It was the last day of my December Mojo Mission in the U.K. I was driving on the M4 in the late afternoon, making my way towards Heathrow airport for my journey back home to the states. The sky was darkened by a storm, the wind was whipping, and rain was slashing down as my windshield wipers struggled to keep up. I had left the Marlborough area in plenty of time, joking as I did that something always went a little haywire so this time I was ready for it. So far all was going smoothly and if it continued to do so, I would be settled in the airport with time to get some work done before boarding my plane.
Singing to the music, I did as the SatNav instructed and took the exit that would lead to the M25 (all of which I am familiar with now, but hadn’t the faintest idea of then) came around the sweeping onramp, picked up speed, changed lanes to get a better handle on forward momentum when, BAM! The loudest sound I’d ever heard occurred, it was instantly followed by a skidding wobble.
It took me a few seconds to figure out what had happened while fighting with the car to stay steady and get over to the shoulder. Thankfully, there was a shoulder to get over to. I eased my way onto it. Stopped, caught my breath and jumped out to see what had happened. A blow out; actually, not just a blow out, but a complete and absolute disintegration! There was only the tiniest hint of what was, only moments earlier, a tire. Really???
Deep breath... I reminded myself I was early and had a couple of hours to get this easily resolved and still get to the airport. First, I had to figure out where exactly I was and how to ask for help. I searched the glove compartment for paperwork and found the number for emergency roadside services. They needed to know my location. I didn’t even know my location! I gave them approximates and was told it would be 40 minutes. 40 minutes was pushing it but it would still be okay. I was instructed to wait in the car with my seatbelt on. Not being familiar with rules of the road in Britain, I decided following those instructions was a good idea. 60 minutes later, no help arrived yet; I called again. My request had been cancelled; the tow driver claimed they had already been there. Clearly not, I assured the person on the phone, since I am still sitting on the side of the road.
They placed another order for help. It would be another hour. Okay, now slight panic is setting in. I call the rental car company. They inform me there is nothing they can do, that I must wait for the help to arrive and then take me to the airport. I call the airlines to find out what my options are if I am late. It seems like it could still work if the hour is really an hour and I make it to the airport shortly thereafter. I’m still uneasy.
Wait! It occurs to me that I was a girl scout and I know how to change a tire!! What was I thinking??? I jump out of the car, rush to the back and check for a spare tire. Yes! There is a spare tire. There is also the weirdest jack I’ve ever seen but I’m sure I can figure it out and there are.... racing lug nuts on the tire, that I can’t even begin to take off. What??? It was a nice idea and for a moment, I felt completely empowered. I jump back in the car, now cold and wet from the rain and wind. I wait. Nothing. I call; 30 minutes have now been added to the wait time. I call the car rental place again; just to be sure there is nothing more to do. I ask, panic in my voice, why they can’t come get me (in the U.S. many car rental places will come pick you up)... the voice on the other end of the phone hesitates for a moment, before he quietly replies that he couldn’t possibly come get me, he works until 8pm. It takes me a moment to register... then I realize that the operator assumes I meant him personally, rather than his company. Oy... I quickly explain and we have a laugh in the midst of the heightening panic that is setting in.
Several hours, multiple phone calls, and a few tears later, I finally make it to the airport. I’ve missed my plane. There are no others today. The airline requires proof of the incident to schedule me for another flight without charging me a fee. I provide it and they schedule me for the next day. The rental car supplies a car, free of charge, for the extra day and I am on my way back to Stitchcombe for the night.
I am bedraggled and cold, frazzled and frenzied, and starving! I need good friends, good food, and camaraderie. There is clearly nowhere else to go for dinner but Pino’s. I call Alun and explain what has happened, swing by to pick him up and we wind our way down to Pino’s. Sure enough, it is exactly what the Dr. ordered. I walk in the front door, greeted by a roaring fire in the fireplace, a rousing welcome, hugs all around, and smiling, happy people. Feels like family... the good kind.
To say that Pino’s is delicious traditional Italian cuisine is an understatement. It is so much more than that and has become a mainstay for Mojo visits. Pino and his people are always welcoming and gracious, supplying amazingly delicious food and ideas for further adventures. His food is prepared with care and is locally sourced whenever possible, not to mention, always incredible. His chef, Andre, is lovely and happy; his outlook on life comes across in his food. Pino, knowing of my absolute love for food and all things interestingly edible, has even upon occasion allowed me in the kitchen. One evening I enjoyed the fascinating experience of cleaning fresh caught scallops. 300 scallops and lots of laughs later, I felt even more at home at Pino’s.
How did Pino end up in our lives??? Well, in case you weren’t aware, Bohemian Mojo also leads travel retreats. Little wellness journeys intended to inspire and invite people back to themselves, the land, food, and a sense of connection (among other things). We were in the midst of planning a retreat in 2014 when our original plans began to unravel. We had a week to quickly pull a new plan together! Completely by accident (is anything really ever an accident) we found ourselves at Pino’s one evening as we were trying to plan our next steps. We explained our dilemma as we perused the menu and before we knew it cogs were spinning, plans were happening. Pino was amazing! He immediately knew what we were trying to do and began supplying us with names, places, information to get us on the right track. It worked! Within a few days we had an entire new venue planned. Our retreat was a smashing success, with many a well enjoyed meal at Pino’s for our participants and a fast friendship was formed.
Praise for Pino’s is beyond well deserved. He sets the standard for community and nourishment for the heart and soul. If you’re ever in the Marlborough area, you will absolutely need to make your way to Pino’s to sample the menu and raise a toast over a glass of lovely wine. Better yet, sign up for a Bohemian Mojo retreat and we will take you there ourselves!