Saturday 20th September
Car Hire Barrow – Farnborough – Southampton – Farnborough – Chertsey
We collected our car from the Indian restaurant, and with a 9am start we were soon onto the A6, then via the A46 to the M1. Almost immediately we were into a 50 mph limit with narrow lanes. Thankfully the cruise control on our Vauxhall Astra was simple to operate.
At Milton Keynes they were working on a slip road, which was causing horrendous queues on the M1 in both directions, and there were unexplained stoppages every few minutes. The traffic in the other direction was queuing from Milton Keynes right down to the M25. We decided to avoid the M1 on the return journey.
Even the M3 was busy as we travelled to Farnborough to collect Oliver. We had a five minute stop there before getting back on the busy M3 to go to Southampton. We worked out that there was some boat show traffic which didn’t help.
We went to Arthur’s house, and Amanda arrived there from Poole. We drove to a pub a short distance away called the Malvern Tavern. Very adequate for our needs. It was good to catch up with family again.
On our return journey to Farnborough we took the A31 from Winchester to just before the Hog’s Back and the A331 north to Farnborough. We went under the Basingstoke Canal where we had been in May. This route was much better and we should have gone that way earlier in the day.
After dropping off Oliver we drove into Chertsey to the Bridge Hotel, where we had a noisy night. This is the text of the email we sent to the manager afterwards, and ten days later we still have had no reply:
When we arrived the room (133) was very hot and we could not find any heating or cooling system other than the radiator which was off. We could not therefore adjust the temperature, so we had to open the window to cool it down. The road traffic outside the window was continual and noisy.
The room had a locked connecting door with the next room, and there were loud voices and music coming through.
We went for a meal downstairs, and discovered that a wedding disco or band was just setting up. Back in our room, the noise from the wedding was very loud, particularly the bass thump shaking everything. The noise from the next room was also still going on. Eventually, around midnight, the wedding celebrations came to a conclusion, but not the noise from the next room.
At 2.40am I went in my dressing gown and knocked on their door. They did turn the music down after that, but the loud laughter and voices continued until 3.40am.
My wife and I had had a long drive on that Saturday, before arriving at Chertsey for a sleep. The following day we had a full programme of events and another long drive. We needed our sleep.
I do not feel that you should let out rooms that have interconnecting doors, unless you have some proper noise insulation installed. I also feel that rooms overlooking the road should have better noise insulation and some sort of climate control so that guests do not have to open the windows.
It is also surprising that we were not warned about the wedding music when we booked. There were other cheaper places where we could have stayed, but we thought we might get better service at the Bridge Hotel.
Bridge Hotel, Chertsey
Sunday 21st September
Car hire Chertsey - Weybridge – Leatherhead – London – Barrow.
We had a good eat-as-much-as-you-like breakfast, before checking out and driving to Weybridge to attend our Methodist Church service. It was Harvest Festival and the church looked really good. Some people knew we were coming, but for others it was a surprise. It was a good day to go as many of the occasional members were there as well as the regulars. There was a shared lunch after the service, which gave us more time to chat to people.
Harvest Festival service
Before we left Weybridge we drove past the new Morrisons site, where considerable progress has been made. The store is due to open by Christmas 2014.
We drove to leatherhead and visited Jessy, Greg, Jasmin and Claudia, who all seemed to be doing fine.
We then headed up the A3 to London where we managed to find an empty parking space within range of the Festival Hall. On Sundays there is no charge on the parking meters and no congestion charge. We had time for a latte before the Joan Baez concert. Unfortunately we left the binoculars in the car, but there are no bad seats in the Festival Hall. The concert was very good, but some of the songs had been rearranged to leave out the higher notes. She did well for a 73-year-old.
After the concert we had a pizza on Gabriel’s Wharf (appropriate) before returning to the car. It was a warm evening. We had a bit trouble finding our way out of London, but we got there in the end, using the A1 and A47 to get back to Barrow-upon-Soar, where we arrived at 2am. The temperature had dropped from 150 in London to 50 in Barrow and there was a slight fog.
Hugo was pleased to see us, and had eaten most of the food we had left him.
Monday 22nd September
Car Hire Barrow – Calke Abbey – Loughborough – Barrow
We were late emerging this morning after our long drive and lack of sleep the previous night. We had decided to make good use of the car, so we visited Calke Abbey. The brown signs were inadequate at one roundabout, and we took the wrong road, heading for the village of Calke, which we though was logical. On the way we visited Staunton Harold, where a map indicating “You are here” had been moved out into the car park. We weren’t where the map said we were. When we did find the church, it was closed.
At Calke village we found the gate to Calke Abbey, but it was the exit only. There was no map there to show how to get to the entrance, and no brown signs to follow. We got there in the end but it was five miles round to the entrance. The place is worth a visit. It is huge, and is depicted more or less as it was when it was given to the National Trust in the mid 20th century. The family did not have the money to maintain the property, and the place is in gentle decay, with some of the rooms abandoned and full of unwanted items. There were lots of stuffed birds in glass cases. We could have used an extra two or three hours there, but we had to return the car.
Outbuildings at Calke Abbey
We drove back to Loughborough but had difficulty finding the Enterprise depot. In the end we had to go round the ring road to the A6, and come in that way, which was more familiar. Enterprise: it would be useful to supply all hirers with a town map showing where the depot is.
We are used to Ordnance Survey maps when driving around. Our magnificent collection went out when we let our house. We now only have room for a 4 miles per inch AA road atlas, and we notice the difference.
One of the Enterprise took us back to Barrow, but James left his wallet and phone in the front of the car.
The lady kindly delivered them back to us later, on her way home.
We had an Indian takeaway which was lovely. We noticed on the menu that the Dhansak was cooked in a “sweet and soar sauce”. Not sure whether it is a joke or a misprint.
A good weekend.
Total driving distance: 481 miles