July 18th 2022
Sarah and my planning the night before had determined that we could leave about 11am, drive to the Holiday Inn Telford, have a bar snack lunch and return to Shrewsbury by 15:00 for our BB duties.
So after a leisurely breakfast I hopped onto the Crew Support minibus; a Ford Tourneo driven by Bryan, who took me back to the police compound to collect the shuttlebus. I gave the passenger compartment a quick sweep (using the small brush I’d bought in B&Q Plymouth), cleaned all the squashed insects off the windscreen and drove back to the Adelphi Hotel unmade car park. The Citroen was still displaying the emissions light and a message to say ‘Top up Ad Blue’ . When I popped into TSO I discovered that a 10 litre container of Ad Blue had been bought and it was in the back of a Range Rover parked in the multi storey next door. Armed with the keys I went in search of the Range Rover. Normally a Range Rover sticks out like a sore thumb in a car park, but when the QBR has a fleet of 15 assorted Range Rovers and Discoveries all with the same colourful graphics on not so easy. After wandering around two floors I found it. As I didn’t fancy carrying a 10 kgs of Ad Blue down 4 flights of stairs in the car park and then over ½ mile to the car park I decided to driver the Range Rover to the car park. Of course there was a one way system I had to negotiate, followed by roadworks and diversions but I still got there quicker than if I’d walked! Ad Blue topped up and also splashed over my uniform trousers (clean on this morning) I returned the Range Rover to the front of the Holiday Inn as its driver was looking for it!.
After leaving my luggage bag in the TSO, handing in my room key at reception I hardly got settled onto one of the trendy unholstered ‘benches’ in reception when Sarah appeared. So we made our way to the Adelphi ‘insecure’ car park to head off. There are two tunnels under the River Mersey that charge a toll for all vehicles that go through them. We had been instructed to inform Stu of the date, time and vehicle reg so he could pay the toll online. The Sat Nav took us to the nearest tunnel, ‘The Birkenhead’ which had toll booths and the toll charge was £2 which had to be paid by credit card. The other tunnel had ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) and could be paid online.
It was another hot sunny day not a cloud in the sky and was the start of a three day heat wave which culminated in the highest temperature, 40C, ever recorded in the UK. Sarah updated me with all the latest news from the relay. The previous Friday was the half way point of the Relay, so there was a party to celebrate that important milestone! This was held in the Gretna Hall Hotel over the border in Scotland because there was no hotel with the capacity to accommodate the QBR in Carlisle, although the hosts were actually in the overspill hotel in that town! By all accounts I missed a very good party, with its fair share of moments – some unforgettable, others best forgotten, and perhaps some umentionable!
After we had been travelling for an hour or so the Citroen finally acknowledged that the Ad Blue had been topped up and the emissions warning light went out.
We arrived at the Telford Holiday Inn in time to have a very tasty burger and chips, while the luggage was unloaded, the TSO was being set up and the room allocations sorted out. I was allocated room 25, a wheelchair accessible room on the ground floor a very short walk from reception. It was contained a large well equipped wet room, which, when I took a shower later that evening, didn’t quite drain correctly and the water flowed under the door into the carpet rather than down the drain in the wet room floor!
After collecting our luggage and leaving it in our rooms it was time to get back on the road again and head to the Sports Village at Shrewsbury. We arrived in the car park well before we needed to the Advance team were busy with preparations for the landing of the helicopter that would deliver the Baton, crowds were beginning to assemble to watch even though it was barely 3pm and the helicopter was not due until 5pm! It was a very hot afternoon, the first day of what turned out to be some of the hottest 3 days on record.
Evenetually it was time for the BBs to get on the shuttlebus and for us to leave the Sports Village for Shrewsbury town centre. As we approached the centre of the town and the area around the castle we had to enter the closed off roads. We parked at the side of the road just past the castle to await the arrival of the Pilot. As it was a very hot day the BBs got out to stand in the shade of the buildings, When the Pilot and their motorcycle escort suddenly arrived followed immediately by the Relay convoy it was a mad scramble to get everyone back on board the shuttlebus. There we set off following pilot around the beautiful buildings in the shopping centre of Shrewsbury. At one point the police motor cycles at the head of the Relay convoy where coming towards the Pilot vehicle, which was parked waiting for them to take a right turn into the side street ahead of us that would bring them around behind us, but they kept coming. Luckily our motorcyclists managed to stop them before the bulk of the convoy arrived and they managed go up the side street. If the convoy goes the wrong way its quite difficult to get 15 vehicles to reverse or turn around.
We then followed the convoy down to the celebration event in the riverside park to be pick up shuttle, there was noboby needing a ride back to the Sports Village so we were free to return to Telford for the Crew evening meal, which if memory serves included apple crumble and custard!