First things first: The Lisas had a brilliant holiday abroad. That being said, it has taken us awhile to process the experience and translate it for you, our glorious reader. There were plenty of adventures – enough for several rounds of blogging, you lucky devil.
We think the Rolling Stones got it wrong: When you can’t get what you want, you don’t always get what you need. This is the best excuse we can come up with for our terrorizing the people of England with a tank (in the form of a Range Rover) that we didn’t want, didn’t need, and should never, ever have been licensed to drive.
In a truly just and beautiful universe, a chauffeur in a Rolls Royce Phantom would have conducted us in a refined and leisurely progress through the breathtaking countryside of Devon and Cornwall. In the harsh real world, we went to pick up the sensibly sized and priced car we had reserved at Heathrow. A short time later we found ourselves perched in a gadget-filled Range Rover, safely ensconced against any and all road hazards, Queens of All We Surveyed!
I can’t remember the actual words Mr. Hertz Agent used to convince us to rent the behemoth, but convince us he did. What a deal! For only a few measly pounds-per-minute extra we could ride in pure luxury. And did he mention it ran on dirt-cheap diesel, not over-priced petrol? Obviously we’d be fools to turn down such a rare opportunity. Mr. Hertz Agent had a deep voice, reminiscent of Mark Sheppard who does the promos for BBC America. As his warm, gravelly tones rolled over us, The Lisas punctuated his sales pitch with breathless giggles. Driver Lisa blushed. Passenger Lisa winked. I hope he pocketed a big commission for sending us out in that hellish beast–at least someone should have profited from the deal.
Admittedly our suspicion that we taken on more than we could handle should have been obvious with our inability to maneuver the parking lot without rolling over road blocks (oh-so-easy in off-road gear!), but we jauntily waved bon voyage to common sense and chalked it up to needing to “get a feel” for things.
We started off on the M-something-or-other which should have been fine. A divided highway with vehicles all traveling in the same direction. Should not have been a problem at all. Wrong. Driver Lisa really doesn’t swear very often. Really. Except apparently while driving a Range Rover through England. Then it seems she cannot stop a steady and entirely shocking stream of profanity.
Hitting quaint rural roads only amped up the terror and the internal noise level. Passenger Lisa’s strangled cries of, “Hedge! Wall! Curb!” broke through the spew of curses at regular intervals, but Driver Lisa payed no heed to those piteous pleas. Didn’t Passenger Lisa know there were cars, trucks and buses–dear Heaven, BUSES–to be dodged on the other (Wrong. Wrong. Just Plain Wrong.) side of the road!? What was a tiny tendril of brambles or a crumbling wall compared to that? So what if there was a 16th Century church actually taking up part of the road? So what if we scratched the gold-plated armor of the Range Rover that would cost us selling off select family members into indentured servitude to repair? Innocent British lives were in Driver Lisa’s hands–which were already plenty busy clenching the steering wheel at 10 and 2. (In fact, no body parts remained unclenched at any time during the drive from Heathrow airport to our destination, charming Budleigh Salterton.)
The sidewalk which passed for a two-way street up the cliff (yes, cliff) to our B&B overlooking the seashore was the final challenge. We pulled onto a postage stamp driveway and sat, panting slightly, to let our blood pressure lower. We were alive! We had not killed or (seriously) maimed any fellow travelers! Hurrah for The Lisas!
As we exited unsteadily from the vehicle we were met by our hostess, who with one look immediately regretted ever opening her home to strangers. However, like the intrepid Sir Winston Churchill espousing the motto, “Never, never, never surrender, ” she straightened herself and pronounced, “It looks as though you could use tea.”
Perhaps it is a psychological phenomenon. Perhaps our hostess slipped a powerful narcotic into the English Breakfast blend. Perhaps a little slab of sugary raisin cake, eaten with tiny forks, in a cozy sitting room, perched atop a seashore bluff, casts a magical spell on unsuspecting travelers. Whatever the case, upon consuming a Proper English Tea the Lisas were revitalized, rejuvenated and utterly determined to ditch the death-trap Range Rover at the next possible portal for the most compact vehicle available short of a bicycle built for two. Although Passenger Lisa proposed hitchhiking or hopping the rails hobo-style as alternative travel methods, she was vetoed by Driver Lisa, who had earlier been nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as Acting Adult in Charge. But that is another story.
The moral of this story? There is nothing, nothing, a proper tea cannot fix, and never, never be seduced by a British car salesman, no matter how big his motor.