' The Ragman's Serenade tells the story of four families- one from North Shields and the other three from Wallsend. It is a story of relationships- The Davis family are up to their eyes in debt - The Stewart family have a daughter who has downs syndrome– The hagarths who’s husband owns a bookmakers shop and his wife is a midwife at the RVI- and the Higginbottom's have a father with the on set of Alzheimer's. How do they cope - read this fascinating story i'm sure you will enjoy.


27. 27

“How do you know that it doesn’t hurt; I’m sure if someone was whipping your arse you’d run faster wouldn’t you.’

“I guess you’re right, I would.’

When the coach neared Durham they had splendid views of the beautiful church and the river Wear. The cathedral, church of Christ and blessed Mary the virgin and St Cuthbert which held the strategic position on a promontory high above the seat of the bishop t he 4th highest seat in the hierarchy of church dignitary’s. The Castle and Cathedral was built by the Normans in the 11th and 12th Centuries. It had reference to Benedictine monks namely the venerable Bede. This was a fine example of architecture used by the Prince – Bishops of Durham. The coach rounded the town past the beautiful arched railway bridge then came to a halt. Colin got out and opened the side door to place luggage then checked all the passenger’s names. The ambiance was interrupted only by the sound of a motorbike that had no silencer on its exhaust as it rode around the town. The people of the city went about there normal day as the passengers got on and then Colin jumped back into the drivers seat then started the coach again.

The coach did a full circuit of the small town before heading off towards Darlington famed for its railways when Stephenson’s Rocket graced the lines of Stockton to Darlington. Robert Stephenson’ built the rocket at the Forth Steel works in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1829 but it was not the first steam locomotive. However the system that Stephenson used would change steam driven locomotives for 150 years. The Rocket which had a distinct smoke stack chimney at the front had a cylindrical boiler in the centre and a fire box at the back. It had two large wooden wheels at the front and smaller ones at the back and was driven by two cylinders set at an angle. The steam produced made the pistons turn the wheels. It was a brilliant piece of engineering.

It was Stephenson who paved the way for a passenger train service.

Margaret and Iris talked all the way to Huddersfield after they had picked up the two passengers in Darlington. Then her mother handed out pies and sandwiches. It was now 11.15 a.m. Elsie handed out bottles of diluted juice so they could have a drink. The rocks on the hillsides seemed to have been carved out by the force of the water and there was a deep valley below where there were houses. The river led to a massive reservoir which then fell down to hundred feet below and ran into smaller streams. On the higher ground sheep grazed and were oblivious to the motorists going past. The traffic was building up now as the impatient drivers weaved their way through the four wheeled maze. Colin was forced to slow down on several occasions as drivers just pulled out or moved into the lane he was in. Some drivers wouldn’t move and chose to stay in the middle lane so Colin was forced to overtake them before moving back into lane one. The three lanes soon became congested again and it was a struggle to move forward.

It was just after eleven thirty when Colin let off the passengers at a service station so they could either use the toilet facilities or get a coffee to take out.

He only gave them fifteen minutes in which to be back on the coach.

Elsie and Rose went to the toilet then headed to the wimpy bar to get a take out coffee.

Margaret asked for an ice cream but Rose told her that she would get one in the market once they’d reached Bury.

The driver seemed pleased as he stubbed out his cigarette he’d been smoking with his foot. He climbed on board then got on the microphone to inform everyone that they would reach Bury in about forty minutes

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