The Ferrol Express

I’ve driven this route dozens of times before.

I’ve driven it in winter, in summer, in the midst on heavy Easter traffic, and probably at every other time of year at some point over the last two decades. I’ve driven it in both of the crappy cars I’ve owned over the last 18 years, and before that I have driven it in countless different hire cars; once even in a rented van when I went there and back in the same day to collect some furniture. That was a long time ago when I was younger, I couldn’t do that now.

The start of the route is the same as the school run, so it’s not just familiar, it’s tedious. It reminds me of the very life-draining routines that smother me for eleven months of the year. The very routines I’m trying to get away from for the next two weeks. I console myself: when I take my daughter to school on sunny days like this, I imagine ignoring our exit and continuing on through the lengthy Guadarrama tunnel, turning our tiresome commute into an exciting adventure. On schooldays I don’t to do that, I do what I’m supposed to do and take the exit I’m supposed to take. I’m not asking for thanks for this selfless act, I’m just saying that the temptation is always there: take the exit for tedious routine, or continue straight for freedom and adventure … that’s the good thing about today, the fantasy gets real and I ignore the school exit and keep on going through the tunnel. As soon as I do, I start to feel the delicious buzz of the freedom of the road. I shout “road trip!” but my family ignore me, they know I am full of crap and they are right. It’s not a road trip, it’s a drive, and there’s a difference.

A “road trip” is about the journey, a “drive” is a functional activity that you need to do if you want to relocate your body and suitcases to a different place.

If I had my way, we’d take a few days inching north, taking the backroads, stopping along the way in different towns and villages and beauty spots … but I don’t have my own way (I never have my own way) and we peg it up the motorway as fast as we can.

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