Monday, 20 August 2012

Day One: Sandy Balls


This is the first of a series of posts based on our crazily busy holiday down in Bournemouth and Slough.  Yes, you heard that correctly; Slough.  We've had an intense week of family days out; it's cost us far too much, but we've had an absolutely ball.  Sleep is high on the agenda this week.

I'll publish the posts that were drafted during the trip over the next few weeks between other yummy musings.  Enjoy the series.  If you don't want to miss a thing you can subscribe to posts over on the right hand panel, or follow on Facebook or Twitter.


Day One: Sandy Balls

Today we made arguably a large mistake in allowing our Satellite Navigation system the freedom to navigate us the 300 miles from our home in the Midlands to Bournemouth on the south coast without so much of a glance at a proper paper map before getting in the car.

To be fair it gave us three route options; the first, and supposedly fastest, would take us down to the M25 around the west side of London and then out again. We decided that any route that included the M25 in it was flawed, especially when you've got two small children in the car and absolutely don't want to hit a tailback. The second route appeared to go through the middle of Birmingham. We judged that might get a little bit busy. So we selected the 'yellow' route of the three -straight down the M1, and then, from what I could make out on the summary map, a straightforward southerly route on A roads.

The first half of the journey went well; duel carriageways all the way. Then we were routed off the M40.

As we hit Hampshire we delighted in oo-ing and ah-ing at the increasingly large houses flanking the fairly slow moving country road. We expected that we were cutting across to another main road. We expected to hit an A road. And sure enough, eventually we did. Hurrah, we collectively thought. Then I checked the Sat Nav.

"Er, I'm afraid we aren't on this long" I said, just before the woman with the American accent started her "In 400 yards take the exit" spiel.

"Ah yes," said hubby, looking at the signpost. "Of course. Towards Middle Wallop."

It's incredible how much you can convey in so few words said with exactly the right tone. He managed to convey frustration with the lack of A roads, frustration at the Sat Nav, quiet submission to it's will,
and the obviousness that, despite not having a clue where we were, it was as clear as day that the next part of the route would be windy, single lane, country roads that would slow us down, simply because the place was called Middle Wallop.

In much the same way that we create a picture of people in our heads when given a name, before we've ever seen what they look like, (those important first impressions) we also form a picture of a place based solely on it's name. In my case, my 30ish* years of experience provided me with a picture of Middle Wallop that involved thatched cottages, lots of fields, a pub probably with the word "dragon" in the title, a traditional post office with surviving red post box and possible one bus stop in the entire place. Village hall on the green of course. Not much else.

If you live in Middle Wallop and find my brain's assessment inaccurate, please feel free to let me know and I apologise for it's ineptitude. But, having now driven past the place and it's neighbours of Nether
Wallop and Over Wallop**, I am fairly sure I'm not far wrong.

So when hubby said "Of course, through Middle Wallop" I had a giggling fit.  I knew exactly what he meant.  I couldn't stop laughing for about ten minutes straight. Of course it was inevitably that the Sat Nav would take us this way. It's got a sense of adventure. It once took me into the centre of Derby and back out again to the same road just to get a couple of miles cut off the corner as the crow flies. It took half an hour extra.

I giggled and giggled. And just when I started to get tummy ache and the children in the back seat were shouting, Mummy Mummy, what's the matter? And I couldn't answer I was laughing that much. At that point; we drove into Jack's Bush.  I kid you not.

When I'd finally stopped snorting and we'd been back out of Hampshire and back in again on our windy route towards and through Salisbury, I was so delighted to spot yet another snort-inducing sign pointing
slightly off our route.

What was the name of the place it was pointing towards? Sandy Balls, of course.

I adore UK place names.

Thank you for the giggle Sat Nav. But next time stay on the A roads please!

* Alright, alright, nearly 40 years..... no need to shout.
** Why not Upper and Lower Wallop?


  1. That is hilarious! Thank you for making me smile! We live near 'Wyre Piddle' which always makes me laugh!

    1. Is that in the Valley? That's one for a later post ;-)

      Really pleased you liked it. Before this trip, the most amusing place I'd driven through was Bunny, and that's not amusing; more cute.


  2. A friend o mine is going to Sandy Balls next week! Ahem!!!

  3. I've recently written about our rude hotel names from our holiday: I'm childish too so would have loved Sandy Balls!

    Lovely to read your post and, like me, you favour a travelogue approach to blogging about the holiday. Sometimes I worry that people may get bored with a blow-by-blow account but then I remind myself I'm doing this for my family, so we can read back in years to come. I find readers actually don't mind and can dip in and out.


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