Sunday, September 09, 2007

Joy’s Birthday Treat


Joy was in need of a treat; the previous day she had taken her disabled husband for a drive when the car started to stutter. We older folk only use our mobile phones for emergencies and often find we haven’t remembered to take them with us. They managed to limp into Wheddon Cross where the garage took charge of the car (new clutch needed) and drove them home.

Margaret was in charge of our outing –she who boldly goes down the narrow lanes where many of us fear to venture. She wanted us to see the heather which is excellent this year, so we drove up Porlock hill, over Exmoor towards Lynmouth and dropped down into the Brendon Valley. We remembered, in the early years of our friendship, having a picnic sitting on the rocks in the middle of the river.

We drove out of the valley onto the wild moor land where we could see for miles all around. As your eyes follow the horizon round in a circle it appears flat, but between where we were, Brendon Twogates and the horizon, are lovely dips and folds and combes. We saw the source of the river Exe and identified Combe Martin to the west, with a barely visible hill behind, which is named Great Hangman.

It was a perfect day and we drove on through Exford where we often lunch, to Simonsbath where Margaret had booked a table at the Exmoor Forest Inn. The smoked chicken salad I chose was given a delicious flavour with fig flavoured balsamic. I loved the nutty bread and when we had finished the waitress said she would leave the bread in case we wanted it later. No one did so I wrapped it in a paper napkin in case we were stranded and had to bivouac on Exmoor.

We all tried the Stiles ice cream- recommended by Granny P (see side bar) and found it yummy –especially the rum and raisin and Marsala flavoured. Then Joy had to disappear whilst we worked out the finances. These days we are inclined to round it up to make the calculation easier which means leaving a bigger tip – so everyone is happy.

On the way back we were stopped by the wild ponies and some Exmoor horns which I have been trying to photograph for years. They have delightful teddy bear mouths and in spite of there being lots of them in a pen, I was not very successful. Back in Porlock we went to the Visitor Centre to see the sculpture of the stranger mentioned in Kubla Khan with a mosaic representing Coleridge’s drugged mind, we think. The sculpture is done by an ex ranger and it was in the garden. which was locked.

Apparently there had been some vandalism but as we were clearly not exactly loutish we were given a key. In fact there were two locks so we went back and were given the second key and at last saw the sculpture. By now we were feeling ready for home and took a short cut through a small housing complex. We noted the smallness of the houses and thought it may be an old people’s complex just as we came upon an elderly couple. They had got out of their car- possibly having their first outing since the weather had improved.

They were having difficulties –the husband was slight and frail and had a tremor and the wife was very large and obviously had mobility problems as there were handles everywhere and she had a collapsible type of Zimmer frame which appeared to be of no help at all. She was wedged in the gateway to their yard. We asked if we could help but the husband insisted they could manage so thinking the last thing he wanted was an audience I continued to the car. After a few moments I realised the others weren’t following and found Jackie- the eldest holding three handbags. Joy had somehow got inside the yard and was trying to urge the lady forward and Margaret was on her knees trying to move her leg.

I gave Jackie my hand bag and joined the fray; it was all hands to the pump .She said she couldn’t move her leg and she was going. I wedged my knee under her rear and thought at least now we’ll cushion her fall but wondered how we’d get out from under. Suddenly Joy, who is more used to disability started to give her firm instructions the woman reacted by making more effort. There was nothing to get hold of in spite of her girth – it was like trying to grab dough when too much water had been added. We managed to make it into the yard - only feet away from her open door. My knee was beginning to give way so she ordered her husband to bring a stool.
‘Run Henry run!’

I don’t think poor Henry had been able to run in donkey’s years but we managed to hang onto her until he appeared with the stool which replaced my knee. Once we had her safely on the stool Henry was dispatched to make her a cup of tea and with their assurances that they would be fine now we left them to it. A lesson to us all.
As usual we had had a great day together – refreshed and fortified for the autumn.

Scroll down for photos.


rashbre said...

You don't do things by halves! This is a full fledged adventure. Not sure exactly how many of you there were involved in the end, but a "fantastic four" type of designation is certainly required.

I liked the touch about scooping up the emergency provisions!

Here today, via Michele's - Hiya!


R. Sherman said...

Please advise whether it's OK to to chuckle at the mental visuals of you and your friends with Henry and wife.

I don't want to be boorish, even though the description put me, the shy American, on scene.

Cheers, dear.

Granny said...

How awful it must be to be stuck in a gate or anywhere else. I'm glad you were able to help.

The meal sounds wonderful. I round up too and when I used to go out with the same friends over and over we divided the bill in equal parts. We figured if one paid a little more one time, she'd pay a little less the next and over time it would even out.

Unless, of course, one wasn't hungry and had just coffee.

john.g. said...

Lovely photos, you've had better weather than we have!


Poor Henry!!!

Your knee ok babe?

Shari said...

Hello, Michele sent me.

What an eventful day you had. I loved the pictures you had, too.

PI said...

Hi Rashbre! yes there were four of us. fantastic sounds good tome:)

randall : chuckling is allowed . I had to stifle hysterical laughter. Nothing boorish about you dear.

Granny: sadly I never seem to be not hungry:)

JohnG: you may well have been first but the server seized up again -like last week - and I had to unplug and start again. We have had about five days now of beautiful weather - our summer in fact.

PI said...

4d: thanks for asking - it's fine and the others seem to have survived also.

OldHorsetailSnake said...

Zimmer frame? Americans read this, too, you know.

You were a friend indeed when big mama was in need. We all thank you.

PI said...

Sorry Hoss! a Zimmer frame is a walking aid that the person holds in front of them to lean on. This was a collapsible one with a brake which - in the state it was in - was a danger and no-one had a free hand or the know-how to adjust it.

sablonneuse said...

Trying out my own computer which was returned today: fingers crossed.
Can't help wondering how long that poor couple would have been stuck there if you four hadn't stopped to help.

Sim said...

Famous Five have nothing on girls on a day out! What a way to work off the ice-cream...

AndrewM said...

They're probably still there now. Still, it's decent weather and they've a lovely view.

PI said...

sablonneuse: good luck with the computer. I have just bought a new monitor. Tomorrow I shall gird my loins and try to get it together.

Sim: there are only four of us:)

Andrew: don't! We made them promise to phone for an ambulance if they had nay further trouble although it should probably have been the fire service

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

This sounds like quite the adventure, Pat...You all have such a good time together and do such interesting things---including using your knee to prop up and/or move a large lady! (LOL) What might happen at your next outing---I for one, can't wait, my dear.

Drama Queen said...

Loving the pics.

apprentice said...

Yes indeed a latter day Enid Blyton adventure PI. The Fab Four strike again.

Lovely photographs too, and the black and white ones below.
I'm feeling slightly "empty nest" today - it's too quiet around here - cue Bjork lol! .

PI said...

Thanks DQ!

Anna: I'll tell the gitls - they'll be tickled.
When my first went to Uni I cried for three weeks. Completely unexpected.
But that's when they turn into beautiful swans:)

Sam, Problem-Child-Bride said...

Ha! This made me laugh. It reminded me of the crush for the elevator in the communal living place my mother-in-law used to live in. All these people with their zimmer frames would just get the legs of them all tangled up and the elevator door would ping and try to close gently and repeatedly, nobody able to budge. More than once the Problem Husband and I had to sort them out. It was hilarious.

PI said...

Sam:Fortunately we four are still zimmerless.