Dad’s route

Dad hated traffic. He hated traffic lights. He hated traffic jams. He would drive ten minutes’ extra to avoid a five minute delay.

I’m not sure why he had such an aversion to traffic. He did an Institute of Advanced Motorists course when he was young. He could describe the correct way to drive in every situation. He knew the stopping distances. He would suggest the optimum speeds for every road condition. He had a very keen awareness of exactly how to drive in order to maximize fuel economy and would warn of the costs of a “heavy right foot.”

Whatever the reason, though, he would travel far to avoid a jam.

He would have looked at Google Maps this morning and he would have muttered. The M5 motorway was closed. All traffic was being forced to leave and drive through small villages in North Somerset. There would have been no possibility of him considering the slow crawl that would have been required to follow such a route. Instead, he would have headed out into the country with a vague sense of heading in the right direction.

Thus it was that I swung off the M5 onto the byways of rural Gloucestershire. I passed through places of which I had never heard and signposts for places of which I had heard. Did you know Badminton was just north of Bath?

Already on the road for longer than the entire journey usually took. I arrived on the outskirts of Bath. An attempt to bypass it was confounded by a road closure. I had to join the queue of cars from the A4 to the city centre. Anyone wise does not drive to Bath in the hours of daylight.

The Google voice told me that the road to Wells was blocked. It said to drive eastward instead of south-west, it seemed counter-intuitive, but the traffic was moving easily. Dad would have liked the road, even if it ran in the wrong direction.

There was a signpost for Farleigh Hungerford, where he would have taken me to watch the British Motocross Grand Prix. Then there was a sign for Longleat. When I was young, we had a sticker on our car window declaring, “We have seen the Lions of Longleat.” Do they still have lions at Longleat? My most vivid memory is of baboons holding onto the windscreen wipers.

Eventually, there was a chance to join a road towards Glastonbury. The diversion had added at least half an hour to the time that would have been spent queueing on the motorway. Even Dad might have had doubts about such a route.

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