Drive on with hope in your heart
I am in England in a rental car, driving from Derbyshire to Warwickshire. I take the A6 out of Bakewell, feeling quietly confident as I’ve been on the A6 several times already. My aim is to head for Birmingham on the A38, at the last minute cutting away between it and Coventry.
From there, I will follow signs to Stratford-uponAvon. There will be signs, because Stratford-upon-Avon is a famous tourist town and they will have made sure it is easy to locate.
I have a vague memory of Derby but from then on it is a blur. I find myself at one stage about to sail on to the M1, which will be fine, except I am not sure how to pay the toll. I duck away at the last moment, afraid of being carted off for six months’ community service in lieu of a jail term for avoiding the toll. Panic grows as the day proceeds. Each time I make a decision I seem to get further away from where I intend to go.
I understand the system to some extent, in that the roads change numbers as they go along. What I don’t understand is why the town names change with them.
Consider, I’m happily chugging along the A whateverit-is. I arrive at a roundabout and my road number changes. Fine, I’m following the name of my town.
But the sign for Stratford has been changed as well, replaced with Banbury or Rugby, or wherever else whoever designed this felt like coming up with at the time.
So I land in the middle of a massive roundabout, am offered four choices of exit and have not the foggiest idea which one to take, because my town name has disappeared off the face of the earth.
I stop at Tamworth, a town with its own castle nestled in the middle of gardens. In a better frame of mind I would explore it, but I settle for a banana and a saggy salad roll in the quaint town square.
Back in the car and ambling along a country road, my mind totally on hold and my will given over to wherever it goes when pressure has become too great, a sign for Stratford-upon-Avon appears and here I am, exactly where I want to be. Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: firstname.lastname@example.org. Columnists will receive a hardback copy of New Zealand Wine by Warren Moran, a guide to key winemakers and wine regions; $75. More: hardiegrant.com.au.