Friday, 28 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day my mind I had planned the perfect Valentine's Day meal to celebrate my wife's return home. I had even got as far as laying out the single red rose in a  vase as centre piece on the dining table and stored all the ingredients for a fine meal in the fridge.

Sometimes events just conspire against the best laid plans. February rain and floods played a major role in the conspiracy. The weather forecast promised the worst weather yet for the day my wife was preparing to return from rain swept soggy Hereford. 

So why had the visit been made in the first place? 

Think slippery muddy ground, a testosterone driven cockerel determined to assert himself against a nervous daughter-in-law and a broken leg from a sudden turn. Apparently the cockerel then gave a triumphant crow and returned to his perch in the hen coup (oblivious to the fact that would make for a very easy transfer to a chopping board and a hot oven...)

The return home from Hospital had needed a good deal of preparation in the way of cleaning, furniture removal, stocking up on sundries etc and extra help had been welcomed.

On the day of the return train journey my role was to act as taxi from the local station home. Cleverly (I thought) during the journey I scanned each of the station arrival boards on the Internet looking for early signs of disruption. The main outcome of this was a decision to provide the lift from one of the connecting stations to compensate for late running and the exhaustion of lugging a  heavy case up and down staircases at stations with no lifts.

The train was due, I was about to set off from home when a visitor arrived on a mission. During the pause for breath after 10 minutes I managed to make my apologies and drove off a great speed to the station. Joy of joys - on a busy uphill stretch of the main road - with wind and rain building nicely - the camshaft drive belt chose to snap. The car ground to a halt and heavy lorries began a swerving tactic as they attacked the hill.

2 hours later a nice breakdown  man arrived and I began to thaw out a little after spending a fraught time in the car watching the battery run down (hazard warning lights) and making text messages on a mobile phone that was also running down its battery.That was when I developed the heavy cold and cough that has plagued me for a fortnight now. 

My wife arranged her own lift with friends and had the grace to thank me for the red roses decorating the table on her return. Needless to say the meal was put on hold until we had recovered, physically and mentally.

 Eventually I suppose we will see the funny side of all this - but currently it's about as funny as the moment when super glue escapes from the repair and trickles onto as many fingers as possible creating a need for instant decisions about where to place the repair and how to stop the fingers from joining together. (I could have just bought a new watch strap I suppose.)

Next year Valentine's Day really will be a celebration - oh how we will gloat as we gorge ourselves on Capon for a change..

You tek the high road and I'll tek the low road.

We spent a summer  on a coach based holiday to Scotland - a decision when I was still recovering from a DVT  and uncertain about flying.

I'd forgotten the realities of 2 previous coach holidays - one to Spain about 25 years ago and one to Austria and Switzerland about 10 years ago. Within 5  minutes of boarding the coach the memories came flooding back. We were to be at the mercy of the coach drivers and other passengers for the next 6 days.

Worse still, there was a daily seat change tradition  to share out the joy of viewing through the front window or being slightly coach sick from the motion of the rear of the coach. Good in principle except that the way it worked, everyone had to move back 2 rows. Thus there was no way on escaping the rasping cough of the elderly lady tasked with sitting behind us. Add to the cough one of those loud voices that never seemed capable of saying anything quietly, including comments on the driver, and I became rapidly resigned to clutching at straws, such as toilet breaks, lunch stops, "freedom to explore days" and any other activity that broke Cruella's stranglehold on my quality of life.

The organiser of the holiday proved to be a genuine megalomaniac .(viz my coaches, my hotels, my choice of what you eat, my treat of herding everyone into a community hall in order to experience Scottish music and Gaelic songs - without sub-titles). So on the 'free-day' we chose to take a train from Lower Tyndrum to Oban.

On the map this route looks idyllic. A single track railway meandering through glens and forest stopping occasionally at country halts to allow hikers and bikers on board. We were really looking forward to this.
Imagine our joy when the train arrived full to overflowing with London based hearties who had travelled north overnight in order to do a charity bike ride. Two hours later we stumbled off the train in search of black coffee and a quiet Oban bench overlooking the sea. Not only did we find a bench but also the best crab sandwich stall in the world!

Time passed,the DVT treatment ended and to my joy I discovered that the extra insurance premium for declaring a DVT is a mere 3 pounds. Scotland will vote later in the year about becoming independent - in  which event I will probably cancel the long term plan to have another coach trip when I am in my 80's - provided my hearing is failing; my mobility limited and my memory such that every instruction will have to be repeated at least 3 times.

Revenge will be sweet I think...