I famously worked with an administrator once who assumed that if, say, two towns were on the east coast they would be easy to cover on successive days of the same tour. You know, Gillingham and Hull, or perhaps Great Yarmouth and Newcastle. After a while I became wary and used to check the schedules before I became committed to them. Her geography improved too which gives the lie to the idea you cannot educate someone with harsh looks and sarcasm.
Anyway I've been away for a couple of days to catch up on reading and my friend from Leamington Spa (let's call him Bob, mainly because that is his name) suggests Lyndhurst in the New Forest as a good place to meet. It's a longer journey for him but a bit trickier for me. Done deal.
Trickier? Every decent road in the south west goes in a direction other than north-west to south-east. I feel like I have crossed every major dual carriageway in the counties of Somerset and Wiltshire.
Even the RAC route-finder struggled, giving me a set of directions which included 'You are now leaving Bristol' twice and 'You are now leaving Bath' three times. And this was their attempt to find the quickest, not the shortest journey. A calculation of one millisecond should tell all normal, sensible people that Bristol and Bath were the two places most definitely to be avoided in planning the route for journey time rather than distance.
Anyway not being in a hurry I went the directest route (the quickest is to go up the M5, across the M4, down the A34 and M3 to M27 and then drive four more miles into Lyndhurst where the one-way system takes you 15 minutes to get to a hotel you can see 50 yards up a one-way street but have to go the long way round to reach.
Anyway here is a selection of the villages and towns with speed restrictions the directest route takes you through:
Then every two miles on the A36 to Salisbury and quite a few the other side too. 72 miles in 3 hours 15 minutes plus an hour in Salisbury.
Nice mini-break though. Ringwood Best is excellent, Rob Bell's book Sex God is outstanding and Jonathan Raban's novel Surveillance is a joy.
The Oak at Bank just outside Lyndhurst served me the best plate of food I've eaten this year - medallions of pork and venison in mustard sauce on a leek mash with green beans. Scrummy.