Posted by: Corri van de Stege | September 10, 2009

A day’s work – why do it?

It was early and it promised to be a pleasant late summer day.  The weather felt balmy at 7 o’clock in the morning and this was  England in September.  I loaded the car with workbag, overnight case and a cool bag with fruit and bottled water.   I wondered at all this preparation.  My satnav informed  me that it would take 5.12 hours to reach my destination in North Wales.  That was  without stopping and of course, the device  would alert me every few hours to take a break.  I reckoned it would take me at least 6 hours to reach the council offices in Wales and I tried not to wonder why I was doing this.  I was  going all this way to do a presentation probably to be told that we, my company, were not the preferred suppliers for this project anyway because what do we know about north Wales?  I knew  this, yet I was going.

I was pleased when my satnav had  plotted a different route from the usual one, when I go to South Wales. I was pleased with anything that involved  a change of scenery, especially because  boredom behind the wheel needed to be kept at bay.  The previous night I had tried to update my satnav with ‘recommendations for your Tom Tom’ by the TomTom website.  After I had paid by credit card for updates of maps, I had been  instructed to download only to be informed halfway through that my device was out of space and that the download had failed.  It was only then that I had realised that trying to find out what happened, or to get my money back, would be a long and onerous enterprise.   I  had decided not to try and pursue it any further apart from leaving a message on an obscure ‘Your questions answered’ option and to forget about it for the time being.  It was  more important to get a good night’s sleep.

I travelled along and stopped after about two and a half hours for my treat, the cappuccino that would keep me alert for the rest of the way.  I pulled out my presentation and rehearsed what we were going to talk about.

On the road again, the traffic was heavy and I needed to be alert, however tedious this driving was.  I listened to some classic FM, tried a cd with Beethoven string quartets but it was unable to compete  with the noise coming through the open car window.  It was becoming quite sultry, warm air enveloped me, but I was reluctant to turn on the air conditioner.  I wanted to avoid the chill feel that would make my arms ache and my neck feel stiff.  I decided that I was not made for these long haul drives, but then it is impossible to get to north Wales from where I live in any other way.  I had looked up the train connections and found that it would take some six changes on the route, a minimum of 6-7 hours and the risk of missing a connection. 

The satnav took me through the middle of Wales and the scenery was  pretty after the heavy motorway traffic across English motorways.  I wondered whether I should stop and take some photos of the valleys  with the villages, the mountains with sheep dotted across, the road winding through the edge of Snowdonia, so pretty.  I did not stop in fact, and then felt slightly regretful when it started to rain and it was  too late to get that wonderful picture of a dream P1010126landscape.  The weather became very  dull   and when I had to wait for traffic lights because of some road works I leaned  out of my window and snapped the shutter of my camera, which was at the ready in the compartment where I keep change for parking, and my camera.  It was too late, what a shame I had not stopped, being too focused on wanting to get this presentation over with.  I became tired and by the time I reached my destination the rain hit my  windscreen and the wipers  buzzed liked a swarm of angry bees, only to slow down to a screech across half dry glass when there was a bit of a letup and the rain had reduced to a motley drip. 

My satnav did not recognise the postcode and announced I had reached my destination in the middle of a one way street.  There was nowhere to park, with double yellow lines on both sides.  Tourists huddled under umbrellas looking furtively as if caught and when I leaned out of my window and asked a couple if they could direct me they laughed pleasantly and said they’d seen a building just behind which looked as if it might be the town council, however, they were not locals so could not help.  The satnav  then patiently  took me along the same route around the town castle and I could not discover the local town council offices that were my destination.  After having been round three times, with increasing rain that reduced visibility to a minimum, I turned into a town centre car park.  The attendant told me that I was only a short walk away from the offices and so I paid the parking fee and gathered my jacket, coat, papers, and non-driving presentable shoes and ended up feeling bedraggled and utterly weary.  All I wanted was a shower and some fresh clothes.   I left a message for my colleague telling him that when he arrived he should park wherever he could in the vicinity of the castle and then walk up to the offices.  He arrived ten minutes before we were due to go in for our presentation, as wet as I was, looking harassed and, I suspected,  feeling as fed up as I was. 

After the presentation which did not take more than about half an hour, in a stuffy room with a tired looking committee that seemed not very interested in what we had to say, I set off to Nottingham and decided to take the motorway and not the scenic route across Wales.  What a mistake that was.  Because of a spill of some kind on the motorway, traffic came to standstill, and when I managed to get off the motorway after an hour’s crawling along for about 2 miles, every other motorist had decided to do the same and so it took more than another hour to cover around 5 miles of a minor road alongside the motorway.  After a nightmarish journey through unknown countryside, and motorways with heavy lorries, speeding along, spraying their wetness on my screen, chasing red taillights set in black frames, I arrived at my hotel in Nottingham at 11 o’clock at night, exhausted, worn out and hungry and fell into a wooden sleep after having eaten a sandwich, swallowed down with a glass of white wine.  I woke up at five, a crick in my back, and after finding another position fell  into  a restless and uncomfortable half-sleep. 

The next day we were informed that ‘unfortunately’ we had not been successful with our bid.



  1. Retirement is how far away???????

  2. Curious how you can detect when proposals have been decided beforehand. That wooden committee just showed it.


    Nice piece, Seachanges.

  3. Linda: I wish 🙂 No light at the end of that tunnel I’m afraid. Back home the sun is shining and it’s Saturday, a lovely autumn day which I’m going to enjoy outside…
    Jose: Yes, you always know don’t you? Glad you enjoyed my nightmarish journey 🙂 That’s one positive out of that day!

  4. wow. that was some serious effort and a long drive. I enjoyed reading it though, caught up in your details and your perserverance.

    What a haul for a half hour! congrats to you, that you did it. Would the results have been better had it been sunny days? Impossible to know.

    I can only imagine the countryside, though. Wales is on my travel list. (I probably said that before.)

    Hope you have a good book to snuggle up with.

  5. All that effort! Hope you got home, put your feet up and had a cuppa. 🙂

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