13 January 2014 (Monday) - Road Trip
A little while ago ago a colleague got a new job in Southhampton, and mentioned that moving might be problematical as he didn't drive. I said that if he paid for the hire of a van in which we could load all his stuff I would drive it for him. Today was moving to Southhampton day.
I went to pick up the van. I knew there would be a delay. We'd booked the van some weeks ago, but still the company wouldn't get the van ready in advance. Instead it is their policy to phone around at opening time to see which of their nearby branches had the long-base van we had booked.
Once they located it they went to get it. They had guaranteed they would have te van we had bokoed; but they had no idea how far away it would be. As luck would have it they had the van within half an hour. We had been warned that there might have been a two hour delay if the van had been a long way away.
I then drove over to Canterbury and found th house we wre emptying and we loaded up. How eeasy it is to type that. Loading up was back-breaking and took the best part of two hours. Once loaded we had to take the keys of the house that was being left back to the letting agents. It only took a few minutes, and we got to see two rather demonstrative girls who were obviously in love (with each other) being rather expressive about the matter in the High Street.
The van came with built-in sat-nav so we programmed it for Southampton and set off. To begin with the sat-nav was impressive; warning us of road works and re-routing us around the A249. But once we got as far as the A3 it decided to take us cross country, put us onto a rather straight A-road with no posible turning points, and then changed its mind about where we should be going. It was at that point that the torrential rain gave way to intense hail. Trying to do a U-turn in that weather wasn't an experience I'd like to repeat.
Eventually we found ourselves on the M3, and as Fleet serrvices loomed up through the black clouds we realised that we were both rather hungry. Burger King Chicken McWotsit slipped down very well, and as we made or way back to the van I had a quick look-see on my geocaching app. There was a cache not a hudred yards away, so we went and did it. Or, that is, I did it. My colleague looked on in amazement; I won't say where the cache was, but tens of thousands of people go right past this thing every day and have no idea that it is there.
I think I might have another convert to the cause.
With cache found and lunch scoffed we made our way onto Southampton. At Junction 13 of the M3 the Sat-Nav was insistent that we should turn off. So we did. As we came down the slip road off of the motorway the Sat-Nav changed its mind and wanted us back on the motorway. Oh how we laughed.
But soon enough we were at Imperial Avenue. As we unloaded the van so the rain started. It only rained heavily for five minutes, but that was enough to get us absolutely soaked.
Funily enough, despite moving to an upstairs flat we managed to unload the van in about half the time it took to load the thing. We then paused for a little while to catch our breath, and then on realising there wasn't a lot more that I could do we said our goodbyes and I set off. I activated my geo-app and found a relatively nearby geocache. My first geocache over a hundred miles from home. One huundred and one and a half miles to be precise.
For all that we go out every weekend, I don't actually go very far away. This is probably the first time since our last holiday in Weymouth (four years ago) that I have been more than one hundred miles from home.
Having got a geocache in Hampshire my plan was to then come home a rather convoluted route through Wiltshire and Hampshire to colect a few more geocaches in a few more counties. But as the rain got worse and worse so I went off of the idea of night caching. I've never been a fan of caching at night, and I can't pretend I was completely confident driving that huge van about round strange roads. So instead I came home. I stopped off for a McFlurry at Cobham services, and by the time I'd re-filled the van wth diesel I was eventually home by 9pm.
I quite enjoyed today's road trip.