Drive on with hope in your heart

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - CORAL WAIGHT DANDENONG NORTH, VIC­TO­RIA

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: travel@theaus­tralian.com.au. 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.

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