A post should appear each Sunday!
Sunday June 13th 2021
My friends M and G greet me at the door. I apologise for not phoning, and recount my misadventures.
They are glad that I hadn’t told them in advance that I was setting off at 6.50. Since it is now 11.30, they may have been a little anxious. Another mitigating factor is that M has known me for over fifty years, so little I do surprises her.
We eat and chat. Tomorrow I will leave my car here and will be driven in an extremely comfortable vehicle to Norfolk. M has a bungalow in Snettisham where we will spend the week.
The telephone numbers I need are, of course, conveniently filed in the contacts section of my bewitched mobile. M googles Hollytrees so that I can enquire how Isis has settled in.
The ‘little angel’, I am told, is absolutely fine. She’s eating and has already begun dismantling the two outsized cardboard boxes which I took in for her.
Contacting Adopted Niece isn’t so straightforward. She asked me to let her know when I had arrived safely in Uppingham and, of course, I promised to do so.
Ah, M can check out her work number.
No she can’t. It’s Sunday.
Eventually, the answer dawns on me. Her father has a livery and works from home. M googles ‘liveries in Lincoln’ and we soon find his number. He says he will phone her. Phew. All immediate challenges sorted.
I am so lucky that Isis is laid back and contented at Hollytrees. I realise now that I couldn’t leave her if she was unhappy about it.
I put the day behind me and sleep like the proverbial log.
I enjoy lingering in bed with my Kindle in the morning while M and G gather together all the stuff they want to take with them to Snettisham. This is the life. It’s a shame, I muse, that dogs and cats can’t pass their leisure time with a Kindle. It would make their kennel stays pass much more quickly.
We manage to stuff everything in the car and off we go.
It rains consistently for the first half of the week, but that’s no problem: it’s just good to be immersed in green. Also, North Norfolk caters well for its visitors and M and G know all the best pub restaurants. What’s not to like? The sun emerges on Thursday and in between pub meals we traverse the country roads, enjoy spotting the wild life.
We walk by the sea, too. Isis loves the sea. It feels strange to be walking without her. I find myself automatically looking out for obstacles she might walk into, brambles which have to be held above her head and low branches which jut out. I miss her.
We return to Uppingham on Sunday.
I intend to leave around ten the next morning and to travel a more conventional route than the one I came on! M, who is well organised and logical, writes an itinerary. She also kindly insists that she will drive ahead of me for the local part of the journey, as it is complicated and she is unsure of some of the lane changes.
What could possibly go wrong?
It’s not long before I find out.
My belongings are stashed in the car. M moves her car onto the road and waits, engine running, for me to draw up behind her.
I call goodbye to G and turn the key in the steering lock.
‘Pthwaaah h a h a.’
I turn the key again.
The battery is totally, indisputably flat.
I can’t believe it. I checked it out when we arrived home last night and the engine turned immediately.
While I retrieve my speedy charger from the boot, M and G disappear round the back of the house to unearth extension leads.
After a while I follow. My car is parked facing the heavy metal up and over door of the garage. The door is raised to about waist height. Peering beneath it I see that the pedestrian door at the far end of the garage is open.
I can nip through into the garden and maybe help carry the leads.
I duck my head.
My face smashes into the metal doors. Darkness descends. As I am thrown backwards onto the gravel I wonder whether I’ll be knocked unconscious.
But no. I’m stunned but conscious. I lie for about a minute, spreadeagled like a stranded starfish, then struggle to get up.
I am just scrambling to my feet when G and M appear at the pedestrian door, holding several long extension leads. G begins to speak but then breaks off as he sees the rising apparition.
I begin to explain but am interrupted by M.
M guides me into the kitchen while G attaches the charger to the terminals.
I apologise profusely while M staunches the flow from the – fortunately – small cut on my forehead.
I have a long rest, then we have lunch. M gets through to Hollytrees and I explain that I hope to arrive by four but…
‘No problem’, I’m told. “If you don’t make it today, we’ll keep her until tomorrow.’
We eventually set off at two twenty. If I make good time, I’ll be able to pick Isis up before the kennels close at four.
I hope concussion won’t descend on me along the motorway, and I’m anxious about travelling without my phone, but feel OK as I follow M over the tricky islands. She doesn’t wave goodbye until I’m on en route for the A14 which leads to the M6 which merges into the M42.
Oh yes! I’m making good time. As long as I don’t miss the turn off at junction 3, I’ll soon be collecting little Isis.
I can’t wait to see her, of course.
I count down: junction six, five, four, 3A ………………………………….
two …………. EEEEK! What the hell’s happened to junction 3?
I leave the motorway. Instead of getting off at junction 3, which would have brought me out at Wythall, about a mile down the road from Hollytrees, I end up at Norcutts plant nursery.
As I’ve mentioned before, I have no – and I mean NO sense of direction. And, of course, I still have no sat. nav. I know I’m not far from where I live but have no idea how to get there.
I sit in the car park. With some difficulty, I restrain myself from screaming hysterically. Instead I curse. I curse. And then I curse some more.
There’s no chance of picking Isis up today, and my disappointment is well out of proportion.
I walk across to two guys standing by a white van. They are chatting and looking at their phones. I ask if they can give me directions. They tell me they’re not from around here and can’t help.
I spot an Asian family, approach, and ask if they are from Birmingham.
Like the man I met on my way to Uppingham, they couldn’t be more helpful. They live on the north side of the city and don’t know how to get to Wythall, but both parents check their phones. Although they were obviously about to set off home, they are determined to find a solution for me.
The man eventually finds Wythall, but the route is very complicated. He looks for Kings Heath.Then he asks me if I know Stratford Road. I do, and I also know that there are signs there to Kings Heath.
‘Ah,’ he smiles, Stratford Road is only just round the corner. All I need to do is to turn left out of the nursery exit. He shows me the map and asks me to repeat his directions. Just then, another Asian lady approaches. She thinks I am on foot and stranded, and has come to offer to drive me home.
Although I’m still disappointed that I’ll not see Hairy One until tomorrow, the kindness of these strangers makes me feel much more positive, and I’m soon on my way home.
That night I expect to sleep well, but I’m still awake at five a.m.
Might as well do something useful. I get up, make a coffee and search online for advice about dead mobiles. I find an android users group. Much to my relief there are a number of accounts of phones going off piste, enclosing random information in bright green rectangles and jabbering at you at breakneck speed.
Several contributors have posted videos or given long sets of instructions about how to address the problem. They all look complicated.
I suddenly feel very weary. I scan the instructions. Then, lo and behold, I come to the wonderful Geoff.
‘Just press on the up and the down volume controls at the same time,’ advises this super- hero.
I do this several times, and, hey presto, my phone springs back to life.
I have a shower and return to bed until it’s time to get ready to fetch Isis.
I’m there just before Hollytrees opens for the day.
Ray lets me in. I settle Hairy One’s hotel bill with Wendy who then goes off to fetch my Isis.
Isis sniffs me carefully and wags her tail , but she’s very laid back about it. She doesn’t throw herself at me in frantic relief. She takes it all in her stride, which is brilliant.
Ray pushes open the heavy outer gate and calls to a group waiting outside,
‘ Make way for the princess!’
And he’s certainly not referring to me.
*Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact email@example.com or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk