My friend, the pathfinder, always maintains that nothing goes to plan with me. By this, she means ‘uneventful’ never happens. She’s sent me on ahead to settle us into our new digs; a pretty poor show on her part. After all, she’s the pathfinder.
I always knew it was going to be tricky. Our billet is in the arse end of nowhere. It’s not even mentioned on my map. Fortunately, daughter number one lends me a sat nav. It’s the first time I’ve ever used such a thing. Unfortunately, just when I’m thinking I may ask for one for Christmas, it closes down. That would be at Southampton. Only another fifty miles of country tracks to navigate until Goosegreen Lane.
I take the old school route i.e. I have handy pre-written directions. Sadly they run out in the middle of West Sussex and as there are few options in which to seek help, I go into the local bike shop.
‘Can I help’, asks aging hippie?
‘I’m very lost’, I reply pathetically, hoping the aged blonde bimbo treatment might work.
‘We’re all lost here’, says Donald Sutherland. ‘Where have you come from?’
‘Poole’, I say.
‘Well, you’re closer than you think’, says he. Closer to what? Ohmmmm.
I find Goosegreen Lane and in celebration drive up and down it a number of times, making sure to call in at every house and farm along the way. ‘We have lots of people looking for your venue’, says a jovial type from Oak Farm. ‘Never found it yet’.
Well, I find it but no-one’s answering the phone or opening the impressive electric gates. I hang around for a while, tooting my horn and suchlike. A small bespectacled child appears over a fence.
‘Have you lost a horse mask’, he enquires? I don’t think so but as I have no idea what a horse mask looks like, I can’t be sure.’ I’ve found one’ he proudly informs me. ‘Good work, now can you find me a parent’, I ask? He looks dubious. ‘I’m thinking of climbing over these fences’, I inform him. ‘Do you know if they’ve got dogs?’
‘Well’, he replies politely, ‘they used to have one but I think it may be dead’.
The pathfinder texts me: ‘any progress? Are you sure you’re in the right place?’ Talk about a lack of faith.
Bespectacled child’s papa, who has now arrived on the scene, suggests I go to the stables. This is country-speak for f-off. I f-off to the stables and meet the daughter of the house who maintains I’m not due until tomorrow. Then she breaks down in floods of tears. Mother is very ill.
Well, to cut an increasingly long story short, they let me into the cottage and allow me to help clean up the joint. With some kindness, I stroke the weeping daughter and tell the invalid mother to sit down whilst I change the beds. Then I go to the village and find the pub wherein I’m charged an exorbitant amount for a glass of the red stuff. Happy days