Fly in to Belfast City (and didn’t the lad, doing the driving, stunt around to find the final approach path!). Catch the train from Sydenham (right across from that WW1 mural: this is Peter Robinson’s home patch) through to Portadown. Have an extended drink in McConville’s (what’s the story about the fire overnight?) Load the car. Drive back through Stranraer. Malcolm’s week so far.
Even once across of the ferry, it’s four hundred and forty miles, plus, from Stranraer to Redfellow Hovel. The long hike that is the A76 (gradually being improved, but you’ll be viewing the back end of the artic ahead for dozens of miles). Then the unhappy chunk which involves the static hell of the M6 past Manchester.
So, somewhere in between, an overnighter at a suitable hotel.
Which was the fun bit. For a start the “tinkling stream” outside the front door (well, across a substantial carpark) was a raging flow. We only rarely have rain in England which is “torrential”, but it rained solidly across the north and the Borders all day Thursday. Hence the stream a yard higher on Thursday evening than it was on Friday morning, and milky cocoa instead of its usual Liffey brown. Even the sheep were miserably shaking their fleeces.
Furthermore, Malcolm over-ruled the bossy Satnav lady, believed a roadside marker and took the back route in. This was along a track so insignificant the satnav gave up and showed a trip across open fields. On such occasions, when Malcolm blows the map-reading bit, any Redfellow family member in the car is expected to chant (to the original Batman theme): Dadadda, dadadda, dadadda dadadda da! Satnav!
Then there still exist hotels in the backwoods which are Agatha Christie locations pure and simple.
This is one.
The first killing would likely be scalded to death under a boiling shower, because the cold water unaccountably jammed. Curiously: it worked perfectly the next morning. Obviously Widow Whyte with the washing in the wet-room.
The second would be one of the OAP coach party done to death: Parson Prune with a pepper-pot pistol in the parlour?
On the other hand, Malcolm forgets there are still parts of Britain where the water runs silky soft from a moorland reservoir, where the nights are stony silent (no traffic, no helicopters), where red squirrels roam and come to be fed each morning, where the beds are soft, the beer is nutty brown, and the portions are more than adequate. And hotel staff are obliging.
The Shap Wells Hotel deserves its mention.