The Road Trip

With a new term of university just around the corner (yep, that bad a pun so early on), we were fast running out of locations to head to for our first road trip of 2013. But where were we to go, you may ask? The answer lay in Newcastle; the ‘Monte Carlo of the North East’, via a day in Glasgow.

After loading up the wee VW, my flatmate and I headed south to spend the night in Glasgow with some friends. After monstering an E320 CDI we soon made it there despite blizzarding snow en route (that Mercedes must’ve wished it had skinny tyres, eh?). We tucked away the Benzkiller for the night and caught up with our buddies. On their recommendations, we visited both the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and the Transport Museum:

 As well as your standard museum fare of stuffed things/plants, there was some pretty cool stuff here, like this guy:

Some kind of weird nature/machine mashup. That’s one nonchalant giraffe, no?
A £1.5m spitfire.  Just chillin’ there thanks to some metal cable! Madness. This particular one crashed in 1949 and then was restored by BAA Glasgow.

A look into the transport museum threw up some pretty cool things, too. The Arnold Clark car wall looked like some sort of lifesize Hot Wheels display, and made a nice change from all the trains kicking about.

Apple-green 930 Turbo. Doing it right.

I’m not a massive fan of bikes but this Ducati was gorgeous. That rear wheel is strangely reminiscent of an early-90s Dodge Viper RT/10’s, isn’t it?

Just look at this thing; the brake discs are the size of my head.

 Putting Glasgow in the rear view, we then headed south via the Edinburgh bypass and Berwick-upon-Tweed. A word of warning, folks – a lowered car with an additional million tonnes of weight is still remarkably twitchy on undulating tarmac. This, coupled with what I’d like to term an optimistically short ratio’d gearbox means that you’ll never be tricked into thinking you’re rolling in a S500. Stevie Wonder’s ‘Skeletons’ provided an excellent alternative to the droning onesie’s engine.

Finally, Newcastle. The Polo arrived looking like it had driven through a lake. Bumper grilles were white after it took it upon itself to snoughplough the roads around the University of Northumbria, with a conspicuous ‘ccrrrrr’ over icy speedbumps heralding our white-nosed, cocaine-addicted VW’s arrival. A night in the town later and I was out the next morning fighting for a parking space near campus. If you ever visit Newcastle, make sure you sort out parking in advance unlike me!

Gateshead Millenium Bridge periodically changes colour at night

If you’ve got time to kill in Gateshead, pop your head into the Baltic Art Gallery. Made from an old flour mill, it looks Battersea Power Station-esque and would make an amazing gymkhana arena for Mr. Block and friends.
Nowadays, I think we’re too preoccupied with daily life to even give thought to how easy it is to travel if you’ve got a car. You don’t need a big comfy car for a trip to a city you’ve never seen before; just a few good friends and something reliable. Thumbs up to my 12 year-old Polo for not killing us and getting us there in relative comfort. Five-up in a screaming one litre – hustling Benzes out of the fast lane – just made the journey even more memorable.

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