Today was always going to be a full day as there is quite a lot to pack in before we set off for Yorkshire tomorrow. We knew that as Tuesday is my ‘Pilates’ day, that we first make a preliminary visit to the Waitrose café so that we can meet up with the usual Tuesday crowd. Today, though, was a little out of the ordinary because of the mis-directed birthday cake which arrived yesterday. The firm who supplied it in error said I could either eat it up or throw it away so I chopped it into several rectangular slices and then wrapped each in some greaseproof paper so that I could make a present of this ‘free’ cake to each of the Waitrose regulars. This is the first time I have tried to use greaseproof paper and seal it up with sellotape but it is not an easy task as the sellotape does not easily bind onto greaseproof paper. Still this was highly appeciated and then we set off for the major task of the morning which was to get the car filled with fuel and have the tyre pressure checked over. I had already topped up the washer bottle at home so this was one job less. Then the frustrations started. In the very centre of Bromsgrove, they are engaging in some major road widening schemes and there is almost total gridlock, or at least exceptionally long traffic queues, right through the centre of the town. As soon as I got to my preferred garage, the air machine was announced as being ‘out of order’ so we had to navigate backwards through the town and its traffic jams and then onwards to a supermarket which does have air facilities. This was done more or less but I must confess I am not overfond of the modern air pressure guages where you dial in your preferred air pressure and wait for the device to ‘ding’ once the pressures have equalised. If there is a lot of ambient noise (as there was today) and you are on the ‘car’ side of the machine, the ‘dings’ can prove to be quite difficult to discern. Anyway, I got this done and as the bill came to 1p short of a round total, I asked the personnel manning the till to donate the change to Battersea Dogs’ Home. Then it was a case of getting home and I had about 15 minutes left to get myself organised for my Pilates class. I walked down and had my normal class before I popped into an adjacent Asda store where I needed to buy some long life milk, sandwiches for elevenses for the journey and a bit of fruit to keep us going over the next few days. The it was a case of geting home, having a delayed lunch and then starting the packing for tomorrow. As our little vacation is almost exactly the same in duration as the one we undertook a month ago, I have a pretty clear idea of what clothes to pack and in which order to do it. Apart from a few last minute changes of mind about what outfits to wear, this process ran relatively smoothly leaving only nightclothes and toilet bags to be packed first thing in the morning.
After the saga of the mis-delivered birthday cake for my sister, my heart was beginning to sink when no delivery had turned up by half way through the afternoon. I was reconciled to tramping around Harrogate on Friday morning to see if I could organise something (but without a personalised message) at very short notice. Towards the end of the afternoon, I took a despairing look outside the front door and there it was (albeit put on its side) However, the cake was extremely well packed and I unpacked it with trembling fingers to make sure it was correct this time. It certainly was – and judging by external appearances, just what I ordered. Meg and I had a bit of a taste of the mis-delivered cake for a spot of afternoon tea this afternoon and that tasted fine so I have every expectations of things being OK for Friday next. I have sent off a couple of texts to my sister and my niece to make some last minute arrangements. As I was writing, the doorbell rang and it was some of our friends from down the road with whom we are sharing our wedding anniversary celebrations on Friday, 9th September. They were returning a book (Salman Rushdie’s ‘Midnights Children’, actually) and we also had a little ‘prezzie’ of some chocolates to speed us on our way tomorrow. The timing of our friend’s call at the house could not have been better timed as we are due off at the crack of dawn in the morning and we are always pleased to see them. We had a quick update on our friend’s health who has been at the ‘wrong end’ of courses of antibiotics that did not agree with her but we trust that these unfortunate little episodes are coming to their natural conclusion.