OS Explorer map 271, Newark-on-Trent: Retford, Southwell & Saxilby – I do not own this map, and have never visited before starting this blog. Visited for this post 4th January 2018.
So, this is the first of eight map posts that will concern the trip to Scotland I did from the 4th to the 8th January. This was the annual ASNaC Trip – each year in January the ASNaC Society does a trip to somewhere, and since this year Erithacus and I are the Presidents, it was our trip to organise; we went to various places in Argyll.
I had borrowed Father Dearest’s seven-seat car for the trip,  and on Wednesday the 3rd (the same day I’d got back from being in Scotland with the Dearest Progenitors!)I drove over to Cambridge in it, spent the night in my room there, and in the morning met up with four of the five others I’d be driving up to Scotland. (There were seventeen of us going on the Trip in total, but the full group was only meeting up in Glasgow the next day.)  The Many-Named, Alcove Gremlin and Millicent came to my room and we tried loading the car, at which point we discovered that Millicent’s hard cuboid of a suitcase was going to be problematic, and so took it into my room and repacked his things into a large soft shopping bag. We then collected Erithacus from outside her house, and set off northwards on the A14 then the A1.
We went to Newark because it was there that we were collecting Vesper, the final member of our party for the trip north. Our designated meeting point was a McDonalds car park just off the A1, and so we assumed she had got dropped off there by a parent or something, but no – Vesper had been quiet about the fact that she had actually got the train to Newark from her Leicestershire home and walked half an hour carrying all her things to that McDonalds, all so we wouldn’t have to drive six minutes longer to get her from the train station. Naturally such self-sacrifice was disapproved of by the rest of us, and we resolved not to do the same on the way back, and indeed to question Vesper more closely next time we were co-ordinating meeting… some jokes were also made, I believe, about the McDonalds car park being her permanent home for some reason.
From the McDonalds, we didn’t immediately get back to our driving proper, because we wanted to stop for a lunch-buying shop at a supermarket. Erithacus found us a Sainsbury’s to stop at using her phone, and stop there we did. It was rather grim-looking, but did the job.
When we were looking for the Sainsbury’s on the phone, Erithacus said it was next to the A1 so I thought, aha, good, it’s on the route. We drove there, and left afterwards, entirely happy that it was, but I only just realised looking at a map, that the Sainsbury’s, in Balderton, was actually about three miles south of the McDonalds, near the A1, so we backtracked without my realising it. Hehe.
Anyway There we bought our lunch as planned, ate it in the car park, and set off northwards once again. We stopped for toilets (the Sainsbury’s had none) at a BP garage that Google Maps tells me is in Cromwell. I accidentally went into the lorries’ entrance, so we awkwardly parked in a corner and walked around to go into the petrol station, where I bought some orange juice and a flapjack I didn’t want so that I’d feel comfortable using their toilets. I believe it got eaten two days later by a miscellaneous passenger in the car. We then went back out of the entrance to the lorry section of the petrol station so as not to have to wait in the queue of fuel-wanting lorries to get out, and were once again on our way, after driving through Cromwell to rejoin the A1.
Four days later
We returned to Newark on the way back down to Cambridge, to drop off Vesper, this time at the station instead of McDonalds. We saw the very impressive looking Newark Castle from the window, which I would rather like to come back to sometime! I believe some use was also made of the station toilets, for which 20p was required.
It shouldn’t be long until the next post, and I promise it will feature more exciting things than a Sainsbury’s and a McDonalds!
 The car in question was an automatic, and this would be the first time I had ever done an extended period of driving one of those, which was a little strange to get used to. Other than a very brief time I drove Mother Dearest’s little Smart car while my car had been left in Scotland in 2015, the only other time I’d driven an automatic was a hire car in Iceland when I was there for a summer course on Icelandic in summer 2015. Alcove Gremlin was also on that course, and indeed on that drive to Hveragerði, meaning that I thought that she had been with me both times that I had tried driving an automatic car. (I had forgotten the Smart car time though.) Here are pictures from the walk we did up Reykjadalur at the end of that drive in Iceland, so that this post has some nice pictures in it rather than just a Sainsbury’s! That outing was rather memorable, featuring bathing in a hot river.
Now there had initially been some costernation as to the car that I would be taking up to Scotland, because it needed to have seven seats and my own only had five. Lovely Uncle had such a car, so I was going to borrow his, but he sold it. The car in question, a by now rather battered 2003 Toyota Previa, had in fact belonged to my parents in the beginning, and I knew it well from my childhood. (It was this car in which my trip to Scotland with Lovely Uncle and his family in 2003 happened, which was my first ever holiday without my parents, and which featured in my Fort William entry.) That car was also notable for being the first car in which my family encountered the concept of satellite navigation – it had a tiny little black and white screen on which it would display arrows telling one which way to drive. I also recall that Guacamole and I used to climb out of the sunroof to sit on the roof. Lovely Uncle then bought it from us several years later (he’d only borrowed it for that Scotland trip) and kept it until he sold it just a few months ago.
So as that one was out of the picture, Father Dearest was going to get me the use of a nine-seat van from his business, but I was against that both because it felt a bit dodgy, and because it would be the widest vehicle I’d ever driven and I didn’t particularly want to be doing that on tiny little single-track Scottish country roads. Salvation came, however, when it transpired that Father Dearest had in fact been wanting to purchase a large car to cart our dogs around in, the intention being that they wouldn’t get his nice car smelly, but Mother Dearest hadn’t let him as he’d only go and buy something expensive. Thus, with a promise from me only to let him buy a cheap car, off we went to London a few days before Christmas, and came back with the car which I took to Scotland! By chance, it was a blue Toyota Previa, looking exactly the same as the one Lovely Uncle had sold only a couple of months earlier.
 With the seven seater and two five-seat cars we were going to be filling every car space once we met up in Glasgow. Problems happened when it turned out one car had fewer seats than we thought, but read about that in the Glasgow post!