Friday, September 21, 2007

so how did you spend your summer....?

I flew into Heathrow on Friday July 19th. Nothing personal to anyone for whom its a special day, but for me, just another ordinary day. Not so. My plane was held circling over Chatham docks for an hour, in the thunderstorms - nice! NOT. And then, once we landed, there was so much rain on the ground that they could neither pull planes back nor dock newly landed ones, so we sat in said plane for 2 long hours waiting. Eventually docked and allowed off, it then took another hour for our luggage to get to us. by this time, I was beginning to lose my sense of perspective.... but the day wasn't finished with me yet. oh no! I picked up my hire car from a very friendly girl at Avis, who asked where I was travelling to and when I said Gloucestershire, warned me the M4 was a bit busy.
Are you with me yet? have you connected the date with anything? No? read on. It took me 3 hours to get to Chievley (?) services, and then another 6 to get as far as Cheltenham. I started picking up traffic news of torrential rain and flooding in the gloucestershire/worcestershire area, but hey, I've lived in the area for years, it always floods there, what was the problem this time? By the time I reached Cheltenham I finally decided that I had had enough. It was 2:30am, I had had nothing to eat or drink since the lunch on the plane, and I was tired. Looking around I found I was inching past a Catholic church, and decided I would take protection from any source available. I pulled in and managed 2-3 hours sleep in the car, (note to fellow car hirers, Renault Clios, while excellent cars in many ways, are not comfortable for sleeping in) before resuming my journey (ha).
After inching along for another few miles, I found a garage which had stayed open all night to look after stranded motorists - mega kudos - the poor chap was worried he would be sacked for not doing his paperwork. the fact that he had taken a months worth of money in one night should have been something in his favour, I hope so anyway. Back on the road again, it took another 3 hours to get onto the motorway which was pretty empty of moving vehicles, but the hard shoulder was chock full of abandoned ones, and I mean abandoned. cars at every angle you can imagine. It looked like one of those armageddon type movies.
reached Tewkesbury, nearly my destination, pulled off the motorway, drove about a mile down the road and stopped. A man was moving slowly from car to car, and when he got to me, told me I couldn't get through that way as there was 5 feet of water on the main street. OK. even I know my limitations, and walking, or driving on water is not my strong suit. He asked me where I was going, and when I told him Twynning, he replied "Not a cat in hell's chance". I had just been travelling for 30 hours at this stage, through what could be called an unpleasant experience, and I was not about to be beaten by a little water. but I was tired. so I rested my head on my steering wheel for a second. At which, this darling man turned into a modern day Sir Galahad, told me to park on the verge and come and let his wife make me a nice cup of tea. So I did, and she did, and their daughter made me some toast, and thus fortified, I headed back to the motorway and down to the M50 junction.
Why, I hear you ask, was I trying to get to Twynning? My dear friend Su was getting married at midday there, that's why. She even phoned the local radio station asking if anyone had a 4 wheel drive, or a tractor, or a boat to help get her from Worcester to Twynning. I spent a slightly damp but otherwise surprisingly pleasant couple of hours hanging around at the entrance to the M50, chatting to the slowly increasing number of people wanting to get to Twynning. At about 10:30am, we were all discussing amongst ourselves why we wanted to get there, and when I said for my friends wedding, one of the emergency guys butted in and asked if that was the one on the radio. When I said yes, he got straight on the phone, and while it might be totally unconnected, we were taken down to the junction for Twynning in convoy within the half hour. So I got there. As for the bride, no one answered her SOS, so she drove her and her mum herself. they did fine until they got stopped in a line of traffic in one of the villages on the way. they had 7inches of water on the road, not dangerous like some places, but the police were restricting the traffic to one car at a time in alternate directions. Su's mum got out of the car, walked down to the police man and explained that her daughter was getting married in half an hour and it could take them that long to get through. the police man said what the one on the radio, and then, it was like one of those feel good movies, the police man called to his mate at the other end of the flood and told him to stop all vehicles from his end, as there was a special one coming through from this end, Su got waved on, everyone was singing here comes the bride and tooting horns, and she got to the wedding on time. Hooray! And this is the happy bride, groom and family.

1 comment:

Judy Scott said...

oh wow what a welcome home for you, I was in Derbyshire at the time and we got caught on the A6 in floods, however we did not have 30 hours of travelling behind us!!! crazy. Thankfully you got to the wedding ~ and went on to have a fabby holdiday. I just read you were up here in Scotland too, you'll need a holiday now to recover from all that travelling. Thankyou for your lovely comment on my blog!! Judy :)