To North Wales
Day 249 Friday 6 September Ezekiel 32-34
…The taxi arrived a minute or two before the booked 7.50am to take us to Market Street, Cleethorpes, where a few others with luggage were already
waiting.[i] We were joined by a couple
more.[ii] The “dolmuş”-style vehicle arrived earlier than the scheduled 8.15am, and because the requisite number of people was there we set off for Grimsby straight after the driver had stowed the luggage and we had seated ourselves. The “dolmuş” already had a few people
aboard, presumably from Skegness and/or Louth, for the Newmarket letter listed those places as well as Grimsby, Cleethorpes and Wakefield.
- [i] A few others with luggage were already waiting — only two, in fact. See the photo below. It was the white-haired man with his hands in his pockets and his wife, presumably hidden behind him, who were already waiting.
[ii] We were joined by a couple more — the bearded man and the woman with her back to the camera in the photo below.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 08:06:54
Picked up by a “dolmuş”-style vehicle in Cleethorpes
The next stop was the old bus station in Brighowgate, where a couple more people got on, and in addition, a woman wearing a “Newmarket”
- [iii] A couple more people got on, and in addition, a woman wearing a “Newmarket” badge: Pam, the “Newmarket” rep, sat on the first single seat, as she also did on the way back. The couple who got on
found all the double seats occupied. They didn’t sit together, along with us on the back row; they sat in two of the single seats. The man of the couple can seen in the photo below, wearing a woolly hat and standing outside.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 08:24:22
A further pick-up in Grimsby
We made our way to the A180 and thence to the M180. We stopped at the services at the junction of the M180 and the M18 (09:12) and walked though light drizzle from the parking lot to the building for the loo. We resumed our journey (09:35) on the northbound M18 and turned (09:35) onto the M62. There was much vapour being emitted from the cooling towers of — Drax Power Station, I think — away to the right (09:42). Given the sign I’d seen to “Selby”, and its general appearance, I took this to be the power station I photographed from Hemingbrough, from its the other side, on
2 Sep. 2012.[iv] Shortly afterwards (09:48), we passed a nearer power
station,[v] also to the right. Are they both called “Drax”? “Drax A” and “Drax
B”?[vi] By now it was raining very heavily.
- [iv] I took this to be the power station I photographed from Hemingbrough, from its the other side, on
2 Sep. 2012: In fact, I missed seeing Drax power station this morning, some 15km north of the junction between the M18 and M62 motorways;
Sep. 2013. This particular one was Eggborough Power Station, as I ascertained on
Sep. 2013 from the Ordnance Survey maps on Bing Maps. The junction with the A19 to Selby is after passing the power station, but there would have been a sign before that.
[v] A nearer power station — in fact, Ferrybridge Power Station.
[vi] Are they both called “Drax”? “Drax A” and “Drax B”?: No, neither of the power stations that I saw today was called “Drax”. As far as I can gather, “Drax A” and “Drax B” were two stages of construction, in 1974 and 1986, of the power station on the one site near the village of Drax.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 09:47:08
Heavy rain en route
We followed the sign saying “M1(S)” (09:59), then proceeded onto the A650 (10:01). We arrived in Wakefield (10:10). It was then confusing, and no explanation was offered: we went to a corner where a coach was waiting, but it wasn’t ours; we turned back from there, then waited for several minutes on a busy road where at one point the driver and the
Newmarket lady had a bit of a discussion; then she got out, wearing a much-needed raincoat, and went somewhere briefly; then we went by a rather roundabout route to come back to roughly the same place but facing in the opposite direction on the other side of the road (10:25); then the
Newmarket lady got off and disappeared in the distance; then a coach marked “York Pullman” appeared on the other side and stopped under a bridge (10:30) — had the
Newmarket lady come back by now? — so we did a U-turn, and stopped behind the “York Pullman”. Our driver removed the luggage from the back of the “dolmuş”; we got out, each claimed his own bag, and we transferred to the “York Pullman” coach, leaving the bags for the new driver to stow, and sitting in the location specified by the
Newmarket lady — we were on the left side (as one faces forward), on the sixth row. It was fortunate that we were under the bridge, because there was still quite heavy rain. There were already people on the coach, and others joined us there in Wakefield. The seating capacity of the coach was 53, and it looked pretty full ahead of us, though I didn’t do a detailed study of the seven rows behind.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 10:33:14
Transferring to the coach in Wakefield
We set off shortly afterwards (10:41), and not long thereafter the
Newmarket lady addressed us for the first time, introducing herself as “Pam” and the driver as “Paul”. We were on the A638. We passed a sign saying “Ossett”, and not long afterwards another indicating that we were entering “Kirklees” (10:48). Soon it was evident from signs on buildings that we were in Dewsbury. We got to the centre of Dewsbury (10:58), stopped, and picked up more people. We set off again (11:02). We entered Heckmondwike (11:11), memorable because of its odd-soundingness and because hauliers
Harold Wood used to have lorries marked “Heckmondwike and Basildon”. There was a long wait at Cleckheaton at temporary traffic lights at road works (11:23). We turned onto the M62 (11:27), and seemingly almost immediately afterwards (11:29) pulled into the coach park of the Hartshead Moor services.… We were told to be back at the coach by 12.30pm, but in fact we set off at 12:22 because everyone was back on board. I dozed off for a while and when I woke up we were on the
M56.[vii] We left that motorway, entered the M53 (13:38), then the A56 (13:41). We entered Chester, passed through the city wall, and stopped in Hunter Street (13:53). We noted the name “Hunter Street”, because that’s where we had to rejoin the coach again at 3pm — “prompt!”, because coaches were only permitted to wait there ten minutes. Janet and I walked back out of Hunter Street and turned right. We didn’t like the look of the first pub we came to, with all the smokers bunched round the door, so we went in the second: the
Coach House Inn. The modus operandi was similar to the White Hart back home. We were shown into the restaurant, and chose a seat just in front of the kitchen servery. A waitress brought us drinks: 250ml red wine for me,
Diet Coke for Janet. I chose one of the “light” items (which when it came seemed anything but light!): rump steak with caramelised onion in a long sandwich cut in two on it, with a salad of dressed leaves and cucumber slices, some coleslaw, and a bowl of thick-cut chips. “Do you want any sauces?” I asked for some English mustard (which was agreeably
Colman’s-like) and some vinegar. Why are things nowadays served on planks instead of plates? This phenomenon first came to my attention after
The Wheatsheaf in Grimsby changed from being an Ember Inn to Ember Pub and
Dining, and they served me a cheeseburger on greaseproof paper on a plank. And the flatbreads at the
Rose and Crown, and elsewhere. And stuff I’ve had at the White
Hart. A pointless and potentially unhygienic fad, I deem!
- [vii] I dozed off for a while and when I woke up we were on the M56:
We must have gone along the M62, turned from it at Warrington along the southbound M6, then at the next motorway-to-motorway junction turned onto the westbound M56.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 14:12:10
Lunch at the Coach House Inn in Chester
The rain had eased off a bit, both going there, and returning to the coach. We set out (15:06) and found our way onto the
A58.[viii] Ca.15:20 we passed the Welsh border and road signs became bilingual,
e.g. “Flint”/“Fflint”, “yards”/“llath”. The likes of McDonalds and
Little Chef were monolingual and in English, though. I noticed at one point that the road we were on was the A55. We arrived at the Rhyl seafront promenade, turned right and proceeded along it a short way before doing a U-turn and stopping outside the Westminster Hotel
(ca.6.00pm). The hotel certainly looked better on the website than to the naked eye! There, I’d gained the impression that it was a standalone building, but here it proved to be the end building of a conjoined row. The paint on the rendering was peeling in places. Check-in and the issue of a latchkey attached to a huge, heavy, rectangular, hard-plastic plate (to discourage its removal from the premises) was straightforward, but the queue to use the lift was slow to yield us our turn. The room number was “34”; usually, hotel room-numbers begin with the floor-number, but in fact “34” was on the second floor. The room had a double bed and an additional single bed. No phone, though, nor fridge nor safe. There would have been a sea view if one could see clearly through the grime on the twin sash windows, one of the dingy net curtains of which had a slash in one place and a more gaping hole in another. Janet unpacked the bags. There was no dressing table-cum-desk, which most hotels have, so I pulled out the bedside cabinet of the single bed, set up the computer on it, and dragged over one of the two plush-seated dining-style chairs. I thought the room was rather chilly, but Janet found it definitely too cold — the radiator and its supply pipe were cold — so she went down to reception to tell them. She was told that the heat would come on “later”. She asked if she could have a heater, but was given some excuse not to be given one. Copied the five photos I took earlier from the camera (16:58), and edited them (17:03–17:16). Made a
PowerPoint presentation of them (17:20–17:32). I hadn’t changed the time on the camera from when we were on the cruise, so the times in the file-names were an hour later than the times when the photos were actually taken. I changed the time-setting on the camera.
- [viii] A58: This is an error, for the A58 runs between Prescot, Merseyside and Wetherby, West Yorkshire. Perhaps I misread a sign saying “A55”.
Friday 6 September 2013 — 18:05:34
In the hotel room
We went down to dinner at 6.30pm. At least we were shown to a table for two all to ourselves and didn’t have to speak to anybody, apart from the friendly, accommodating young Scouse-sounding waitress. Janet can socialise quite readily, but I find having to do this quite a de-appetiser. It was chilly in there too, so I went back upstairs for my jacket, audibly cursing as I trod the grubby, smelly carpets and being liberal in the use of taboo-slang expletives. The choice for starters was egg mayonnaise salad, mushroom soup, or juice (apple or orange). Both eggs and mushrooms, particularly the odour, are repellent to me and make me feel sick; so I had orange juice. Out of a choice of pork with apple sauce and vegetables, “chilli con carnie”
[sic] with rice, or curry, I chose the pork. The boiled potatoes, were potatoes, boiled, but the sweet corn and carrots were out of a can and/or out of a freezer. Out of a choice of afters I had some rubbery, refrigerated, unflavoursome cheese and biscuits. Favourably, Janet asked for fruit, though it was not on the dinner menu — she knew they had fruit because it was on the breakfast menu — and she was brought an apple, an orange and a pear. After having coffee, we went back to the room; and because Janet found it too cold, she went back down to reception. She saw someone different, who said she’d see what could be done — but after a while we thought nothing subsequently was going to happen. Because there was no easy chair or sofa in the room, Janet propped herself up with pillows on the single bed as she updated her journal,
etc. “How late is ‘later’?” we asked ourselves.[ix] For by 8.30pm there was still no heat in the pipes — and still no heater. So Janet stormed off to reception. Almost as soon as she left, though, there was a knock on the door, and the second woman she’d seen was there with a portable convector heater. She’d been occupied with other duties such as checking people in. So we were able to warm the room. Janet had a shower, updated her journal, and went to bed before 10pm; I remained at the computer, writing this. A little after 10.30pm I was aware of the sound of wind-driven heavy rain outside. It was
ca. midnight that I got ready for bed.
- [ix] October, in fact! For a printed guide to the hotel in the room, under “Westminster Water and Environmental Policy”, stated: “Our heating… is off completely from May to October (except for extreme cold weather only). A limited number of portable heaters are available on request from reception.”
7 September 2013]