Not My Idea of Fun!

Yesterday I set of early to drive the 60 miles or so to collect the bulk of my grandson’s effects from his student accommodation, as already his first year is over and after the summer he is moving into a house with friends. He wasn’t returning with me, as he is helping the 3rd years with their degree show, so will come here later in the week.

Everything was going swimmingly and I was happily listening the The Archers on Radio 4 when the cheery voice of local traffic news chipped in ‘…..the Leeds Half Marathon is underway and bus services will be interrupted due to the closure of Kirkstall Road… it is estimated that it will reopen by 3pm.’ What! It was not yet 11am and I was on the A65 in Kirkstall! Too late – my lane of traffic was suddenly being directed over to the right hand side of the road as hundreds of runners appeared from nowhere in the left hand lane!

The sun was shining and I was beginning to swelter inside my very slow moving car and I wished I had brought water with me. At least we were still moving, albeit at snail’s pace along the wrong side of the A65, but then I could see we were being forced off the main road to the right onto a side road and unknown territory. As my destination was the car park on Kirkstall road, opposite my grandson’s accommodation I really didn’t know what to do, as the thought of spending the afternoon in the car didn’t really appeal.

Just a short distance along the side road I spotted a retail park and the Morrisons Logo, so did a sharp left. At least I would be able to get a drink, use the loo and phone my grandson – who immediately went online for traffic news and did a recce outside to check on the road and the car park nearby. He phoned me back, yes indeed the runners were making their way past his accommodation; the car park was full – and closed! There was no point in me trying to find another route because my destination was inaccessible in every respect. The better news was that the road might be clear by 1.15pm.

Off I went to Morrisons for a coffee and egg sandwich and a wander around the store. In one of the aisles I encountered a young boy and as I tried to make my way around him he snatched off my glasses and started waving them around. Fortunately I recognised the signs and didn’t make a fuss, though I was wondering how I was going to get back home with broken specs – or to my destination for that matter. In the nick of time the boy’s father turned around and came to the rescue. He apologised and said his son was autistic. I had already guessed that and put my hand out and introduced myself to the young lad. Surprisingly he took my hand, gave me his name and made eye contact with me.

After an hour of wandering aimlessly around the store I thought I would go and check on the road situation and was very pleased to find only a few stragglers left and pockets of spectators still spurring them one, “Come on love, you are doing brilliantly, only a couple of miles to go – you can do it. 60 lbs she’s lost!” OMG, why do they do it when the pain is etched on their faces and they can hardly put one foot in front of the other. I really admire runners, though it isn’t for me, but was seriously worried about some of the tortured creatures who were almost crawling towards the finishing line somewhere in the distance. Several ambulances screamed by and I wondered how many more would be doing so before the race was over.

DSC01125   DSC01132

Behind the ambulance you can see the line of traffic I was in the hour earlier.
Sartorial elegance

I waited there until the road reopened and arrived at my destination only three hours late – and then realised I had foolishly forgotten my luggage wheels! Carrying the heavy packed boxes one by one to the car would have taken forever (and been backbreaking), so we unpacked the stuff, filled the suitcase, wheeled it – and carried the empty boxes to the car, refilled the boxes and went back to the flat with the empty suitcase and started all over again. It took us three trips! It was 5pm when I headed back home and many miles down the road I negotiated a round-a-bout and can you believe it – found the road to Ilkley closed!

I had been invited initially for coffee, but then dinner with friends who live en route. When I finally got to Ilkley I pulled over and phoned them to say I’d be late. My sleeping bag was still at their place from when we went to France together last month (blog to follow), so they invited me to stay overnight. They didn’t have to twist my arm and I was able to chill out with a couple of glasses of wine – and they found me a new toothbrush!

I waited for the work traffic to clear this morning and then set off home. Almost as soon as I was on the motorway the traffic ground to a halt. According to the radio – an accident – and then two accidents within a few miles! No sooner had we started moving from the first accident, than we were into the next one. Finally off the motorway I was held up again by road works! It took me two hours to get home.

I notice my left front indicator switch was running quickly which is a sure sign the bulb had gone, so checked it. I appeared right, but not only that, the other front indicator wasn’t working either! It couldn’t be that both bulbs had fused – must be a fault of some kind, so off I went to the garage and my friendly mechanic came to check out the problem. He told me to switch on the hazard lights – nothing! He lifted up the bonnet and had to shove and pull to access the first bulb and suddenly both lights came on! So at the moment, fingers crossed, everything is up and running!

This is now my sitting room after unpacking the car!



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Born in Liverpool at the end of WW2, but raised in Skelmersdale. I first studied art in Southport from 1960-63 and worked in graphic design till I married. In December 1969 I moved to Zambia with my husband and two young children. There I taught art in the local girls school, illustrated for the National Correspondence College and did all sorts of other artwork, paid and unpaid. In 1978 I divorced and remarried in the summer of 1980. In 1985 I became ill and the following year cancer was diagnosed. There was no treatment available in Zambia and so I had to go to the UK. After recovering from a radium needle implant I went back to Zambia, but 18 months later the cancer recurred and it was off to the UK again for radical surgery. This time I realised I must stay in the UK where treatment was available, so I never returned to Zambia nor my husband. A few months later I applied for a degree course, but two years later the disease metastasised and I spent most of my final year in and out of hospital. It’s been a long hard road, but I’m still plodding on and it is now 24 years since my last cancer treatment. Because of my experience of cancer and surviving against the odds, I try and help others cope with their devastating diagnosis and prognosis.

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