A routine trip to Danbury? Not quite!

We always have Absinthe serviced in March, ahead of the start of the season, so off we set to travel down to Nailsworth – a small town (or large village, you decide). The plan was stop over in the Egypt Mill Hotel on Thursday night before driving to Danbury’s place in Yate for the service.

Our neighbour had arranged for the van to be Waxoyled earlier in the week and the strong smell of chemicals was in our nostrils as we set off about 10.30 to drive south.

There was an unusual knocking sound as we drove the 5 minutes to the M6 but we couldn’t pinpoint exactly where it was coming from – Alison thought it was something under the driver’s seat – but we know now it was something else.

Anyway, the sound went as soon as we got on to the motorway so we relaxed to enjoy the journey. We’d gone about 15 miles, and Alison had just said that maybe we needed Neil at Litesteer to check the EPS, when she felt that something was wrong and she pulled us onto the hard shoulder.

A quick check revealed a blow out on the drivers side front tyre – great! Fortunately, we’ve got breakdown cover and the nice lady from the RAC told us someone would be with us in about 45 minutes. Until you are outside waiting by the motorway you don’t get the true impression of just how much traffic is going by, nor how fast everything is travelling. We were safely over the barrier out of harm’s way but it still wasn’t pleasant and there was no way I was going to change the wheel myself.

Eventually the RAC man arrived and soon had the wheel changed so we were on our way again. The rest of the journey weas uneventful and after a stop at the services on the M5 we arrived in Nailsworth around 3.30pm.

We checked in, had a couple of beers and went for a mooch round the town.  We tried to get a table at a Tapas restaurant for Friday night buit they were too full – we’d switch to Plan B later in the weekend.

Egypt Mill Hotel

We ate in the Hotel on Thursday night – not a great experience – the service was average and the food slightly less so! What was good was the outdoor seating area with a large roaring fire – we finished the evening off with a couple of drinks and were joined by the barman who had over an hour to walk home in the dark, along a disused railway track to Stroud. Rather him than me.

Friday morning brought sunshine, a decent breakfast and the drive to Danbury. We were there for just after 9am, in time to check Absinthe in, and to catch the eclipse. It went quite dark at its peak and the Danbury technicians were watching it through welding helmets – all a bit surreal really.

All Eclipse Photos courtesy of Ve Young

I’d rung ahead to check that Danbury had a replacement tyre and arranged for it to be fitted whilst they were doing the service. Meanwhile, we took the Fiat Panda courtesy car and Alison drove us to Bath.

We really like Bath and spent several hours pottering round the shops and drinking coffee in the sunshine. It’s a bit of a nightmare getting into the City but worth it once you’re in. Apparently, Bath has a Rugby team but there are too many players on the pitch for me, although they are benefitting from having ex-Rugby League star, Sam Burgess, at the moment, so maybe there’ll be an occasional try to break up the kicking and mauling…

As we set off back to Yate I took a call from Matt at Danbury – it seemed that we needed three new wheels and four new tyres! Fortunately, they were able to replace the rear wheels and tyres with some they had taken from another T2 so we only actually paid for one new wheel and two new tyres. At least they should see us through the next couple of seasons.

Pop Art in Danbury’s waiting room

As we still had some time to kill we stopped in Chipping Sodbury on the way back for tea and a toasted teacake. The annual Mop Fair was taking place in the High Street but I didn’t actually see any mops!

Having picked up Absinthe and paid the bill (ouch!) we drove back to Nailsworth and prepared to go out for dinner. I’d rung earlier and booked a table at Mark@Street, a small restaurant in the centre of the town. We had a quick beer before heading in – we were the only people there apart from a chap sitting at the small bar area who obviously knew the waitresses.

Mark@Street, Nailsworth

The menu was great, reasonably priced and they hadn’t gone mad with the wine prices either. Over a bottle of Rioja we decided to have the 5 course mystery menu – basically, the chef chooses various items from the main menu and you only find out what you’re having when the food is delivered to your table. At £43 each it was a bargain and the food was superb – it’s the best meal I’ve had so far this year and that includes a gastronomique exeperience at a restaurant in Paris, earlier in the month.

Mark Payne – the Chef at Mark@Street

After a couple of bottles of Rioja we walked back to the Hotel and chilled beside the open fire outside with a large brandy – a great way to end the evening.

We’d planned to visit Gabrielle in Cheltenham on Saturday – she was treating us to afternoon tea at the hotel where she works, the Montpelier Chapter, as a Mother’s Day gift for her Mum.

First though, we found a Costa Coffee to allow me to use their WiFi to watch Boro lose to Bournemouth – not ideal, but we can still get promotion!

Parking was a nightmare near the hotel but fortunately we spotted Gabbie walking towards us and picked her up. She directed us to some nearby streets with free parking – quite a long way away but at least we all arrived together.

Afternoon tea was lovely (if too large) and it was nice to see Gabrielle again – she won’t be back home until the summer now.

The drive home from Cheltenham wasn’t too bad and Mrs B has her usual heavy right boot on, so we were back for 6pm – in time for her to pick Boris up from her Mum and Dad’s where he’d stayed for the weekend.

So, our first trip out of 2015 – there’ll be plenty more to follow.

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