The longer we stop, the quicker we get there

Linda has been working really well so far. Until today, that is. Actually, to be completely fair, Linda managed really well for the long stretches of highway between Yngsjö and Stockholm. It wasn’t until we reached the final 10km that she fell down on the job.

You can’t really blame her, I suppose. To be suddenly confronted with a very long, deep tunnel at the end of a 600km day would be enough to test the toughest satnav. Mind you, Maxine, who we wouldn’t normally trust with such a long trip, managed to hold a signal through the tunnel. We decided to give her the address as well.

Maxine managed to get us the final few clicks as Linda stopped talking to her satellites.

Mind you, as we left the main road, I instantly recognised the dress shop on the corner.

Back when we first considered the place we’re now living in, I’d taken a virtual walk with Google Maps. The dress shop was the closest shop to the house. I was amazed that what appeared to be quite a rural setting had need for such a big dress shop.

Anyway, once passed the shop, it was just a few streets, and we pulled up outside the house. After letting ourselves in, Mirinda collapsed on the lounge. It had been a very long day behind the wheel.

We started driving at 9am, having packed last night and just left mostly tidying up to do before we left. It was a bit drizzly as we headed for Åhus for the last time. Then, through a roundabout and off and away to unchartered territory. For us, I mean. Obviously lots of other people had already charted it otherwise Linda would have chucked a wobbly a lot earlier in the day.

As we drove, the rain came and went, sometimes replaced by grey clouds, other times replaced by brilliant sunshine. The autumn leaves lit up the sides of the road like warm, cosy, hygge tapestries.

Our first stop was a garage where I discovered the joys of filling up with petrol in Sweden. I’ve had to use a card machine at a bowser before but, usually, the card machine is situated next to the pump. Not so in Sweden.

The card machine can be located anywhere on the island between the pumps.

Fortunately, I finally managed to find it and Max was filled up.

We took the girls for a walk around the station so they could empty their bladders. Which they did. Then Mirinda went inside to buy some ghastly coffee for us and a massive frankfurter for the girls.

While I waited for Mirinda, I couldn’t help but notice, then watch a couple of women trying to inflate the tyres of their car using the service station air hose. They couldn’t work it out. One of them had a brainwave. She rang someone then, using the video, had them instruct her in how to put air in the car tyres.

It actually worked really well but the two women were in hysterics for most of the operation.

I don’t know why it was so difficult but, after they finished and drove off, a middle aged chap in a 4WD also had great difficulty with it. He wound up driving off without any air.

Back on the road, we headed north, keeping pace with the fast cars and overtaking the slow ones. Mirinda is really getting the hang of driving Max in Europe. She reckons anything is possible after surviving the autobahn. I tend to agree.

Along the way, there were names we recognised. Husqvarna for one. Who knew it was a place as well as a sewing machine? And, even more surprising, who knew they had a museum? Actually, it’s pretty obvious they would, if you really think about it. They have been around for more than 300 years, after all. They also make a lot more things than just sewing machines.

The history of the company is quite fascinating. Their site has quite a nice piece here.

But we didn’t stop to admire the museum, or the town, instead we just kept driving northwards.

Our next stop was by a lake. A beautiful big lake. And a long, quiet petrol station and picnic spot. Where we had a tasty, carby lunch of baguettes before walking up and down to work it off afterwards. Naturally, we were careful to eat all our ham.

Back on the road again, we passed an intriguing sign pointing towards something called Tom Tits Experiment. It wasn’t until we had arrived at our new accommodation that I was able to find out what it was about.

It’s a place full of experiments for kids, adults, teachers, whoever. It seems to be a full scale version of the kid’s zone at the Science Museum. If the website is anything to go by, it’s pretty amazing.

But, again, we didn’t have time to stop and play, we had to keep going. At least as far as the final set of services before we hit the outskirts of Stockholm. We once more filled up with petrol, then Mirinda went and bought us coffee and the most amazing cardamom buns imaginable. I LOVE cardamom. Enough said.

Enthralled as I was with the bun, I still managed to spot the pirate ship as we took the girls around the woodland setting, surrounded by the never ending freeway beneath us.

So, finally, our long, long day of travelling was complete. Settling back on the lounge at just gone 6pm, Mirinda sighed with relief, saying “At last! We’ve made it!” She was, of course, referring to the fact that our plans to move to Sweden for three months were finally realised.

We celebrated with a cup of tea.

I should mention the title. Linda wasn’t the only one to throw a wobbly today. I thought I was looking at the time we’d arrive for the first few stops and it seemed that we were making very good time given the first time claimed we’d be arriving at 7:30, the second at 6:43, the third at 5:26, etc. Then I realised that, rather than making exceptionally good time, what I was looking at was how long it would take us. When I realised this and started looking at the time, it was a lot more steady and not so much in violation of all the laws of physics and the dreaded Arrow of Time.

Before I finish this post, something I heard this morning on the BBC World Service left me shaking my head in the knowledge that there are some people in this world who can’t see how ridiculous they are.

There was a report about a company in Chester that has been showing movies in the car park of a local football ground. It’s an excellent way for people to get out and ‘go to the movies’ rather than be stuck at home watching the telly in isolation. All was well until this week when Wales went into complete lockdown.

While Chester isn’t in Wales, half the car park is. The drive in had to be scaled down in order to empty the Welsh bit of the drive in. No problem with that, apart from reducing the amount of customers. The only real problem that arose was that the toilets were on the Welsh side as well. This meant that anyone going to the loo would be breaking the law.

Ignoring basic human need or the fact that, as far as I’m aware, the coronavirus does not honour invisible human made boundaries, couldn’t an exception have been made? A report I read even stated that Flintshire police would be patrolling and making sure anyone straying onto the Welsh side would be dealt with.

WTF is wrong with people? Am I the only person who sees this as completely ridiculous?

Today, this happened

On 24 October, 1861, the first transcontinental telegram was sent via the telegraph in the United States, bringing an end to the Pony Express.

The Pony Express was the Amazon of its day. The flying horse riders didn’t just deliver mail, they also moved parcels from one part of the US to another. And all the bits in between.

The brainchild of three businessmen, the Pony Express was an extraordinary enterprise. William Russell, Alexander Majors and William B Waddell achieved what some said was impossible. They managed to get mail from California to Missouri in just ten days. They did it by having 190 Pony Express stations dotted along the route and using a horse and rider that could go where a stagecoach couldn’t.

It began operations on April 3, 1860 and managed to run successfully and incredibly for 18 months before the new technology defeated it. The Pony Express folded and the three men declared bankruptcy.

Of the three businessmen, Alexander Majors was a deeply religious man who believed that he acted with God on his side. I guess, as far as God was concerned, the wires of the telegraph were a lot better than horses and riders. Maybe God feels the same about email.


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