I think I must be a bit worried about today as I found it hard to drop off to sleep last night, though it may just have been the lazy lie in I had on Sunday morning catching up with me.
After taking Phoebe for a walk I put on her travelling harness so she knows to expect something different - she does so hate the floors moving about when the slides come in, I suppose for her its rather like being in one of those horror movies, when the walls start to move inwards, and for all she knows the ceiling might be coming down next. Considering how well she has coped with everything else that has been thrown at her I am sure she will be fine with it before too long.
The longer of the two tables is dismantled and wrapped in my large fluffy microfibre dressing gown, specially bought because it is light and dries both me and itself extra quickly, but it will also double as a wrapper for the table on our travels. The bedroom wall moves in at the touch of a switch, and shortly I will pack away the laptop I am using in its padded bag and pop it in the cupboard, and the little table which stands next to the drivers seat will come off its support and stand upside down in the loo. Then kettle and teapot go in the sink, and I just have to slide in the living room wall, and retract the automatic jacks and we should be ready to travel.
I thought I might just as well phone the recalcitrant scooter hoist man this morning – he was there at about 8.30 this time, but said he hadn't been into the workshops to see what had been done and would phone me back. Needless to say he didn't but when I phoned again at around ten it turns out they have finally got it assembled, so I suppose that is a step in the right direction.
I am waiting around this morning for Phoebe's bed to arrive then I shall be ready to start. If it doesn’t come till half elevenish it will give us time for one last sausage roll each.
On the first Monday I arrived at Wolverhampton we heard one of those two tone hooter horn things which used to be all the rage back in the 1970's. I assumed it was a lorry driver who knew everyone at Signature and was just tooting to them. But every morning was the same and eventually I asked what on earth it was. Tom said that the local Post Office runs a van which does a sandwich round and he hoots his horn to let everyone know he is arriving. It made me think of the old days when the Post came by Mail Coach and the Coachman sounded his horn to warn everyone of the arrival of the Post. I couldn't resist going to take a look and top of eveyone's list of purchases was a hot sausage roll for a pound. So I decided to have one. I have to say it was the biggest and nicest sausage roll I have ever had. Phoebe and I shared it, but every day since then we have had one each when the Post Horn sounds. So there should be time for one last one for both of us this morning.
I am writing the later part of this chapter from the Lorry Park in the motorway services at Carlisle.
Phoebe's bed arrived in time, we shoehorned quickly it into position and I asked Chris – the one pictured on my mobility scooter - to take Thebus to the main gates for me. The yard is absolutely chook full of Rvs ready for the coming season and as they range up to £169,000 I don't want my novice handling to do any damage to their stock, or to Thebus
In the event it was a bit of a rush, but I didn't want to hang around once I knew it was time to go in case I started to get nervous. Its been about ten days since I have driven Thebus and its surprising how quickly one can forget things. Anyway there we were at the gates, Chris got out of the drivers seat and I asked him to fix the Tom-tom in position for me and I was ready to go. He gave me a few parting words of encouragement and told me to just relax and I would be fine, and I was off.
In the haste of everything I think Chris must have somehow switched the Tom-tom off as although the Strict Lady has obviously been working tirelessly since being set up a couple of days ago, and waking me regularly during the night to tell me she had found a route which would be four minutes quicker and did I want to go that way instead, for some reason as soon as I set off there was total silence.
I knew I had to go straight over on the first couple of roundabouts and hoped I would pass a pull in so I could stop and make adjustments. And soon I did come to a pull in, but everyone else had pulled in before me and there was no room. I came to an island with a Motorway sign and like a fool (and probably panicking slightly) took the motorway. Of course it was the wrong one, and there were roadworks on it – did I mention Thebus is as wide as you can have on our roads. So trying to judge my width, and merge with the traffic combined with narrow lane roadworks was all exciting stuff.
I managed to coax Strict Lady back into talking to me again. Perhaps she was just sulking after my refusal to accept her offer to cut four minutes off the six and a half hour journey. But she obligingly told me to leave the motorway at the next exit, then took me four miles through the outskirts of Wolverhampton to rejoin the M6 North. I did as I was told and we rejoined with yet another very long stretch of roadworks, with some frighteningly strong looking steel barriers on the nearside, and narrow lanes plus a good helping of heavy goods vehicles. After a few miles of this I got enough courage to glance at the speedometer to check my speed, and was surprised to find that I wasn't dawdling as much as I had feared.
Roadworks over, we ground on through the heartlands of the industrial Midlands and though I didn't dare take my eyes from the road too often I did just catch a glimpse of a nice herd of Belted Galloways, but that was it for taking in the scenery. After about fifty miles or so I relaxed enough to release the iron grip I had on the steering wheel and found I had been holding it so tightly that the little finger on my right hand had gone to sleep.
Strict Lady didn't have much to say, but she did chime in at strategic points to keep me in the correct lane for where I was headed, and in fact I think she slightly mellowed over the day. As we passed Preston the countryside began to improve and the traffic to thin a little. And on the approach to Lancaster I began to appreciate what a beautiful county Lancashire must have been before the industrial revolution took its toll, and still is in between - well wooded, and with rich, open, rolling countryside and widely spaced prosperous looking farmsteads.
Then the first of the fields with rocks showing through, shortly followed by the start of stone walling instead of hedges – and on up through the hills towards Kendal. The sunlight, though weak was sufficient to light up the contours of the hillsides and with the tumbled skyscape of clouds above it was difficult to tell where the hills ended and the imaginary cloud landscape began, but I have to say it looked beautiful. The motorway runs right through and it made me think of what the travellors back in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries would have thought of it. In fact I have a book written back in those times by an intrepid seventeenth century lady travellor - Celia Fiennes - 'Through England on a Side Saddle' – I must get it out and read it again.
We passed the first bright shallow stoney bedded river, so different from the brown rivers of home as they travel through the thick Hereforshire and Worcestershire clays. Stone walls were now the order of the day and the little multicoloured Herdwick sheep were everywhere.
Then the countryside changed again. Swaledale sheep now I think, but although I was now feeling confident enough to look round a bit, still not brave enough for more than a glimpse. The traffic was much easier and more widely spaced. Instead of being in a pack of lorries I was now probably half a mile from the nearest one. Earlier in the day I had become brave enough to tackle overtaking when coming across a slower vehicle, and as my confidence increased my speed was getting pretty stable at around 55 to 60 ish.
Surprisingly it started getting dark at around 3 pm – is that the result of being further north. I couldn't remember where the head light switches were, but before long found them and we made it easily to Carlisle Services while it was still light. I took Phoebe to “stretch her legs” but she wasn't about to do anything with all those people looking so I had to admit defeat and take her back to Thebus
I have paid £12 which entitles me to 24 hours parking. The very pleasant girl in the shop asked me for the registration number and other than knowing it began with BX11 I hadn't a clue. She homed in the camera. I can only find one with that number she said, and that's a lorry. I took a look, No that's him – I could see Phoebe sitting to attention in the front
So we are set in for the night. We have both had something to eat and it is very windy and raining heavily at present. Perhaps we will get it all over with tonight ready for another lovely day tomorrow.
Daybreak at Carlisle Services
Trying out the new Tuffies Dog Nest for Size
Hot Sausage Van