Headlights on dark roads…?

 blackpool2 031I do not recommend the Ford Puma for anyone taller than, say, three foot, who wishes to spend a night in a car, particularly if you want to be able to move again in the morning. Though ‘wishes’ may be somewhat misleading here… Nor can I say I am impressed with the venue; a motorway service station overnight on a rainy Friday appears to be the place for loud and possibly less than sober idiots to congregate in fast cars, and the assumption that a woman alone is fair game to be harassed is not one of which I approve. It was an uncomfortable night. Made far worse by the fact that after 500 miles I was stranded a mere forty miles from home.

I had set off Thursday for the north… we had a meeting planned to discuss next week’s Silent Eye event in Glastonbury…but first I was meeting up with Stuart in Sheffield. We had a book to publish and Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing is now live in paperback and for Kindle! Not a bad start to a quick, one night trip!

I could, of course, have got there earlier, but as I wasn’t meeting Stu till after he’d finished work I had called in at a church on the way. I have a fair bit of research to do on that place yet, but it was well worth the stop, I have to say!

Then, however, I got a bit sidetracked. It was inevitable. It is Lammas and the heather is in flower… So, while I could potentially have been in Sheffield two hours early, I arrived a scant ten minutes before our appointed time.

“Do you want to see the pictures of what I found?”

“You found Nothing…” Want to bet? Oh I had found stuff alright…. An eyebrow even went up at the David window… but of course I had found nothing…not even the Eagle Stone. Which may be why I had failed to stop and find a Bakewell Tart on the way….

We found traffic though all the way to the meeting once we had left Snake Pass behind. Although we had left very early, we were a few minutes late at the rendezvous. We found further traffic on the way to the coast where I was dropping my companion for the weekend. I found even more of it down the motorway… being the start of the holiday season… and hit Birmingham as the darkness closed in.

ashbourneNow, the twenty miles of road around that city is lit, so it wasn’t until I had left it behind that my niggling fears were confirmed. I had no headlights. They had been fine earlier in the driving rain and spray, but now… zilch. Only parking lights.

Not wanting to park on the side of the motorway lightless I cosied up behind a slow moving lorry for the next 20 miles, using his headlights till the first services where I gratefully exited, knuckles white as I parked up to investigate. I carry spare bulbs, but apparently to change a bulb in the Puma you have to dismantle the front end of the car, pretty much. Not having the requisite tools, I called for assistance and settled down to wait the interminable time they quoted before they could get there, closing my eyes and trying to doze.

blackpool2 014It was midnight by the time someone tapped on the window. The shaven headed youth in combat shorts grinned up close through the window. I wasn’t happy. Okay, I was scared stiff. It was dark and lonely there.

On the other hand, a quick glance around showed me a mechanic’s van parked close and he shouted through that he’d come to fix my lights… sigh of relief. Bigger sigh that I had someone on the other end of text messages so I wasn’t entirely alone, so to speak, though the phone was almost dead.

Half an hour later the nice young man had done all he could, sucking in air as he explained about the burned out wiring and the risks, disabling the lights to make them safe. The last forty miles would have to wait while morning and pray for good weather.

I dozed fitfully till a rainy dawn, waited till the weather broke and made a run for home. It had been a bad night, and the local, shall we say ‘wildlife’ had made it uncomfortable. A four hour journey took twelve.

On the other hand, I am home, safe, and the car is now in the hands of the local garage.

The real irony is that I had been tunelessly belting out driving songs to stay awake…

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in adventure, Doomsday: The Ætheling Thing, travel and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Headlights on dark roads…?

  1. alienorajt says:

    How very scary, Sue – poor you. I really felt for you as I read this. Very glad you are now home safe and sound. Hugs, Ali xxx


  2. ksbeth says:

    glad you made it home, safe and sound, sue )


  3. Loved it! Reminds me of a night I was crossing through Nevada and pulled into a filling station at 0300 running on fumes. The station, literally the only one within 150 miles, did not open ’til 0600, but the casino across the street ran 24/7 (gambling is legal in Nevada, or so they say in Las Vegas). I went over and joined half a dozen other folk who hadn’t taken all those “last stop for gas’ signs seriously, a mistake I’m certain none of them made again. I haven’t. Over the next three hours we were joined by a few more stragglers fetched from roadside by bored Nevada State Troopers – an apparent routine in that part of the country.

    I adore that shot which I assume is heather? What’s Lammas?


    • Sue Vincent says:

      I’ve limped far enough on fumes and waited for morning too… though in this country you would think we are too small to have that many gaps. Maybe just gaps in my planning…

      Yes, that is heather. This time of year there are whole ranges of hills that colour… purple as far as the eye can see with just enough grey stone and green bracken to act as a contrast. You can see why it gets into your blood. Well, into mine anyway…

      Lammas is the old Anglo-Saxon wheat harvest festival, the feast of first fruits, still marked on August 1st. Mabon and Samhain are the others..


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