The one where I hired a car…

Oh my gosh, it’s been a week! So when I last wrote I was soon to be heading south of the border to celebrate my friend getting married. Gavin and I have been friends for almost a decade now, as we were the two twenty-somethings in our smallgroup when I first became a member of a church in Edinburgh. He met a lovely lady last year and they started dating, and once we found out she was willing to put up with his tarantulas, we all knew she was the one for him. 🙂

Two years ago myself, Gavin and our friend Beth travelled to celebrate a mutual friend’s wedding. I was designated driver and organised our hire car. Beth and I decided to do the same thing again and Gavin put another of his friends who we had  met a few times in touch with us so we could travel together. We decided to start the journey the night before in case we got stuck in traffic travelling down the morning of the wedding. We didn’t want to miss the ceremony!

After a long day at work, I got home and cooked and ate half a pizza as I threw items in a small suitcase and changed out of my work uniform. Then I headed to the airport to pick up our hire car.

This turned out to be the first drama of the evening. Instead of the Volkswagen Golf or Ford Focus manual car I had clicked on, they gave me a very bashed up Toyota Prius. Getting in the car it was no wonder the car was covered in dings and scratches…this was more computer than car. After finally getting the car switched on, weird messages appeared on a screen. “Can’t drive, not in drive mode“…”Do you want the Anti-Theft Device on?” The car seemed to have a mind of its own and the idea of trying to navigate it around country roads without being able to manually change gear – never mind being stuck trying to switch it on began to panic me. Eventually I abandoned it and demanded a manual car. Oh. And this was after they tried to take £1000 off me because I didn’t have a ‘proper’ credit card.

After an hour and 15 mins I was finally able to leave the awful place, and then discovered while trying to park the car outside the house that the car wouldn’t go into reverse. Of course at that point a car came up the street from the other direction and couldn’t get past me as I was straddling the road. It took two of us to eventually work out how reverse gear worked after trying all the usual tactics of ‘Push down and into reverse?” “is there a button?” “Do I pull up stick as I’m putting it into reverse?” Turns out that you had to really thwack the thing into reverse gear much more forcefully than 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th!

By 11.30 p.m. (2 hours later than planned) I had Beth and Catherine in the car and we were making our way to England. I decided (sensibly I thought) to take the slightly longer motorway route via Glasgow to the M6 rather than my usual country route through the Pentlands to Dumfries and Galloway since it was late, I was tired and motorways tend to be more well lit. This turned out to be mistake number 2.

The BMW sat nav lady kept trying to get us to turn off the motorway through towns that I knew were not the way to the M6. I ignored her. Turns out there was a reason – the motorway was closed at Glasgow. And so we hit a traffic jam. AT HALF PAST MIDNIGHT. And then we followed diversions. And we made it back on the motorway, only for a mile later for it to be closed again, and more diversions which Ms Sat Nav did not like. She took us through a housing estate in some random little town, tried to get us to drive through traffic cones and we discovered a few of her more bizarre ways of communicating like ‘Go half left’ and ‘prepare to turn right‘ when there’s about 5 right turns before the one she was wanting you to prepare for. Thankfully Beth and Catherine stayed awake to help me make sense of the instructions (and decide which ones we should ignore) so I could focus on driving the car in a safe manner.

It was 2.30 a.m. when we crossed the border to England in the end, and at that point I cried uncle, pulled into a service station to nap under one of the fleece blankets I had grabbed for us. 2 hours later I woke having slept in an extremely awkward position and we continued on to our destination. Or as Ms BMW Sat Nav lady would say “Go straight on, and then straight on“.

It was also then that I realised I hadn’t had a chance to take my daily “Glow Gold Selfie” and it was the last day of childhood cancer awareness month. I took it in the car park just before I fell asleep – it was almost 3 a.m. on 1st October in the end that it got taken. Oops.

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At 6.30 a.m. we arrived at our first point of call. Beth’s parents home. This was to be our bed for the night, or as it turned out…our bed for the morning. We got out the car, grabbed our wedding gear and suitcases. Beth’s lovely parents had left their porch light on to welcome us.

We discovered that another group had thought the welcome was for them.

This group? A swarm of HUGE wasps who were crawling over the handles, the doorbell, the door and buzzing around the light.

I am very thankful that Beth made a quick decision that she did not want to go to a wedding covered in wasp stings, but felt terrible for Beth’s poor Dad who was woken up by a phone call and came down to let us in through the back garden. We all went to bed, knowing that we would be leaving for a wedding in 6 hours time!

Beth’s lovely Mum greeted us when we awoke a few hours later, with freshly made fruit loaf to toast and even made us all sandwiches to take to eat before the wedding. Beth’s Dad had instructions on how to get to the church – with helpful notes about motorway junctions that were difficult to navigate added to them so we could check if Ms BMW Sat Nav Lady was leading us astray again.

Hurrah, we made it in plenty of time, found our other friend who had flown down by plane and we were sharing a B&B with after the wedding reception and sat in the hire car and ate our sandwiches, touched up our lipstick and found some seats with a whole bunch of old friends all of whom at one point or another had been part of our church in Edinburgh. We discovered another friend had just got engaged, oohed and ahhed at our friend’s baby – now toddling around.

We sang, we prayed, we made our vow to support our friends in their marriage. And then we partied to the cheesey tunes of the 90s. And a few 80s tunes thrown in (can you have a party without doing the Y.M.C.A.?)

Ms Sat Nav Lady took us to our B&B – a rather scenic route, but we had no clue where we were, or where we were going – so who knows?! And we fell asleep quickly, then laughed when we used the Sat Nav to take us to the train station to drop off two of us – one headed for London, the other for the airport – and the train station turned out to be round the corner from the B&B!

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Beth and I had a lovely sunshiney drive back to Edinburgh, with quirky tunes, and of course some Hamilton. We stopped to take some photos and I found a very awesome tree. And then we had lunch at my favourite UK service station and watched some sleeping ducks. We watched ducks for too long as it turned out, and didn’t have time to drop off our stuff at our homes before returning the hire car…and ended up having to drag it all from the car hire company’s car park to the airport terminal where we were greeted by a bagpiper leading a procession of tourists to the bus and tram stops. Bemused and irritated by the drone and whine of the bagpipes, we jumped on the airport bus back to the city where our beds awaited.

Needless to say, both of us report to still be trying to catch up on missed sleep this week. I’ve pretty much only succeeded in going to work, eating food, showering and sleeping. There is a big laundry pile that I only partially got through and a stack of errands to run. In other news I also started a new role this week, volunteering with a youth work project called Positive Transitions. My first two workshops I helped to run were in my old high school. High school was not a happy time in my life, and I have to confess to have a near panic attack walking up to the doors. I also ended up in my old registration classroom – where I started my school day for five years straight. I was glad to only see one teacher that had been there when I’d been a pupil and she had never been one of mine. Phew.

Next week life goes back to normal, and hopefully I’ll have enough energy to take a breath and get some more blog posts written. At the moment, my laptop goes for days without being touched as when I come home from work I simply eat, watch something on Netflix and usually fall asleep and wake up to discover I’ve apparently “watched” five episodes of a show. I’m also hoping that at some point I’ll be able to make it to a ballet class again. I’m really missing my ballet Fridays, but I now work most Friday nights. 😦 Oh well. At least this Christmas I’ll have pennies to spend on presents for people. yay!

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