Monday 31 August
Although it's the thought that counts, that very thought can militate against one; I suppose it's something to do with "the best laid plans ..." And did those thoughts and plans backfire, on my poor long-suffering beloved; not everyone can turn an 80-90 mile trip into a distance more akin to 200 miles, partly attributable to road maps being scattered over a few separate pages of an atlas - spatial sense is shown for the feminine virtue it truly is - and her desire to save me the stress of going via the M62, far from my favourite stretch of road.
Having travelled for best part of two hours, I suddenly became aware that we weren't passing through any of the urban villages (of Lancashire) that I'd anticipated; rural idylls (of both Yorkshire and Cumbria) were the order of the day but, having taken this pleasant alternative route we reached the M6 at a point from which our destination goal wasn't much less of a distance away than it had been at the outset of our journey. (As aforementioned, all of this was the result of Helen's best intention to avoid the much loathed M62 route). For the first several miles on the motorway it was difficult to exceed 25mph, the slowest part of the journey so far.
The one thing of which we were certain was that we now had to head down as far as junction 26 and the M58; so far so good. Just for confirmation we switched on the satnav - destination address already programmed in and, this is where the real fun began. We missed a turn at which our destination was a mere 5.5 miles away and, as the amazing technological device re-planned our route, within a matter of minutes it was a mere 12 miles away. Further down the route we passed a familiar landmark which we knew to be within a few minutes drive of our destination but, the satnav would have none of it! A further twenty-five minutes down the line the satnav continued its wild goose chase eventually telling us that we'd reached our suburban destination when reality demonstratively disclosed the fact that we were actually in the city centre, Liverpool 1 and not Liverpool 19. We'd already been forced to make a few U-turns, and other probably illicit moves, having been directed wrong way into one way streets etc. ... etc ...
Eventually, we arrived at the Innkeepers Lodge, moved in our cases, before venturing around to visit Kathleen, Helen's step-mum, which was a simple ten minutes walk. No navigational problems there but, exhaustion had set in for this bad traveller. The walk back to the hotel proved a little more perilous; through heavy lidded eyes each road, strreet, avenue appeared much the same and my intuitive compass had gone on strike. That's when the dreaded panic set in; chest tightening, breath taking, muscle-spasming painfulness kicked in and all I wanted was to be back home! To be honest, home is the only place and sensation that I really care for; the idea of a break away being relaxing is anathema.
Tuesday 01 September
Taking advantage of a generous breakfast, included in the room price, necessitated me getting up from my bed to walk at a rather earlier hour than has been my norm over recent days. Cereal, probiotic yoghurt, fruit juice, toast, pain au chocolat ... who could ask for anything more; well perhaps a doggy bag was in order to sustain us in that large interval between breakfast and evening meal. Having allowed twenty minutes for breakfast to settle, off we went to Kathleens once again for a little chat and the opportunity to take a few snapshots and a little bit of video-ing. We were back to the inn shortly after 11.30AM, in my case for a much needed rest and, for my beloved, a chance to catch up on some reading. There are definitely some exhibitions at Liverpool's Tate Gallery but, at this stage my reserves of both physical and emotional stamina are still a little battle scarred from yesterday's adventures.
Who knows what the rest of the day will bring but, I am looking forward to a meal at Mad Harrys this evening (technically it's the 'Madhari Tandoori Restaurant' but it's a name that becomes affectionate in my accidental(?) pronunciation)! Mad Harrys is directly opposite to the main door of our temporary habitation. Last night we ate at the Toby Carvery, adjacent to the lodge where we are staying, where I enjoyed a baked sea bass along with a generosity of self service potatoes and vegetables. I even decided a Yorkshire pudding would make an interesting additional accompaniment. Meantime, my beloved settled for the carvery turkey.
Once more the best laid plans were destined not to be; the rest of the day turned out to be a devastatingly tortuous non-event. Severe muscular and abdominal discomfort led to an all pervasive sense of nausea though, come late afternoon / early evening went out for a little fresh air in the hope of reviving or creating some semblance of an appetite. The effort was to little avail. No sooner had we seated ourselves in the Indian Restaurant than the sense of nausea returned with a vengeance; at least we were able to leave before we'd had a chance to place an order. My only desire was to be back home in Harrogate whilst simulataneously the thought of making the journey was far too much to cope with.
Most of the day and evening was spent in totally restless attempts to rest. Somehow my biological clock can't cope with dramatic changes such as arising from my bed before mid-to-late morning but, it had seemed necessary to partake of breakfast (at an unearthly early hour) as I felt the need to obtain something in return for the nightly room fee. I did manage a pint of Thwaites 'Bomber' in the afternoon, sweet upfront with a sustained dry bitterness lingering on the palate, a much more satisfying drink than the Long Shadow Chardonnay, of the previous evening, which turned out to be flavoursomely oak laden at the beginning but, became an unremittingly tedious monotony before the glass was half-finished.
Wednesday 2 September
After a night of intermittent sleep, I managed to pluck up the courage to take a shower. Whilst in no way considering myself disabled, it suddenly occurred to me that I had quite a high degree of dependence on the shower seat at home whereas here, no such luxury was afforded. So, short and sweet showerlette was in order and, I emerged marginally refreshed to venture across to the carvery for breakfast.
This evening we'll be ambling around to Kathleens for dinner; the trip to scouseland proves worthwhile if only for the opportunity to visit Helen's stepmum but I doubt that I could cope with a visit to the Tate or even a more local gallery. Even when one is feeling relatively better than had been the case for a few years, ventures away from the familiar homestead prove a testing ground too far.
As I shuffled from chair to door, my wearily aching lower limbs decided that an occasional knee tendon spasm, and buckling from the knee, was an ideal way to restore my confidence. That's the point when we remembered that I'd not brought any of my walking sticks with me. My beloved popped down to the bar to see if, by any chance, there was a spare walking stick available and, managed to obtain an umbrella of appropriate length to proffer some support (an item of unclaimed lost property). This enabled me to get out for a little stroll in reasonably close proximity to the inn.
Late afternoon found us once more at Kathleens, to enjoy an evening meal.
Thursday 3 September
With the desire to get home by the quickest route possible, decided it was worth risking a trip along the M62, succesfully relying on the satnav to discern the best exit strategy for a comfortable journey home. My only panic attack occurred within one mile of our departure point, when abdominal and chest muscles once more militated against common-sense. Helen suggested we head back to the inn but, common-sense prevailed and, the desire to get home, in spite of immediate terrifying discomfort, was much greater than the need for instant relief! Once we hit the dreaded motorway, the symptoms were soon ameliorated.
The delight of reaching home, in a mere couple of hours, bore witness to the greatest transfiguration since Jesus met the two old geezers on the mount! How wonderful to smile freely once again.