Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adventures in Newcastle. Part One.

Tonight’s post has two bits. But they both relate back to my recent becoming-a-Novocastrian. Enjoy.

The trip down

We were supposed to leave at ten that morning, but running on true Hazelgrove time meant that we didn’t get away until after lunch. Dad was still busy working on the Suzuki, and I was doing some last minute boxing. At about 11am Dad pulls me outside for the most intense ten minute car-mechanic-intro I think most people could experience. It is one of those little things that I wish I could do – like speaking Japanese or being able to build small explosives – be a bit of a closet mechanic. There’s something cool about grease-marked hands and the feeling of working with your hands.

My session went something along the lines of

“Radiator. Pressurised. You have a butterfly’s chance in hell of getting it open when the engine is hot, so don’t try. Coolant goes in there - it’s green.

Oil. Dipstick. Don’t get oil on the engine when you pull the dipstick out it’s bad this is the full line don’t let it get below halfway down the indicator tare the stick before you measure.

This is the lock for the bonnet; make sure you can open it without looking at it.

Coolant overflow. Window-water. Check everything once a week. Engine gets over halfway on the temp gauge that is bad. Come around the back spare tyre….”

From there I was suddenly engaged in the act of removing the rear left tyre using the other definite piece of anti-darking-metal in the car. I quite like my tyre iron. It has an ‘I’m serious’ feel to it. It doesn’t have a name yet. 

Anyhow, changing the tyre probably would have been more fun if I hadn’t had the sun heating up my unprotected shoulders and back. I could feel the heat, and almost expected to hear the sizzling of pork-like-meat as I knelt by the jack and tyre.

The last lesson I had with the car before bailing back inside to continue streamlining the crapola I was bringing with me was how the steering lock worked. Dad explained the purpose of the oddly-shaped piece of steel and how to operate it and why I should definitely not put with the end on the right side of the car because that would damage the window.

Once again, the anti-darking-metal-topic crossed my mind, and I’ve got no idea as to whether the idea manifested itself there and then or formed over the space of this week. Either way, my blue steering lock is now called Appropriation.

I'll give you a photo of it tomorrow. If I remember.

(By the way, if all this is refusing to make sense I would suggest looking for a trilogy of books by Scott Westerfield. It’s called The Midnighters and the main enemies hate steel, groups of thirteen and new things.)

So. Fast-forward to leaving time; Prue has located a mixed CD that I think I burnt in 2004 or 2005. Either way, it’s old and there is an embarrassing amount of bad music on it. 

Jack had located the gorilla costume he’d purchased online which had arrived on Friday and he put it on, in spite of the oppressive heat outside. Laughter ensued. 

There’s just something that I think is about full-body-animal suits. It’s like they have some sort of power because other people cannot see your face = anonymous = act stupid. Well, more outlandish than normal, at the very least. Ten minutes of side-splitting, tear-generating laughter and I ducked inside for the last, almost-most-important-thing-to-do-before-travelling.


To put it this way, the dear Swift had the window tint peel off about six years ago. It is a two-door car, and it predates air conditioner, so the only form of ventilation is the window. Open window. Sun. Lots of it.

Equals sunscreen. Lots of that too.

Prue and I headed up the party, with Dad in behind driving the Tarago. We weren’t even halfway to the stop when I began to feel the sensation of burning flesh, so by the time we pulled over at Coolongolook, my left arm was roughly the same colour as….as…..well, go and look for some pencils. Coloured ones will be of more use. Look for the one called ‘Vermillion’. Got it? I was that colour.

We pulled out a towel and I draped it over my shoulders in the hopes of delaying skin-cancer by approximately two hours.

It was on the next leg that more things happened. Dad started to film us driving, and Prue pulled out her camera to take the odd photo of the two of us. I drove.

Me trying not to laugh.

I think she was secretly very pleased about wearing my top-hat the whole way.

Or not so secretly.

Dad continued behind us into Newcastle, which was one of the single most scary things I have ever done. City driving + cars + cars + cars + directions + big intersections + red lights + cars = lots of stress.

There was also the 'green apples' tree that Dad had hung in the car. It was incredibly pungent. The car continues to reek of 'green apples' in an eerily similar fashion to as it had about ten years ago when Dad first bought the car and had 'green apple' in a spritzing bottle. It's still in the laundrey somewhere, harbouring memories of what 'green apple' should smell like. I think.

The end of this part of the story I guess was that we did get to Russell’s in one piece. Prue and Dad and I started unpacking stuff until Dad went to go buy food. The bottom line?  We were all knackered, and probably the simplest pleasure we derived from that evening was sticking our legs in the pool at 10pm. 

That’s right. I’ve now got immediate access to a pool. Be jealous.

Dad and Prue left at about 11:30pm and I headed inside. It was so hot; that was one of my primary impressions. Russell, the landlord, found a louver fan and I slept with it pointed at my head.

Bec arrived the next day with her family, whereupon a similar process was repeated, albeit with slightly less drama, and they arrived at three. PM.

1 comment:

Come on, leave your epic wordage in the space below. I dare you.