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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Looking for Alec & Zoe Callendar: Part 2

Once we realized we were lost on the outskirts of London, we started looking for some place to stop and get directions.  But we found the streets in England narrower than their counterparts in the United States, and often we found ourselves busy navigating twists and turns, or heading down a street with nothing but greenery for company.  If we passed through a town, we often found no place to park.  Or a road designated on a sign would fire us with hope, and so we would soldier on, only to realize, a few minutes later, that we were just as lost as before.

After more than an hour, we turned off on a residential street.  We sought a gas station, or a shop where we could stop and ask for directions.  But mostly, we just needed to take a break, and gather our thoughts.  The street we found ourselves on was lined with row houses, and only extended a short way before it dead-ended.  Cars lined every inch of curb, making parking impossible.

We squeezed past a small black taxi, double-parked while the cabbie waited for his customer to climb aboard.  After turning around at the end of the street, we decided to ask the man for directions.  My wife rolled down her window and asked if he could direct us back to the road we were looking for.  For the most part, Google Maps had identified the roads we would take not by names, but by their M, A, or B designations.  The cabbie shook his head.  “I don’t know the A and B roads,” he answered. 

After a moment, the man asked, “Where are you trying to go?”  When my wife said Pinner, his eyes lit up.  “Oh, that’s easy.”  He then rattled off a list of directions.  Noting our glazed eyes, he instructed us to follow him, and when he made a left turn at a particular intersection, we were to turn right, and follow a shorter series of turns until we reached Pinner.  We followed his little black taxi until he signaled us with his blinkers that we had reached the parting of the ways.

Uncertain that we were following his instructions, we headed off on our own.  We worried that we would take a wrong turn somewhere.  And then, suddenly, we found ourselves approaching Pinner high street to our right.  Finally, we had reached the English village where the TV show May to December was set!

Pinner's main street

We purchased lunch from a grocery store,
then found an empty bench and reviewed our plans.

As cars filled all available spaces along the main road, we parked in a nearby shopping center, which gave us one hour before rates rose dramatically.  So we wolfed down our lunch as we consulted our maps and driving instructions.  As we had fallen far behind schedule, and realized we were woefully unprepared for the English road system, we crossed the other side trips off our itinerary. 

The lunch hour is nearly over, Alec.
Time to return to work.

After finishing our lunch, and refining our plans, we spent our remaining minutes exploring the town where Alec and Zoe met, fell in love, and eventually married.  It felt so good to stand outside Alec’s office, to gaze up at the familiar church clock, and to peruse the shops along the main street.  To stand where they once stood.  To see, as much as we could in so short a span of time, how closely their life on TV mirrored that of the locals.  Then, reluctantly, we climbed back into our car and headed off to the place we would be staying in the Midlands. 

If I need assistance,
where better to find it than the law offices of
Semple, Callendar & Henty!

We would arrive at our condominium late that evening, having spent several more hours taking wrong turns along our planned route.  (The next day, we would find an electronics store and purchase our first Satellite Navigation device).  We regretted not being able to visit the other stops on our planned route.  But unlike the other TV show locations, Pinner was a real village, and we had caught a glimpse of what life there might be like there.  Alec and Zoe seemed a good fit for the community.  I only wish we could have explored their world a little more, and that we could once again thank the cabbie who helped us get there.

Dragon Dave

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  1. Remember, when you next come over, you should really use a Sat-Nav. It is far easier to navigate our peculiar road system with one of those than try following Googlemaps instructions. Mind you, we always have a map handy as back-up.

  2. At lunch the next day, we spotted an electronics store, and thought, "Well, maybe we should." So we walked over and let the salesman talk us into buying one. It didn't work back home, but oh yes, it made navigating in the UK so much easier! We used it on subsequent trips, and even when we were just walking around.

    It makes me wonder how people got around in the UK, particularly on long driving trips, before satnavs were invented.