We had a Grand Day Out on Monday, to Mottisfont Abbey, home of the English National Rose Collection. We drove down to Sussex to pick up my lovely Mum, then headed back up to look at the roses.
Oh my, it was flowery.
I took a bazillion pictures, but Photobucket crashes me out about every 5 minutes so it is just too tiresome to try and edit them to fit into the blog. Another day, when I am less hot* and grumpy**.
Anyhoo. We left Mottisfont after walking around for ages in the sunshine, admiring the glorious house, gardens, trees, swans, trout and one another, and decided to stop off somewhere for a very late lunch on the way back to Mum's.
On the M27 there is a service station with a Costa coffee place. And Costa coffee places are usually not bad. And they do those chocolate twists that I am partial to, so we decided to stop there and have a drink and a snack.
It was getting on for 3 o'clock, so technically it was tea time, and therefore cake was perfectly acceptable***. Mmmm cake.
As we sat, enjoying a drink and a snack (and cake) we saw a ParcelForce van pull up on the hard shoulder outside the car park. There was a small curl of smoke coming out from under the bonnet. Or maybe from the brakes.
It was a fair way away, and hard to tell, what with all the other cars in the car park in the way.
We sat there a while longer, chatting and speculating as to what had overheated in the van****.
Maybe it was the brakes? Or an electrical fault? Or the driver had been making toast with a plug-in toaster?
We enjoyed toasted sandwiches (and cake) and watched the increasingly-impressive smoke. In fact, it had stopped merely curling, and was now billowing. And was that a flame? Why yes, I think it was...
In the space of about 10 minutes, the van went from having a small amount of smoke wisping out from under the bonnet, to a blazing inferno, the entire front end engulfed in flames.
As if that wasn't exciting enough, the grass verge caught fire.
Then the wooden fence around the car park.
It was tremendous.
People started moving their cars and caravans away from the edge of the car park as the flames rose into the air.
The passing traffic on the motorway kept moving but you could see them slow down as they passed, clearly thinking "I hope there were no parcels addressed to me in there."
After about 20 minutes of uncontrolled inferno, the fire brigade arrived, along with three police cars, an ambulance and a fire and rescue motorway truck. And that's when they coned off chunks of the motorway. All the time the fire had been blazing wildly, the traffic had kept moving, albeit a bit slower than usual.
Now, however, there was a mighty tailback in the making.
We enjoyed watching it all as we were going to be heading out the other end of the carpark and were therefore not going to be affected by the traffic chaos. Yay for us.
Other news: I am off work for a little while, as I have gone a bit bonkers. Nothing serious, but I am not in a fit state to be doing a 3 hour commute and then trying to do my job all day.
Hopefully normal service will be resumed in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, expect more posts about cake.
Oh, and I am developing a Brain Diagram for Emma at Belgian Waffle. If you haven't already discovered her, go and visit, she's bloody great.
***There are rules about these things, after all
****We don't get out much