I have a new friend. She’s called Sally.
We met on the Thursday and by Friday we were on a road trip together. It was going to be an interesting three days. Glenlivet to Birmingham, via Lancaster, with just my new friend for company.
I needn’t have worried.
I knew from the off we were going to get along fine. She took control of the map. And it turned out she was my perfect navigator. If I decided to go a different route, she wouldn’t get antsy. She would almost go “okay this is different, let’s go with it and see where we end up”.
After our first overnight stop at Carnforth, I confidently turned out of the car park, cranked up my radio and set off again, next stop Birmingham. We were having fun. Then she woke from her snooze to find me half a mile down the wrong road. Even then she didn’t get uptight. Cool as anything she reassessed our position and figured we could just go a more scenic route. She stayed totally calm – she already knows stress is not good. Though to be fair I had the measure of her and decided to “spin it” anyway and go back. “No we can’t go to the seaside”. Morecambe could wait for another day!
Arriving in Birmingham, I was super relaxed.
I confess I had checked out my route in advance and made sure my hotel was close to major routes only – like motorways and dual carriageways and major A roads. I wasn’t ready for the inner city. And definitely not Birmingham. But hey, having a reassuring buddy, who builds you up, can do wonders for your confidence. Before I knew it, we were going in. Not quite IN IN. Just IN. Not just once – but twice. I had planned to drive from A (Home) to C (Birmingham), via B (Carnforth) only. Yet with Sally I had managed to surprise family and friends with a home visit too – the suburbs of Birmingham navigated. We were on a roll now. Buoyed by mini successes we pressed on.
You know what I also love about Sally? She is astute. How else would she know I like to plan ahead? Not too far ahead. But just enough time to know I would have to prepare to do a manoeuvre at some point. An asset I would welcome when our homeward journey didn’t take me back to those familiar major routes. Oh no. I was 15 minutes into the journey before I realised we were actually going IN IN!
I don’t know how many of you have driven the ring road through Brum? It snakes left and right, up and down and through dark claustrophobic underpasses to get around the buildings. Slip roads come and go. And everyone knows them so well they drive at their normal, seemingly breakneck, speed. I should add, a bad night in a hotel full of inconsiderate wedding party guests had left me lacking sleep. The grumpy and tired dwarfs had moved in. And they brought along the “not so confident” dwarf too. But Sally was having none of that. She was all over this. I was now discovering she loves a bit of adventure. Me? Oh I was seriously sweating. In any other situation I might even have totally panicked and done a U turn, back to the, now, familiar IN and then to those major routes. But I had grown to trust Sally. And in her capable hands I soon found myself on the motorway having crossed the city. “Okay Sally. let’s go home”.
By now you have possibly sussed out that Sally is not entirely flesh and blood. Hey look, you might call her an “in car satellite navigation system” but she is my buddy. And I have had road trip buddies before. My last one used to get the hump as soon as I left home. Because I favour the A9 over the Glenshee road. I tried to reason with her that it might be shorter but it’s longer! Timewise. She would spend the next 15 miles trying to make me turn around before realising we don’t go that way. It’s not like we haven’t done it before. Lots. She would also give me zero warning “turn right in 20 yards, turn right!” I had to practically plot my route manually, so she really did just come for the ride. That’s when she wasn’t shouting “Recalculating. Make a U turn!” Her worst trait was always at the start of the M74. She would simply say “drive 174 miles” and go for a three hour nap. Every damn time. So predictable. At least Sally, wakes periodically, if you give her a nudge. A timely “are we nearly there yet?” and she will give you an update.
It’s unfair to compare your friends.
Especially your road trip friends. After all, my last one understood post codes (I now realise she was really a data type) which can be a real bonus then a house has no number. Sally on the other hand is old school, loves a street address and house number, a road intersection. Something tells me she likes to picture the house. I don’t know why, I just sense she does.
Back home now and I am already looking forward to our next road trip together. But there is just one thing? I wonder, Sally, why is it you never sing along to my tunes? Is it the cheesy boybands? Or the country meets celtic?