place to park. It was after we'd parked than Carol again said that there was definitely something wrong with the car.

We drove to the new flat, which is in an area of Newcastle with an odd name. Spiral Tongues. I stayed behind in the flat as Carol and Daniel were going to the old flat to get some of his things in the car and it meant that, without me, they would have more space to transport stuff.

It was at least three hours later that Carol and Daniel reappeared, along eh Lauren, Daniel's girlfriend who had caught up with them in the city centre.  They had come back, having got a cab as the car had broken down. I had imagined as I waited for them that perhaps they had gone to a garage as Daniel had mentioned that there was a Kwit-Fit auto centre not far away and we should take the car there. It turned out that the car had eventually broken down in the centre of Newcastle and they'd ended up at a garage some way out of the city centre where it was left to be repaired, as it was the clutch which had caused all the problems. It was going to cost in excess of £300 and it wouldn't be ready until the next morning, Saturday. We walked into the city centre, a good distance, through the university campus and saw a great many interesting sculptures and managed to arrive at a Wetherspoon's pub called the "Five Swans" where we had dinner. Having walked all that way we got a taxi cab back to the new flat, and Daniel went back to his old flat to sleep. We had to make do as best we could at the flat, without much kitchen equipment or food. Next morning we walked into the city centre and found a Tesco's open near the  St James' Park football stadium and bought some food which we ended up eating as we sat in the rather picturesque Leazes Park where we heard the most pleasant flute music which turned out to be played by a young man near the lake where there were a lot of geese and ducks. It looks as if this park is currently being restored which is good because it is in something of a poor state of repair. A great shame to let such delightful places become so dilapidated.

It wouldn't be until around midday before we eventually get a call via mobile phone to say that the car had been repaired and was ready for collection, so we ordered another taxi cab and went to the garage where we paid for the repair work and drove away, back to Daniel's old flat where we loaded some of his belongings into the car and drove to the new flat and unloaded it.

By now we had realised that the work of ferrying Daniel's belongings to the new flat was going to take longer than we had originally intended, due in most part because of not having the car for over 24 hours, so Carol and I decided that we would need to stay a day longer to get the work done and so would have to return home on Sunday and trusted that Gary, our neighbour, would have realised something had happened to delay our return and would continue to keep and eye on our two dogs. Daniel had to go to work at 6 o'clock at the near-by Holiday Inn and wouldn't be ready to continue with the move until around 8.30 on Sunday morning (his shift at the hotel finished at 2 a.m.)

On Saturday evening we went to get chicken and chips from a near-by chip shop to Daniel's new flat in Spital Tongues and we slept the night at the flat.

We had to phone and text Daniel after 8 o'clock to make sure he was awake and ready to continue with the moving of his stuff to the new flat and we eventually arrived outside at 8.45, taking some time to rouse Daniel who wasn't feeling very well, unfortunately.

After several further loads of belongings, including his iMac computer and a load of other related items including the carcase of a four-drawer chest of drawers.

By the time we'd completed the move it was time to depart Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and drove back to Milton Keynes and got back at around 4.30, having stopped twice, once at Ferrybridge and the second, near Leicester.

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