“First, some ground rules.
I will lead, because this is a lap of Wales, and I’d like to see it, rather than stare at the rump of a Skoda Octavia for 850 miles. However, you shall carry the map, because I have nowhere for it. Yet I insist on doing the directions. I promise not to rely on my internal compass, but to use a portable satnav.”
Justin and I are standing under the Severn Bridge, the old one, the proper one. We’re armed with my favourite road atlas. It’s 300 pages thick and the rough size and weight of a paving slab. It’s tattered to shreds and bears the invaluable graffiti of a hundred road trips. We’re discussing how this is going to work. It’s… complicated. Navigation, clearly, will be an issue. Also communication. Not forgetting the weather, speed bumps, semi-slick tyres, inevitable deafness and oil.
Oil? Yep, I’ve just dipped the stick, and it’s on the lowest mark. We need to find some Motul 300V. Nothing else will do. But I’m excited: I love it here - here being the start of the journey as well as this place. A slipway into the Severn, right at the gateway to Wales. Justin, attempting, I’m sure, to curb my enthusiasm made me reverse down the perilously slippery cobbles. The Mono has no handbrake.
There are many other amenities that it lacks, but given the temper that the Severn seems to be in, swirling angrily, vortices popping in and out of existence, that one is preying on my mind right now.
Pictures: Justin Leighton
This feature was originally published in the December 2013 issue of Top Gear magazine