Sunday, February 11, 2007

Cumbria revisited and clubbin' with the Geordies

My colleagues and I have been working with our customer in Cumbria again for a week. Meaning two days of knowledge management masterclass in the Ennerdale Country House Hotel in Cleator, one day on site and a day of auditing. I cannot disclose details on the project itself, but let me tell you about our travels and places in the UK we visited. Monday afternoon we went from Amsterdam to Newcastle with jet2.com rented cars from Avis (normally we have Hertz' cars, but someone took the executive decision we wanted Avis this time, sorry Gary Christie, your services have been excellent, we didn't want to change!). I got a Ford Focus 1.4, the others had a Ford Mondeo - brand new cars, but didn't like them anyway. Sluggish, no torque whatsoever, trees love these cars most probably. The steering was OK though, quite different from the Ford Siesta we had to our disposal some months ago.

The Siesta had no engine, like other Fords, but the steering rack was quite different. Turning the wheel did not immediately lead to the car moving left or right, it rather felt like whisking double cream until it sets to a firm mass leading to the wheels actually turning.
Anyway, I got lost finding myself driving in the direction of Edinburgh on the M1, again somewhere between Hexham and Carlisle on the 68, again in Carlisle's suburbia (I apologise deeply to the driver of a Mondeo I followed to his front door, thinking it was my colleagues car), finally finding the road to Whitehaven and the Ennerdale in Cleator. Also apologising for speeding on the 595 from Cockermouth to Cleator and to the people asleep at The Larches for waking them up by revving the engine to obtain some speed (a full-scale Judas Priest concert would have been unable to compete). On arrival Eelco came out of the hotel to check if it was me and got back in to order me a pint of John Smith's...sheer heaven. During the week we enjoyed supper at The Waterfront in Whitehaven, savouring balsamic vinegar glazed goat cheese and cod stuffed with seafood with a saffron sauce all combined with a fresh and dry Chablis, the well known white Burgundy wine from the Yonne area. To top it of, we had an espresso, an essential the Ennerdale doesn't offer. On the Friday I worked at the hotel, the others worked with the clients' team nearby Cleator auditing a part of the business. We were given the advice to dive into the city centre of Newcastle on the way back home. So we did! Newcastle turned out to have a lively nightlife. Diner at Sabatini's was superb: Bruschetta, Gamberoni Livornese, Fegatini Burro e Salvia, Scaloppine di Maiale Pizzaiola and Scaloppine di Maiale Sassi. Accompanied by a Abbruzian Trebbiano. Ending with, yet again a espresso ristretto. Newcastle club scene we are ready! The Attic (25-27 Mosley Street, City Centre, Newcastle) seemed to be attracting the kind of people we liked to be around with (impressionable ladies). We spent some time on the top floor being amazed yet trying to look like as-if-the-devil-cares-about-bungee-jumping kind of blokes. Ethnographic participative research one might call it. Minding our own business I was suddenly being shouted in the ear by a young lady dressed in flimsy fabric. After having repeated several times whatever she tried to convey to me, she went away. Similar phenomena kept repeating throughout the evening, sometimes ending up into being photographed with one of them, mostly leading to one of us looking baffled by the Geordie dialect.
Howay man! Me is gan hyme, yous noot foony at all. Ye knaa what ah mean leik?
Wye aye! Tara now, pet. A cannit wait till a get back hyem te see wor lass.

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