With apologies to Frank Capra and Jimmie Stewart
Every journey starts with a simple step, and in my case, it’s a stagger out to the car at the ungodly hour of 6:30. Two things are unusual about this, firstly that I’m setting out on a long haul trip in my own car, and secondly it’s a vehicle that is empty of the sort of empheria (not exactly clean, but empty) that collects in any car that I’ve ever owned. CD’s, maps, pens, sunglasses, camera lens caps, old bits of electronics that were useful but are now simply broken, but I’ve never got round to clearing out.
Those that know me know that the only time I ever clear out a car completely is when I’m trading it in for a new one, something I do every five years or thereabouts. So it farewell to a well used Peugeot, six years old and 85K on the clock, and needing a MOT and major service, and hello to a one year old Volvo, 10K on the clock, just serviced, and with years of warranty in the future. Both estates, and both diesels, I must admit that I’m a creature of habit in that sense, as I do a fairly high mileage, and need to cart about “stuff” on a regular basis, bikes and students mainly.
The new car is in Stirling, as the wonders of the internet allow you to track down just about any particular car make and model that you want (a V50 2.0 SE Sportswagon in case you are interested – having Volvo and Sports in the same sentence always brings a slight smile to my face, like University and Paisley, but hey I bought the car!). So instead of getting a cab to Inverness Airport and a flight to Edinburgh and on to Heathrow, I’m driving down the A9 to deliver a trade in and pick up a new one.
Or that was the plan, except Royal Mail seems to have let us down, as the insurance cover note (needed to tax the new vehicle), posted first class from Newcastle last Wednesday, has not yet turned up in Cromarty – five days later. Lost or late, it does not matter, as my new car will have to live in the Garage back lot for another week, as I say goodbye to the old car (with an strange lack of emotion) and catch a train to Edinburgh Airport and hence to Washington, via Heathrow.
But my early morning drive down the A9 was peaceful and quiet, enjoyable in a relaxed sort of way. Like most folk living in the Highlands, I have a love hate relationship with the road, these days mainly hate, as my frequent travels up and down seem to coincide with endless queues, Tesco Lorries and innumerable caravans.
This morning was different, bright, late winter, early spring sunshine, spectacular scenery, and a road empty of traffic, just the occasional lorry, and always on a straight stretch of road so passing was a simple matter of swinging out and back in.
The temperature read 0 as I cruised past Dromchter summit, with snow still on the summits of A' Mharconaich and Geal Charn, snapped above on an earlier trip where freezing windscreens meant frequent stops to clear the frost and crud, and a 100 miles of playing tag with Tesco lorries.
However the only Tesco lorry I encountered today pulled in to a lay-by to let us pass just as I joined the small queue sitting behind his 50mph governed passage south.
Thank you sir.
Edinburgh, Heathrow and then Washington. Straightforward, but a long 22 hour day by the time I get to my hotel. Oh well I can sleep on the plane….