Returning from a family wedding in Devon at the weekend we faced a four-hour drive in bad weather firstly to Herefordshire, where Hilary and I had arranged to spend the day separately: she going on a conservation task with the volunteers she used to organise and I for a meeting with the proprietor of a small bus company for whom I do some consultancy work.
After an early start, Hilary dropped me off in Ross-on-Wye just in time to catch the Hereford bus, which was in the process of pulling away. "Good job for you I'm running late" said the driver, before embarking on a white-knuckle ride (best enjoyed from the front seat upstairs) all the way to Hereford.
After a good "working" lunch at the Merton Hotel I spent the afternoon walking around Hereford to see how much it had changed in the last two years (more shops closed, old cattle market being demolished) before Hilary and I met up again at half-past five. Normally, we would now have faced another four drive up the old A49 and then the M6 which would not have been very pleasant. But as Starcross is currently marooned "somewhere in Cheshire", being unable to get to her new home mooring at Uplands Basin due to the problems on the Trent & Mersey, it make for an ideal stop over.
Despite getting lost on the Nantwich by-pass we made it to the boat by eight o'clock and soon had the fire lit and the boat warmed through. After my lunch I didn't need much to eat and Hilary's needs had been catered for by a quick stop at the chip shop at Prees Heath, which is just one of a strip of restaurants, transport cafes and pubs at Prees Heath, where two trunk roads, the A49 Preston to Ross-on-Wye and the A41 London to Birkenhead, intersect. I love calling here: it's a real throwback to the pre-motorway era of non-corporate catering, even better now that the "Happy Eater" has been demolished and replaced by said chip shop!
The ninety-minute drive up to Lancaster was easily accomplished in the morning and we arrived feeling far more refreshed than had we done the whole journey in one go.
It's inconvenient that Starcross can't actually get to Uplands, but certainly "every cloud has a silver lining".