It was in the village of Haltwhistle where an otherwise unremarkable drive took a turn for the surreal. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently bizarre about small villages in the northern reaches of Northumberland, but as we cruised through in a new Mercedes-AMG GT S, it all got a little unsettling. First, a small troop of patently feral children stopped doing whatever it was they were doing, lined up and saluted, as if on a parade of paramilitary street urchins. Immediately afterwards, a man - who, thanks to a mane and beard of implausibly glossy white hair resembled a geriatric lion or possibly some sort of off-duty wizard- appeared at the front door of an otherwise nondescript grey terraced house and roared something approving and yet entirely unintelligible, his tracksuit trousers vibrating with the effort. We were also being aerially stalked by a small murder of crows, were running out of fuel and had unwittingly parked outside the launderette at the exact centre of Britain. I know, it sounds like a Douglas Adams novel, but this is what actually happened.
Pictures: Justin Leighton
This feature was originally published in the June 2015 issue of Top Gear magazine