Heathrow Airport Perimeter Road
I'm sitting in the rental car adjusting mirrors and making the windows go up and down while Tom walks around kicking its tires. The car is French, or masquerading as French-- as the steering wheel is British right and the French drive on the right. Here it is left, left, left. The thing I can count on is that no matter its nationality, I'll be signaling with my windshield wipers all the way to Bodmin Moor.
It's 3am Our Time when we head out to the M4--me steering and Tom shouting out" Lanes!", " Look left!" and directions-- like we haven't done this a million times. Navigating the roundabouts between the airport and the motorways pump up enough adrenalin to see us well past Reading. I'm relaxed, enjoying the ease of just shifting into fifth gear-- and pointing straight. BBC 4 is on- air and we're whizzing past green fields, large lorries and hysterically small, slab sided Daihatsus.
Despite the lure of signs we don't heed, like Windsor Castle (once is enough) we motor on until we, figuratively speaking thank god-- hit the wall. There are a number of ways to deal with a sudden attack of slo mo. The nicest one is to stop and eat. Too soon and not far enough along for a pub lunch, we pull off at the motorway Road Chef in Membury, south/east of Swindon which has recently gone upscale. No MacDonald's this--- it serves a most welcome (and possibly the most expensive) Full English Breakfast from here to Aberystwyth . One bright yellow fresh sunny side up egg, two rashers perfectly done bacon, one sausage, and a delicately sauteed tomato coupled with a slice of granary bread and a pot of tea. A look around the shop area (nice deals on fleece) a purchase of a chocolate bar and the new Hello if they were all out at Heathrow, and we're back on the road.
By 11 am we desperately need to stop for obvious post- tea reasons, and we're yawning . One option, if the weather is not excellent-- is to pull off again and nap in the car. Motorway stops in the UK are apparently a popular place for a quick snooze as our nodding neighbors are either all asleep--- or dead.
It has become extremely windy, a fact we find quite comforting as it pleasantly buffets our little hatchback which, despite being bottom of the heap economy, has Upper Class seats that lie nearly flat. We quickly doze off, rocked by the wind, oblivious to everything around us. Bing--half an hour later we wake to some eastern standard time clock, taking a minute to connect with reality: ummmm....we're in a parking lot , in someone else's car, in someone else's country-- but the familiar sight of ginger Harry on the cover of the Hello on the dashboard brings it all back. Tom peers out and oddly informs me that, "The dog is gone." I pat him, hand him a chunk of Cadbury's Bourneville dark and head back to the motorway-- good for another very few hours.