Monday, March 16, 2009

Heading north

As you might've guessed from the previous post, I broke free of my normal routine this weekend and did something that actually took me away from the cosseting bosom of my lovely sofa (I really don't tell my sofa that I love it as much as I should: sofa? I love you. Possibly a bit too much sometimes).

So what did I do? I went to Cheshire of course! Which for those of you who aren't terribly gifted at geography is a bit like this.

And then I did this.

And that's what we call a 370-ish mile round journey in the space of about eight hours, with an hour and half-ish stop-off in Cheshire somewhere in the middle.

Now, I'm actually not too bad with directions when push comes to shove. Actually, let me rephrase that: I'm actually not too bad with directions within the M25 (note to any Johnny Foreigners who don't know what the M25 is: it's a big round horrific motorway that surrounds London, either keeping everyone else out, or all of us in, depending on who you ask). You see, I've lived near Heathrow Airport all my life, so if ever I've gotten a bit lost trying to get home I've just looked to the sky and followed the planes in. Sparky Pa used to say that if he dropped me in a field somewhere I'd find eventually find my way home, and unfortunately for him he was right. Outside of the M25, though, things are a bit different. There's planes going in all sorts of odd directions and that just confuses me.

So, anyway, here I was with a desire to go to Cheshire, and not the foggiest idea how to get there; the last time I headed north was - what? - at least 10 years ago? Probably more. Salvation was at hand in the form of Sparky Pa, however. Sparky Pa used to drive the length and breadth of the country for work, and knows it insanely well. Bizarrely, though, as his job used to entail stuff that you'd find on the forecourts of petrol stations, his driving instructions are often based on the location of various Esso, Texaco, and BP sites; more than once I've been told to "turn left at the Texaco station."

This time around though, he gave me proper written instructions using road names, which made me a little more confident about my ability to navigate at least reasonably close to where I wanted to go. What made me even more confident, however, was Big Bro's beautifully renamed Tim Tim Go satellite navigation thingy.

When Big Bro asked for a satellite navigation thingy for his birthday last year I scoffed and told him he was a clueless buffoon who couldn't navigate his way out of bed, but I shall say it here: oh my, what a wonderous device!

Seriously, it got me there, and it got me back bang on the estimated time it displayed when I set off. I did not take one wrong turn - although that said, when I tested it on the drive home from Sparky Ma and Pa's on Saturday after picking it up it did try to take me a really weird long way home; I defied it to a) show it who was boss, and b) get home quicker. At every key point it told me where to turn and what lane I should be in using a reasonably polite, slightly asexual lady-robot voice. I was overawed by its power, and initially a little scared; Big Bro referred to it as Skynet at one point, and I told him that if it started to turn into Shirley Manson Terminator I was going to ditch it at the side of the road. Fortunately he agreed that was a reasonable course of action should it, in fact, turn out to be the lead singer of Garbage in a liquid metal form.

Possibly my only complaint is that the suction cup that you use to stick it to the windscreen wasn't suctiony enough and it fell off once on the way there and once on the way back. Fortunately it just dropped onto the top of my dashboard, rather than down into the footwell; if it had dropped down there I would've possibly a) cried, and b) crashed while trying to retrieve it. All while Shirley Manson was telling me to stay in the right-hand lane.

Any-hoo, I haven't done a long journey in years, and certainly not a long journey followed by a brief stop-off, followed by another long journey home, so I was a little apprehensive about how I'd cope. I envisaged myself stopping off loads and sitting in drab motorway services drinking awful coffee, then needing desperately to wee on the M6 with nowhere to stop, but actually it all went swimmingly. It was a gorgeous day, and I set off at 08:29, arriving at my destination at 11:48; coming home was equally speedy, if a little bit cloudier. I listened to Michael Jackson's HIStory album there and back (mainly the greatest hits disc), and am not afraid to admit that on the way home I clicked the cruise control on, took my feet off the pedals, and howled along to Earth Song in a terrifyingly realistic manner (it's a crime I couldn't get Jackson tickets, a crime I tells ya). And Cheshire is rather lovely part of the country. I really wish I'd stopped off and taken a few pictures - especially of the awesome viaduct and the freakin' huge Jodrell Bank radio telescope.

All-in-all, then, a day well spent.

Oh, what do you mean 'why did I go there?' Hmmm… well that's a tale for another time…


Tara said...

I don't have one of those nifty navigation devices, but I'm one of those who really should own one. The directions online make me annoyed. I'll map out a path to get to a place I know pretty sure will be a quick drive, but it gives me this out of the way path and has me get on the highway for a 15-minute-drive.

Hope you had a lovely time in Cheshire!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

But I wasn't even in Cheshire at the weekend.

You could've saved yourself a wasted journey had you just contacted me first.

BEAST said...

Oh look its that lazy devil IVD.
Get blogging you slacker

The SatNavs are the most wonderful device EVER . I havn't got one tho as I never go ANYWHERE

BEAST said...

we shall gloss over your dodgy choice of listening material .
I saw Jacko at Wembley stadium a good few years ago , It was technically very slick , but the concert lacked atmosphere , I was really dissapionted

Tim said...

Tara - I usually use online directions but you're right, sometimes they're a bit rubbish! I had a … brief time in Cheshire!!

Inexplicable Device - And that's why I went!

Beast - You should get a sat nav anyway because it'll tell you exactly where you are regardless of whether you're moving or not!

As for Jacko - well, it's a moot point now 'cos I ain't going! I guessed he could be one of those performers that's very good but lacks a bit of emotion, but I would've liked to see him regardless…

jt said...

I truly do want to know why you went to Cheshire. The story of your journey was entertaining, but you're leaving me hangin'... Did you go there to get a cat? What does one go to Cheshire for? I can tell you why people go to Traverse City or why people go to Mackinaw Island, but my experience in reasons for traveling to Cheshire is limited. Tell the tale soon and please relieve my curiosity. Before it, ah, kills the cat. (lame, I know!)

T-Bird said...

Your journey to Cheshire had better be in pursuit of either the charms of a lady, or Star Trek things...

Tim said...

Julie - Aaaaw, all shall be revealed in due course … and before any cats are killed, I hope!!

T-Bird - Patience young padowan…