Saturday, 30 June 2012

Noah? Give Us a Lift?

I got caught up in the flooding this week, though not to any great state of discomfort. It did mean I had to spend an extra night away though and poor Fran was left on her own from Monday to Friday.

The week started off ok, with a trip up to Glasgow, which was gloriously sunny on Monday night. The travel agents had put me the far side of town for some reason - the hotel was probably a couple of quid cheaper than the one by the venue which was in the next street to the station I arrived at, but I then paid six pounds odd in taxi fares getting to and from with my bags... This sort of thing happens when the public sector is under close scrutiny to be cost effective - it becomes less so.

Tuesday night saw me on my way to Newcastle where I had another event on Wednesday and then on Thursday I went into the office for my annual appraisal and to wish Doug Belshaw well, as he left to go off doing exciting things with Mozilla (I'm using their Firefox browser right now, Doug!)

So even though I'd been away three nights I stayed for a later train and went out for lunch with the gang, catching the 2:20pm train for Carlisle to pick up the West Coast main line.

All went well for an hour or so. We went through a horrendous rainstorm and I saw a couple of flashes of lightning. Then we reached Haltwhistle. And stayed there.

After a while the conductor came and announced there were floods ahead and we couldn't go on. Also there were floods behind and we couldn't go back. Also the roads were flooded and the bus companies were refusing to come to the rescue...

So as we were at a station, we got off singly, then in groups to gawp up the track. There in the distance was a silver sheen of water and it was coming towards us.

Another 20 minutes or half an hour passed and I looked up from my book and saw a stream passing the train...

So we got out again and trotted to the front of the train.

The water had passed completely under the train and was still flowing under like a fairly fast stream.

Shortly after this we were told they would set off and try to get back to Newcastle. By this time it was gone 4:00pm and we had another hour at least to go before we would get back to where we started from.

We went slowly through the floods, crossed tracks and picked up people moaning at how late we were and a couple of real neanderthals of the type who make railway journeys that much more tedious.

Halfway there we heard that Newcastle station had been closed due to flooding...

Hurrah for Facebook - one of my colleagues had noticed my reports on there and despite the fact that it was gone 5:00pm I got a call asking if I needed a hotel sorting out. Unsure as to whether we would reach Newcastle I opted to stay at the Premier Inn near the Metro Centre and then when I got off there I realised there would be no buses and little chance of a taxi so phoned the hotel for directions to walk it.

The directions started by "Walk through the Metro Centre..." which was impossible as it had been evacuated so I skirted it and came to another precinct of shops who were all ripping carpets up and brushing waves of water out of their front doors. The roof of Ikea had come down. They had brought a new one out of stock but were struggling as some screws were missing or they had one strut too many or something...

Finally getting to the hotel they had a queue of would-be guests who were being turned away. Had I not been booked in by my wonderful team, I'd have been spending the night on a chair somewhere!

I finally got home at lunchtime on Friday after going back to Newcastle and going via York. Even so we got held up at Darlington because of animals on the line... Stranded fish perhaps...

Home felt good.

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