Saturday, 9 June 2007

Trains, tubes and automobiles

As I mentioned before, my trip to London - via Portsmouth University - was scheduled to take place last weekend. I should have known things were not going to go exactly according to plan when I couldn’t - at first - start my car Friday morning. Getting it going in the end, I then met several unusual queues of traffic, which seemed intent on causing me to miss my train, and lastly, upon arriving at Tiverton Parkway, found a very smug sign informing me: ‘car park full’ (hmm I had not made any contingency plans for that one). No apology from said sign for the ensuing high blood pressure or momentary loss of sanity - just a cold, matter-of-fact statement. It was a blatant lie, though; there was a space, so mental stability and good temper returned and the car was settled in for a few days in the concreted, and spasmodically leafy, surrounds of the car park.

My blood pressure rose again, however, upon trying to work out how to pay for the blasted parking ticket. Perhaps the blood was blurring my vision, or perhaps I was merely being thick, but I read the instructions several times, and someone did forget to explain the most rudimentary elements of how to pay for more than one day. Eventually, after a couple of failed, clumsy attempts, I did at last manage to place said ticket on the dashboard of my car - with about ten minutes to spare before my train was due to arrive.

Settling into my unusually spacious, and comfortable seat, on the train, I began to feel, as it sped down the track, that perhaps everything would be OK after all.

Did I just say that out loud?

Hmm, well a delayed train at Westbury put the kibosh on that. Just over six hours after leaving Jon cosily wrapped up under the duvet, I actually managed to get to Portsmouth before my eldest daughter, Shosh (who had very kindly volunteered to pick up Olivia’s belongings from Uni as she has a bigger car). I instantly agreed with Olivia that things would not fit in the car on one journey - she had sent me a text whilst I was waiting for my connection at Westbury to inform me of this, rather tardy, revelation.

After practising the ‘square peg into a round hole’ routine, all three of us at last trundled off back up to Hatfield, via Uxbridge (where we ate) and got back to Shosh and Gav’s (her boyfriend) mid-evening.

Saturday was the day for serious shopping for bridesmaids’ dresses in Oxford Street. Did we have any luck? Well not quite. The first establishment visited had exactly what was desired and I thought to myself: “Blimey Corinna, this is a stroke of luck - perhaps we can do a bit of sightseeing as well”. Hush my mouth for thinking such a thing, for it became all too obvious that Olivia’s was too big where Shosh’s fitted perfectly. Clasping my hands to my cheeks in a pose indicative of that famous painting by Edvard Munch, I screamed inwardly to myself.

This was the story for the rest of the day - if one fitted Shosh the equivalent did not fit Olivia and vice versa, or the required size was not available for one of them. Monsoon, Marks and Sparks, Debenhams, John Lewis, Selfridges etc all got a visit. (Why is it that shops don’t bother to restock the average sizes?)

After limping down Regent Street towards Piccadilly, it was decided that the original dresses were the best after all and that Olivia would just alter hers to fit. By that time, though, our feet felt like bricks, and the hustle and bustle, and the heat and the noise, were all getting to us. We were, therefore, not willing to walk one more step, so we went back to Hatfield empty-handed, with a rather more despondent air about us than had accompanied us on our journey into the City that morning.

Saturday evening was upon us, and it was time to work out what to do with the rest of Olivia’s worldly goods that were still languishing down in sunny Portsmouth. Several permutations of how to effect a collection and drop off of the already transported items were discussed, and these talks ensued till into the early hours - tempers getting a bit frayed all round, exacerbated by the exhaustive and disappointing trip into the sunny capital.

Sunday dawned, and it was decided that the only option was for Shosh to drive us up to Lincolnshire, drop off what we had with Olivia’s father and then Olivia would collect her car, and drive it down to Portsmouth. Here comes the time to explain that Olivia has not been driving for that long, having passed her test not long before going to Uni, and has never driven on a motorway. She was scared rigid about doing it on her own. The thought of her doing so, also scared me rigid.

Olivia and I went back to Hatfield, where we had a very nice Sunday dinner cooked by Gav and Shosh, before high-tailing it down to Portsmouth to collect the rest of the things to come back on Monday. After sleeping in the Uni halls - with all its rather odd sights, sounds and smells - we were up at 7.30 am and loading the car (that old square peg again, and this time the round hole seemed even smaller), and signing out officially, before driving back up to Stamford. Then, for me, a return train trip from there down to Tiverton to collect my car and drive back here to Woolsery. Thankfully, by the time I arrived back home, the marks caused from sleeping on the metal bed frame without a mattress had faded. My body had the appearance of a giant waffle when I woke up! I really do live the life of luxury eh?

You may be wondering why I have told you this - well apart from the fact that I am floundering for something else to talk about in my blog, I thought I would share with you how a shopping trip to London turned into a full blown road trip up and down the eastern side of the country!

The dresses? Ah well, I did find out that there is a Monsoon branch in Barnstaple so I went in on Tuesday and there they were - exactly the right dresses in exactly the right sizes. How is that for irony? And they had only come in the day before too so I was lucky. Phew!

Now all I need is my dress … no just kidding - got that ages ago!

Anyway, girls, if you read this - thanks for all you did Shosh, and well-done Olivia on your first driving experience of motorways, let alone the infamous M25.

I forgot to add - in all this I forgot Jon and I were supposed to see the vicar Monday night to organise banns for the wedding. So I also managed to piss Jon off a bit too for carrying out my motherly duties. Ah well, that all got sorted in the end too.

To close, and further to my light-hearted musings at the end of my previous entry, I could add here that I returned home Monday night to find beer cans on the lawn, fag ends in the loo and a mess of indescribable proportions all over the house.

But I don't think anyone would believe me ... or would they?


Oll Lewis said...

Re the comments about untidiness back at Myrtle cottage, I'd like to make it clear that if the place did look a bit like Swansea upon the future Mrs Downes' return it was nothing to do with me as I spent the weekend trying out several teas I'd acquired from Harrods and experimenting with blending them. I also watched 'The Queen' on DVD, which is a very good film.

Anonymous said...

Tea from Harrods? Hmph, where have you been hiding those then?