LAURA CARTLEDGE: Hit the road, Jimmy... with a few extra sights thrown in too

Question: what do you get if you travel 779 miles in nine days to seven places with quite a few flasks of tea?

Answer: one amazing adventure.

And, if we are going to be honest about it, a growing appreciation of service station toilets.

Road trips always make me think of the movies.

Granted, the main characters usually drive off into the sunset in a Mustang – and we had my partner’s Ford Fiesta.

(Fondly known as Harrison... Ford. See what I did there?)

Anyway.

Last week we toured England’s tarmac and it was brilliant.

With friends and family dotted across the country, our journey combined long overdue catch-ups with sightseeing.

Travelling from Bognor to Liverpool, a city I am smitten with having spent three years studying there, via London, Grantham and York on the way, and to Stratford-Upon-Avon, Oxford and Winchester on the way back.

Well, that was the idea... and we stuck to it, mostly. My navigation skills – or rather lack of – just meant we threw in some extra sights such as the Birkenhead tunnel when the sat nav decided it didn’t want to play any more.

Oh yes, there was no shortage of excitement – including driving in to central London on a Friday evening.

Having survived that, we were feeling a bit smug. But the surprise £60 congestion fine when we got home soon saw to that.

However the rest of the trip went without a hitch.

One highlight was seeing my partner discover somewhere he refers to, with a mystical tone, as ‘the North’.

Also known as Nottinghamshire, it’s where most of my family come from, but for him (a thoroughbred southerner) it was like another planet where everyone calls everyone ‘Jimmy’.

The whirlwind tour certainly made us realise how much more we have to see.

But next time, I will take a map.