I spent the last weekend in Bath with an old friend and four lovely new friends, and I think the most stressful part of the whole weekend was trying to find a parking space when we got there.
Having planned to leave work at 4pm, and head straight for the motorway, our plans were derailed two days before when the friend’s boss announced microscope training was NOT, in fact, cancelled, and that she would have to go and listen to talks about dongle helplines until 5pm. Luckily, she escaped early, and after a brief detour back to my flat, so I could collect my phone charger and raincoat (please see last week’s post for an explanation of how well I adult), we finally made it onto the motorway at 5pm.
Upon approaching Bath, we soon realised that we were, in a word, buggered. A rugby match between Bath and the London Irish was due to commence at 7.45pm, and we were stuck in a flow of traffic slower than an elderly lady’s digestive system.
We crawled through Bath, taking the most wrong turns we could, and finally limped our way up to the front door of the holiday apartment just before kick-off was due to start. This meant two things.
Thing Number 1: Crawling through a stream of traffic on your way to meet the VERY STERN OWNER who has already phoned to tell you off for offering her paying custom and delaying her Friday night (don’t worry, I’ll link to the inevitable TripAdvisor review…) is a bit stressful, and makes you a bit twitchy. It also means you swear a lot and nearly kill a man in a yellow hi-vis vest. (Sorry, Man.)
Things Number 2: Neither I nor my friend had looked up the precise location of the apartment before we rocked up, and had we done so, we might have been mildly alarmed by its proximity to the rugby ground. Because said proximity meant that not only did the traffic intensify as we approached the apartment, but also, there were fuck-all parking spaces in the parking zone associated with the apartment.
There was nothing for it. We abandoned the car on some double yellow lines near the house, in breach of about twelve different by-laws from the Highway Code, and unloaded the car. Once the rugby had started, I threw my shoes back on, and drove around the area, looking for a place to park.
I shouted to the girls as I left, “I’ll be five minutes! Just moving the car! Be right back!”
Oh how very wrong I was.
Bath has a very complicated one-way system in parts of it, and whilst looking for a parking place, I got stuck in it. I turned left, left, and left again, which, according to the universal theory of direction-whilst-driving, should have meant I ended up back on the street I started on. Not so in Bath.
In Bath, taking three left turns dumps you on a new road, a strange road, an unfamiliar road, on the other side of the city centre. I think Bath may operate with inter-dimensional portals. Anyway, I drove around for about thirty-five minutes, looking for a parking space. I gave up when I turned right down a seemingly-harmless residential road and found myself in a strange, semi-industrial car park, and with an dark and dingy road in and out.
I stopped the car. I turned on the sat-nav. I typed in the street name, and was told, “Turn around when possible.” Thanks, Sat-Nav, that’s helpful. *bangs head against steering wheel*
Then I noticed that it was telling me the time to my destination was six hours. Confused, I brought the menu back up, and checked which city it thought I was in. WIGAN. IT THOUGHT I WAS IN WIGAN.
Inter-dimensional portals, I’m telling you.
Anyway, I reprogrammed the sat-nag, found I was literally metres from my front door, but had to take the long way round the fricking one-way system to get back. I still hadn’t found a parking space.
I drove back, doing a lot of swearing and abandoned the car on some different double yellow lines near the apartment.
By this point, all I wanted was a large glass of wine and a chocolate biscuit, but I still had to cook dinner and eventually move the car. I swore A LOT, and sipped water as a compensatory measure against the boiling rage that the situation had engendered in my heart.
When the match finally ended, and the cars departed, I ran out to the car, and circled the block again, waiting for a space to appear. I found one! Hurrah!
Except, it was on a very steep hill, and was very small, and I was driving The Boss Car, and not my little Bug. (The Boss Car belongs to The Boss (or Ma, as you may know her) and is a large black 4×4 with tinted windows.) I parked nervously, yanking on the handbrake and putting the car into first gear. I stepped out and backed away slowly, hoping it wouldn’t roll backwards.
It looked relatively safe, so I turned and ran to the safety of the red wine, praying I wouldn’t destroy another car accidentally.
The following morning, one of my fellow holiday-goers looked out the window and spotted a space outside the apartment. Despite being clad in some fairly eye-wateringly floral pyjamas, I flung on a coat, shoved my feet into my shoes and ran to move the car.
The handbrake had held, so with a feeling of great relief, I finally got the car parked in a suitable space. Then of course, reality sunk in, and I realised I was standing on a street in Bath in my pyjamas, looking to all intents and purposes like I’d escaped some sort of secure ward.
Oh well. The car got parked.