Saturday was not easy. A 5.45am alarm saw us on the move by 6.30am in an attempt to get to Cornwall at a decent time. It’s 330 miles from Yorkshire to our final destination near Padstow. Armed with a picnic breakfast and blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead we cheerfully set off.
Problem number one was a closure on the M1 not far from home. 10 minutes into the journey and Buddy had already asked whether we were nearly there yet! Out came the map and we decided to head further south on the A1 and cut across to avoid the problem area. We reckon that added about 30 minutes to an estimated 6 hour journey.
We’d hoped to reach the M5 by 9.30am and had a quick comfort stop before getting on to the motorway not long after 10am. Then the traffic news on the radio said there were problems between junctions 14 and 16. We were at 13. And that’s when it started.
We did three miles in 45 minutes. It had been the hottest day of the week – up to 22 degrees in the afternoon. We stripped off jumpers and hoodies designed for the early morning chill and switched on the air-con. The view was beautiful, but I wished we weren’t going slowly enough for me to watch the red kites leisurely circling the field next to the motorway.
Husband was grumpy. He started to mutter about turning around and it not being worth it. A revolution was brewing. He was driving, so if he decided to turn around there would be precious little I could do.
A friend suggested a detour via Facebook so we came off and chanced crossing Bristol city centre in the middle of Saturday afternoon with the aid of Google and a road map – and not one with a detailed city centre map.
Husband needed a wee. The Tinies needed some lunch. We queued. And we queued. I resisted the urge to tell stories of the time I spent one night a fortnight in Bristol for work when the kids were younger. No one cared.
“When do we cut our losses?” Husband was still not impressed. We had a “lively discussion” about the relative merits of turning around and going home versus continuing. I have always wanted to go to Cornwall. I wasn’t giving up easily. My view – we could spend 13 hours in the car, end up back at home and it would have been for nothing. Or we could spend 12 hours in a car, but have five glorious days ahead of us as a reward. I knew what I preferred, and what the kids would vote for, given a choice.
At 1.30pm we spotted a McDonalds. Not our eatery of choice, but it would have toilets and food. We emptied bladders, filled tummies and set off again on an A road heading in the right direction that would eventually run parallel to the motorway. Husband was still muttering, but the immediate danger appeared to be over.
It was all my fault, of course. The holiday was my idea, my dream, my plan and my chosen location.
We rejoined the M5 below the trouble spot (all 60 miles of it) and things seemed to improve. But then, another slow-moving queue just outside of Exeter. I hadn’t realised we’d have to drive almost to the south coast before turning west to head for that coast. Same sea, different view. I guess the lack of main roads and motorways is what keeps Cornwall beautiful, but it makes the journey pretty circuitous. The sat nav said we have another hour to go – traffic allowing. It will have taken longer to get here than it took to get to Mexico this time last year. I’m hoping it’ll be worth it!