This week, I’m launching the third book in my Planning to the ‘Nth series. Is This the Road to Stratford? describes my trip to England in 2011. Arriving in Manchester, I crossed by train to York, where I picked up a particularly malevolent rental car and, bewildered by indecipherable road signs and massive, terrifying roundabouts, wound my way down to Oxford. From there, having with great relief disposed of the car, I caught the train to London.
The book is now available as an ebook from Amazon. To check it out, click here.
This week’s post is a snippet from the book. It’s September 2011, and I’m attempting to get from Haworth in Yorkshire to Bakewell in Derbyshire.
I‘ve decided to head for Huddersfield to avoid, as much as possible, anything that looks anything like a city. This won’t be easy, as I’ve discovered I’m surrounded by cities and large towns: Bradford, Leeds, Sheffield and my starting point, Manchester. The A646 takes me through the outskirts of Halifax to Huddersfield, at which stage it completely disappears without warning. I’m now on the A629 to Sheffield. Not to worry; Sheffield will get me to where I’m going, I’m sure.
A sign directs me to the far right-hand lane of a very large roundabout. I allow the traffic on my right to pass through, as I would in Australia, and follow the lane around – and around – and around again. I’m stuck in the centre of a huge roundabout. How do I get off, and where do I go if I do? My sign for the A629 has completely disappeared, replaced by other numbers.
I’ll have to make a decision, otherwise I’ll become a permanent fixture, the ‘lady of the roundabout’. I shoot across to the nearest exit, causing great consternation to several lanes of traffic heading in and out and various screeching of brakes. The road I enter has three lanes which, without warning, merge to become one lane and I’m stuck, half on the roadway and half off. A thoughtful driver waves me in front of him, probably realising I’m not local. I’ll have to think about that roundabout when I’ve got a chance. All I know is the road number that led me into it was not the one that led me out. What’s the use of a road sign if it doesn’t help you get to where you’re going?
It happens again – and again. Each time I reach a roundabout I have to make an instant decision as to which road number mine will become on the other side. The drivers around me have obviously realised I’m a tourist and are working to cut down on the chaos I’m causing as much as possible. English drivers seem very courteous. I’ve only been tooted once, at the first roundabout, and that was to let me know what I was supposed to be doing. I’m going to have to sit down tonight to try and understand this system. Meanwhile, I’m lost.
I pull into a shopping centre car park on the edge of Sheffield to get my equilibrium back. My Back Roads Great Britain map is for just that, back roads, not much good in a city. Still, I can’t sit here all day, have to take the bull by the horns, get on with it. There’ll be a way out of here somehow. The city, luckily, is smaller that I first thought and I’m suddenly on the other side, on a road I hope will take me closer to Bakewell.
How have I ended up on the M1 with signs pointing to Sheffield? Have I just gone around in a circle? Maybe I’m not actually here. Maybe I’m still at home, in my bed in Melbourne, having a nightmare about driving around Britain. But no, I’m definitely on a freeway leading to Sheffield, North Sheffield and South Sheffield.
For want of a better idea I keep going, until a sign straight out of the blue, sends me onto the A6, through forests straight out of a Robin Hood movie, to Bakewell. After all that, it’s still only lunchtime. I park the car, feeding the parking meter an exorbitant amount of money (I must make an effort to hang onto coins as the meters don’t give change), and buy a sandwich and a coffee, congratulating myself for getting here in one piece.
Is This the Road to Stratford? is book three in my ‘Planning to the ‘Nth’ travel series. To download from Amazon, click here.
Hangi, Haka and Hobbits:Notes from New Zealand is book two in the series. To download, click here.
The Edge of the World:Next Stop Cape Horn is book one in the series. To download, click here.
If anyone reads a book and enjoys it, a quick review on Amazon would be wonderful.