We’d decided to meet at the Carrick Lodge Hotel. As I drove, I wondered, not for the first time, what on earth had possessed me to agree to it. I had, after all, got back from a drive across France just a few days before and now I was driving all the way up to Ayr. I knew why that hotel had been chosen, of course. Phil had been camping in his new motorhome at the Craigie Gardens caravanning site in Ayr. Meeting at the Carrick would mean only a ten-minute drive for him, which suited him well. He planned to stay in the area for a few more days after the three of us met, and Sally and I had always been for too easy to persuade. Phil rarely put himself to any extra effort.
I remember he put the plan to me with the air of someone proffering a particularly large treat.
“Why don’t you come and meet me up in Ayr? You’d love the town. I’m taking my new tourer there in the autumn, to the Craigie camping site. It’s not that far from me, but it’ll still be a nice change of scenery. There’s a lovely hotel I know of nearby. Charlotte stayed there for a few nights when she went on holiday a while back. It’s called the Carrick Lodge.”
“Maybe. It’s a long way for me though.” “Oh come on. You’d love the drive up. You’re always driving miles across France. And Ayr’s really picturesque. And peaceful.” “Maybe so. But the roads in France are much quieter.” I sighed. “When did you have in mind?” “How about late October? The 21st?”
I hesitated. That was three days after I was due to return from my next trip to France. I wasn’t about to give that up. I enjoyed it too much and I'd already paid for my European Breakdown Policy. Would I fancy a long drive so soon after? I‘d planned a very busy road trip, stopping first in Lille to admire the architecture, before heading to the Mont Saint Michel. As picturesque as Ayr was supposed to be, surely it couldn’t beat Avignon, my favourite destination of all. This time I hoped to pay a visit to the Luberon region of Provence if I found the time. I must have mulled over things for too long. Phil grew impatient and started offering me further inducements.
“Please come. I’ll ask Sally to join us too if I can drag her away from that personal trainer of hers. I swear I’ve never heard of anyone following an exercise regime so assiduously. She’s never missed a session she tells me. Not in a whole year. Makes you wonder exactly what sort of exercising they get up to really.”
“Oh hush.” But I was smiling. It would be nice to see them both. “Alright, I’ll come. After all, I haven’t seen Sally in ages, it’ll be nice to meet up.” “Great. I’ll give you a tour of the motorhome when you get here if you like. I’ll drive it from the campsite. Who knows? You might want to buy one yourself to take with you on your meanderings across France. You’d be able to take whatever you want with you, not just the essentials and the French travel kit and headlamp deflectors for a change.” “Perhaps. Let me know about Sally.” “Will do.” We hung up. I got a text from him the next day saying Sally was coming too.
So I found myself driving up to Scotland the night before we were to meet. I arrived at Carrick Lodge and I must say it was a lovely little hotel located near the seafront. My room was tastefully furnished, and the meal I had in the restaurant was delicious and the lounge and bar area was cosy and comfortable. A hotel in short, perfectly suited to its charming, peaceful surroundings. Great place for a little break from the hustle and bustle of day to day life. I met Sally when I’d come down from my room for a drink after I got settled in that afternoon. I saw her settled in a comfortable armchair near the fire. She looked so different from the last time I had seen her that I almost didn’t recognise her. Delighted, I walked over to her. She spotted me and jumped up, grinning. “Hey,” I said. “You look great!” “Thanks, glad to hear Mick’s earning his money. It’s lovely to see you. How long has it been since we last saw each other? We haven’t even talked on the phone much recently.” “Must be a year at least.” I agreed, nodding. “Mick’s your personal trainer, right?” “Yeah. I thought I told you already.”
We spent the next hour or so making up for lost time. She told me all about her current personal fitness goals and how Mick had designed a personalised training programme for her. He more than earned his £40 per hour’s session she said. Sally named exercises I’d never even heard of and said she’d never felt better. She did look fantastic, so who was I to argue? To think I’d felt virtuous for doing the occasional bit of yoga. “Anyway,” Sally said, after a while, “why do you think Phil’s got us all together here? “No idea. More convenient for him, I guess. And I bet it’s an excuse to show off his new tourer to somebody.” “You don’t think he’s finally found someone, do you? “I shouldn’t think so. He’s a confirmed bachelor by now, isn’t he? Sally made a non-committal sound and changed the subject. “Lovely hotel this, isn’t it? Very quaint.”
Both of us were treated to a look at Phil’s motorhome when he arrived in it the following day. It was a Coral, we were told. Quite appropriate to bring it somewhere so close to the sea, I thought. I have to admit I was quite impressed and listened as he detailed its many features. It had stylish furnishing that looked both comfortable and functional. It also boasted some clever design features. I told him I was a bit worried about how big it was to drive, but he told me you soon got used to that. He said I couldn’t know for sure unless I gave it a go. He had a point. He even told me it had been easy to get the specifications and layout he’d asked for. It left me with a bit to think about. He took us a short drive it in before we returned to the hotel so we could see how smooth the ride was. My favourite thing about it though, was that it had a sky-roof and was silver.
We had an excellent evening after that, just chatting and relaxing in the bar and drinking a fair quantity of wine. It turned out Sally was right. Phil had met someone. He finished by promising to bring her to meet us the next time we all got together and I went away resolved to try renting a motorhome for my next journey across France. Not such a pointless trip, after all.