Life in this house, as I have pointed out on many occasions, is fraught with random chaotic intrusions into what should be an orderly balanced existence. Yesterday was a typical example. The day began well enough, yet swiftly deteriorated into chaos and confusion… as do a lot of my simple, easy to implement plans.
I’ll begin by setting the scene.
We’d already begun having logistical problems before the day even started properly. On Fridays, *after* school the youngest usually goes skating practice at the local ice rink. She can only meet her friends there once a week so it’s a ‘high point’ for her. However, the eldest wanted to go to Guide Camp for the weekend. She needs this in order to fulfill a requirement from Guide House that she’s been to two ‘camps’ this year before she’s eligible to go to Jamboree later in the year. As it happens, the youngest also wants to go to a ‘Disco’ in the evening .
To get to ‘camp’ we need to leave home at 4:00 pm. at the latest. Skating practice runs from 3:30 p.m. til 5:30 p.m. The Disco starts at 6:30 p.m. Obviously something has to give. We compromise. We tell the youngest that skating is off… but she can go to the Disco if we can get back from the Guide Camp in time to get her there. If we are lucky it’s an hour or so drive so it’s ‘doable’. This isn’t what she wants, but it’s acceptable and the eldest *does* have priority this time..
In the end we all agree and they set off for school all smiles. It’s the end of term. Both kids are excited about getting to school anyway, if only to say goodbye to their friends for two weeks then coming home to loll about doing what they do best… nothing! 🙂
The time is now 7:30 a.m. I have several hours to relax, tidy up, vacuum etc before having to rush off to school to watch the youngest doing some singing and dancing in an Assembly. This is at 11:00 so I have time. I might even have time to get home and sit with a cup of tea before ‘the afternoon dash’.
The plan runs as follows. The eldest needs to be collected from school at 3:30 p.m. we’d rush home, collect her camping gear and get to the camping ground by 5:00 p.m. Timings are tight… but I know where the camp is so I think I can just about make it *if* we get no holdups. I can relax… all is well.
It’s a nice day I go for a walk with the dogs. A nice relaxing hour. Shortly *after* I come home after my hour walking the dogs, fate decides my life is becoming far too peaceful and it starts. First I get a call from the wife. Seems the youngest has fallen in school. She’s twisted the little finger on her left hand or something. Her hand is swollen, it’s been splinted and bandaged. The nurse will call if she needs to be collected and sent to the hospital or whatever. Or at least that’s what I *think* the message says. I relax again.
An hour later I get a call from the school. When will I be arriving to collect our daughter? Err… pardon? Turns out the nurse thinks she’s badly wrenched, sprained, dislocated… or broken… a finger. Oops!!
Obviously now I know it’s serious, I go to collect her. We then spend the next hour and a half in the doctors waiting for her to find time to fit us in. She assesses the situation, send us off to get x-rays. We stop for lunch at McDonald’s on the way and proceed… to the wrong building. I thought the doctor had said “Northwest Radiology, whereas she’d said ‘Norwest Imaging’. Well they sound similar… sort of! 🙂
So, back in the car, over to the right place, register, wait, get the x-rays taken, wait. collect them, and leave.
We get back to the doctor, leave the x-rays there with my phone number and leave. We can’t wait for the doctor, it’s now 3:30 p.m. and the eldest will be wondering where we are. I call her to tell her we’re on our way… we’ll be late but be ready. She calls from the school office to tell us she’s left her phone at home… argghh (more on the doctor in a separate post!).
We pick up the eldest, rush back home, pack the car, and leave for Tara. It’s now 4:15 p.m and I have a minimum hours drive across Sydney to be on time. We rush some more. Lo and behold, despite the traffic, my wonderful driving skills mean we arrive at the campsite just *one* minute late. Am I good or what?? What??
Not so much what… as where. As in “Where is everyone?” Both kids run down to the site office… and come back with one of the Guide Leaders. You are looking for Tara yes? I am indeed. Unfortunately… this is Glengarry. Tara is near Warragamba Dam… the other side of Sydney, past Penrith, and *at least* an hours drive on a clear road. I spend a few seconds screaming at myself inside my head until deafened I set off again.
By now of course it’s 5:15 p.m. and Sydney in the rush hour presents us with anything *but* a clear road.
I call the wife who is still in work (loads to do very busy luckily… well luckily for us anyway) and she finds Tara on the Internet. She starts to give us directions. She says go back the way we came. I type the address into the TomTom navigator which tells us to go a different way… I go the different way. The TomTom stops working… seems the power connection is ‘loose’ so it keeps shutting off. I scream at myself some more.
Being such a wonderful driver, I decide to ‘follow my nose’ while I reset the navigation system… at every set of lights we come to because it continues to switch itself off. I’m that wonderful a driver, I miss an important turning.
Now I’m heading into central Sydney in a queue of traffic four lanes wide and crawling along. I’m overtaken by snails. If I’d wanted I could have got out, stepped on them, got back in and *still* not have moved a car’s length!! As annoyed as I am I let the snail’s life their lives as best they can and continue to crawl along.
Eventually I find a way of stabilising the navigator next to me balanced on my rucksack, my coat and a folded towel. We now have a clear idea where we are. We’re lost.
Lost and in the dark (literally) we may well have been, well we were, but the TomTom seemed to know where we were going even if I didn’t and slowly we threaded our way through mile after mile of unknown streets and suburbs.
You remember that arrival time was 5:00 p.m.? Well we weren’t even on the motorway then! This took yet another hour or so to achieve. By 6:30 pm. however we *were* on the motorway… which was *also* was blocked solid. I have never seen the road as blocked as it was last night… and especially not *leaving* Sydney. Still, with little alternative, we truck slowly along.
Eventually the road clears… we build up speed… and then we stop again. This continues. An hour further on we discover an accident was causing the hold up. All lanes were blocked, one because of the debris… the other because cars were slowing down to rubberneck at the mess! Still, after that we were finally on our way on the open road! The TomTom was now ‘stable’ and giving clear instructions, which we follow.
We follow the instructions *right* until the point where it took us over a series of bumps, down a dark unsignposted lane… which turned it off again.
Because there is a queue of traffic building up behond me and there are no places to pull in, I carry on driving hoping something will turn up. Which it does in the form of a road I recognise! I turn onto it, and call the wife who, at 7:30 p.m. is still in work because she knew we were lost and she had quick access to the Internet. Also of course because she had work to do… but still.
Anyway, she guides us (no pun) to the right turning and we set off again… uphill. Uphill with little petrol left… then the phone tells me it’s battery is running out. Oh joy.
For some reason the gods relented a little and shortly before the car was set to expire from lack of fuel, we found a Caltex petrol station and were able to fill up. Relief flooded us all and we set off with directions from the station owner knowing we were only a short way from the camp site.
Somehow, despite the directions, we miss a turning – again – and end up at Warragamba Dam itself. We turn round, retrace our steps, and turn right at the only place we could… and with grim determination, we keep on trucking.
Eventually at 8:15 pm., some 10 hours after I’d left the house in the morning, and after four and a quarter hours constant driving in the afternoon, we finally arrive at the campsite. The people in the office give us directions, which make no sense whatever in the dark, but we set of… again, again.
We drive across someone’s garden, then over what looks and feels like a ploughed field, and other assorted pieces of hairy ground but eventually, by chance, locate where her Guide Group has begun erecting tents. Some of the Guides come over to say hi, the eldest daughter unloads her gear, and sets off to sort herself out.
That’s when her friends started leaping up and down screaming. Why you ask? Because underneath their feet the ground was moving… alive… with huge hairy ants who were a tad upset because some loon had parked a huge car on top of their nest. With ants swarming all over their shoes and legs… they ran. Brave me jumped back in the car and moved it out of the way whilst trying to brush off the ants that were now everywhere! On a side note I wasn’t entirely successful at removing all of them because some were still in my hair when we arrived home!
And yes we *did* get home safe and sound. I rang the wife to say thanks for the assistance and that she could leave now. We said we’d pick her up from Blacktown train station and all would be well. This we did.
We retraced our path, found the way home with no problems and that evening was almost over. Almost.
When we got back I bandaged the child’s hand, which had had no treatment since leaving the doctor since she said leave it ‘open’. However by now it was causing her a lot of pain so I splinted and bandaged it again and sent her off to bed.
We also went to bed.
Two minutes later I sat blot upright remembering that just as we left the campsite, one of the Guide leaders had asked me to drop her house keys off at her house so her boyfriend could get in. Had I done it? Well of course not… that would have been far too easy.
To round of the chaos perfectly I had to get up get dressed, drive over to this woman’s house, and slip the keys under the mat. I headed home and by 11:30 p.m. I had fallen back into bed and passed out. Another day done.
Like I said… yesterday was much the same as always in our house. Jinx? Don’t talk to me about the jinx!! 😀