STOURBRIDGE TO STONEHENGE
I decided that it would be best if I could get within easy striking distance of Stonehenge then start out early in the morning to avoid the traffic
I had tentatively booked into a caravan site not too to far away, but the road leading to it was closed to traffic, whether that was due to road works or whether it was part of the ploy to keep folk off the back road approaching Stonehenge I am not sure, but not being able to see any way to reach it I was forced to carry on down the main route to Salisbury. As soon as I could I pulled into a layby and emailed them to say not to expect me. And having stopped there looked around and have to say it was as nice a spot as a lot of caravan parks seem to be, with the added advantage of being completely shaded by some large mature plane trees. It being a very hot day I just decided to spend the night there, and a good decision it was too. Thebus stayed nice and cool and we didn't even need the air conditioning on
At the end of the layby was a mobile catering unit. I had seen the sign a mile or so earlier saying 'Mexican Potato Van', and never having tried a Mexican Potato this definitely needed investigation
There was lovely guy running it who was from Scotland but had been in the forces for over twenty five years, travelling all over Europe, and had been in the Falklands, Afghanistan and goodness knows where else before retiring and setting up a wedding photography and catering business, and when not needing the van for that set up in the layby selling snacks, though paying the council fifteen hundred pounds a year for the privilege
We had a good chat about Scotland and the best places to go in Europe. He was very keen on Germany and told me how beautiful it was so that will be a must on my trip list.
The food was tasty and freshly cooked and huge portions. I don't think he had been selling from his pitch for long, but I can see a big future - maybe even a Mexican potato van franchise !
There was bags of room in our shady retreat and through the day various travelling salesmen (possibly in Ladies Underwear - I didn't look that closely!) came and went as well as a selection of workmen and drivers.
About 3 'ish the Mexican Potato Van Man packed up and drove off to feed the hoards watching a football match, then slowly the layby began to fill with big arctics as the lorry drivers took it over for the night. They are a quiet, peaceful lot as long as none of them has chiller on board, so apart from the roar of passing traffic which was pretty constant till long after I was asleep it was a good night. One elderly bearded guy in an old, but quite respectable looking car pulled in around four in the afternoon and settled in for the night. There seemed to be lots of duvets and clothing in there so I assumed he was a 'gentleman of the road', though the modern four-wheeled version. It could be he too was on his way to Stonehenge but though we exchanged a couple of words when Phoebe stuck her head in through his open window hoping for some fuss and admiration, he didn't volunteer any information so we left it at that. Next morning I was up before five and he was awake with the window open so I asked if he would like a cuppa but he said he was fine, and I left not long after, reaching Stonehenge just after seven. Arriving they already had security on full alert, and I was turned away at the gates and told to come back after nine.
All the approach roads were complete lined from end to end with traffic cones, and I think they must have used up every cone in the whole of the Wiltshire traffic authority area. There were even cones of the old fashioned type that I haven't seen around for years, small bright yellow ones with a No Entry symbol on them. One of the young policemen I spoke to (yes - I have got to the age where all policemen look young!) thought they were some sort of new design, as they were obviously older than he was. All the nearer approach roads had severe warnings that this was a 'Tow Away' area for any parked vehicles, so they were obviously expecting quite a few folk later in the day.
Driving on into nearby Amesbury I found a reasonably priced fuel station. Wiltshire petrol prices are far in excess of those in the West Midlands conurbation. I put in a hundred litres of petrol at which point the pump refused to deliver any more thinking I must have died at the pump, as no-one could reasonably need more than one hundred litres. So having paid, then headed off hoping to find somewhere to park. As luck would have it I found possibly the only non-coned-off lay-by within five miles and happily parked up to cook myself some breakfast.
Just as I was enjoying my sausage and eggs there was a clunking as two harassed looking council workmen coned me in. Opening the door I asked if I had to move on, and they just muttered to wait till the police told me, and thinking that at least then the police would have the job of moving the cones to let me out I made a nice large pot of coffee and checked for internet connections. In fact the police never did appear, and seeing that Stonehenge would now be open I de-coned the top end of the lay-by and escaped.