Hastings: The Journey Home

by Will (Car 1)

This is the true and unexaggerated story of our epic journey home.  Some people may not believe this story but they don’t know, they can’t possibly know, because they weren’t there.  I’ll try to make this as brief as possible and stick to the facts without excess descriptive language.  Let’s begin with the setting.

At 6.15 PM on Sunday 13th of October, two cars are leaving Battle.  Their occupants have just finished dinner in the 1066 pub.  The first car is an N-reg white Vauxhall Astra diesel estate, driven by myself with passengers Sabrina and Ben.  The second car is an M-reg white Vauxhall Astra diesel estate, driven by Igg with Squish, Stuart and Leia as passengers.  They have agreed to meet at the first services on the M25. 

My car leaves and immediately takes a different exit from the roundabout at the edge of Battle.  This puts me on an alternative route by the time I realise our mistake.  A minor setback, as although slightly longer the road is good and clear of traffic.  It does mean that we cannot meet at the agreed service station as I join the M25 after this junction. 

In the meantime Igg’s car has narrowly avoided crashing on the way out of Battle.  We receive a text message from their car informing us that they are scared.  We arrange to meet at the Reading services.  The M25 is relatively clear apart from a brief slowdown as we approach our exit.  We turn onto the M3 and then head for Bracknell to link up with the M4. 

As my car leaves the M3 we stop at traffic lights and I take a drink.  As the lights change I rapidly hand the bottle to Ben and we fumble the top.  There is a minute of slight confusion as we sort out the situation and I am distracted, looking over my shoulder at a bad moment I graze the curb with my right wheels.  The right front tyre bursts and we pull into a layby to change it.  Laughing we unload the car, pull out the spare tyre and change it.  The spare tyre is flat as we discover when we put weight on it. 

We call the AA and inform Igg’s car of developments.  Shortly afterwards we receive a call from Igg.  His car has broken down in Bracknel shortly after passing us and they are all sitting in a KFC waiting for the AA.  The wiper motor on his car had broken and visibility in the rain (which varied from drizzle to very heavy all night) was minimal. 

The AA (vehicle 1) arrived and informed me that it would be difficult to obtain a spare tyre at this time of night and that relay service would not cover me to be towed home as it was my responsibility to carry a functional spare wheel.  He said he’d try to sort out something and lent me a wheel to follow him to the next filling station in the hope that my spare could be reinflated and was actually functional.  We followed AA-1 to Bracknel where we pulled into a petrol station next to a KFC.  While the AA man checked my tire, Ben and Sabrina went into the KFC, which of course contained Igg and passengers.  My spare proved to have a slow leak and was suitable for a short drive but not a long journey.  AA-2 had arrived by this time and was checking out Igg’s car.  The wiper motor was unable to be fixed and a tow truck was called.  At this point I asked Igg for the spare tyre on his (identical) car and was given it.  The AA changed it for us and my spare went in Igg’s car.  We sat in the KFC laughing in disbelief, till the tow truck AA-3 arrived and loaded Igg and passengers aboard. 

We drove onwards once more for a little less than an hour.  In my car we sang various songs to keep ourselves alert and amused.  Then, just before junction 14, another tyre blew.  My rear right had obviously been damaged in the initial impact and had now given out.  As we called the AA again Igg’s car went past us on tow.  Ben spoke to Igg as I spoke to the AA and we agreed another plan.  The driver of AA-3 (named Darren from Cardiff) would reverse course and stop at Chievely services, where he would remove one of Igg’s wheels and put my damaged spare on it.  Another tow truck AA-4 would meet them there and tow Igg on to Cardiff.  Another truck AA-5 would pick me up and tow me to Chievely to collect the wheel. 

We waited nearly an hour, outside the car in the rain for AA-5.  He arrived and had to swap my left front for my right rear as I needed intact rear wheels to be towed.  Eventually we retuned to Chievely to rendezvous with AA-3 and received the new wheel.  The damaged wheel went on top of the kit in the back.

Igg reached Cardiff at 3am. Squish went home in his own (2 seater) car while Igg took Leia and Stuart home in his mother’s car.  He managed to go to bed at 6am.  I reached Cardiff at 3.20am and put Ben and Sabrina up for the night.  I went to bed at 3.30 am whereupon a neighbors burglar alarm went off for an hour.  Far too full of adrenaline and caffeine to actually sleep I lay twitching till about 9am when I had a bath to freshen and relax me.  At 9.30 as Sabrina and Ben were up I drove them both to their homes in Swansea.  Half the journey on the M4 I was behind a van with REALITY written on it in large letters.  I returned to Cardiff by about 12.30 and got two new tyres, putting Igg’s wheels in my boot.  Since getting up I had a glazed expression and a fixed grin on my face.  Later that afternoon I went to Igg’s house and swapped wheels.