Mistress Agnes goes on holiday – more about driving than history

Have recently added Linkedin to my social media collection. A little worrying that they have interpreted my skills as being suitable for a post that involves ‘developing mathematical algorithms for high-order simulation of compressible flows’. I am sure I could, if only I knew what it meant.

French Exchange students with us in the seventeenth century this week. Somewhat anachronistic that they all began singing the Marsellais when doing pike drill!

Was not holding out much hope when I received a request to trace the Jones family. Things got better when I managed to get back to an Archimedes Jones (got to be better than William). They then got worse again as his birthplace was Jamaica!

Now on a short break resuming our south-west coastal path walk. This portion requires two cars. Not very ecologically sound but there are just no buses anywhere near the places we need to start and stop some of the sections. This means I have to work out a convoluted route so I can get to south Devon without encountering anything that purports to be a major road – the A38 for example. This is especially important as I am in the new-to-me car that I am not yet used to. The up side is that I get to pootle across stupendous countryside in the middle of nowhere Dartmoor. I stop for herds of horses and generally enjoy myself. I am fine until I get to Cornwood. Unfortunately the next bit is not on my map. Well it is but not on any of the maps that I have actually brought with me. Fine, I have borrowed the sat-nav. I’ll sat-nav on from here. Problem one – This is not my sat nav so it has to lie on the passenger seat. This means I can hear it but not see it, so not much time for anticipating what is coming next. Problem two – I lose GPS signal for about ten minutes on a very narrow road with a car behind me and no chance of stopping. During this period I have to guess the route. Problem three – the sat-nav would like me to go along the A38. By this time I am tired and hungry. A38 – whatever – it is only a road. I am to join the A38 on a blind bend with the sun in my eyes. My wing mirrors or angled down to facilitate getting up my drive, which is barely wider than my car, without untold damage to the Methodist Church next door. They are not angled correctly for seeing what is bearing down on me at a great rate on the A38. The wing mirrors don’t seem to move much. I am restricted to twisting round awkwardly and using my rear view mirror, which is about as helpful in these circumstances as a chocolate tea-pot. I launch myself into the unknown. There is no screeching of brakes or hooting of horns. I seem to have joined the A38 without incident. More by luck than judgement.

Driving along the A38 is fine, it is just the joining I have trouble with but this is seriously out of my driving comfort zone. I know, I know, I have been driving for twenty five years. Sadly, most of that was on the Isle of Wight, where you get a sum total of 200 yards of dual carriageway and joining that is controlled by traffic lights. I leave the A38 after 3 miles cross under it and – oh no – have to join it AGAIN going in the opposite direction! Effectively I am crossing it but not in a straight line. Arggh!

Chris and the caravan have been in south Devon for a couple of hours already. I am later as I have been conducting a Devon Family History Society session for beginners, slow starters and the generally stuck. In this weather the paddling pool in the adjacent park was probably more appealing but those who attended seemed appreciative. We plan an early start for tomorrow’s walk to avoid the forecast 30 degree temperatures.

We leave before 8 o’clock to walk from Bantham to Inner Hope. A comparatively short stretch but we are out of practice and the starting and stopping points have to take account of the many south Devon river estuaries. We leave my car at what will be the end of the walk and drive in Chris’ to our starting point. An unidentifiable red warning light appears on his dashboard. We ignore it – the wheels haven’t fallen off or anything – we will be fine. Against our principles but we have already paid a small fortune to park my car now we need to pay again to park Chris’. There is no on road parking for a very long way. Neither of us have had the sense to actually bring any money with us. We count out the copper and 5 pences in Chris’ car ashtray, wondering what plan B is if we can’t come up with the £5 required. Fortunately we have enough, although the car park attendant looks less than impressed with a handful of change.

 Day 66 21 July 2013 Looking back at Bantham

We set off on a lovely stretch of coastal path. Bizarrely there appears to be a martial arts class going on on the beach. Landslips mean we are diverted on to a narrow road. Every time a car passes we have to squash ourselves in to the hedge, attempting to choose a portion that is lacking stinging nettles and brambles. We cross a rickety bridge, keeping a sharp eye out for trolls and manage to get back to my car before the heat of the day – pretty much just as everyone else is starting out. We drive back for Chris’ car. The only place to turn my car round is past the man collecting the £5s for the car park. An advantage of Chris being distinctive looking and I guess of us having paid in 5ps is that, amongst hundreds of customers, we are recognised and are allowed to drive past to fetch Chris’ car without being deprived of any money, which we don’t have anyway.

Then the problems start. We are two of only a few cars who are heading up a single width road away from the beach as hoards of surf board carrying, spade wielding tourists are approaching it in their cars. None of these tourists seem to a) know the width of their car or b) be able to find reverse. Plenty of squashing into hedges, reversing and passing with half an inch to spare is required. Unlike the A38, this is fun. I can do this. This is what I do all the time. Slow, I’ll grant you but fun.


One comment on “Mistress Agnes goes on holiday – more about driving than history

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles says:

    Thank you Mistress Agnes for another humorously entertaining Blog entry

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