Monday, 5 December 2011

What are friends for!

A Hardknott life is a busy one. I can't believe it's a month since twissup.

On Friday 11th November we attended the Cumbrian Beer Lovers dinner. It's a pity the beer matching dinner was not the best we've ever been too. However at the end of the evening we walked in the moonlight to Neil & Sharon's house in Kendal. They had graciously offered us a bed for the evening to which we are very grateful for their hospitality. As we were traveling to Newcastle the following morning it seemed sense not to go home in the opposite direction.

On the Saturday morning 12th November we woke up with not much of a hangover and set off to Newcastle for a twissup. Hardknott Dave, myself, Hardknott Sooty, Brewers Union Ted and his sister Christi. A quick breakfast stop on the A66 we arrived in Newcastle at 11 o'clock. First stop was a visit to The Free Trade Inn. We needed to check the keg of Vitesse Noir was as brilliant as we hoped it would be. And it was. I was so looking forward to returning without the car so I could enjoy a few more.

After dropping Dave and Ted near to Bacchus where the twissuppers were gathering, Christi and I headed off on a little shopping trip to find some Chocolates. BeerreviewsAndy amongst others had suggested that I needed to bring the food match for the Vitesse Noir - Chocolate of course. After buying some boxes of chocolates Christi and I were summoned like a taxi to transport Hardknott Dave and BrewersUnion Ted, also Hardknott Alex and Steven Aletalk from Central Newcastle to The Free Trade Inn.

It was Time...Glasses of Vitesse Noir matched with gorgeous chocolates, but not for me yet. We still had to check in to our hotel and park the car before I could start drinking. As Jeff Pickthall arrived we made our leave, "just going to check in to the hotel", "Where is it?" he asked. I told him. I won't repeat his reply but it was not pleasant. Well Jeff and I don't usually see eye to eye so I wasn't worried.

After 10 minutes we arrived at the hotel. Well it seemed to be the right place. It looked like an old Victorian hospital and felt like one too. It wasn't Halloween but the male receptionist gave me the uncomfortable feeling of 'Lurch' from the Adams family. He tried to get us to pay but we were feeling very uncomfortable about the place and hoping the rooms were better. We asked to see our rooms first and were told to take a seat in a strange hallway. A dining room to our right looked like a school canteen and a spooky spiral staircase climbed in front of us.

Lurch shouted for us and his voice echoed in the bare stone corridor. We went after him up a back staircase. more for use by the portering staff than hotel guests. he showed us the first room and then the second. They were even worse than I had imagined. Christi and I took one look at each other and after a hurried apology for not staying escaped to the sanctuary of the car. We didn't know what we were going to do, but we agreed we were not staying there. Dave and Ted may not be happy about being told they had no bed for the night and I may not have been happy at the prospect of missing out on Vitesse Noir; but come hell or high water I wouldn't have slept if we had had to stay there.

I texted Dave. "The hotel from hell". Jeff is right and we are not staying there. Christi and I were very hungry now. It was early evening and the twissuppers had been for an Indian, well some of them had anyhow. Christi and I found China town. The first priority was food. If I had to drive back to Cumbria well so be it. The food was great and they brought us some fortune cookies. I snapped mine in half and read it. Someone will give you some good news. Instantaneously my phone buzzed and we both laughed. That'll be the good news then. A message from Dave. Steve Pickthall had heard about our misfortune and offered all four of us a bed for the night. Well actually three beds. We returned to The Free trade Inn to finish the chocolates and make a greater hole in the keg of Vitesse Noir.

As they say "What happens on twissup stays on twissup". Well not this time. I would like to say a big thank you to Steve & Jayne Pickthall for their kind generosity and hospitality in coming to the rescue of two Hardknotts and two Americans who were in a fix with no abode. And an apology to Jeff for not believing him about the hotel from hell.

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