Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Flying Missile and the Fox.

The three of us – Jackie, Joy and I set off at 8.30 am with Joy at the wheel to arrive in good time at Taunton station for the Edinburgh train which would drop us at Cheltenham. Parking was fine and I got a ticket for ten hours - £4.60. Jackie’s daughter had booked the rail tickets on line and we were to collect the tickets at the station by means of a giant machine. This took a little time.

W expected to get three return tickets or maybe six each way tickets. In fact we got thirteen and there was much time spent with each of us perusing them, to work out why we had thirteen tickets. Jackie assured us we had already paid the correct amount so if they chose to give us extra tickets – tant pis – as they say in France. We decide to split them, with Jackie in charge of six and Joy in charge of the remaining seven.

What’s happened to Taunton station? It used to be a picture of blooming flower beds but there was not a bloom in sight. We estimated where our coach would be – wrongly as it turned out - and then had a long wobbly trundle through the coaches which seemed to be keen not to declare their identity. Eventually we found the correct coach and there were our seats - fully occupied. One look at our faces and as one man the interlopers rose to relinquish them. The girls were seated behind me and all was well until the affable ticket inspector appeared. There was some badinage about the number of tickets but he regretfully pointed out that the ones he required – Taunton to Cheltenham were missing.

Both Jackie and Joy then did a search of their equally capacious handbags whilst the ticket inspector’s affability faded somewhat. Together the girls decided that

‘Pat must have them.’


To humour them I did a perfunctory search and reminded them of the sharing out of the tickets. Then Jackie waved the paper work which listed all the bookings and the ticket inspector accepted that as proof we had paid for the missing tickets. He assured us that had it been another ticket inspector we would have had to pay again.

Moral: keep all paper work with you at all times.

Some time after 11a.m. we arrived at Cheltenham Spa and there at the very spot where we were going to dismount was a smiling Margaret. There were hugs and non stop chatter whilst she ushered us into the car and whisked us off to her new home. As we were admiring the front garden (Malcolm had brought with him a lorry load of his precious plants) Jackie sneezed, pulled her handkerchief out of her pocket along with the missing tickets.

Coffee calmed us down and we chatted non stop whilst Margaret and Malcolm prepared lunch, chicken breasts wrapped in bacon stuffed with delicious cheesy ooze, Cornish potatoes, broccoli, carrots and a yummy leek sauce. We christened the new dining room – each room had been stacked with furniture whist the extensions and decorations had taken place. All is complete now apart from the finishing of a utility room.

The reason for moving was to downsize and be near to their daughters. With all amenities close by, excellent transport and all that Cheltenham has to offer (the Literary Festival for instance which MTL and I enjoyed some time back) they certainly seem to have done the right thing and are both very happy.

There was talk of a drive round in the afternoon but the weather worsened and we were all happy to slump and chill with one of Margaret’s daughters (who we all knew) and granddaughter arriving to provide the cabaret. The garden and house were admired and gradually we caught up with the last six months. The three of us felt completely taken care of; Margaret had worked out exactly when we should leave for the station and meanwhile we would have a delicious tea – in the kitchen this time.

All too soon we were back on the station and Margaret insisted on phoning our homes to tell them the train was running late. The journey back to Taunton was much quieter – we could sit anywhere and the sun made it a lovely evening. The journey however was slow and wearisome, the sun was replaced by a harvest moon (according to Jackie) and we realised the drive back to Taunton would be in the dark. Not what we had planned.

We were just over the permitted ten hours but there were no penalties and we set off on the last leg of our journey. Joy was a little concerned about a red triangle on the dash board but all seemed to be working as usual so decided to ignore it. As we left the town and got on the bendy, hilly A358 a ‘Red Route’ we all screeched when a flying missile hit the windscreen and went hurtling past.

‘Oh I must have left my walking stick on the car.’ said Joy. The traffic behind caused Joy to drive a little faster than we would have liked but the rest of the drive was uneventful until we all screeched again. There was what looked like a dog sitting terrified in the glare of the headlights. Joy swerved violently into what would have been the oncoming traffic if our guardian Angel had been asleep. It was a fox of course and no way would you get an animal lover like Joy to do the ‘drive straight on’ theory of the safest way to deal with it.

We both agreed that Joy was a brick and also that we should not repeat the travelling experience. No-one spoilt us like Margaret had always done and we have been lucky to have her for so long in our lives. We could only be happy for her that all has turned out so well.

Some photos later.

P.S. Of course we had dessert - two - equally delicious.

P.P.S. We happened to cover the same road the next day with our French son. No trace of fox or walking stick and I think French son was teasing when he said he spotted an overturned car in a field.


kenju said...

YOU always have exciting journeys. How nice to be able to visit your old friend in a new place and to see that she is settling in nicely.

I would have swerved to avoid the fox too, although the one time mr. kenju swerved to avoid a dog, he landed upside down in a ditch (but was not hurt).

Queenie said...

So glad it went so well. Looking forward to the photos.

R. Sherman said...

All's well that ends well. I'm glad you had fun and it's always good to be with friends, regardless of the circumstances.


savannah said...

what a treat to read, sugar! xoxoxo

AndrewM said...

Bring on the photos.

angryparsnip said...

What a interesting read, glad fun was had and Mr. Fox and you all of course survived the ride home !

cheers, parsnip

Granny Annie said...

Did you ever solve the mystery of the missing tickets?

What a fun time you must have had.

Kevin Musgrove said...

the youth of today...

Warden Files said...

Goodness me, what a wonderful tale of such happy ladies that lunch on cheesy ooze and other yummy delights. You had me my dear at that one delightful English word 'badinage'.

I believe I may have sat next to your party at some stage in my life, as I immediately recognised such old fashoned charm from your own words.

Luna said...

I enjoyed your post today Pat. Sounds like you guys had an adventure. Very nice :) Hope you're having a wonderful week.

Kim Ayres said...

Train journeys and tickets always remind me of this joke:

Three engineers and three accountants are traveling by train to a conference. At the station, the three accountants each buy tickets and watch as the three engineers buy only a single ticket.

"How are three people going to travel on only one ticket?" asks an accountant. "Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer. They all board the train. The accountants take their respective seats but all three engineers cram into a restroom and close the door behind them.

Shortly after the train has departed, the conductor comes around collecting tickets. He knocks on the restroom door and says, "Ticket, please." The door opens just a crack and a single arm emerges with a ticket in hand. The conductor takes it and moves on.

The accountants saw this and agreed it was quite a clever idea. So after the conference, the accountants decide to copy the engineers on the return trip and save some money (being clever with money, and all). When they get to the station they buy a single ticket for the return trip.

To their astonishment, the engineers don't buy a ticket at all. "How are you going to travel without a ticket?" says one perplexed accountant. "Watch and you'll see," answers an engineer. When they board the train the three accountants cram into a restroom and the three engineers cram into another one nearby. The train departs.

Shortly afterward, one of the engineers leaves his restroom and walks over to the restroom where the accountants are hiding. He knocks on the door and says, "Ticket, please."

Pat said...

Judy:thank goodness he was lucky:)

Queenie: best I could do considering there was so much to talk about.

Randall: we wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Savannah: that's nice to hear. It's meant to be humourous but seems to have come over a little serious.
Maybe people think it impolite to laugh at three old ladies. We sure laugh at ourselves:)

AndrewM: nag nag nag!

Pat said...

Parsnip: yes we were lucky:)

Granny Annie: with great delight I tell you that Jackie had them in her pocket all the time. They dropped out when she got her handkerchief.

Kevin: as you say:)

Warden: very sweet of you to say so. Next time make yourself known.

Luna: thank you. Our son has just left and has been a power of strength.

Pat said...

Kim: thank you for that - great story:)

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

A trip filled with bits of mishaps, delicious lunch, lots of talk and looking at lots of beautiful things--especially the garden....Nothing like being with old and dear friebds. It does sound like it was a pretty long day with lots of travel....! But worth it!

Pat said...

Naomi: lovely to look back on - in spite of the difficulties.

Guyana-Gyal said...

Put Pal and pals on a trip and what do you get? Adventures! Love it, love it!

The ticket story had me laughing out loud.

What a day, what a day! I must read this later on to my mother.

P.S. Tell French son it's true, I saw a bit of news on BBC about some ladies driving wild, in a car going parp parp and...

Pat said...

GG: you're as bad as he is!

FrenchSon said...

I wasn't joking - it was a silver BMW Z3 ... but ..... shhhhhhh!

Pat said...


Nea said...

Glad to hear you all had a good day and made it safely home again. My father was always leaving his stick dangling from the car, but, as it had a silver mounted handle, whenever it flew off, we stopped and all five of us children had to hunt for it until it was found. Others played hunt the thimble, we played hunt the stick and whoever found it was always rewarded with a pat on the head :)

Pat said...

Nea: I expect in those days it was safer to stop and search. The other night we had to keep hurtling onwards:)

Pat said...

Nea: When we move here 25 years ago an old walking stick arrived with its silver mount removed. We complained and were awarded a large square of green marble which sits in my kitchen to this day. In theory I was going to use it for making pastry;)