For me to continue with this account of glamping with Tara, it's important to reiterate that this is the first time that anyone apart from the people directly concerned have any knowledge of it. As mentioned earlier I have changed most of the names to protect the identity of those concerned.
The setting off on any journey is usually a time of excitement, I was excited in the run up, the preparation. Loading the car was exciting for example, finding out that my Calorgas bottle was half full was exciting and financially satisfying.
Setting off needed effort I'll be honest, but the good thing was that Tara and myself were getting on! Soon her entire music collection was being played, the soundtrack to a Sergio Leone Cornwall road trip scored by Ennio Moricone himself.
With 20 miles to go until Bristol and the M5, I pulled the ladened Citroen off the M4 and into a services for a cuppa tea and some Ibuprofen. I reached for Tara's hand and held it until I needed to change down and park. It was 8.30pm, we'd made good time really, "we'll stop at the next services" ploy seemed to work.
We set off again... at around 10pm, my nerves were so close to snapping. Tara had changed outfits twice and her suit case with the runner up chosen outfit in was underneath 'everything' in the back of the estate. The winning outfit was the one she had set off in.
I didn't shout, I didn't say harsh later regrettable words, I tried and for once succeeded in breaking my Patriarchal conditioning.
With this victory securely logged in my unconscious mind, I finally pulled onto the M4 after nearly two hours and tried to play my glad game. I was glad I had some Ibuprofen in my pocket. Your turn.
We soon joined the relatively quiet M5, and with Tara asleep it was the reassuring sound of the trusty XUD Citroen diesel that accompanied this part of the travelogue.
We stopped a couple more less time consuming times and things were looking up. It was nice seeing Tara happy, excited even looking forward to the glamping adventure ahead of us.
I reached across and held her hand until my hand generated too much heat for it to be romantic. It was fine we had talked about that very early in our relationship. No awkward surprises, I learnt very early on my relationship learning journey that awkward surprises can come back to haunt you.
"Ok Tara, music off I've got to concentrate we need the A30." And with relative ease, a few minutes later we were on the A30 ; the road that would take us straight to our destination. I reached for Tara's hand and held it until I needed to change into 5th gear.
She smiled, I was glad.
Around 4 of Tara's songs later the road ahead suddenly became full of traffic. Both lanes at a crawl, then stop start, stop start. Then just Stop!
Tara wondered why we had stopped.. a few times, and I said I didn't know.. a few times until we both found out. The A30 was completely closed ahead due to an accident and we were to follow the diversion. I figured we were 10 miles this side of Bodmin Moor, it might not be as bad as I first thought.
The diversion signs were terrible, Tara had needed a personal break and I'd found a petrol station open which had an outside loo.
Unfortunately I did not inherit my Dad's sense of direction, and very soon slightly completely lost. I pulled over and looked at the map, there, right, good ok. The road I was on ran parallel to the A road of the diversion. If I carried on it would meet. I would rejoin the rest of the diverted people, soon we would be back on the A30 and all this would be funny in the morning.
The road we were on was quite dark, that was the biggest problem I had until my trusty Citroen began wobbling and sounding strange.
"I think I've got a puncture Tara, I'm gonna have to stop."
I pulled over onto a lay-by, switched off, and was right with my diagnosis. The rear drivers side was a blow out.
"Tara you'll have to get out, I've got to change the tyre."
The spare was underneath the rear of the car in a harness, which was loosened by the flat end of the wheel brace which in turn was under everything and more in the back.
Twenty minutes later I had unloaded the car and retrieved the Jack and the wheel brace.
"Not long now Tara."
I quickly jacked the car up, think positive, after all this road rejoins us to the rest of the diverted people, soon we would be back with the collectedly diverted, on the A30, and all this would be even funnier in the morning.
Three wheel nuts cracked, one to go. YAAaaa, YHAAAaa! Still one to go! 20 minutes and a bent Citroen wheel brace later I admitted defeat.
I explained the situation to Tara who looked back blankly at me.
"Ok, I'm going to walk back Tara, I'm sure we passed a phone box not too far back. I'll call the AA, and then a taxi for you. Their's a village not too far ahead you can have a lovely glass of wine and a bite and I'll pick you up when we're all fixed, how's that?"
I genuinely felt for her, and walking towards her gave her a big loving "It will be alright"cuddle. She faced me and smiled, I was glad.
I was right about the phone box, mission accomplished and I was soon back at the stricken Citroen avec unhappy Tara.
"They said up to two hours Tara, but I've got a plan. The taxi company said there's a small hotel about 7 miles away, I told them to book a room for us and we'll spend the night there, start off fresh in the morning, how's that? The taxi will be here in a minute."
Tara's face lit up like a Christmas tree, I was glad.
The taxi arrived and I kissed Tara goodbye before she set off to the hotel with all of her luggage.
I waited, walked around, sat, cursed, walked around looking down, looking up. Wow! It was only now that I noticed the incredibly imposing looking building on the opposite side of the road. It looked amazing. It wasn't very well lit but looked of significant architectural importance. Well, like a castle. With nothing else to do I sat in the car and referred to my map which had a comprehensive list of castles, grande buildings, landmarks, ..institutions for the insane. Can't be, when was this map published?
I looked at my watch remembering the AA man's ETA, drank the last drop of Luke warm tea, thought about Tara and then reclined my Citroen seat to sleep.