This week has seen me off on my travels again. No, not driving just a few miles down the road and getting lost in the process, as I did recently. This time, I was using my absolutely invaluable Disabled Railcard and going off to spend two days in South Wales.
I had been asked to make the journey several months ago, by Dr Bridget Kirsop, a former GP who is now an NLP trainer and business coach. We met through the business networking group 4Networking (www.4networking.biz), Bridget heard my story and asked me to tell it to a 4N branch in Swansea.
That's 162 miles from Tamworth and far too much for me to tackle in a day, so I arranged to travel down on Wednesday lunchtime, stop overnight in Swansea, do the talk on Thursday morning and have a leisurely journey back on Thursday afternoon. And I'm pleased to say that it all went very well.....apart from the moment when I tried to check into the wrong hotel in Swansea. Same well-known national chain, two hotels within two miles of each other and as I was unable to check the email confirming my booking because my phone had run out of charge, I chose the wrong one. A simple mistake which anyone could make, even someone with a fully-functioning brain, lol......
I was even able to enjoy some excellent real ale on the Wednesday evening. If I want to know anything about any pub or brewery in the country, I simply consult the encyclopedic brain of Adrian Smith, of The King's Ditch micropub in Tamworth. Not too many people know more and when an initial search of the CAMRA Good Beer Guide seemed to suggest three outlets of less-than-inspiring national chains, I knew where to turn.
''You must try the No Sign wine bar'' said my encyclopedia. It turned out that the said establishment was a decent rugby penalty-kick away from my hotel, an oasis in a street full of places which are probably packed every weekend with teenagers wearing not a lot and getting wrecked on cheap cocktails. You could get a sense of the atmosphere by the fact that even on a rain-soaked Wednesday night in March, there were police vans patrolling the street.
The No Sign, however, was outstanding. Five handpulls on the bar, excellent food, real ciders and a wall full of awards from CAMRA branches. I could have stayed all night, but business breakfasts start annoyingly early in the morning.
I got a good night's sleep (don't you love it when you wake up two minutes before the alarm goes off?), my talk was very well-received, I've made some very useful contacts, I've been invited back. Can't ask for anything more. Of course, I was zonked when I got back to Warrillow Towers, straight to bed for two hours' rest, a quiet day today, a quiet weekend ahead.
Plenty of people tell me I do too much on these trips. I know they have my interests at heart and I always tell them I can cope. I can, as long as I know my limits. And I could have stayed at home this week. Instead, I've scared more people into thinking seriously about stroke and stress, I've enjoyed some excellent new ale, I've spread my very important message. To me, that's a good week.