I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes to be a great travel writer, in fact I’m pretty sure I don’t. Here’s an attempt anyway.
I left Wales in my Vauxhall Omega, a little saddened by the fact that the offside heated door mirror was not clearing very sufficiently. The roads curved in their usual, appealing manner and traffic levels were mercifully light.
Eventually, I arrived in Newtown. Alas, passing through this town, which doesn’t seem that new at all, is still very necessary. Oh for the completion of the bypass! I will rejoice. It’s not that Newtown is particularly horrible, just that getting through the place is about as enjoyable as getting through the crowd at a Sex Pistols gig. It’s possible, but smooth progress is unlikely. And you might get a bottle of something unpleasant thrown at you.
To prove my worth as a travel writer, I took an actual photo.
I took this to enable me to work out the economy. It came out at 32mpg. I wish I hadn’t bothered working it out.
I pushed on, with Ken Bruce doing his best to raise my spirits. He did this admirably, with a surprisingly passionate rant about the loss of cricket to pay-only TV during the start of popmaster. I agreed wholeheartedly. Swallowing Sky’s filthy cash has taken cricket away from younger generations.
I digress, as did Ken. Motorway was eventually reached, and my average speed rose. It was so sunny that I actually had the sunroof back, until the noise got too much. The Omega is a peaceful car at a cruise. Wind noise is entirely wrong.
The M6 was in a good mood, and spat me out onto the A38m with no hold ups at all. As I descended into the multi-lane madness of the Aston Expressway, I was reminded of commutes to work gone by. The skyline of Birmingham is interesting, but the inner city limits do not match the flashy grandeur of the centre proper. Brum has got a bit flashy in its old age, but the transformation is the mere magic of a make up artist. Brum is still quite grotty. The underpasses only highlight this. I used to find them exciting as a child. Not anymore. It’s almost as if the city designers thought it better to hide a view of the city from motorists, least they never come back.
Now I had the challenge of remembering how to get to my friend’s house. This meant passing through some of the vibrant, multicultural parts of the city. Second nature to me when I was resident here, but dazzling and different to one who now lives in the Welsh countryside.
I passed through Tyseley, home of much railway excitement and a house my friends used to live in many moons ago.
My reverie was soon cut short though. Unfamiliar with the roads, I found myself in the wrong lane. I put on my left signal and appealed to the motorists of Brum to help me. Mistake. One miserable old codger in a bronze Honda Jazz just pointed at the sign that now told me I was in the wrong lane. In hindsight, mock-applauding him was a mistake. He barged past. So did the 4×4 pick up behind him, also pointing at the sign. Well duh! Of course I’ve seen the sign! It’s how I knew I was in the wrong lane. Oh, for info, this sign is helpfully just after a set of traffic lights, not before. I hadn’t gone blasting past the cars in question either. We were in the same queue at the lights. The road markings are quite invisible when there are cars stopped at the lights, which hardly helped.
I pushed on to Acocks Green, and the surprisingly calm oasis that is my friend’s garden. I have fond memories of many visits here over the past 18 years or so. We had time for a very quick drink, so we headed to a Wetherspoons that we often used to frequent. It was busy, full of those for who have found the reality of life a little short of glamour. Also, it’s good value. We had two teas, and we could squeeze our own bags. I have no complaints at all.
Well, maybe one. I did laugh to see it necessary to have a slippy floor sign mounted beneath the hand dryer in the gents. Naturally, it’s one of those high-power jobs that gives grounds to sue for damage to hearing. It blasts water from your hands, all over the floor. So a sign is necessary. Modern progress eh?
I decided not to take photos of it. Time here was short, and I had a train to catch. To be continued. Possibly. I have more photos. Promise!