I got out of hospital on Friday as I thought I might :oD It's been great to be free! I went back to Mum's for a few days and had some wonderful TLC, and then despite Mum's (understandable) worry about my coming away so soon after being so poorly, I made it to Lancashire on Monday with O for some of our curtailed holiday.
When I left the hospital on Friday I was still very much inflated with copious amounts of fluid retention, which was making me terribly tender and miserable. It does appear to be shifting now, thanks to the furosemide, although I'm still sploshing about in my own body somewhat, but nowhere near as much as I was. It's such a relief to have got rid of some of the water :o)
So O and I set off from Edinburgh on Monday afternoon and had a very lovely drive through the countryside along the A702 and A74, in bright sunshine and with pretty views. Just as I was feeling that I could do with some lunch and a rest we happened upon the Annandale Road Chef, which, being a motorway service station, you wouldn't expect to be anything special, but it was extremely lovely! How often do you hear that said about motorway service stations?! As we drove in there was a small gaggle of white geese on the grass verge, peering in our direction and looking rather welcoming, and then as we sat in the coffee shop inside we had a lovely view over a lake with ducks washing and preening themselves, and dipping in the water, and swimming about. We didn't make use of it as it was a bit chilly, but there was a patio area next to the lake that looked as though it would've been a nice place to sit out in the summer. It really didn't feel at all like a service station, and was most relaxing and refreshing :o) When we went back out to the car we were greeting by one of the geese and several ducks. They were extremely tame and followed us right up to the car. In fact, at one point I thought that perhaps they were going to jump into the car to munch on any crumbs they could find on the floor (which would've been quite a lot as it needed a good clean out). We sat for a while with the door open as the ducks and goose came up to say hello, and nibbled my fingers. I've been nibbled by ducks before, but I think that was possibly the first time I've been nibbled by a goose. It's not unpleasant ... not something I'll take up as a hobby, but it didn't hurt. After the goose had had a little munch on me and it was seen off by drake that wanted his turn, I was about to close the car door when I noticed a tiny chaffinch sitting on the wing mirror, which promptly hopped onto the door frame and sat watching us. As it leapt up there a wagtail popped itself on the wing mirror and it too watched us, although a little less intently. The chaffinch was so tame it almost let me touch it. I didn't want to frighten it off so I stretched my hand out ever so slowly, and I must have got within 10 cm of touching it before it got a little too nervous, but it didn't fly away; merely hopped sideways along the door frame. It was beautiful and so delicate. I could see every tiny little, rusty-coloured feather, and the slight up-turn of its beak at the very end; it's beady, little, black eyes keeping an inquisitive eye on me, but generally unafraid. I think it only flew off because it realised that we didn't actually have any food to give it, but I did enjoy it while it was there :o)
So we drove on and the A74 turned into the M6 when we hit England, but the far north end of the M6 isn't too bad and the traffic wasn't horrendous so the drive was okay. O and I had half arranged to meet a friend who lives in Cumbria at the Tebay services just past Penrith. As it happened this friend was too busy to meet up (very sad, but maybe we'll see her tomorrow), but we decided to stop for a cuppa anyway as we'd been told that these services were also particularly nice. They are. There's a farm shop; a lovely cafe with huge windows that look out onto a view of a pond with ducks, beyond which is an expansive field that gives way to rolling hills of green and purple. Although the sun was beginning to set by now the day had been bright and cheery and I could feel myself begin to relax into holiday mode as I sat there drinking a decaf latte and breathing in the life of the countryside. We had a little mooch around the farm shop before heading off for the last 45 minutes of our journey to Barnacre Cottages where we're staying in The Piggeries (how ironic given my recent illness with swine flu ;oP ). Although Barnacre Cottages are only a short way off the M6 the road between them is so small, twisty, and turny that it must take about 15 minutes to drive up here, but it's worth it because it's lovely.
So we arrived, and I pulled in to the little parking alcove for The Piggeries, and I reversed to straighten the car up, and I crunched the car into the wall behind, and the back windscreen smashed into smithereens, and the boot panel was dented in a big way, and the windscreen wiper was ripped from the car. I wasn't best pleased with myself. After a little frustrated cursing at myself I got myself into organising mode and began with phoning Motability, through which I lease my car. They were terribly helpful and sorted out an appointment for us with Autoglass to get the windscreen fixed that night. Unfortunately the only time Autoglass could fit us in on Monday night was 'sometime between 11pm and 1am.' No problem, they were going to come out to us to fix it ... except then it turned out that they couldn't do that because it was too damp in the open air for a new window to stick with the heat-fixing system (or whatever. It was all very technical and I'm not up on fixing car windows, funnily enough). So it turned out that we'd have to go to them, and they were in Bolton, which turns out to be almost an hour's drive away from Garstang (the nearest town to where we are). We had a call from them around 10pm to say we could start making our way over, so we piled into the draughty car - now with a perfectly clear view through the back on account of there being no window - and drove back along the twisty, turny, and now very dark road from the cottages, and then on to Bolton. It's slightly disconcerting driving along a dual carriageway/motorway with no back windscreen, and the strange sucky sounds that whistle through the car when another vehicle overtakes. Thanks to sat nav we got to Bolton and found the Autoglass place without a problem, and were promptly greeted by a friendly guy who sat us in a warm office with a TV, remote control, and free coffee machine, while he got on with replacing the back windscreen. It wasn't how I'd planned my first evening of the holiday, and I'm sure it hadn't been in O's plan either, but given that it ended up being in the plan it was okay. And then I noticed a sign that said that after you'd had your windscreen replaced then you couldn't drive at high speed. What constitutes 'high speed'? I asked the friendly guy, explaining that not being able to drive at 'high speed' could be a problem as we had to go on the motorway to get back to where we were staying.
'Where are you staying?'
'Not far from Garstang.'
'Garstang?!' He sounded incredulous, and aghast that anyone would stay anywhere near Garstang.
He sucked in air through his teeth and tutted. 'Well, hmm ... I can let you drive up to 60 miles an hour, but definitely no faster than that.'
You know, it's actually really rather scary driving 60 mph and less on the motorway, even at 1am when there isn't a great deal of traffic on the road. Mind you, the scariness wasn't helped by an ever-thickening fog that began to engulf us as we drove back. In fact, once we were off the main road and back on the dark, narrow, twisty, turny road heading towards the cottages the fog was so thick that had it not been for the sat nav showing the existence of a road ahead I would've doubted there was one. It was a very gothic drive through the tree-lined, fog-laden country roads, and a terribly, terribly scary one given that I couldn't actually see the road more than a foot or two ahead of me. Funnily enough, driving at high speed wasn't a problem at this stage, with our maximum speed being something in the region of 15-20 mph, but we did eventually make it back, and I didn't immediately reverse into the wall and crunch the car again.
As you may imagine, Tuesday was a day of doing very little, although I thought some sustenance was required so I made flapjack, which my grandmother always called crunch, so it seemed particularly apt. I like crunch, and I like making crunch because it's so quick and easy yet scrummy. O also seems to like crunch :oD In fact I 'had' to make more crunch last night to make sure that we've had enough for today and tomorrow (and although O doesn't know this yet, I'll give her some of it to go home with too).
I'm afraid the saga of the car continues. It's all been terribly complicated. As I mentioned before, I lease my car through Motability, one of the benefits of which is that I get a new car every three years. On Sunday it'll be three years since I got my current car and you may remember my blogging back in November about getting a new one. Now then, a new car doesn't need an MOT, but once a car gets to three years old it needs its first. I was supposed to get my car's MOT done before Christmas, but on the day that it was booked in the car was snowed in so I had to cancel and re-book. I re-booked for a couple of weeks ago, but then of course I ended up in hospital in Edinburgh so once again I had to cancel the MOT. Time has been pressing on though, the MOT needs to be done, the lease on the car expires on Sunday unless it and the insurance is temporarily extended by the garage from which I'm getting the new car. I booked another MOT for this Saturday, except then I was told by Motability that if it were done at the weekend then the paperwork wouldn't go through in time for the lease/insurance to be extended, so they then decided that I'd have to get the MOT done while I was away in Lancashire. They booked the car in to a garage in Preston for today. Fine, except that the guy from Autoglass wasn't sure that the car would pass the MOT after its crunch on the wall because of the big 'dent' and the ripped off windscreen wiper (the car can't fail on a feature it doesn't have, but apparently if it does/should have a feature that doesn't work then it can fail). It has to be said that this has been causing me a considerable amount of stress, as it suddenly occurred to me that if the car failed the MOT then not only would it bugger up getting my new car, but O and I would be stuck in Preston as we wouldn't even be able to drive it back to the cottage until any work that needed doing was done, and who knows how long that might take. Now I know that God has a load of very important stuff to work on around the world, but this hasn't stopped me from praying hard about this situation over the past few days, and during most of this morning's drive to Preston I was praying the fairly basic prayer of 'Father God, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeease, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease get Tommy Crotchet through his MOT. Pleeeeeeeease. Amen.' It's just as well that prayers don't have to have to fancy language, because as you see, this one really didn't have it. However, God is good, and a little after 2pm I received a call from the garage telling me that the car was ready to be picked up and everything was okay. Hurrah!
Having ventured into the centre of Preston on the bus we had to find our way back to the garage on the bus, but unhelpfully it turns out that you can't just go to the bus stop on the opposite side of the road to where you got off the bus in order to go back to where you came. Not in Preston. No. You have to go to the other side of town ... and get a different bus. We went to the tourist information centre for help, where the woman helping us went to ask a woman for help on our query, which didn't instill confidence in us. She returned with the information of which bus to get, but seemed a little unclear as to where the bus stop might be so advised us to go to the bus station, but only a short way up the road we say a stop for the bus we wanted, and sure enough within minutes there it was. We clambered on, I got out the map and followed the route, we got so close to the garage and I was feeling chuffed with myself for my clever thinking of following the map when the bus turned off into a housing estate and, upon leaving the housing estate, turned away from where we needed to go. I rang the bell for the next stop, but the next stop was ages away so we ended up having to walk quite a distance back to the garage. We eventually made it, we picked up the car, we set off on our way back to Barnacre Cottages, and the thick fog rolled right back in. The North West does a good line in fog. If you want to come somewhere and not see where you are then I recommend Lancashire in January ;oP Another gothic drive back through the twisty, turny, country lanes and we arrived back at The Piggeries, where I didn't crunch the car, but did collapse in an exhausted heap in the comfy seat with a cup of tea and piece of crunch as the stress of the day and the saga of the car melted from me. I have phoned the various people I had to phone; the lease can now be extended; the car is booked in for inspection of the repairs that need doing, and the garage doing this are going to come to my house for this; the guy at the garage from where I'm getting the new car was ever so nice and told me not to worry, that it'd all be sorted, I just need to keep them informed as to what's happening.
Now then, will somebody please remind me how one is supposed to holiday? I'm sure they're not meant to involve things like swine flu, near-death, hospital admission, crunching cars on walls, MOTs, and exhaustion. I'm going wrong somewhere, aren't I? Maybe I'll get a rest when I go home tomorrow ;oP