I look around one more time, just to make sure I've taken everything that's mine. There's an old book behind one of the seats and a boiled sweet that was once hard and shiny but is now softly slimy. I slip both into my handbag and then, satisfied that I've left nothing else behind, I turn the key and start the car for the last time.
I've only got a couple of miles to travel, just to the other side of the village. I've driven this car so many times that I'm almost on auto-pilot and I barely notice the journey. But when I glance at the dashboard I see the mileometer, slowly ticking up the distance - by the time I arrive, it has reached a total of 72,492 miles.
72,492 miles - that's almost the same as driving round the world three times. This car has never left England but in the last three years it's taken me the length and breadth of the country, delivering me to a strange hotel on a dark wet night in Manchester, touring the coastal paths of Dorset last Christmas, travelling to countless football matches on Saturday afternoons. When my grandson was born two years ago it was this car that ignored the speed limits and got me to the hospital safely. When we moved house last year it was this car that carried all the precious things we didn't want to trust to the removal van. And it's never once broken down.
When I get to the garage I feel hesitant for the first time, not sure where to park, aware that my vehicle looks shabby and unloved next to all the gleaming paintwork. My car carries with it the marks of all the journeys I've made over the last three years. It bears the grime of dead insects from my daily commute on the motorway, the scratches of my return home each evening through narrow country lanes. The sticker from our last visit to the Silverstone Grand Prix is still firmly fixed in one corner of the windscreen.
Before I get out I sit for just a few more minutes, thinking about some of the other journeys and the people who've sat beside me. I think of Philip sitting there in the passenger seat, how he always turns up the volume on the radio for a song he likes, how he never turns it down again. I think of the number of times I've stroked his leg while we wait at the traffic lights - reassuring myself that he's still there at the end of my arm. I think of Megan choosing one of our favourite CDs so we can both sing along at the tops of our voices, knowing she's still the only girl of her age to know all the lyrics to a Beautiful South album.
I look up across the forecourt, through the wide glass doors of the showroom, to where Elliott the salesman is waiting. I thought I'd be more excited. I hadn't imagined these feelings of regret and I hadn't for one minute expected this sense of betrayal in trading in my slightly ageing car for a different make and model. But it only lasts a moment, then I get out and lock the car, for the very last time, and stride towards the man who will talk me through the reams of paperwork, before he hands me the keys and takes me to my new car.