Day 9 – Sun 20 Sept

22 09 2009
Me up north - not grim at all.

Me up north - not grim at all.

Plans … what are they eh?  The idea had been to set out for the Angel of the North quite early in the day and then travel down to Leeds.  However, Jane suggested a walk along the beach at Whitley Bay and it was such a lovely day I couldn’t refuse.  They say “it’s grim up north” but really this isn’t true.  I think they’ve been making it up just to get attention.  The sunshine was glorious and at one point I was actually hot.  And this with no cardi on, walking along a beach alongside the North Sea.

Before I knew it, it was almost 1pm so we said our goodbyes and I left for Gateshead.  I had seen the shadowy figure of the Angel the previous night on my way to Whitley Bay and was very excited about getting there because this was the reason my road trip became more than just a visit to a few friends.  I wasn’t disappointed – it’s wonderful.  Like Stonehenge, I’ve heard people saying it’s not as big as they thought it would be.  It’s HUGE!  I don’t know what people are expecting.

The Angel of the North - seeing this is another ambition fulfilled.

The Angel of the North - seeing this was another ambition fulfilled.

Needless to say I took hundreds of photographs – I know I won’t get anything that’s not been done before but it was a joy to shoot.  The light, again, was glorious.  I was even happy that there were people around its feet and the hill surrounding it.  Normally I’d want an unadulterated shot but this is public art at its best – so the public should really be included.  It was fun watching people go further and further back to get it all in (not easy, even with a wide angle).

And yes, I did just stop to look at it as well as taking photos.  I have learned to do this over the years – though it did take me a while to realise I was seeing everything through a lense.  I have improved.

Off again and this time heading for York where I’d originally planned to have lunch and meet up with Cheeky.  It turned out she wasn’t coming into York this weekend so I didn’t worry too much about timing.  On the way there I heard a clunk on the car on the passenger side and it seemed as though a stone had hit the underside.  I wasn’t unduly worried but then I could hear a regular clicking sound.  I also thought I could sense that something was hitting the road to make that sound so I pulled onto the hard shoulder.  I checked the front of the car and there was indeed a piece of plastic from under the front, hanging down and touching the ground.  I moved it back and up, checked again and could find nothing else.  I set off again but the sound came back.  It seemed to get worse when I was doing about 50 or 60 mph and I decided to get off the main road.  I turned off for Darlington and noticed that it started scraping when I got down to 30 mph.

Of course it was Sunday so the first garage type place I passed was closed.  Then, just as I was getting into Darlington itself I spotted a motor parts and accessories shop.  I pulled over and went in – said I realised it wasn’t what they did there but would someone be able to take a quick look at my car to confirm (or otherwise) that there was no more damage to my car than this bit of plastic.  I really just wanted another opinion for peace of mind.

They were lovely and the one guy got down on the floor and said it had come away because my tyres were a bit too wide and that had dislodged it.  He tucked it away properly for me and when I drove off it was fine again.  They were Motormania in Darlington – go and buy lots of things from them.

I arrived in York as the light was going.

I arrived in York as the light was going.

So I was on my way again and finally made it to York.  The car parking was interesting.  I didn’t have enough change on me so tried to pay for parking by phone.  It wouldn’t work and I didn’t know what to do except try again.  Another failure.  So I decided to try to enter my card details again and I think I must have miskeyed it the first time because after that it accepted my security code and payment.  I felt a bit odd walking away without a ticket to display on the car though.

I walked into the central part of the city (inside the wall) to discover that I had missed the York Food Festival and that the light had gone from the buildings.  No matter – I just wanted a cuppa so after a short walk around the town I went to the Bridge Street Cafe and had a lovely mug of tea and some onion rings to keep me going.  This after having no change again had caused me to lurk around the ladies’ loo until someone came out of a cubicle so I could get in without putting a coin in the slot.  I was so good at the start of the journey about remembering to keep change but had run low.

Finally I got myself to Leeds and arrived at Victoria and Craig’s.  It was lovely to see them both and spend some proper time with them.  I have seen them both at Glastonbury many times in the past but never had the chance to chat to either of them for any length of time.  They made me feel very welcome and I had a lovely evening there with them.  Lovely Thai takeaway too – yum!  Oh and the most comfortable bed so far on the trip.

Miles travelled – 134, (total mileage – 1,101)

The magnificent Angel of the North at Gateshead - by Antony Gormley

The magnificent Angel of the North at Gateshead - by Antony Gormley




8 responses

22 09 2009

“Oh and the most comfortable bed so far on the trip.”

I hope you are not casting aspersions about our sofa! 😉

Glad to hear that your GrandRoadTrip is going swimmingly well.

22 09 2009

Your sofa bed was wonderful as usual, but Sparkle’s ‘very-high-off-the-ground’ bed was fab!

22 09 2009

The Angel of the North is magnificent. I just loved my visit there the summer before last and York is beautiful! I remember being really lucky one of the times we went to York, parked the car and someone who was leaving gave us the remnants of their parking thing. I always do the same, whenever I have time left.

22 09 2009

I fell behind with the blogs,work tsk, so glad to catch up. Sounds like you’re still having dun on your grand tour P, despite nearly having car trouble. Can’t wait for the Iceland instalments!

22 09 2009
Reading Jane

Great to see you and thanks for the giving the NE climate the thumbs up! Love your close up shot of The Angel. Hope the trip back down south is free of problems – enjoy.

23 09 2009
Sara Hopkins

Super! Love the photos of the Angel. AND the one of you on the beach, wish I were there, I love northern beaches, chilly or not!
The gate into York is beautiful too. I’ve never been any of these places — maybe next trip!

23 09 2009

Really enjoying reading your blog 🙂 sounds like you’re having a wonderful time!!!..Enjoy (although i think you already are as much as possible :P)
See you xx

25 09 2009

you got a bed!!! All i gave you was a sofa for one night, and a floor the next.

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