October 6, 2011
Up early this morning, we prepared ourselves for the trip into Newcastle to the Metro Centre. I was a bit excited (I always enjoy a good mall) and as this was an exceptionally huge one, you can imagine how I felt. I also knew that I’d be able to get on the internet via one of the cafes and so we toted the iPad along.
Michael picked us up shortly after 10:00 and took us into Newcastle to the car rental agency where we could pick up our car – a new little Renault – a bit past the Metro Centre. Despite a small hassle (Nat being over 70 years of age and therefore the insurance would be a bit higher if we had an accident), we were on our way. We’d follow Michael’s vehicle up to the exit we were to take and he’d keep going. With things going just a little bit too fast for the two of us – nothing new, actually – we watched as Michael sailed on and we immediately missed our exit! We took the next right turn and sure enough we were in an area where we shouldn’t have been – the bus depot.
After asking directions and with a tad more confidence we were on our way again! To no surprise, we soon lost our way and ended up at what’s called “Metro Retail” – a large strip mall similar to what we have in Canada, but with the A1 and other roads circling all around us. We could see the Metro Centre away across the A1 but couldn’t get to it. We asked directions of people coming in and out of their cars and most of them directed us to an area where we could only turn left, but we wanted to turn right. We drove around and around like mice in a maze. I honestly can’t remember how we got the hell of this place, but we soon did and suddenly found us on the A1 but not knowing how to get across. This was where the first round and round the round-a bouts began. We went inside the round-a bouts and kept left – to no avail. We went inside the round-a bouts and kept right – to no avail. I’m sure it was only by sheer accident that we found the proper exit – exactly where Michael had sailed off into the sunset.
We soon found a parking spot in this huge massive place and were inside the Mall without fail. With little mini-malls labeled “Green Mall”, “Blue Mall”, “Yellow Mall” being around different corners, we finally found Marks and Spencers, which was the first place I wanted to look at. The place was packed. A very popular store in the U.K. and I can understand why. It has everything, including the pants that Terry Bond was wearing and which I thought Nat would like. Damned if we didn’t find them and on sale to boot – only 9.00 Pds (under $20.00)!! We soon found Nat’s size and after wandering around this massive store, under construction, we found the dressing room. He looked great. At that price I insisted he buy 2. The deed was done and away we went back into the abyss!!
As I was very anxious to get online, we meandered in and out of each of the little cafes staggered throughout the Mall, but were exacerbated and exhausted. As it was now well past our lunch time we headed back to a cute little cafe that served freshly made sandwiches, prepared paninies, salads and homemade “chips” (french fries). We stopped and had a great lunch while discussing our next move.
We left the cafe and I spotted some cute lads behind the XBox kiosk and decided to ask them where I could get online. As we approached, they all headed towards us with huge smiles on their faces, perhaps hoping to make a big sale to two old folks who for some freaky reason might be into XBox?? I approached the desk and with a smile and a wave I said “We’re from Canada“. In unison they (about 6 of them) shouted back “Welcome Canada!” wherein I asked my question. They were really sweet and directed me to one of the best Wi-Fi cafes upstairs or they said you could save some steps and just go straight down the way to McDonald’s. A no brainer, I thought – we were headed back to McDonalds. With my thanks and their cute little waves, we were off.
We grabbed a seat at McDonald’s, I ordered a drink, and we were soon connected. I had just managed to get my blog posts up-dated when we began to have troubles staying connected. I had also wanted to check our finances, but the connection was really slow, so I gave up. At the last minute Nat asked to check the emails and I was at least able to read those. Most were deletable, but one was from Wendy who advised we had left a pair of Nat’s underwear at her place – they had been mixed in with Terry’s. She was asking for Jenny’s address and she’d send them on. I was just able to give her a quick reply when the connection started to get iffy.
By now Nat and I were exhausted. We had walked a good portion of the Mall and hadn’t seen much only because we had small missions to accomplish. We decided to buy a map for our trip to Scotland on Friday and get out as soon as possible. Little did we know that more dizziness was about to befall us.
Finding our new little rental okay, we drove out the way we came in. No problem, so far, except we couldn’t find the A1 North. When Michael gave us directions, they sounded easy enough! You would think the little grey cells that swirled around our little brains would surely remember what he had said!! Back and forth we went, round and round the round-a bouts we drove – once, twice, three times a charm!! Michael had specifically mentioned that if we headed over this bridge we’d be alright – but the trouble was, we couldn’t find the bloody bridge. One more time!! Round and round the round-a bouts we went but this time only 2 times. I had seen the signs for Morpath (which is very near Bedlington) but we kept missing the way out. For some ungodly reason we got lucky the third time and we had escaped this vast and dizzying city.
If anyone else had been in the back seat of our little Renault they’d have had a huge headache and been immensely dizzy. The lack of confidence, the confusion, trying to read the round-about signs fast enough, Nat shifting down gear, up gear and so on. I honestly don’t know how we did it, but we did and you could see the relief on our faces 20 miles down the road!
Finally arriving home close to 5:00 pm, Jenny was at the door. She had been worried – no kidding!! She was just about to call Michael to see if he had heard from us. Sorry, Michael, but we really did try!!!!
Now safe at home, a great lamp chop supper in our bellies, I can look over and see Jenny laying back on the sofa, feet on the coffee table and Nat beside her with head in hands watching Emmerdale. Don’t tell anyone, but I think he’s getting hooked – he’s already asked a question of Jenny to help him get caught up in the storyline!!!
We’re off to Scotland tomorrow!! Can’t wait for that story!!!