All the Possible Routes

I am turning into my Dad.

My memories of trips to the mythic north to visit Grandparents during the festive season follow a consistent pattern. In the morning we blasted up the M1 and across the M62 to get to Rochdale before lunch time. Meals and small talk took up the afternoon until we had to leave for the return south. Our stay often only equalled the time spent travelling. The return route never exactly retracted our original tracks along the M62 and M1. We’d drive along the M62 until we reached Barnsley and then drove over the moors to Huddersfield. When asked why my Dad does this he only replies it makes the journey more interesting. I suspect that like me he cannot stand to retrace his steps too often.

The hundreds of times I’ve travelled through these places as a passenger has given me a virtual knowledge of these towns. One day I’ll stop in Huddersfield to find out what it’s like. I suspect I’ll be disappointed.

Last weekend I met my girlfriend’s parents for the first time. I made jokes to friends about the risk of being buried in a Warwickshire field, but in the end it turned out fine. There was a meal, slightly tense, but aren’t meetings like that always a little bit? There were two Sundays that weekend, not one. With Sunday #1 involving a wander along bucolic county lanes covered in mist and lit by the weak winter sun. On Sunday #2 Jen showed me her village. It scared me with its event horizon of restaurants and the existence of a village auction house.

I wasn’t disappointed. Mostly because of the deli and second-hand bookshop.

Leaving on Monday afternoon I decided not to follow the motorway corridor that me and Jen took on Saturday. That’d be rammed with rush hour traffic and it’d be boring. Instead I consulted Jen’s Dad for advice on alternative routes, bringing him the vague idea that following the Coventry orbital in my silver Fiesta might prove more interesting. The great God Google was consulted for directions. Directions were printed. They proved illegible in the dark but useful to consult in a petrol station. After goodbyes I disappeared back to Leicester with a kiss from Jen as I left her behind for nine days. The journey was only bearable because I got to throw my car around dark country roads while getting mildly lost and using my initiative until all the possible routes converged on the M69 as the final leg to get home. Driving is only worthwhile when it illuminates new places, otherwise it becomes a chore I’d rather avoid by catching a bus so I can read.

I am only turning into my Dad by repeating his behaviours.

Next time: what a small car filled with books is like to handle while driving up hill in heavy traffic.

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