Saturday 19th January 2013
We seem to make a habit of travelling during extreme weather conditions. Hottest ever October day when we left for Australia; floods on the way to the Lake District and now hyperbolically ’the worst snow for thirty years’. Fortunately no more has fallen overnight and Chris can get through to collect me. I am ready at Martha o’clock (several hours before necessary) and we are off. I was under the mistaken impression that I had acquired a scarf or two in the bundles of hand me up clothes that arrive periodically from my daughters but no. So we stop off at A**a to acquire one. It seems that ladies’ scarves are designed for ornament not function – plenty of glitter but a distinct lack of fleece. I move to the girls’ section – fleecier but emblazoned with Hello Kitty or princesses. I am about to give up when Chris suggests the men’s department. No, men are obviously deemed too, well, manly, for scarves. There are however sets of scarves, hats and gloves for 8-12 year old boys. If anyone has an 8-12 year old boy of their acquaintance, I have a hat and gloves set that is surplus to requirements. The orange pattern doesn’t go too well with the red coat but that is as nothing compared to the florescent yellow and pink patterns on my cosy hat.
Then comes the bit where I sit and freeze on Bideford Quay whilst Chris, having deposited me and the luggage (the luggage and I?), takes the car home and walks back down. Oh, I am mistaken, it can’t be cold – the postman is wearing shorts.
We leave Bideford in sunshine and initially no signs of snow at all. The journey is boringly uneventful with leaden skies, glimpses of deer and lapwing and plenty of dozing but no more falling snow. Unfortunately more is forecast for tomorrow but let’s hope the forecasters are as incorrect as usual about this. Taunton bus station have altered their ladies’ toilet so it no longer requires one to open the door to active the flush. This has reduced queuing time significantly as it always used to take folk a while to work this out. Tediously, the coach travels to Gatwick via Heathrow, so it takes forever. Then a long cold wait for the H3 shuttle bus to Premier Inn South. I am conscious that I have failed to print out my booking confirmation and I am convinced that we won’t be able to book in but all is well. Exhausted and starving we find that the restaurant is full for the next two hours. Having had breakfast before 7am, we are not keen on waiting until 9pm for food, so we arrange to have our food covered in tin foil and take it to our room. Whilst we are waiting, a table becomes available. The head waiter tries to make the fact that it is hidden under the stairs on top of a radiator sound like an advantage but we are past caring.
Back in the room, I go to unlock my suitcase. I had used one of those small ‘out of a cracker’ padlocks to secure the zip. Unfortunately, instead of bringing the key, I have inadvertently brought an additional padlock – awkward. I fruitlessly search through bags and pockets but no keys. I wonder just how strong out of a cracker padlocks can be and if it is possible to saw through it with an emery board or whether unpicking the stitching holding the zip is a better option. Chris quietly produces a selection of case keys and one fits!