BACK ON THE ROAD
Well I am back on the road and I suppose now I feel my travels are really starting. I have nothing to go back for, well only to see family and friends later in the year of course, so once again I feel just a little bit 'lost' though that's emotionally rather than physically - I am certainly beginning to know the M6 a lot better than I did.
Once again it started off a grey wet day, but I expect you all feel the same about it as I do by now. The spray from the lorries on the northbound carriageway was so thick that one could hardly see anything, certainly not any scenery. Though I felt lucky in that on our side of the motorway the traffic was moving happily, whereas I noticed that the southbound side were almost at a standstill on several occasions with tailbacks miles long.
As on my first northbound trip, getting past Preston made a huge difference in the vehicle density, which in itself reduced the amount of spray, and I started to get glimpses of the scenery – as we approached the beautiful hills and mountains of the Lake District it almost stopped raining so I could see the spectacular views. But I did find the whole thing tiring and the thought of trying to explore the town of Penrith , which had been my target today, in the gloomy, wet weather seemed pretty pointless.
I had, in any case, intended to stop as the Tebay Services heading North as I was so impressed with the Southbound one with its wonderful farmshop and lovely food. So when the signs appeared saying one mile I decided to call it a day and stop over. We parked up in the wind and rain – its really high and open here – and Phoebe demanded her obligatory 'leg stretch' though I think she deserved it, as we had been a good three or more hours on the road. I could have made better speed, but with the crosswinds there didnt seem much point in making the engine labour on those long hills and we just took our time – and hopefully made better use of our fuel
Although the services on this side are just as clean and everything is equally well set out, there is an undefined something which makes the whole experience less satisfactory. The site itself has the edge, even on a grey wet day the views are excellent and there is a big duckpond coming right up to the restaurant cafeteria windows, complete with a large of flock of ducks with their own duck garden. They were being fed as I pulled up, but I would think in the summer they get so many treats and titbits that they would turn their beaks up a mixed grain. Amazingly they seemed content to confine themselves to their allotted area, even though it is not fenced in at all and the cars pull up within a pavements breath of the duck 'lawn' (though if you have ever owned ducks you may imagine a large flock of ducks in this sort of weather can be pretty hard on any lawn.) I suppose that any ducks with an exploring gene have long since waddled off this mortal coil, and only those 'stay at home' ducks have survived. Hope there is not a lesson in that for me!
But however much more attractive the place was, there was an undertow of something amongst the staff which gave such a different feel – I was certainly glad I hadn't lost my specs on this side. I bought some more sandwiches, which though very nice didn’t have that extra special niceness of the ones I bought last week. It just shows you can have everything organised to the Nth degree but human personalities make everything so much different.
Phoebe did a bit better today. I have taken to making a big point of telling her when THE FLOORS ARE COMING IN so she is not so surprised if they start moving around, and she did seem a little less alarmed. When we start out I get her in her lovely dog nest (in which she is fast asleep at present and looking very relaxed) but almost as soon as we are off she is out and pulling at her seat belt fastener, and then lies on the vinyl floor looking most uncomfortable and strained for the rest of the journey. So today i had a brainwave. I closed the hatch over the steps and dragged her nest to where she has been spending our travel time. And it worked - she was in the bed the entire trip.
I also have a 'cunning plan'. I intend to let her lie in the bed, but each day move it slightly nearer to the passenger section. It has to go there at night in any case and she is perfectly happy then. But I will also check that there is not some horrible draught from the engine or maybe something else that's putting her off. But I was much happier to see her in the nest rather than right at the end of her travelling harness
We are here in the services for the night, and it was exceptionally windy earlier on, but now Thebus is nestled in between a long line of huge artic lorries, so we are nicely sheltered from the wind. Interestingly as it was just dark a huge flock of what sounded like jackdaws arrived in the bushes alongside the car park. It was too dark to see if it was just jackdaws or if it was a mix of birds, but they were very vocal for an hour or so, and even now they are squabbling a bit from time to time. I suppose the car park lights allow them to see what's going on, and argue with their neighbours over who has the best perching position.
I am hoping for some better weather tomorrow and if we are lucky we shall park up in the bus station at Penrith – I phoned the tourist office, who told me to phone the council and they know what I am driving and said I can park in the coaches section. And if I am even luckier we will try and find Long Meg and her Children. A Stone Circle but apparently up some lanes with a dead end!
If it is as horrid as today we will press on for the Highlands.