Following Linda’s advice

The dogs went on holiday today. The usual city-break at Frensham kennel. It’ll be tripe and…well, tripe is more than enough. Since they were intent on going away, we decided it would be a grand idea to pop up to Hereford for the weekend.

It was incredibly foggy, first thing, so I fitted the fog horn to Sidney’s roof, packed her back section with far more stuff than three days warrants and programmed Linda, insisting she avoid the M25.

It’s odd, but it seems to me that all satnavs automatically send you round the M25, regardless of where you want to go. They seem to think it’s somehow faster to go through the world’s largest car park.

Which reminds me…on Breakfast the other day, a reporter was talking about a tour company which is offering a chance to see the M25 – a scenic bus tour of the huge London bypass. When the reporter asked a few motorists what they thought, one of them smiled ruefully and replied: “Well, I guess if you want to see the world’s biggest car park.

And it’s been a surprising success.

“Now, according to The Mirror, the demand for a 118-mile tour of one of the UK’s nastiest, most snarled up, depressing, road-worky stretches of tarmac is so great that Brighton & Hove has laid on two more buses.” Alex Goy, AutoBlog

I’ve heard of some weird tours before but this one has to take the cake. What the hell is there to see? The inside of the coach? For four hours? Some people have far too much money for their own good.

Anyway, because the M25 has suddenly filled up with competitive bus tour operators, we thought it far wiser to take the more direct route. Don’t worry, I am not going to do a Reg and start rattling off road numbers – I had enough of that as Norman, listening to that sad litany every rehearsal and performance. Linda, quite accommodatingly I thought, changed her route to satisfy my needs and desires.

That was before we stopped off at the Cotswold Water Park for a cup of tea/coffee and essential walk around. It was here that we spotted a flock of seated seagulls, gazing out, over the water, at a bunch of bully-boy swans, picking on a duck couple. It was as peculiar as it sounds. I don’t think I’ll recover.

It was, perhaps, not as peculiar as the other people in the car park, also taking a driving break I assume. They all remained in their cars. Surely the idea of a driving break is to get out and stretch your legs, wake your muscles up a bit.

As Mirinda said, at least they were facing the lake. This is a very good point. Nearly always, these sorts of motorists can be seen in roadside car parks, facing the traffic. Could it be they just want a quick getaway? Or do they begrudge having to stop so much they try to imagine they’re still driving? I guess I’ll never know. I think it’s rather odd.

So, we hopped back into the car and set off once more. I’d turned Linda off when we left her route and turned her back on as we neared the turn off. Silly me thought she’d simply pick up the same route. She didn’t.

We then had a jolly stressful tour of tiny country lanes with Mirinda cursing me and me cursing Linda. I resorted to the analogue alternative which, fortunately, I was carrying on my lap. I managed to get us back to the main A road.

But clearly feeling peevish, Linda kept trying to get us to turn off it again. Her voice was getting insistent when we ran into the traffic jam. Mirinda wondered whether Linda knew about it and had been trying to warn us off the more direct route all along. I’m convinced that this is giving Linda a little too much credit.

As it turned out, the traffic jam wasn’t too bad and we were soon sailing along again, following Linda’s instructions to the front door of Somerville House in Hereford, our home for the next few days.

Mirinda relaxes in front of the big windows in our room

We settled in nicely – the bed is easily the size of our lounge room – had a cup of tea/coffee bought to us by the big windows of our room, which overlook the garden. Our room is at the back of the house and looks in the direction of Hereford – we can see two steeples and the squat tower of the cathedral just poking above the trees.

Mirinda decided to do some work while I typed merrily away. She maintained that it was a Friday and she’d been driving for three hours, which was time she’d normally work in. She didn’t have to justify it to me, after all, it’s not a Sunday.

For dinner we decided to wander into town and search out the Stewing Pot, a restaurant highly recommended by the lady of the house. I have to say it was very, very nice. The prices were reasonable, the food delicious and the desserts, perfect. I would recommend it to anyone except, maybe dad.

I also had a lovely bottle of this:

Nice and hoppy with a good, full, body

After our meal we strolled back to the hotel (it always takes longer the first time you go anywhere so the trip back took about a third of the time though this could be because we went back the direct way rather than down Goal Road and via the police station), trying to avoid the eyes of the hundreds of denizens of the footpaths.

It was actually quite gross. Girls in ridiculously short skirts and men drunk enough to be their fathers. This was at 10pm. I hate to think what it will be like as the clock ticks around to the wee small hours of tomorrow morning. Fortunately I’ll be asleep.

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