It’s Thursday, May 7th, 2020 – the first day of our May holiday and northward ‘pilgrimage’.
Our destination for the first day of our journey is Bleasby in Nottinghamshire, where we will be having our first experience of Airbnb accommodation. We won’t be able to gain access until the afternoon, so there’s no need to set off too early, even though we always like to make an early start when we’re setting off on a journey.
So we can enjoy a leisurely breakfast before finishing the packing. We’ve done quite a lot of the preparation before going to bed the night before, so now there is more than enough time to change our minds about what we really need to take in the way of books and electronic devices, to change them back again, and to end up still knowing we will both have forgotten something essential, and taken things we will never ues. In the end we can’t bear to wait any longer, and set off long before we need to for a drive which Google Maps tells us will take 2 hours 10 minutes.
What are we going to do about lunch? Alison’s preference is always to stop in some nice place on the way – what about Coventry? or Leicester? – but I always grumble about how difficult it is to find somewhere to park in a strange town, and we end up stopping at the grotty motorway services where the car park is crowded and the choice of sandwiches boring, and I’m feeling guilty about not having followed Alison’s suggestion. (Note to Self: She’s always right about these things, and it would be good if I changed my mind about travels.)
In spite of the stop for lunch we still arrive early, but it doesn’t matter because the property is ready and the owners, Victoria and Catherine, are both there to greet us. I imagine them, from our exchange of messages, as charming, intelligent, attractive women in their 40s or 50s, who are intrigued by my message that we will be staying there as a first stop on ‘a sort of pilgrimage to the North’. If we ever lived in Bleasby, they’re the kind of people I would want to be friends with. And their property, advertised as ‘Charming Old Chapel’, is the kind of place I wouldn’t mind living in. It has been sensitively converted to a dwelling house, and is bright, clean and modern.
We settle down for our first evening with an easily prepared pasta and salad, and later a bottle of wine and some favourite nibbles.