Fast forward Jet Lag Plan A: go to airport, park car, check in, transit security, buy book, look at Charlestown out Terminal E windows, and wait for Aer Lingus flight to leave so can get snack and drink at Sam Adams pub, get in plane, have drink, eat food, read book, fly over ocean, land, get off plane, transit immigration, find hired car booth, negotiate insurance coverage, negotiate Heathrow roundabouts and straight on to A road, M road, A road, possibly a B road or two, stopping to refresh/refuel at motorway stops which look like and are about as thrilling as--motorway stops-- to eventual destination. Plan A is useful when it is freezing, raining or so windy you have to tie your scarf around your head to keep it from flying off.
Jet Lag Plan B: We have such a great track record for visiting the UK when the sun shines, that we're thinking of hiring ourselves out as a national PR scheme. So, Plan B means starting the holiday as we mean to go on--outdoors. Here we are, same shape re it's morning here and night at home,and we're in a small car hurtling along the M4 headed towards high noon. And yawning big time. Tom has a plan (Tom always has a plan). We have two key needs: nap and food, but we still need to get where we're going at a reasonable (pre-dark) hour.
The National Trust, the privately-run historic preservation organization which also owns huge chunks of British Open Space, nearly always has something on the way to where we're going that has nice little walks, a nice cafe, and a nice tree to nap under. We have long been card carrying members of the Trust via the American branch, the Royal Oak, whose generous invitations to join them on the occasional garden tour or great house circuit we have sadly to decline due to the enormous disparity between what a trip we plan costs and what a trip they plan costs. They send out a newsletter and an annual membership which gets us into every single one of their extensive holdings, as well as offering a satisfactory feeling of contributing to open space when we walk around a breath- taking peninsula which they have single handedly wrested from development.
Here's how Plan B works. Using the National Trust map and/or guide or website pre-trip to "gather information" about what's on our way, Tom elects two or three top choices which he thinks we might encounter sometime around the Big Yawn. So--say we're headed for Cornwall (which is a long drive any way you look at it) and we're passing Bath around 11 am. A quick left off the M-4 and we're following the A46 to Dyrham Park where there is a car park with a brisk walk (the Cotswold Way runs through it) to the Big House and gardens full of little nooks and crannies with viewing spots, green lawn and shady trees.
We unfold ourselves from the car, locate the lightweight travel rug-blanket we try not to forget (when we do, we have to buy another at the Trust Shop--which keeps our friends in rug re-gifts at a fairly steady rate) and meander for a stretch. A stop at the cafe for sandwiches, maybe some soup (soup--a good antidote to almost everything) and a bottle of sparkling ginger lemongrass soda sees us back to the meandering until we find the Perfect Spot. Skipping the Big House completely (it would be thoughtful if the Trust would extend membership benefits to include naps on some of those comfy daybeds or down piled mattresses the formerly wealthy slept on) we settle on the travel rug beneath the spreading chestnut tree or beside the ornamental foliage-- and pass out.
Waking half an hour or so later really quite refreshed and pleased with ourselves, we visit the always excellent Trust toilets (usually 'green' as in electric hand dryers but no heat) and head for the car, the motorway and the rest of what we assure each other, will be the best holiday ever.