Finally, the day had arrived - Thursday the 10th of May, the day my 2012 Scotland adventure began!!
The day started out just like any other; after a long period of darkness, it got lighter. Of course it was still raining, which is all part of the Government's "Confuse and Annoy" tactics (they thought of the title after watching videos of operation "Shock and Awe" from the Iraq conflict), where they declare a drought and impose hosepipe bans during the wettest month in living memory.
I had to go to work, as apparently I can't get paid if I don't turn up at least some of the time. My whole working day was spent running around tying up all the loose ends before I went on leave; there was transport to book, pallets to wrap, orders to pick, address labels to print, and generally all the things I could have done in the days leading up to this day if I had pulled my finger out.
Eventually, my working day was complete and my Boss very kindly let me leave half an hour early. With a fair degree of excitement, I jumped in the car, set up my Sat Nav, and was away!!
The first part of my journey - from Dorset to the M25 - went without a hitch. At first my car felt a little sluggish, and I wondered if it was alright. Then I remembered that I had all my holiday gear in the boot which added a fair bit of weight to the car, and so felt much more happy about the situation - whilst punching myself in the face for being stupid. It was still raining, but only on the outside of the car. I drove past the sign for Fleet Services, which is my usual pit stop on my journey to Essex, and felt my stomach rumble in disappointment. But I had no time for regrets, I was on a mission!
Or I was, until I reached the M25. I got there are just after 6pm and caught the height of rush hour. It was so slow going - the speed limit signs said '40', but everyone was trickling along at under 5 miles per hour. I saw a crow flitting from car to car, presumably looking to pick at the corpses of drivers who had died from old age whilst waiting to make any decent headway on this carousel of depression. And then I saw a man driving his Renault Clio with a laptop open on his lap (the clue is in the name kids), using it while he drove! I had to put down my Nintendo Ds in order to rub my eyes in disbelief!
After an age, I eventually got off the M25 and my car rediscovered gears 2,3,4, and 5. I used this new freedom of speed to test the capabilities of my car. Although not good for fuel economy, at one stage I got 103 mph on the clock - but my car wasn't happy, rattling like a rattlesnake shaking a rattle. This speed burst was short lived as I reigned in my Stirling Moss impression (ask your parents, you teenagers reading this), and a more acceptable speed was maintained.
I stopped at Toddington Services, which was a relief because my legs were aching quite a bit. But it is amazing how well a Burger King and a large Coca Cola (other fast foods and beverages are available) can revive me. After scroffing that lot, I was ready to complete my journey. I only had about 85 miles to go, so it wouldn't take me too long.
Or so I thought.
There I was, merrily driving along, when all of a sudden my sat nav didn't know where I was. I could tell that the road I was driving on was brand new, and perhaps that was the problem because my Sat Nav was seriously confused. At one point the audible instructions were as follows:
"In 300 yards, turn left"
"Okay, I give up - where are we?"
In the end, I did find my way back to civilisation - but after a 30 minute, many mile diversion.
And eventually I arrived at my destination - the home of my best mate, and his lovely wife - and their Son (he's alright). After a long day, and a long journey (admittedly made longer by my unplanned detour) it was good to be with friends.
And I'm writing this on the following morning, as I have breakfast before we set off. Today we drive to Tillicoultry to see two more fabulous friends who are joining us on this Scotland Trip.
And the sun is shining. Hurrah!!!!