… Actually, the fact that it was Mother’s Day was almost incidental. It wasn’t like the adventure was planned because it was a special day. It happened to coincide with the clocks going forward (so my routine was all out of whack), Spring conjuring up a spectacularly sunny day, and Hb wanting to scout out a bike place some distance away where he needs to be next week for a bike fit session. (For those of you who are not members of a family whose lives revolve entirely around bikes and their mechanical whatnots, this does not mean getting sweaty in a large room on a stationary bike, but having your bike adjusted to give you the optimum fit, thereby (hopefully) avoiding any aches and pains in neck, back, hips or knees).
I don’t know about you, but I always feel discombobulated when the clocks go forward, it takes me ages to adjust. I got up at my usual hour which was now halfway-through-everyone-else’s-morning time, but before I could reach the shower, my favourite Daughter phoned me for a Mother’s Day chat. (I have only one really). Having been given a cup of tea in bed, she was instantly abandoned by her boys in favour of a Minecraft game and as I was in the role of bike widow, we were able to have a rare, uninterrupted natter until eventually son number two demanded she put the phone down as he’d brought her breakfast in bed. It would be some time before I got mine.
Hb subsequently arrived back from his ride and I hastily grabbed the shower before a) Son/Mother rang or b) Hb nabbed it first!
I tried to phone my mum, but someone else had got in first, she was busy throughout 20 minutes of trying. I knew she could be in for the long haul and I was starving. A Papaya & Pear Smoothie* beckoned. My whole morning was awry, so I hadn’t yet reached the point in my daily schedule where I was glued to social media when Hb announced his plan to drive to the bike place and asked if I’d like to come. Normally, I would politely decline on the basis that I planned to spend the day watching paint dry or filing my nails, but it was a lovely day, I was going stir-crazy and there was a possibility of seeing water, flowers, trees and birds along the way, so I decided to take the smoothie and go.
Now, normally when we go off in the car I make sure we have plenty of food and drink, a chair, cushions, jigsaw (well, maybe not), because inevitably a ‘short drive’, or a ‘quick there and back’, turns into a ‘why don’t we take the most circuitous scenic route and get lost again’ trip! We have no Sat Nav, an omission I plan to remedy ASAP. We got lost in this same vortex last summer and I should have known better when Hb’s response to taking food was ‘we won’t need it, it’s just a quick-there-and-back.’ Famous last words.
There are four towns popular with tourists that form our local Bermuda Triangle. (I know, but you know what I mean). We can never go straight to the one we want without going round and through the others first, then having found it, we can’t find our way out of it again! Last time, we pirouetted in so many concentric circles, we resembled water going down a plughole and I thought we might end up Down Under.
This morning, or rather lunchtime as it now was, we set off, only to have second thoughts and instead, put in some practice by instantly returning home via a circuit of our block. Hb didn’t feel confident without a map. He had one on his iPad. We came back to get it. It made no difference. It happened again: the other towns were well signposted, but we couldn’t find our destination for love nor money. I kept saying helpful things like ‘we’ve been past this already’ and ‘I remember seeing this earlier…’
Beeeep. What’s that? It’s registered a drop in tyre pressure. We need to look for a garage. Great. Now two things we need to look for. I, and three dogs, spent 20 minutes in the sun in cars with windows ineffectively cracked open for non-existent air but plenty of petrol fumes, while our drivers checked oil, tyre pressure or bought armfuls of snacks. None of us was in a chatty mood when they finished. The car still noted a drop in tyre pressure.
We were just about ready to turn around and head for home when at the last second we came upon a small signpost indicating left down a narrow road, and I got very over-excited trying to get the words out quickly enough because I could see Hb hadn’t noticed. Too late. The local cycle club, of which he is a member, will never appreciate his decision to go on to the next layby to turn around, rather than mow them down like skittles as would have happened if he’d responded to my hysterical navigation!
Having arrived in the town, and successfully winning a game of chicken over a single lane ‘Weak Bridge’ to reach a car park, I was so glad we’d persisted as I spent a peaceful hour sitting outside a lovely old pub on the river in the sunshine, watching the water and the world go by.
The Weak Bridge, a single-lane iron structure that was just the width of a medium-sized car. BMWs were a bit of a push and their drivers – young and male – extremely rude and impatient!
The water was flowing quite fast, I almost missed this shot of the canoeist
After trying to convince me a floating log was Nessie’s cousin shimmying by, Hb strolled off to recce the town for the bike shop. This is always a mistake. He always gets lost. By the time he found his way back and just before I sent out the St Bernards, my stomach was telling me I had missed one or other, if not several, of the various meals/snacks/juices it was used to and the bottle of fizzy water he’d left me was not going to cut it. I knew we should’ve packed proper sustenance. Being vegan and gluten-free makes it extremely difficult to find emergency rations when your blood sugar starts diving. And now we had to navigate the Triangle again and avoid being sucked into its vortex.
First, though, I had a lovely if somewhat frustrating not-Mother’s Day chat with my son (the signal kept disappearing). He always calls on Mother’s Day but pretends it’s just a normal everyday call because I’ve spent decades telling them I don’t need over-priced cards and flowers to make me feel special. He was just back from a 110 km ride in wind, sun and dust – see what I mean about my family of bike enthusiasts, he does this for fun! Even Doris couldn’t keep him indoors for more than a day. (See the link below to read more about his Mother’s Day surprises).
Next, there was just the small matter of seeing if the directions to the shop, given to Hb by a kind local woman, were correct, which unfortunately meant going in the opposite direction to home. But never fear, for once, we found it.
After a couple of wrong turns, we finally made it home unscathed. I had my juice, phoned my mum, everything returned to normal.
The bike shop is exactly 30 miles from home. And 30 miles back. If you don’t get lost on the way there or returning home. If.
Hb plans to do this journey next week on his bike. I’ll put the St Bernards on standby.
The car has an appointment with its mechanic.
For those of you who may not have seen it, here’s a link to last year’s light-hearted Mother’s Day post A Tribute to My Children
*See my Instagram feed for the ingredients @pearsnotparsnips
And here for your delectation and amusement is The Pushbike Song!
Copyright: Chris McGowan