We often talk about going through hell and high water to deliver on our promises. I hadn’t expected it to be quite so literal!
This is my car. It is old. It is basic. It is reliable and it rarely lets me down. It’s not fancy, it’s often a bit grubby (cleaning the car falls even lower than housework in my list of things I choose to do) and it has started to get a few spots of rust in the bodywork.
But those spots of rust could be about to multiply! I was heading to The Peak District for a very exciting weekend of improv and Storm Babet was passing through at the same time. I will tell you about the weekend in a separate post, but this is just about the journey!
I had set off a bit later than planned on the Friday afternoon, but it was dry until I got towards Birmingham. The M1 has lots of roadworks at the moment so I wasn’t surprised that Sauly-Sat-Nav directed me onto the M6. And of course, that meant lots of B roads and stuff. The rain was quite heavy, and there were some substantial puddles to splash through, but nothing scary.
Until Sauly-Sat-Nav decided to take me off an A Road and onto a back road. All of a sudden the road ahead turned into a darn great pond! But it was so dark I didn’t see it, and was splash bang in the middle of it before I knew it.
I didn’t feel like I could turn round as the road was narrow with grass verges, and the road ahead looked like it was rising out of the dip, so I thought I would carry on slowly. There were no signs signifying that there was flooding or a ford in the area.
Woops! Probably not my best decision. I carried on further. Didn’t seem to be any problems so long as I took it slow. Then I was faced by a white transit van. It was empty as I inched past it. And then it happened. The car lost its grip on the road and I was not going any further!
That was the point I realised my feet were wet! And my ankles! And my calves! And the box of tissues that usually lives on the passenger seat was swimming in the footwell! And sadly, the bag of books and resources for the workshop that was in the back footwell was significantly drippy!
I phoned the AA. I couldn’t find my membership card, but they’re clever. The lovely lady tried to calm my rising panic while she explained that they would not be able to send out a patrol and put me through to the police. Who said they couldn’t respond either. And I should get out of the car and walk to higher ground. Do WHAT??? But the water’s up to my bum out there! And it’s flowing fast!
The police lady was fab. She really worked at calming me down. And worked incredibly hard at getting me out of the car. Amazingly, as I got out of the car, I heard a voice. A young (tall!) lad came tromping towards me and was happy to let me cling to him as we walked together towards higher ground. It turned out that he was on his way to his dad’s (and in trouble with his mum for skiving off school to go to work that day!).
The police person signed off then, and the AA lady came back to explain that I wasn’t actually a member! So put me through to the RAC. Oh, yes, I remember! And they couldn’t come out either. To be fair, all agencies were dealing with much more serious situations than mine.
We carried on, and then there was another voice – Lovely chap’s dad come to meet us!
We did exchange names, but I have totally forgotten them in all the excitement. “Dad” organised for a taxi to take me the rest of my journey. It was really strange to just walk away from my car – clothes, laptop, projector, quilts were all in the boot; books, beer, food and stuff were in the body of the car. To the best of my knowledge everything was floating in the car, and the car would never work again.
I got to Thirkelow Cottage, where I was teaching for the weekend. One lovely student handed me a glass of fizz, another a clean, dry pair of socks, another a cup of tea (yes, I did need tea and alcohol!) and another a towel to sit on (I did have a bit of a soggy bum!).
And then I launched into my introductory talk in advance of the workshop – without notes, without my presentation and without the quilts to illustrate it!
Esther, who runs Thirkelow, provided me with a selection of clothes, soap and a toothbrush, and I headed off to bed.
In the morning Esther and her husband headed off to see what they could rescue from my car, and we started our workshop.
Unbelievably everything in the boot had stayed dry – I was so happy to see my quilts! And thankfully I had a spare pair of shoes in my suitcase as my gorgeous Fitflop boots may never recover.
We had a fabulous weekend, some amazing quilts were created and friendships were made.
But I will tell you about that another time.
Just remember that if you book me for a talk or workshop I may literally go through hell and high water to deliver! (I wonder if you can take driving lessons on how to deal with floods?)
And the final indignity? The road that was my undoing was called Watery Lane!
One of my favourite quilts – Rainy Day