A post should appear every Sunday.
Sunday August 21st 2022
The next morning is just as bright, and the shadows just as deep and scary as they were yesterday, and Isis is just as scared when I remove her harness and lead; but the outsized extending lead works like a charm. As soon as I attach it to her collar, she sets off briskly, full of the joys.
We have a delightful walk, and both return from Highbury in high spirits.
This is particularly gratifying today, as I am off to visit friends in Rutland, and poor Isis has to be at Hollytrees by 4.00.
As most of us know, leaving Precious Pet behind is never done with a light heart. Since the debacle two visits ago, when she had to walk the length of the building between two rows of barking dogs, Isis has been very reluctant to walk to her lodgings. Last time, Tracy asked Adam to carry her.
This time, Isis knows where she is as soon as she gets out of the car, and strongly resists approaching the gate, first trying to drag me off in the opposite direction, then doing the stiff-legged, all strong little claws dug into the ground performance. Human, of course, feels like an ogre. Fortunately, Adam, who meets us at the gate, gently cajoles her foward, and after a yard or two, she gives in, and walks along beside him. Although he is gentle with her, she seems to accept that he is the boss.
Her special going-away bag, given to her years ago by her friend Josh, and bearing the legend ‘Dogs are good’, is carried in after her, as is a very large cardboard box for her to tear apart in idle moments. In the bag are her food, toys and information cards.
Although I know that she will be well cared for, I miss her as soon as I leave the premises, and drive home with a heavy heart. I work hard at convincing myself it’s unlikely that she will get sunstroke, that a nocturnal arsonist will set the building alight, or she’ll be eaten by a hungry bull mastiff.
I’m sure the scenario is a familiar one to many other silly dog owners.
Ah well, now for the packing.
But, as always, I’ve forgotten all the other ‘last minute’ tasks which have to be done, and by 11.00 p.m., I’m worn out, and decide I’ll get up extra early in the morning to pack.
This is never a good idea.
I have a relaxing drink, and settle downstairs to read for an hour or so. Then the day’s events run round in my head, and it’s after 4.00 before I drop off.
Inevitably, when my joltingly fierce alarm goes off at six, I drift back to sleep for another hour.
My train to Oakham leaves at 10.20. I pack as quickly as I can, and hurry to the front door just in time to observe the 18 bus – which I intended to take to Kings Norton station – float past.
It’s now 9.00. Indecision. If the next bus comes within twenty minutes, will I have time to reach the station, maybe wait fifteen minutes for the train, and reach New Street in time to queue for my ticket?
I phone for a taxi, which, an automated voice tells me, will be on its way to me immediately.
That’s a relief.
But not for long. Ten minutes pass, fifteen, twenty. I ring again. It’s on its way, I’m told.
It arrives at 9.40.
It’s the first week of the Commonwealth Games, which are being held at numerous venues in Birmingham. There are thousands of visitors in the city centre. We circumnavigate road closures and diversions even on the outskirts of the city.
Nevertheless, we arrive at the station at 10.00.
Phew! I join a very long queue, but all the desks are staffed, and I’m soon proffering my card.
The lady tells me apolgetically that the train is cancelled because there’s a broken down freight train between Nuneaton and Leicester, and none of the ticket people have any idea what’s happening. I’m advised to go to Customer Support.
Perhaps they’ll give us a brandy.
Apparently, at 12.00 we’re to go to Platform 10a. A train will drop us off at Nuneaton. There we’ll board a bus to Leicester.
Great. I don’t travel well on buses, and I don’t have travel sickness pills with me.
10a, unfortunately, is one of two platforms which have stairs, not escalators. By 12.00 a thwarted crowd of would be passengers waits on Platform 10a.
After about twenty minutes, there’s an announcement: “All passengers for Leicester should make their way to Platform 9a.”
At least there’s an escalator. We descend to the platform, and are directed onto a waiting train. We all stow away our luggage and settle thankfully in our seats.
And more time.
The train remains stationary.
Then, after about thirty minutes, a man flings open each carriage door, and shouts, “Passengers for Leicester, go to Platform 9a.”
We all shuffle back up the steps and descend to Platform 9a, where, with glazed eyes we stare along the track, not altogether confident that a train will appear. Even less confident that if one does, it will be going to Leicester.
A train eventually arrives. Even more promising, on the front it displays the magic word ‘Leicester’.
We wait for the train to move, or someone to direct us back to Platform 10a.
Then, over the tannoy comes the apologetic voice of the driver: “I sincerely apologise for the delay, but we are waiting for the guard to arrive. Because of the alterations, he is still on his way to New Street.
No-one complains. At least we are on a train. And the train is going to Leicester.
Besides, we’re British.
Finally, I arrive at Oakham not at twelve thirteen, but just after two.
At least, I think, the return journey should be a doddle.
to be continued ………………………..
P.S. By the way, someone tells me that the longest day is in June, not August (see previous post). I’ve missed it.