Monday, 30 July 2007

The Road To Hell...

A simple trip from Rochdale to Glastonbury. Motorway all the way. It couldn't be simpler. Could it?
Things had started to go wrong in the week and maybe we should've seen this as an omen. I was playing with the eldest of the monsters who at that time had a penchant for keys of any kind. He didn't want to do anything with them other than hold them. On this one particular night though he was playing with my car keys and he decided that he wanted to put them in the bin. Now, this wouldn't have been too bad because our landlord (who himself is worthy of a post) at the time didn't normally bother emptying the bins...ever! On this occasion he was unusually efficient and took about six weeks rubbish to the tip in one fell swoop...goodbye car keys!!
So that was keys at all to my car which as well as being locked was thouroughly immobilised! It was later to cost me around £200 to get a replacement key but right now we had more pressing to transport ourselves around...
Luckily, Fi's brother-in-law had a spare vehicle which he kindly lent us for our road trip. Grateful as we were at the time using that vehicle was a decision we were going to regret!
It was a lovely May morning with the sun shining brightly in the sky and a gentle cooling breeze fanning us as we set off. We had arranged to meet a friend of ours who lived in Glastonbury on Saturday afternoon and have a wee wander round, head to our guest house for a shower and change of clothes and then head out for something to eat. A refreshing nights sleep followed by the journey back up the various motorways and home in time for Sunday lunch. Even the best laid plans...
We jumped, well clambered, into the vehicle we had borrowed (there's a theme here) and set off, full steam ahead! Unfortunately that's just what happened. We had made good time on the M6 and were just heading up to junction 15 (Newcastle-under-Lyme) when steam started pouring out from under the bonnet. A few frantic phone calls and we were in luck - the vehicle had Green Flag breakdown cover! Fi, being marvellous as she is, managed to limp the vehicle the ½ mile or so up to the next exit and we pulled into the carpark of the Holiday Inn.
Ok, says we. The car's buggered, we have to wait for the rescue man and we've not even completed a third of our journey. Plan of action...? We're at a hotel, let's just stay here the night, wait for the car to be fixed and head back home tomorrow, save Glastonbury for another time. Simple enough in theory but slap me with a fish slice if we hadn't chosen the busiest weekend in the hotel's history to try to get a room. They couldn't even offer us a stable to sleep in!!
All was not lost though. It was possible that there was only a minor malfunction with the vehicle that could be fixed in a matter of minutes. So we sat and waited for the breakdown man to turn up and enjoyed a cold beer.
Presently, our mechanic in shining armour turned up and proceeded to pour copious amounts of water into the radiator. "This won't be a problem" he assured us, "I'll just take the thermostat off and as long as you keep it topped up with water it'll get you there and back no problem". Fantastic, thinks we, we're gonna be on our way pretty soon with hardly any delay. Then came the slight flaw in the mechanic's otherwise flawless plan - the thermostat had already been removed hence it overheating in the first place...the jalopy couldn't be moved. We were well and truly buggered.
We thought the simplest idea would be to rent a car to take us the rest of the way - all we had to do was work out where from and how to get there. Luckily for us the receptionist at the hotel was more than willing to drive us into the centre of town and right at the door of a car rental place (anything for ten minutes out of work!). Another stroke of luck in that Fi had all the document we needed to hire the car in her bag. A few forms signed and we were back on our jolly way.
The rest of that day's trip was largely uneventful (apart from two sandwiches and two coffees costing the best part of fourteen quid in one of the service stations...the staff uniform should be a mask and a stripey jumper) and we arrived safe and sound at about 5.00pm. There was just time to meet Scooby Sue for a drink before we made our way to the guest house to get ourselves washed and dolled up. Scooby Sue had already let the owner know that we were running late so it was all gravy.
The guest house was lovely. In fact, it wasn't really a guest house but a private house with the downstairs area converted into a self contained flat. When we ventured upstairs for our breakfast on Sunday morning the view from the window was amazing, looking out over rolling countryside. Anyway, we did what we had to do and went for a lovely meal with Scooby Sue and her daughter...and a grand night was had by all!
After breakfast on Sunday we went for a brief stroll around the town (brief because there's bugger all there) and a coffee with Scooby Sue and then it was time to be on our way home. Now, the observant ones among you may remember that we were in a hire car which had to be delivered back to Newcastle-under-Lyme. A plan was hatched where we would search for a national car rental company, hire another car, drop the first hire car off and then drop the second hire car off closer to home. Simplicity in itself. Much searching was done and let me tell you now, the likes of National and Hertz don't venture into the potteries and who can blame them??!
So, foiled yet again our only option was to drive back to Rochdale, borrow yet another car and then wing it all the way back to Newcastle-under-Lyme to drop the courtesy car off before driving back again. We set off from Glastonbury at 11.00am and finally finished our journey at 8.00pm.
Next time we're getting the train!

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