We headed off Sunday late morning to drive to Heathrow. On the way we checked out a Cotswold village that we hadn't visited before - Broadway. It was lovely. It was an easy drive and we arrived at the hotel near the airport where we've stayed several times before. With Mick's flight leaving at 10.30pm we thought it better to book the hotel so he could have a shower, we could have a last dinner together, and I wouldn't have to drive anywhere in the dark.
I waved him off and went to bed at the hotel feeling a little sorry for myself. In the morning while I was in the bathroom someone tried to open the hotel room door! I had the latch on so it only opened an inch and then closed again but it freaked me out a bit. When I was going out for breakfast I thought I should hide my laptop just in case someone did come in. I tucked it into a drawer beneath the tv and left my packed bag by the door. I hurried back to the room after breakfast, grabbed my bag and left.
I was looking forward to a visit to Lois, our home exchange friend. I was almost at her place when I remembered my laptop... still in the drawer at the hotel! I pulled over at the first opportunity and called the hotel. They assured me they'd go and look for it and ring me back. I decided to drive the final 15 minutes to Lois's house and maybe she'd like a drive to Heathrow and back.
I arrived at Lois's in a bit of a state and after not hearing from them for half an hour I called again. Same story... security will go and look. Another 45 minutes and I called again. This time the fellow who answered said they couldn't find my laptop and I mustn't have left it there. I was beside myself! I asked to speak to the manager and they said they'd get him to call me. Another half an hour passed and I called a fourth time. The manager said he'd sent his security people to check the room and it was empty. Each phone call I had described exactly where I'd put the laptop case and the manager said he had told the security people this. If it wasn't in the drawer then someone had stolen it but he wasn't happy when I said this. I asked if he'd humour me and go himself and check the drawer. He willingly agreed because he could tell I wasn't happy. Ten minutes later he called saying he had it! By now it was much too late to drive down there to get it. We'd have been caught in the peak hour traffic out of London.
So, this morning I left Lois's just before 9am to drive down there, detouring for petrol before hitting the motorway. It would mean the 1 1/2 hour drive to Heathrow and then a 2 1/2 hour drive back to the marina.... and that was if the traffic was nice to me. I had visions of stopping somewhere nice for some lunch and shopping to break up the drive.
I was all of 20 minutes from Lois's place and the traffic was very heavy on the motorway. I pulled out into the far right lane to overtake a truck and there was the unmistakable sound and feel of a very flat tire. There were so many large trucks, and not too willing to let me in, that it took me a mile or more to get across to the left where I could stop on the hard shoulder. Goodness they drive fast on the motorways here. By the time I got out of the car the tyre was ruined.
I got out my mobile phone - almost flat because my phone charger was in my laptop case - and decided to use Mick's UK mobile to call the car hire company who called the AA. A lovely lady from the AA called me back saying they'd send out a truck. The hire car had no spare tyre, just a repair kit which was useless on the tyre in the state it was in. She insisted I get out of the car and stand well away from the traffic. Well, that was just lovely. I was beside a huge steep grassy embankment with absolutely nothing else around except a few bare trees. I stood out there for 2 hours in the wind and freezing cold!! Twice I got back in the car to defrost but with so many huge trucks whizzing by and rocking the car I could see the reason you shouldn't stay in the car and got back out. Lois later told me a couple of stories of people being killed after stopping on the motorway and their car being hit by a fast moving vehicle.
Finally the truck arrived (the AA lady called me 4 times during that 2 hours to make sure I was ok and apoligizing) and took me and the car to Banbury to a tyre place. It took time for the tyre to be replaced and by the time I was finally back on the road it was a total of 4 hours later. I reached Heathrow at about 2.30pm! I didn't mess around, just raced in to get my laptop back and jumped back in the car to head back. I wasn't looking forward to reaching Birmingham as the M6 motorway can be horrid at the best of times but I was inline to meet it after 4pm which would surely be very busy. I stopped for a rest soon after the spot where the whole sorry tale began and called Carol (nb Winton's Folly) as I'd arranged to drive them to the station in the morning. I still thought I'd get back there tonight but when I got back onto the motorway the snow started - big flakes being blown hard by the wind. The sky had darkened and the traffic had increased. I made a snap decision to get off again at the next exit and take refuge for the night back at Lois's.
All I can say is thank goodness for Lois. I had a pounding headache and I was exhausted by the time I got there. But, I've got a warm comfy bed to sleep in, she even shared her dinner with me, and in the morning I'll head off again to get to the marina in time to take Carol and Barry to the station in Stafford and then return the hire car. I think I'll be glad to be rid of it!
Mick had called me while I was filling in time waiting for them to replace the tyre at Banbury and I didn't talk for long as I didn't want to tell him the whole story until I was all sorted out. So I called him back tonight (morning for him). I could feel him rolling his eyes... I swear I could!
A little cooler the week ahead :
Weather for Stone, UK
Tue : Chance of rain, Max 5° Min 2°
Wed : Chance of rain, Max 6° Min 0°
Thu : Chance of rain, Max 5° Min -2°
Fri : Chance of rain, Max 7° Min -3°
Sat : Partly sunny, Max 7° Min -3°
Sun : Snow, Max 3° Min 2°
Mon : Chance of rain, Max 5° Min 0°
Tue : Partly sunny, Max 8° Min -1°