In August of 2016, I packed the three boys into the car, along with theoretically enough clothes to keep us going for a whole week, plus numerous electronic devices for the amusement of said boys, and headed down on the 350 mile journey to South Devon.
It took us half an hour to leave the city, and after an hour we had gone no more than thirty miles. The M1 was like a car park. I was seriously considering calling the whole thing off and heading home. You see, the original intention had been to set off at 5 am, like my sister and her husband always do. They arrive at their destination mid morning. Maybe a little tired and wired from all the motorway coffee, but there in good time, whilst there’s still plenty of light, and whilst theres’ still time to do something with the day.
My wife, who was not coming with us as she had heaps and heaps of work to do, and really needed a break from the kids, had gently suggested to me that the 5 o’clock start was a little ambitious. I agreed, and then the 9 o’clock start somehow morphed into the 11 o’clock start and there I was at one in the afternoon just down the road from Sheffield with stationary vehicles as far as the eye could see in either direction wondering if there really was any point to life after all.
I did manage to talk myself round, not least because it was clear that turning the car around and heading in the other direction would take us another two hours or so. I had no choice but to press on. I was glad that I had had a word with myself, since about fifteen minutes thereafter the youngest began to complain that he wanted to go home. If I had still been in the doldrums myself about it at that point, I think I would’ve crumbled.
It took us nine hours.