Sixteen weeks into my life in the UK, and I've come to understand what it means when someone says that there's 'traffic on the M6'. In my time here, I've made at least 8 trips up and down the aorta of England, which is known as the M6 Motorway, not one of those times have I had anything that I would remotely refer to as traffic. Now, I will admit, I have just moved here from the LA area, where 12 lanes of traffic can be stopped for up to 30 minutes and it still won't be called 'traffic', but this was ridiculous.
Last Tuesday, I was setting off with a coworker around 1:30pm to head down South to an equipment supplier. After dropping off his car, taking my dog to the kennel, and filling up with petrol, we were on the road by 3:30pm. The drive should be around 4hours maximum. Things were going splendidly until we listened to my GPS when we should've listened to our gut. Near Birmingham, my GPS said to take the M6, while my coworker suggested we take the M6 Toll (which is like 4 pounds!!). So, we take the toll and wait for Emma 2 (that's what I named my GPS) to re-route us. But Emma seems confused and can't find an alternate route, so after paying 4pounds to get on, then 4pounds to get off the toll (thank goodness for expense reporting), we turn to get back onto the M6. About halfway onto the ramp, we realise this was the worst decision we could've made.
No joke, the motorway was a parking lot. People were out of their cars chatting, smoking, etc. Some were even walking up into the bushes to go to the bathroom. I think the lorry driver next to us had a kettle and was making tea!! No one else seemed to think this was odd. FOUR HOURS LATER...we started to move, it was another 2 hours before we saw the cause of the accident...a lorry had self combusted.
THat was bad, but it seriously gets worse. A trusting individual that I am, I let my coworker program the destination into the GPS. So, around 1130pm when we expect to be nearing our hotel for the night...just around the next corner....hmmm that doesnt look right. We are out in the middle of nowhere and ol' Emma is screaming ' You have arrived at your destination'!!! My inclination says, um no we haven't, but I check the program to find that somehow my coworker had entered the following destination '002, England'. Now, in case you're wondering '002 England' is somewhere about 15 miles from our destination of Newbury. Lovely place, you should visit.
And so we found ourselves driving through scary country roads to cut over to our true destination. Oh no, that's not it. In that 15 miles thru the country, exactly 1 deer, 1 fox, and 4 bunnies jumped in front of my vehicle. Around 12:30 am (yes 11 hours post departure), we arrive out our 4 star accomodation to find the bar closed. Thank goodness the owner agreed to let us in for a beer before we went to bed. Argh.
Funnily enough, our trip got better. The 2nd night we were in another town, Royston. In preparation for the trip, the vendor had recommended 2 hotels: The Old Bull Inn and The Banyers Hotel. The Old Bull Inn was full, so I booked 2 rooms at the Banyers. It seemed nice enough, though odd that there was no reception and you had to check in at the pub. The hotel appeared to have been recently renovated, comfy beds, nice bathroom fixtures, etc. Fine. Long story shorter, we get up in the morning and head to the vendors headquarters. As we're walking in the vendor says 'Did you see any ghosts in the night?' I laugh, uncomfortably, saying 'No, just slept really well'. To which he replies, 'oh well you know the Banyers is haunted'.
YOu know those cartoons where the character gets so mad he turns red like a thermometer and then explodes. That's kind of what I felt like.
So check out this website: http://www.banyers.co.uk/history.htm or www.hauntedhotelguide.com and search for the Banyers Hotel in Royston. They have a nice full English breakfast.
And so, my friends, that was my week. May yours be full of safe driving and no ghostly encounters.