I've been longing to write about my trip up North for the wedding in Newcastle of my great-niece to a descendant of John Wesley (and also an exciting few days after that exploring my ancestry - but more of that later). The mother of the bride was my eldest sister's daughter, who died in 1984. I was the fifth in a family of seven!
My journey from Caversham began with a taxi ride that met with all kinds of unusual delays, leaving me with only 6 minutes to catch my train at Reading Station. There, a message was sent to ask the train to wait for my arrival and the porter whisked me quickly to the lift. But there we met another setback. The lift wouldn't come, no matter what the porter did. When it eventually came, it had been loaded up with goods by railway staff and, of course, had to be unloaded before we could get on board. So my train departed, just as I stepped out of the lift on to the platform.
That was a through train, with no changes, and missing it meant that I had to change at Birmingham New Street Station, which is notorious for difficult change-overs. However, the rail staff there, having been alerted of my plight, could not have been kinder or more helpful. I was being met at Newcastle by my nephew (son of my second eldest sister), who also lives in Newcastle, and I was glad that I had my mobile with me to tell him that I would be half-an-hour later than planned. Alas, the jinx on my journey continued when I couldn't get a signal for his mobile phone. Fortunately, he was still waiting for me when my train arrived - to our mutual relief.
My nephew had been a Town Planner for Gateshead before retirement and the first thing he did was to drive me along the quayside, explaining all the bridges and their history and showing me the buildings on the Gateshead side that he had had to deal with at planning stage. As well as the bridges, for which Newcastle is famous, I was most impressed by The Sage, an international home for music and musical discovery, and its extraordinary architecture, enhanced by its reflection in the water of the Tyne. He said he had been concerned that it should not overshadow the nearby church. My nephew then took me to the Travelodge where the bride's mother and aunt and I were to stay the night, ready for the wedding the next day.