Wednesday was another travel day, and to be honest for the most part it wasn’t a particularly thrilling one! I was reversing the journey that I had taken two days previously, for I was returning to New England to continue my tour in New Hampshire.
I took a leisurely breakfast and then, having caught up with some emails and admin, watched TV for a while. I had decided not to leave until after 10am to give the commuter traffic into New York time to clear. The weather outside looked beautiful, with a bright sun in a clear sky, it was to be a perfect day for driving.
I packed up my bags and at 10 on the dot I checked out and loaded up my car. I set the SatNav for the good old Beechwood Hotel in Worcester, so that I could retrieve my two costume shirts, and then started North. The Great Gatsby was still playing through the audio system, and as I rose up onto the Throgs Neck Bridge to leave the Island, and looked at the skyline of Manhattan to my left, a quote from the book which had appealed to me the day before came back: ‘The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.’ When I crossed the bridge two days before the skyscrapers had been hazy, backlit by a setting sun, but now they were clear, sharp and starkly defined. It seemed impossible that there was an inch of space left on Manhattan and quite how that little strip of land can support the sheer weight of concrete, steel, and glass is beyond my unscientific mind!
The traffic was pretty clear, and as I left New York City behind me the driving seemed to become less aggressive and intimidating. Gatsby came to its conclusion, and I instead started listening to the soundtrack of The Blues Brothers, which is an excellent soundtrack for a road trip.
After a couple of hours on the road I found a Panera Bread, at Berlin CT, and had a lovely, leisurely apple salad and a coffee, before driving on towards Worcester. When I was driving in Massachusetts a few days before I had noticed that all of the road intersections have been renumbered, so every exit has not only the official green sign informing the driver what junction this is and where it leads to, but also a smaller yellow one reading ‘Old Junction…’ and then whatever the number may have been. I had first assumed that this change in numbering had only been on the route between Worcester and Sutton and was the result of some new construction, but it seems to be a state-wide phenomenon. You may suppose that there may be some logical reason behind it, that all of the new junction numbers would be two different from the old ones, for example, but no: sometimes new junction 13 was old junction 10, whereas further along the road the new junction 25 was the old junction 11 – very curious, and I wonder how long the signs will need to stay until everyone is confident with the new system.
I pulled up at The Beechwood and in just a few minutes had been handed the bag with my two shirts, so was able to continue my journey on towards Nashua, New Hampshire. There is something beautifully familiar, and yet confusing, about driving to New Hampshire, as so many of the town names come from old England: signs for Bolton, Southampton, Dunstable, Manchester, Billarica, Tewsksbury and many others paint a geographically challenged map of Britain.
Soon I had arrived at my hotel and as I walked from the car to the lobby with no coat on, I recalled that last time I was here in 2019 it was snowing heavily and at that time I was glad of my all-wheel drive car, whereas this year it has so far seemed to be a rather redundant luxury.
Jody Gage, my event sponsor in Nashua, had reserved a very nice hotel room for me, a mini suite with a separate bedroom, which felt very grand.
I didn’t have long in the hotel, as I had been invited to supper at the house of an old friend, Sandy Belknap, who has worked on my Nashua appearances for many years and who also worked with Bob Byers and me last year to promote my film version of A Christmas Carol.
Although it was relatively early, it was dark as I drove to Sandy’s neighbourhood and colourful Christmas lights twinkled on houses and in gardens. It was a lovely evening, and so nice not to be in a crowded restaurant or bar, not knowing who is close by.
Sandy rustled up an extremely flavoursome chicken dish and salad, followed by some homemade chocolate chip cookies, and it was a very pleasant, relaxing evening.
Back at the hotel it was still early, but as my body clock is still playing tricks with me and I am continually waking at silly hours of the morning (although it is gradually getting better), I was ready for sleep and the episode of whatever detective drama I had started to watch played on unseen
Thursday promises to be a busier day!