We spent this weekend, me and Himself, pootling around Lancashire. And because we live in Kent this activity facilitated a fair bit of motorway malarkey.
Of course, those of you living in this increasingly crowded quarter of England called 'The South East' will know that in order to get anywhere else in this fair isle of ours, you have to negotiate the Devil's Footpath, also known as 'The M25 Motorway.'' It's a swine. Full of cars and lorries and roadworks, constructed from swathes of bumpy, noisy road surface, it is responsible for around 85% of my bad moods every year. Sometimes I only have to think about it and steam pours from my ears.
Anyway, even setting off at the crack of dawn, we still hit a hold up on our trek oop t'North, but this time on the M6 which had to be closed because some irresponsible and thoughtless moron decided to have an accident between Junctions 15 and 16. This required us to make a detour into the wilds of Stafford where, because of my appalling lack of direction, we followed a very circuitous route thus forcing us to stop at a service station when we finally tracked down the motorway again for some emotional relief in the form of food.
And here is another thing that sets me steaming - the price of a tea and coffee from that well known coffee shop franchise that stains every one of our high streets with its corporate evilness. Over £6 we paid. £6!!! And my £2.59 'cup of tea' involved the 'barrista' putting a tea bag in a mug and covering it with hot water. I had to add my own milk, stir it all around a bit, retrieve the tea bag and dispose of the tea bag. All without the aid of a teaspoon, I might add. I had more interaction with the making of that cup of tea than the 'barrista!' Appalling!!! And it tasted like an old dish cloth.Blah!
On the return journey we stopped at a Costa - at least they put the tea bag in a tea pot and gave me a little jug of milk of my own. And it was a tad cheaper. And it tasted nicer. But I still despise BOTH these corporate goblins and will continue to frequent the independent tea shop in Maidstone called Harpers, under the Market Buildings for all my having-a-cuppa-out needs. Much nicer by far. And cheaper. Drop in if you get a chance. Tell Kate I sent you.
Anyway, by the time we arrived at the hotel, which was also a pub, the temperature had dropped by at least 5 degrees. And silly me had packed a posh frock for the posh dinner we were attending, and a flimsy tissue of a wrap, but it was obvious that if I wasn't going to freeze to death during the evening I was going to need something more substantial to drape upon my person. Like a sheepskin rug. Or a St Bernard dog.
So Andy, who knows these parts well because he was raised up here in a field, living off turnips and in the company of some hardy regional cattle, took me on a mercy dash at gone 4 p.m to the nearest town to track down somewhere that might sell something woolly and warm but at the same time charming and sophisticated that would go with my posh frock.
Ha! It seemed that 4 p.m was 'very late' in shopping terms in Lancashire and everywhere bar an art gallery and a small Co-op was closed. So we bought a newspaper and some crisps as consolation and set off back to the hotel/ pub. But because I am Southern bred and therefore naturally attuned to the capitalist airwaves, as we went round a roundabout I spied an M&Co tucked away in a corner and there I found a very nice (and cheap) black cardigan with sparkly buttons. Just right. Phew! Goose pimple danger averted!
Back at the hotel/pub we were shown to our room. It was okay - fairly spacious and clean, and with an en-suite shower room. Which had no soap. What sort of hotel room has no soap?? Bizarrely, it did provide two sewing kits (!) and a pair of foot mitts (!!) and I suppose we should count ourselves lucky there was toilet roll - but no soap??? Good grief. And the interesting arrangement of the bathroom suite meant that in order to sit upon the loo you had to sidle into the narrow gap between the loo and the shower and lower yourself carefully so you didn't crack your knees on the shower screen. You could actually sit on the loo and rest your forehead on the shower screen which I suppose could be handy in the eventuality of a hangover in order to stop yourself sliding to the floor, but I don't drink so this propping up facility was wasted on me. All I know was that it was a bit of a tight squeeze, and that seeing a reflection of yourself sitting face on in the shower screen in VERY close proximity is not an attractive sight.
And so it turned out to be a weekend of ups and downs and ins and outs in more ways that merely travelling from South to North and back again. And in order to orientate myself once home I was forced to spend today doing some writing of the novel and some sewing of the rag dolls and some reading of a couple of new books.
It's a hard life...