I live a short way from Cardiff, and I go to university in Bath. Normally the trip to or from Bath takes about 1h45. On Wednesday, I had a riding lesson and then drove down on my own for the first time - it's a pretty easy journey for most of the way, along the M4, then the A4, then the A36! Despite it being rush hour I had no problems. Anyway, I came back on Thursday, as I had a riding lesson at 5:30. I left a little after three, expecting to get home and then go riding, or, if the rush hour traffic was bad, I would go straight to the stables, which are on the way home.
It took me two hours to go six miles. Traffic through Bath was at a stand still - I wouldn't move for five minutes at a time, and then only a car length or two! When I finally got out of Bath, I was proceeding in first gear only as the ridiculous A4 roundabout, which is normally blocked up for half a mile at rush hour, was blocked four miles back to Bath itself. It was a combination of a high volume of traffic and a really rubbish road system. I don't know Bath well enough (students aren't allowed to bring cars while at uni, I'm a pedestrian and bus-user most of the year) to have been able to cut through and somehow find a quicker way ...
I never use my phone while driving, but the stand-stills gave me opportunity to text Mum and get her to cancel my lesson. At five thirty I was just past the A4 roundabout, and had pulled into the first layby I passed. I burst into tears (which always happens to me when I'm stressed) and called my mum. She offered to drive down with Dad and come pick me up, but I was past the bad bit then. I waited until I was feeling less shaky and headed onto the motorway.
The motorway itself was fine. I stopped after the Severn bridge to call my dad and have another cry xD But the tolls themselves on the bridge were fine; I had a nice, if very brief, chat with the guy in the booth about wasn't it lovely weather today, yes it was, have a good journey love xD
Anyway, I don't want to have to drive through Bath ever again xD I was really annoyed about missing my riding lesson, as it was with Katie as well and she's a brilliant instructor. It's a regular slot so she's been planning lots of stuff for me to do as I go back to uni a week today. I always get so much out of those lessons and last time I got to ride Solomon, who used to be the stable owner's showjumper and is a really classy horse and not used for regular lessons.
This morning I rang up and managed to get another lesson today. It wasn't with Katie, but Alex is a good instructor and it was she who started me off. I had a great time - Maddie behaved really well, I cantered without stirrups and without holding onto the saddle for the first time, and it was great. Afterwards, I spent ages grooming her to wind down and relax.
So I did get to ride, but I'm pissed off that I missed my lesson with Katie! Grr.
Also, an interesting thing I learned today - many of the lesson horses are sold cheap to my stables because they're 'naughty'. The stables trains them up into safe, obedient, well-mannered horses. I've never felt unsafe or as if the horses were unpredictable or dangerous, and they've all been lovely to work with on the ground too. The worst problems I've seen have been the more spirited ones getting a little fussy, or the lazy ones needing a growl to make them hold their feet up. Just goes to show what a difference a little training can make! These horses are all bargains, and they get a good working life and then a comfortable retirement until they die.