DAY 3. Lancaster to Weston-Super-Mare
Life on the road can be pretty depressing at times, particularly when you’re eating alone in restaurants.
Under normal circumstances though you can console yourself with the fact you’re not the only sad case dining solo.
You just find yourself a quiet corner and wolf down your meal before taking yourself up to your empty hotel room for an early night.
But yesterday was Valentine’s Day so multiply the misery.
Thankfully, somebody in the restaurant (I’d really like to meet them to say ‘thanks’ some day) took pity on me, and sent the restaurant’s musician to my table to serenade me.
Yes, that’s right. A grown man, with a Spanish accent and a folk guitar sat himself down at my table, well there was an empty chair, and proceeded to sing me a love song.
It felt like every eye in the restaurant was on me – most of them filled with tears of laughter – as I waited for ground to open up and swallow me.
The rest of the day had been fantastic though, with lots of terrifically warm welcomes across the Nissan dealer network as I made my way from Lancaster to Weston-Super-Mare.
But no welcome was warmer than that of the lovely Bird, Sales and Service Support, at TG Holdcroft in Crewe. Not only did she head straight outside into the pouring rain to put the LEAF on to charge, but she also made me a steaming hot coffee with a smile. Thank you Bird, you’re a legend.
The day started in sunshine at Fred Coupe in Preston, but the weather turned increasingly horrible as I headed further south taking in Chorley Nissan in Chorley, the brand new WR Davies site in Stafford, West Way in Wolverhampton and Arbury in Bromsgrove.
By the time I made my final visit of the day, the wonderful Wessex Garages showroom in Cribbs Causeway, Bristol, it was raining so hard, I took my photo of the team indoors rather than getting everybody drenched.
Today, I’m pressing on to Land’s End, taking in another four or five dealers en route.
It looks like it’s going to warmer too, so I’m going to be brave and pack away my thermals.
DAY 2. Glasgow to Lancaster
Yesterday’s side mission was postponed at late notice, meaning we were able to continue our tour of dealers north to south, albeit setting off a lot later than planned.
Sadly this meant missing out on the journey around Loch Lomond and the Trossachs but the journey from Glasgow down to Dumfries and on through the Lake District to Lancaster was equally spectacular.
And there was another benefit. Long stretches of motorway driving provided the perfect opportunity to put much of the incredible technology aboard the new LEAF to the test.
Within five minutes of setting off in the car on day one I was already sold on the benefits of ePedal, which is so easy and intuitive to use you quickly forget you’re even doing it.
But add that to ProPilot as I did for long spells yesterday and you can’t fail to be impressed. It just makes eating up the miles so much more relaxing and enjoyable and it’s really reassuring to know the tech has your back should your mind wander.
This is really saying something for a LEAF owner and devoted fan like myself, but the new LEAF makes the old LEAF feel distinctly old fashioned.
Anyway, I’m not here to review the car, and so onto the journey itself, which took me via the impressive Macklin Motors in Glasgow (they of the iconic tower of Nissans), Crossflags in Dumfries, where our LEAF finally had its first hose down, and the warm welcome of the team at Lookers in Carlisle.
With long stretches of motorway driving it was always going to be a day of few highlights, but there were some memorable moments – being whisked off my seat by the waitress at breakfast to dance to Whitney Houston around the restaurant; witnessing the wind blow off a man’s toupee and then a dog running off with it; and some lovely charge point chats with fellow EV drivers.
Life is never boring when you’re on the road in a LEAF.
The lowlight for was cracking my head so hard off the corner of a service station sign that I actually bent the metalwork. My legs wobbled and my noggin hurt like hell, but the trio of old ladies eating their sandwiches at a nearby picnic bench are probably still crying with laughter now.
DAY 1. John O’Groats to Glasgow
Picture if you can the scene: it’s 6am, pitch black, -5°and I’m stood down a dark farm track up to my ankles in freshly fallen snow.
Now, imagine a shrieking fat bloke leaping about six feet in the air.
Because that’s exactly happened when, out of nowhere, a shadowy figure carrying a spade over his shoulder appears next to me out of nowhere and looks me up and down without saying a word.
Then he hit me with it. No, not the spade (who seriously carries a spade about, by the way?) but a question.
‘Is that the new LEAF? Nice!’
You see, even John O’Groats – a place that’s about as far in the back of beyond as it’s possible to get – has a thriving community of EV enthusiasts.
And, when you think about it, it’s hardly surprising. Scotland is peppered with closed down filling stations and most towns are blessed with free-to-use charge points courtesy of ChargePlace Scotland.
Even John O’ Groats is on the Ecotricity Electric Highway with its own 50kw CHAdeMO rapid charger.
Now, with my heart rate returning to normal, I began to lose the feeling in my limbs as the mysterious LEAF enthusiast, seemingly impervious to the sub-zero temperatures continued to question me about the car.
Eventually though, I managed to say my goodbyes and hit the open and begin my very snowy and icy drive south.
The LEAF coped brilliantly with the conditions and was a wonderful, comfortable place from which to view the stunning scenery that unfolded in front of me when the sun came up.
I had a plan to take in five dealerships on day one but actually made only two – the wonderful Dicksons of Inverness and Specialist Cars in Perth – as I spent so much time at the side of the road admiring the incredible views.
You could do the journey much more quickly, I’m sure, but why on earth would you want to.
Today, we’re on a little side mission for Nissan HQ, which will involve yet more of Scotland’s most beautiful landscapes. That means putting our dealer tour on hold for the day, but with surroundings like these we’re not complaining.