The best laid plans …… and it all started so well.
Actually, it wasn’t the perfect start to our holiday – Mike finally succumbed to the nasty coughing virus he had so carefully avoided last winter and, being the generous soul he is – he passed it onto me the day before we left. After a quick trip to the medicine cabinet to make sure I was fully equipped with steroids and antibiotics for the trip we packed the car and left home at 8.20a.m.
Half way across the ring road I realised that I had forgotten my sun hat – “I’m not going back” says Mike. We decided to call in at M&S but they weren’t open so ended up buying the biggest straw hat in Sainsbury's for £4. That will have to do!
Back on the road we sailed through the bottleneck which is Kingskerswell in top gear – no traffic at all – brilliant. I switched on Tom Tom who told me our ETA in Dover was 1.16 – great. After a a slight delay on the A30 at Exeter we were soon winging our way eastward past my home town of Ilminster looking pretty in the sunshine.
It had been forecast to be a very hot day and it was 68F when we left and slowly increased the further we drove.
A comfort stop around 10a.m. was required and we pulled in to a cafe – Jolly Somethingorother. Not good! I didn’t even fancy a cup of tea so chose a cold juice from the fridge assuming that would be fairly clean. Mike drank his coffee without a second thought and we left passing a vintage Rolls Royce in an adjacent room – weird.
Now on the A303 with the temperature outside rising despite there being no sunshine, we entered Wiltshire and the traffic increased alarmingly until we were down to a slow crawl and then … STOPPED. The Straight old Roman road across Salisbury Plain was chocablock with cars, caravans and lorries. Then it dawned on us – “Glastonbury”. This was the aftermath of the music festival with people heading home; we eventually passed several old bangers, splattered in mud from the festival, parked on the sides of the road with young and not so young passengers sitting on the road sunbathing. By then the temperature had climbed to the high 80’sF.
Tom Tom’s ETA had now increased to 2.10 but that looked optimistic in light of the queues in front. I was feeling rough and we were both coughing in unison and just a little bit panicky. Discussion led to us wondering if we missed the boat (!) we were covered by our insurance.
Eventually, as fast as the traffic jam built up it disappeared as if by magic; we reached the M3 and Mike found 5th gear again. We called in to Fleet Services for a quick toilet stop and found half the Glastonbury revellers there – a wonderful sight in their muddy wellies on their feet and bare chested ( the men that is). The place was heaving inside and out but surprisingly, no queues for the loos. It was very hot 91F and we were happy to get back in our air/con car.
The M25 was the next hurdle to overcome, traditionally manic and home to many accidents; it did not bode well as we joined it to see the speed limit was down to 40 MPH. Still, the major part of our journey was over and we should arrive in good time after all – barring accidents!
A much better experience than Southampton, lots of staff, very clean and tidy and check-in took less than 5 minutes.
Now to find our stateroom – 8013.