To Manchester, Merrily, We Go…

For the last few weeks our Citroen has been playing up – when cornering and going over humps, the back ends ‘flips’ a little out of line. I can’t feel this, but it was making B very nervous.
After doing some internet research and poring over the Haynes manual, B decided that it needed specialist repairs from a small firm in Manchester. So, yesterday, orft we went.
Some snapshots from the journey: a group of pied and skewbald ponies in a field, impossible to count because their markings made them so hard to distinguish when they stood together; a line of cows drifting across a ridge; the packed motorway traffic all the way south of Carlisle, so much of it that I started feeling claustrophobic; the motorway service sandwiches that tasted like cardboard spread with cheap margarine and filled with pepper-flavoured sawdust; the horror (I’m not kidding) that I felt when seeing the Trafford Center – hundreds of acres packed with desperately consuming shoppers; in a Manchester street, two teenage boys riding a too-small bike together and hooting with laughter as they wobbled over speed humps…..
Once in Manchester, B did something very unusual – he got lost. Normally, that duty falls to me – I have no sense of direction and the only way I can tell left from right is by silently reciting “Right hand, writing hand” to myself; if you ever want to see the spectacle of a middle-aged woman screwing up her face in concentration and waving her arms madly while she struggles to translate the 3D map in her head into intelligible words along the lines of “go straight on, turn right at the pub, take the third left….”, just ask me for directions to anywhere.
But, we finally found the place; the repairs were done speedily and efficiently. Driving away, B looked a lot happier, commenting that the car’s handling was certainly better and the suspension was softer. “Worth every penny!”
Then we came to the first major bend, and the backend slipped again. Oh dear. “Have to get the local garage to look at it, then” was all he said. And we headed for home.
We seemed to get lucky with the motorway traffic. Coming south, the northbound lanes had been packed and at a standstill in some places. When we headed back north, however, we barely slowed down. And once we passed Carlisle and got onto the A75, the roads were virtually empty.
As we sped along, the sun glowed through translucent clouds and glimmered off the wet tarmac; the hills opened before us and a buzzard hovered overhead. “We’re home” said B “I’m happy again”.