G K CHESTERTON, A PROLIFIC early 20th century writer and thinker, once wrote: God made the wicked grocer for a mystery and a sign that men might shun the awful shops and go to inns to dine.
I bring this to your attention because it was unexpectedly brought to mine - on a damp, cool Sunday evening in a Harvester restaurant in Nuneaton, of all places.
The restaurant chain had tried to create an ambience of rich ancestry, homeliness and old-world charm. The letters were painted in a serif script on a cream-coloured wall, surrounded by suitably distressed wooden beams.
The place looked like a barn, and even the salad cart had authentic replica cartwheels.
But it was the sort of place that never existed in the UK. It was a modern brick-built building in the middle of a 1970s housing estate. Chesterton would have laughed; I know I did.
Chesterton also once said: I agree with the Irishman who said he preferred to prophesise after the event, and I knew what he meant. I was halfway through a trip round the inland dive sites of the UK in my dive van, and things were not looking good.
I had been to Chepstow and Vobster and was waiting my turn in Stoney Cove. The trouble was, the operations manager had been away the week before, when I was organising the trip, and I had been unable to arrange anything. I was hoping she would be able to help at short notice.
The idea had been to dive with the staff, see the attractions and talk to the management people about the various facilities. The rough circular route would lead from my home in Hertfordshire through Somerset, into Wales, up to Leicestershire, on to Lancashire and down to Cambridgeshire.
In other words, it started at Vobster Quay, headed for the National Diving Centre at Chepstow, then moved onto the original National Diving Centre at Stoney Cove, then went up to Capernwray and took in Gildenburgh Water before heading home.
I know that several sites are left out, but little in life is perfect. Just remember that I spent a week in an Escort van full of damp, smelly dive gear to write this.
I bet G K Chesterton never did that for his readers!

Contact Details  
Chepstow: 01291 630046, www.nationaldivingcentre.com
Vobster Quay: 01373 814666, www.vobsterquay.co.uk
Stoney Cove: 01455 273089, www.stoneycove.com
Capernwray: 01524 735132, www.dive-site.co.uk
Gildenburgh Water: 01733 351288, www.divein.co.uk