The Lighter Side of Driving Cars, Discovering the UK and Cooking
WEEKLY CAR DIARY – STUDENT FOOD, LIVE AT LEEDS AND A VW TIGUAN
Exhausted. Just returned from taking our daughter back to university in Leeds for the new academic year. What an amazing amount of stuff a modern student needs. It’s the main reason we have an estate car. At least everything and the kitchen sink only needed taking up one floor rather than last year’s eight. And what palatial places university halls of residence are these days – all mod cons like hot and cold running water and indoor toilets. Very different to my student days.
Here’s a tip for a cheap meal out: if you live in a university city, sneak onto campus and into one of the many tempting catering outlets that populate today’s universities (many selling proper food not just the fast variety). As far as I can tell, there’s nothing to stop a member of the public going on to most city campuses. There’s endless choice and the food is priced for student pockets. Today, we just had a quick lunch (great wraps) in Leeds University’s Terrace Café but the main meals on offer looked tempting – poached Alaskan wild salmon with wilted spinach, roasted peppers and pea and asparagus risotto. For £7. Not bad. Or chicken Arrabiata pasta for a fiver. If you are worried you would look out of place, just wear some tie-dye and an Afghan coat and you’ll fit right in. Ooh, and remember to wear a flower in your hair. No, sorry, that’s if you’re going to San Francisco, not Leeds, Manchester or Southampton. One of the eating establishments at Leeds is actually historic (well, in my opinion). On 14th February 1970, Leeds Refectory was the scene of a legendary gig by the greatest live rock band ever, The Who. This turned into the equally legendary, Live at Leeds album – the best live rock recording of all time. Not just my biased opinion but that of The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, the BBC, Q magazine and Rolling Stone too. There’s an information board commemorating this event in the Refectory as well as gigs by the likes of the Rolling Stones and the Clash. I doubt if Alaskan wild salmon and wilted spinach was on offer in those days.
Anyway, we are doing the university thing all over again next week as my son returns to Nottingham Trent for his final year. And I don’t get paid for this weekend driving! Here’s what I did get paid for this week:-
Monday: Volkswagen Tiguan SE Nav 2.0TDI (150hp), Nottingham to Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Tuesday: Bentley Continental GTC (convertible) V8S, Melton Mowbray to Leicester; Jaguar XE R-Sport 2.0D (180) auto, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire to Sheffield, South Yorkshire
Wednesday: Volkswagen Transporter LWB 2.0TDI (150hp) 4Motion, Oldbury, West Midlands to Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk
Thursday: Vauxhall Combo van (a re-badged Fiat Doblo), Bolton, Greater Manchester to Flint, North Wales
Friday: two Vauxhall Combo vans, Bolton to Flint, North Wales.
The Tiguan was a nice car, the first example of Volkswagen’s SUV that I have driven. This was a front wheel drive version. Does that make it an honest car (because most people never really need four wheel drive)? Or a dishonest car (because it looks like a 4×4 but isn’t)? Whatever. Some cars just have an undefinable quality that makes you warm to them or dislike them. I warmed to the Tiguan. It was a great motorway cruiser – quiet and comfortable. I have driven plenty of cars with those qualities but many have been uninspiring. The Tiguan is also very practical with a large boot; very useful if you have students in the family. For the last 15 miles or so of my journey, I had the pleasure of driving across the Yorkshire countryside on slightly bumpy A roads. Here the ride was noticeably firm but nothing that wasn’t easily forgiven. I’m sure if you pushed it through the bends, this firm ride would translate into less roll and more confidence. The steering was a tad light but I never investigated whether or not there were other driving modes that may have weighted it up (in our not-too-distantly related Skoda Octavia, Sport mode gives the steering more weight). So all in all, a good car. But not the best drive of the my working week which was ….. the Volkswagen Transporter of course! Loved it. So relaxing to drive on a mostly sunny trip from the Midlands to Suffolk with six colleagues all driving Transporters.