THE TERRORS OF THE TYTHING
Everyone slept well, though I did wonder as Sally and Mike were in with Phoebe whether lack of oxygen might have had some effect. And in the morning we had the first real meal in Thebus.
They had bought some lovely Farm Shop food of pork sausages, blackpudding and pork sausages, bacon and free range eggs. And Niner insisted on having tinned tomatoes and baked beans as he said it wasn’t a proper breakfast without, and though I have never had baked beans for breakfast before I tried them and enjoyed them so much I had another spoonful. In fact I enjoyed it all. It is part of my “plan” that when I travel I will stop at various farm shops along the way, they usually have good large car-parks and apparently many will let Motorhomers stop overnight. My thinking is that there is easy turning and parking space, plus I shall be able to try lots of different local foods, well that is my hope anyway.
Over breakfast Sally said that she and Niner had thought of a “good idea” Now though I haven’t known Sally all that long I have come to realise that her idea of a good plan and my idea of a good plan could well be very different. But in the spirit of my new life and being open to new ideas I sat down to listen (with Sally its always best to be sitting down when listening to her ideas)
She said it seemed foolish to just have a bit of driving about; and as well as that they had pre-arranged to go to a New Years bash, and it was at a Restaurant cum Garden Centre with a huge carpark, and what was I doing for New Years, and that they had already spoken to the owner who was happy for me to stay over. So we could all go there now, with Niner driving in front up the lanes (Thebus touches on either side most of the way) then I could stay overnight in Thebus and they would bring me back tomorrow.
I fought back my normal instincts and said that was a wonderful idea so we locked up the house and started to prepare Thebus for his first outing under my control with Sally as trusty co-pilot. All the spare bits and bobs were packed up and stowed away. Phoebe's (incredibly complicated) travelling harness cum safety belt was sorted, during which procedure she sensing my tension was wagging her tail furiously and knocked the second contact lens out of my swollen black eye, but luckily I still had another spare. That was hastily put in and Thebus in reverse gear we started the complicated manoeuvrings to get us in the right direction to be heading towards the gate. Thanks to Sally's eight years HGV driving experience it was much easier than I feared, and in fact Thebus is as easy to drive as my Volvo estate, though a Volvo estate twice as wide, and twice as long, and twice as high! So I suppose he is as easy as driving eight Volvo estates at the same time. Which put that way doesn't sound very easy at all.
We were facing the gate – hooray!!!!
The next obstacle were the pairs of staddle stones used to ornament the sides of the drives and keep traffic to the gravel centre. Those had to go, and quick as a flash Sally was out and shifting them. Thebus and I crawled up the drive with me trying to follow lorry driver hand signals, and suddenly I realised one of the leaves on the electric gates had moved slightly inwards during the gales of the last couple of days. I was just about to walk back down the long drive, open the doors, unset the house alarm, and walk all the way through to the main gate control box in order to re-set them. But Sally was having non of this. She cheerfully insisted we would make it through if I followed her instructions, and I am amazed to say we did, though as she said later with about half an inch to spare on either side
The narrow lane outside my house was negotiated without meeting anyone bar the postman who had already pulled into a drive to deliver mail, and as I slowed to get past and shout a greeting the only other car travelling the lane pulled in behind him, so how lucky was that? Out onto the B road and we turned left to avoid the worst of the narrow lanes and headed towards Worcester
As we joined the main roundabouts before the city I suggested we took the motorway route, No, no! said Sally cheerfully, Through Worcester is much quicker. Eeekkk – what about Worcester bridge and The Tything. For those of you not from this area the Tything is one of the old roads into the city, a bit run down and with lots of parked cars on one side and a bus lane on the other, and lots of bollards in the middle
We made it over Worcester bridge – hooray. Then into the narrow traffic lanes by the Old Hospital. That was when we hit the traffic jam, which went from the Racecourse out past the old Toll house, and further on up due to three sets of roadworks. Although after the trip Sally insisted I had done well at one point she did try to grab the steering wheel, which is of course on the other side of the vehicle, so I assume I might have been a bit close to oncoming traffic
Its difficult to judge the width of Thebus as not only is he as wide as you can have on European roads the driver's seat is right by the kerb, which makes you want to pull out, but of course the vehicle takes up a good half of the road, so there is not much room for error
When you are driving a wider vehicle you suddenly realise how much the actual traffic lanes vary in width, and without any warning
But we made it. Though my progress was somewhat slow. As I said Sally is a pretty girl so as any cars finally got past us (only the male drivers were brave enough to make the attempt) she waved and smiled and they all smiled happily back, but there in front of us was Niner in the van – of course as he was only a short distance in front they all assumed it was him holding me and Sally up, so he apparently got a wide selection of signs and mouthed abuse. To such an extent he refused to drive in front on the way home until we got to my lanes where nothing could pass us anyway.
We pulled onto the forecourt for our night's stay and everyone came rushing out to see this enormous vehicle arrive with “a little pimple driving it” as the proprietor said (did I mention I am on the short side. And I was sitting on a large cushion!)
We parked up and began the first of a series of substantial meals and snacks which lasted until we finally left for home the next day. The evening was the first Karaoke I had been to, and I beat a retreat at about half one having seen 2014 in, with the others staying till the end at 4am
Next day I didnt see anyone till about half twelve, when a lot of them were looking a bit the worse for wear. I have to say there were some terrible colds going round, but I don't think that was the entire story
After another huge fry up, whilst the poor owner was taking orders for New Year's Day roast lunches, the assembled group sat and gossiped till eventually it was decided to go and look at the family smallholding. That took quite a while, especially as whilst I was there we caught up the nanny which Sally thought was due to kid. I said if it was imminent she would be bagged up and possibly have milk, and though I know nothing of goats I had kept sheep, so confidently pronounced that if she was due to kid it wouldn’t be for a while. And just to show me up she gave birth that very night to twins! It must be true what they say never work with animals or kids! Though I am not sure those were the type of kids being referred to.
By now the day was drawing in and I really didn’t fancy driving in the dark just yet, as so far I had only done twenty six miles. But back in we went, this time for teas, coffees and puddings. In the end I could stand it no longer and begged to be taken back home, but by the time we set out it was time to put on the lights, and very soon pitch black raining hard and blowing a gale. As we reached Worcester the flood water was up (but at least being New Years Day there were no roadworks). Leaving Worcester I headed for the easier route home but Sally said – no, we always go this way - so before I knew it I was headed for a section of B road where I was touching both the sides of the road with oncoming traffic in the dark. Luckily whenever something was coming there was a pull in. I think God was definitely on my side.
And when we got to my own lane the strong winds had ripped various branches half down, plus there were a few flooded sections but we made it home, and thankfully I had the excuse that I had to walk to the house to open the gates, which were almost shut this time. So Sally brought Thebus in for me.
There may be a hiatus as I am now suffering from a cough and chest infection.... but normal service will be resumed as soon as possible