The plan was simple. I was going to visit Maggie in Ciudad Rodrigo for the holiday weekend. I'd bought the bus tickets to get from Elda to Salamanca and Maggie would pick me up from Salamanca.
The bus was at 1.15am and I waited in the bus station. No life. No bus. Eventually, around 2am I rang Maggie to say I wouldn't be there as planned. It turned out there are two bus stations in Elda.
The first train wasn't till 7.30 in the morning but I know that train is often full. Anyway driving back to Culebrón and then returning to Elda for the train in the five and a half hour gap seemed a bit pointless. The next bus wasn't till 11.15 and there would be the problem of exchanging the tickets. Anyway the Madrid - Salamanca people were on strike so I'd been concerned about that leg anyway and, of course, any re-organisation would basically mean that I arrived towards the end of Thursday rather than the beginning. What's more it was now 2.30 in the morning and I was in Elda, ready to go and feeling bitterly disappointed.
So, in the end, I put some petrol in the MG and headed off up the motorway for Madrid and Ciudad Rodrigo.
That MG and I have been a long way together. As well as being my everyday car for ten years we used to do those jaunts all over the UK with the various MG clubs. There were trips like the 1500 miles around Scotland to bed in the new engine, the outing to Gibraltar a couple of years ago or even the journey that brought me, the car and Mary the cat to Spain . But those were in the days when Barclaycard and I had an understanding about keeping the car on the road come what may.
The car I set off from Elda to Ciudad Rodrigo in is not the one that was regularly serviced, lovingly washed and generally molly coddled in every way. No, this is the car that's filthy and rotting away, the one with damage at the front end, the one that somebody rammed into only a few days ago.
Despite that I rather suspected we would make it. We may have the occasional splutter and misfire, the lights may be a bit dim for Spain's unlit, unmarked motorways, the noise level may be rather high by today's standards and the wind whistling in through various holes may make it less comfortable than your modern motor but for all it's failings I prefer the MG to any other car I've ever owned and, even in its current state it's still more fun than all the other motors I drive about.
And make it we did. From Alicante across the flat plain of Castilla la Mancha, through the relatively light but fast Madrid traffic, across Castilla y Leon with so many famous place names and finally to Ciudad Rodrigo. More or less the entire breadth of Spain - despite my occasional dozing off, despite the Guardia pulling us over near Salamanca and despite the indicators going on the blink we pulled into town in fine shape. Now all we have to do is go back the other way.