A peaceful drive – a/k/a Spouse on the Verge

We took the train from London to Bath yesterday. A lovely stressless ride of about 90 minutes. All was well as we strolled in to the Europcar office to pick up our car for the next 3 weeks. Aside from the fact that Spouse’s driver’s license expired 4 months ago. As the “designated driver,” his inability to legally drive the car was of great concern, as I am the chief navigator — we like to do the whole divide and conquer thing.

It was with certain trepidation that we left the car agency in the general direction of the hotel. I must say, I started off swimmingly – the manual transmission was no big deal, nor was driving on the other side of the road. I motored along for a good 1/4 mile before I had to make a quick left onto what appeared to be a bike lane (the alternative being a head-on introduction to a ROAD CLOSED barrier directly in front of me). I accurately engaged with the curb at about 20 miles per hour. Spouse was much less than pleased and screamed for me to stop the car as, he was certain, “YOU GOT A FLAT!” on our fine Vauxhall auto.


The gods smiled down and we were rewarded with nary a blemish. Spouse re-entered the vehicle with “the vein” pumping furiously at his temple. Now, for the record, Spouse is the most mellow guy walking. We raise our voices at one another on a nearly annual basis – with me doing more of the raising, generally.

Anyway, on we drove, in what we hoped was the right direction (Spouse is not the navigator after all), when we noticed that the street names are posted inconspicuously on the sides of random buildings, rather than on actual signs. This must be to maintain the 1000 year old flavor of Bath. We finally made it to the Circus (not the Ringling Brothers kind, the Latin / Greek round kind) where Spouse blasts another outburst regarding the left side mirror’s proximity to the many parked cars on that side. I was actively avoiding the ones on my side, noticing the most minor flaws on the windows and doors at microscopically close range. Miraculously, we found the street on which the hotel is located and turn. Huzzah! After the briefest triumphant squeal, we noticed there was no parking at the front of the hotel, so we turned left at the end of the block. The word “street” is exceedingly generous for the miniscule strip of roadway we are attempting to negotiate. Cars and vans are haphazardly parked on either side, facing either direction. There appeared to be about 2 inches of space on either side of the car as we hold our collective breath and putt down the hill. It got way more interesting when a car started coming UP the dental floss sized street towards our impossibly mid-sized car.

After both of the adults in our car (and probably those in the little red car trying to share the road) hurled the most hostile invective towards the heavens (with a little bit slopping around the ears), I pulled the car up, onto the curb and huffed out of the car to check-in. Of course, I left the car in a NO PARKING zone. Spouse fumed. The nice check-in lady said “Just bring the car back round and we’ll park it for you.” I nearly passed out from the relief. Skulked back to the car, and Spouse, and, the Snoop (in the fetal position in back) and relayed the happy news. It only took us about 5 minutes to crawl down the street and get around the block. Pathetic. We didn’t even look at the car for the last day. If it wasn’t so out of the way to take the train to all of the places we’re planning to visit, I’d’ve phoned up Europcar and said “Come and get it!”

The Snoop was a little freaked out at the stress, lack of joy and stream of profanity on this little adventure. Perhaps that meets his foreign language requirement. Little monkey is on his absolute best behavior now! Here’s hoping his parents are too.

Tip: Take the bloody train!

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