in my previous post, i wrote about our good morning – slept in, watched the activity at the pier, leisurely breakfast, got off the ship and into our cute little rental car.  everything was good on Tuesday, August 11th, until about 10:30 or so in the morning.  we headed down the street from Hertz to find our storage locker.  kevin had the great idea of renting a small locker to stow our fancy ship clothes, plus some other stuff we wouldn’t need.  he got a good deal at a place called Lok N Store southampton.  not only was it a great deal, but it was only two and a half miles from hertz, according to google maps, a seven minute drive when there’s no traffic.  right now i looked at the map and it’s 15 minutes because there’s a lot of traffic.

but it took us ALMOST AN HOUR to dive those two and a half miles and was one of the most stressful parts of our trip!  looking at the map now, i wonder how we got so horribly lost.  there are only three steps to the directions, which i know i printed out!

well, for one thing, there were the roundabouts.  in the crowded, industrial southampton port, there were a bunch of roads all crisscrossing and many many roundabouts and even though kevin did have experience driving on them…it was a big mess.  it was very trafficky, and everybody was going really fast, and when we didn’t turn at the correct place, we just couldn’t figure out where we were.  we turned around, but it was hard to even turn around and go in the opposite direction, and we ended up in this residential section and i know there were a few people about, and i don’t know why we didn’t stop and ask somebody.

we went back down the road, and once again, chaos and roundabouts and traffic and confusion…we ended up on the other side of the many roads in yet another residential area, and i turned on the GPS on my phone – i’d gotten an international data package, but i was told that using the GPS data would use up lots of data, and i didn’t want to run out in the first hour of our trip.  but at this point we’d been driving for about 45 minutes and getting frustrated.  but the GPS didn’t have a signal!

so we continued back again, looking for the elusive Third Avenue, the street that ran into the Lok N Store.  we saw first avenue, we saw second avenue, both of them at least three times, but what the hell did they do with third avenue???

after almost an hour of being lost, we finally pulled into a gas station, and i asked a nice guy getting gas where third avenue might be, and he said, “uh…you just go down this street, and there’s a big sports place…and it should be right past there.”

so we got back out onto this street and finally realized were were ON third avenue!  how had we missed the signs??!!

well, because there weren’t many signs, and they weren’t put in places where a person could actually see them – they were low to the ground and not very big.

finally, after a full hour of driving back and forth, hither and yon, we pulled into the Lok N Store.  we were soooo happy, and i jumped out of the car and went inside, where a couple of women were there in the office and i said “we have a reservation for hughes…” and one of the women said “Kevin?”  YES YES YES!

kevin found a place to park, and i’m sure the women thought we were a little loony, so excited were we about finally finding the storage unit.

it was funny, because kevin had to sign some documents and the woman handed him this big official dossier of stuff – much more paperwork than for our car rental!  they took this whole storage thing very seriously.

one of the women ushered us into a hallway, and as we walked along we noticed a bunch of huge cases with SIMPLY RED printed on the outside.  we passed a vast storage room, and the woman told us that the band Simply Red stored their equipment there, and were taking it all out to go on tour.

if i hadn’t been so crazed from the driving around and around and around, i’d have taken a photo of the cases as proof.

during our trip, kevin would keep remarking that our stuff was stored at simply red’s house, and hopefully Red wouldn’t steal it.  funny.

here’s a picture of the lok n store that i just found on facebook – “gee,” you’re probably thinking, “that place looks huge…how did you get so dang lost?”

because it was hidden behind many other offices and businesses and all kinds of stuff!

lok n store

whew.  finally, we got back in the car and headed out.  according to my map, it was a four hour drive from Lok N Store to our first B&B, in the tiny town of Dale in Wales.  the tiny town of Dale is so tiny that nobody i talked to in wales who lived in wales had ever heard of it.

we somehow managed to get out onto the fairly big road going north, but after a while we saw signs for oxford, and i knew that wasn’t right.  i consulted the big map i’d bought online as well as the many map sections i’d printed out.  we turned around and lost maybe a half hour, not such a big deal.  we drove and drove, now on the big highway, M4, which was quite wide with quite a bit of traffic.  we had about 20 pounds with us, money that kevin had saved from our last trip, and decided to pull off at a motorway service area to get some more pounds.

the area was at an incredibly confusing roundabout, but by some miracle we managed to get to it.  it was a huge place, with an attached Days Inn, which seemed weird, and inside the service area place was kind of horrible – it was full of people, loud, and they had a kentucky fried chicken and a burger king!  we could have been in america, except i’ve never been at any gas station or service area in the US that was so incredibly crowded.  the worst part – the ATM refused our debit cards and our visa cards and any cards we tried to use.  uh oh.

we hadn’t had this problem before in the UK – when we went to Austria several years ago, there was an issue and kevin had to call the bank and they had him type in an extra zero.  this time, he’d called the bank ahead of time and they assured him that his pin was fine, but he tried adding a zero, and nothing worked and finally the machine refused to let him guess what the correct number might be.

so i called visa, and the person on the phone was kind of hateful.  they didn’t know why the pin didn’t work, and said we’d used up all our chances to try using it for the next 24 hours, and there was nothing they could do for me.   so i called the bank, and they transferred me back to visa. grrrr.

oh brother.  so we got back on the highway and it cost us most of our pounds to cross the bridge into wales – it was about $14, i think.  if you want to go to wales, you’d better be serious about it!

the little town of Dale where we were headed didn’t have any ATMs, nor any grocery stores or anything.  so we needed pounds!  we decided to stop in Haverfordwest, a fairly big town along the way, and look for an ATM at an actual bank.  we deviated from our route and drove around the town and found a bank, and it spit a whole lot of lovely pounds at us!  yay!

whew.  it was a little less than 15 miles from haverfordwest to dale, and according to the map i’d printed out, that would take 37 minutes.  that seemed like a long time for such a short distance, and we hoped it would be quicker.

but as we drove, the road got narrower…and narrower.  and finally there was no center line, and definitely not enough room for two cars to pass each other.  oh boy.  plus high hedgerows on either side, which we later learned could hide a brick or stone wall behind them.  every once in a while, a little curvy part was cut out of the hedgerow on one side or the other – we later learned this is a layby, and if you met another car, one of you would have to back up to the layby and squeeze into it.

as we continued on, i was pretty sure that death was imminent.  i started saying, in a very calm and quiet voice, “we’re going to die, we’re going to die.”  not screaming or hysterical or anything, just matter of fact about the death that was sure to come.

finally kevin said “please use your inside voice, grace.”

i realized it had been bad that i’d been saying that, so then i did say it internally, and did my best not to gasp and cringe.  i did find myself trying to curl in towards the middle of the car, as if that would somehow prevent us from scraping and grinding against the hedgerow.

kevin wasn’t going very fast, and of course the locals would zoom up behind us now and then, ferociously tailgating us.  kevin would scrunch the car into a layby, and then we’d continue on.  and that 14.7 miles seemed very, very long.

here’s a dog, just sauntering down the road, following his owner.  no big deal, dogs and people on the tiny little narrow road.  this was about five minutes before we got to Dale; it was the first time i felt i could take my eyes off the road long enough to take a picture.  most of the time on these little roads i was sure that if i looked down, we’d die.

but i kept that to myself.  mostly.


this should give you a decent idea about the narrowness.


here’s a layby, and a sign for an intersection with an even more narrow road!


the harbor at dale…so beautiful, and we were so very very happy to be there!


we were  lucky it wasn’t raining.


it took us a little time to find our B&B, the Allenbrook, because when we got to town suddenly the street was one way, and so we somehow passed the entrance.  but it was a tiny town and we were confident that we’d find it eventually.

we did, and it was a fabulous old rambling house with a huge and beautiful yard with many flowers, plus a couple of chickens wandering around!

i was so happy to have arrived alive that i hugged the proprietor, Elizabeth, who seemed a little startled at my exhuberance.  but we’d been in the car for about six hours since leaving southampton, and were so relieved to have finished this journey.

our room was just as lovely as it looks here.  through the door was a huge bathroom that looked like it had been converted from a small bedroom.




and that’s a chicken there in the middle of the yard.  in the background there is our little car, a ford fiesta, says kevin.  it was tucked in amongst many lush flowers.


this is their lovely sitting room, and it’s a shame we hadn’t gotten there earlier to relax in it, but by this time we were hungry and just wanted to go find some food.


my final entry for this day will be our delightfully car-free evening in Dale.

ok then,

mrs. not dead hughes.