“When was the last time you just got up and went for a drive? Not to anywhere, not for anything.”

If you watch Top Gear regularly you’ll know this as a famous quote from Jeremy Clarkson. It’s a quote that’s been rolling around in my head for some time now. Since moving into town, the S2000 only tends to get used at weekends. It's covered a paltry 80 miles since I filled it up a month ago. The attendant at the local Shell probably thinks I'm dead. I'm mainly using it for picking up the shopping. And that’s really not what it’s meant for.

So cue a warm July evening, nothing worth watching on the TV, too muggy to sit around indoors. The main heat outside is dying down and I can lift the lid and get a good breeze as I drive off towards the hills. While the world is watching the soaps, I’ve got the roads to myself. As I cross the busy flow of the M5, I’m in solitude up on the bridge. And I’ve got a smile on my face. Now I see what it’s all about.

I don’t even know where I’m heading, I’m just driving and I’m just enjoying it too much to care. The pace is casual, I’m not in a rush. There’s no need for 9000rpm gear changes today and I’m not attempting to break the sound barrier. Even the VTEC only gets used to overtake an odd car that’s also taken the scenic route.

My usual stomping ground of Exmoor is now the wrong side of town, even the Brendons aren’t on my doorstep any more, and I’ve opted for unknown territory and chosen by chance a cracking route up the Blackdowns. The low sun is shimmering through the trees as the tarmac twists upwards, lots of sharp tightening bends that really make the Honda’s diff work for it’s money. In places it’s reminiscent of the Eifel mountains around Adenau, though if I’m honest, it’d probably benefit from the German’s road laying skills.

I soon cross the Devon border and at the next opportunity make a turn back towards Somerset and see where the next road will lead me. In the distance, more hills, on top of which I can see a local landmark, the Wellington Monument. I make it my next destination and pay a quick stop for a photo or two, seen as I’ve never been before.

With that done, I descend the hill as the sun sets over the horizon and the light starts to fade. I think about turning to home but decide I’ve got nothing to get back for. I’m good for another run up the hill through a different route and a cruise along the tree-lined arrow straight road that runs along the top. Before long I find my way back onto the stretch that I came up, something I just couldn’t resist a second look at. It still doesn’t disappoint even in the dark and before long I’m back in the glow of the street lights.

As I return the town is eerily quiet. Everyone’s still inside, watching the world through a screen as I’ve been out making the most of it. All that breaks the silence is Brian Eno’s ‘An Ending’ playing on my stereo and sounding ‘just right’. Thanks, Mr Clarkson, it's been a great evening well spent. I just want to do it all again.

So is it time you asked yourself: “When was the last time you just got up and went for a drive?”
Out for a top down cruise through the trees
Watching the sun set from the Blackdown Hills
Wellington Monument in the low light
All things red at Ford Street
Tom D
9/7/2013 05:37:12 pm

Very interesting post man.

I can honestly say my random drives are alot less these days. With Fuek economy now a small issue (not complaining but got to be cautious you dont burn your months wages in a weekend). Lots of changes in life and other commitments I dont take the daily detour home I used to in my 106.

However, I do still do it sometimes, see a road ive never been down in the corner of my eye and shoot off up it. Its normally narrow, bumpy and somewhat not a road. But its awesome.

Adventure. Thats what I call it. Learn more about the area, see things you wouldn't see normally as its not something in the tour guide and drive home with a smile on your face.


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