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Friday, April 9

Something of a Diversion

As is oft reported on this blog, even the best of plans can go horribly wrong. In fact, I’m sure I recently read in a Douglas Adam offering of some sort (I’m currently re-reading “The Salmon of Doubt”) that the most efficiently planned plans are most easily knocked off the rails. I’m paraphrasing, probably quite badly. It’s certain for me that not having a plan makes it a cast-iron guarantee that your plan won’t go wrong, though it also means there’s a cast-iron guarantee that you won’t achieve what you set out to because you didn’t set out to achieve anything. These sorts of discussions often end in circles, tears, or infinite loops.

It’s probably best to say that making a plan is good, and having a plan with vague bits is better, since you can, then, generally claim an achievement of a broad brief without having to get all picky about the little unimportant things like the actual details.

None of this even hints at what the hell I’m on about, so I’ll explain some more of where I am/we are, and what’s been going on.

We are on holiday. If the plan was to go on a holiday, then we’ve achieved it and will be able to collect our certificate saying “for services rendered to the state of being on holiday, here’s a certificate, certifying that you like pieces of paper with the facts written on in cursive script”. However, where we would, by now, have spent the most of a week on holiday in Italy, with Naples as our base (in a sort of staying way, not in the sense of a Bond villlain’s evil undersea base sort of way) and with such places to visit as Pompeii (definitely) and The Great Wall of China (unlikely). Reality is different to plan, and we’re presently in the Isle of Wight and have seen Pompey (Portsmouth) across the bay from Ryde which isn’t even where we’re staying.

“How did it get like this?” I hear my own inner voice cry in the manner of a rhetorical question that claims to be caused by the reader (who may or may not even exist). Well… it all started (harps play, text goes all blurry like it’s in a pond)… on Saturday night.

On Saturday night, after a successful morning of getting out of bed, getting breakfast, having a drive around Leeds, and meeting a friend for lunch, we had managed a successful and dull 3 hour drive to London Stansted airport, where we’d booked a room in an airport hotel that came with free parking. This sounded great. In reality, once they’d put surcharges on for transfers to the airport from this hotel, amounting to about £16, you started to wonder if there wasn’t something of a scam about this deal and whether the up-front pricing shouldn’t be forced to include these things as they’re not exactly optional. But we survived that… it’s only a few quid, after all.

We ate a meal in the pub opposite the hotel and then bedded down in a rather odd sort of a room, which was a bit like a chalet in a converted barn. As it happens, it was very comfortable. A nice night’s sleep was had by all until. Dun Dun Dhaaaah. My girlfriend woke up in the small hours with extreme stomach problems and was quite ill. I’ll not go into the pooey and sicky details, except I pretty much just have.

We had a problem when morning came. We’re supposed to be leaving the hotel at 9am for a flight at 11am and one of our party is in no state to travel and the other one (me) is starting to feel a bit woozy as well.

Cue phone calls to travel agents, family members, travel insurance companies and anyone else we fancied. After a bit of thinking, I cancelled the car that was coming to get us, cancelled the whole holiday (it would have cost 75% of its total cost to enable us to fly out a day later) and then tried to deal with the fact that we were both now rather sick.

On top of this, we couldn’t stay in the hotel where we were as they only had a small number of rooms and these rooms were booked solid for the next night. The chamber maid wanted to clean the rooms, we wanted to just hide and die quietly somewhere.

In the end, I drove over to the airport for some medication from Boots. The stuff I wanted was airside, so the lady from the Boots I could go to took my money across to the one behind security and bought what I needed for me. Very nice of her indeed. There was a lot of hanging around and waiting for me to do that morning. I stood about 20 minutes in the terminal waiting for the Boots lady. Earlier in the day, feeling a bit queasy, I’d stood waiting for the 9am taxi to arrive so I could send me off on his way again. Realising I had about 6 minutes to wait for him, I hit on the idea of working through the song Bohemian Rhapsody in my head, in real time. That’s quite a good way to make six minutes pass.

Anyway, back at the ranch, well, barn. We weren’t feeling better but had to leave. The hotel owner organised me a room in a nearby hotel and we holed up at the Hilton for the next 24 hours. A cheap rate was already negotiated for us, and I managed to get us into a suitable room by pointing out that we were both ill – the state of my girlfriend, who hobbled in on my arm very convincingly, did nothing to disprove this. We ended up in a nice room which we really couldn’t appreciate because we were ON THE BRINK OF DEATH. Well, we weren’t but we were sleeping and feeling horrible for the entire time we were in there.

At some point my girlfriend managed to download the Doctor Who episode that we’d missed on Saturday night, and couldn’t download on Saturday night because the first hotel didn’t even have any internet connection (WHAT!?).

On the Sunday lunchtime, after we’d managed something like breakfast and had stopped all the sleeping, and had finished watching the Doctor Who, we went back online and asked the question “Where can we go that’s easy to get to and a nice play to have a vacation?”. The answer – The Isle of Wight.

So here we are. We’re on the Island. It’s nice here. The sun is bright, the sea air is full of vitamin sea. We met my Island resident friend last night and had drinks and food (and shouting over a band). It’s been a good break. It hasn’t been Italy, but it’s been a rest and some time together, which is really what we needed.

I’ll leave this note with one final story, an even from yesterday which made us rather righteously indignant.

As we parked the car in Ryde, we noticed that one car was in a rather strange place. On closer inspection, it was in a strange place because it had rolled forwards out of its parking space, across the lane between spaces, and into the car it was now headbutting in the next row of cars. The car park was on a reasonable incline, and gravity and the lack of handbrake power had caused this car to follow Newton’s laws quite emphatically and move until a force acted to stop it (actually gravity acted on it accelerating it until a strong force acted to decelerate and stop it – in this case the front of someone else’s car).

We are quite decent citizens and we are also suspicious of other’s people’s decency. So we wrote a small note and attached it to the rear of the victim’s car. It read “The car with registration XYZ123 rolled into yours. Just in case they drive away before you do”. I wish we’d actually kept a copy of that reg plate, so I didn’t have to write the made up XYZ123 placeholder above. I also wish we’d kept the details for another reason; when we arrived back at the car park, the offending Newtonian vehicle had been removed – driven away we presume. In addition, the note we’d left had been removed too. So one must assume the driver (I say driver, I like to think that maybe they just sit in the seat and wait for whichever forces come their way to just act) decided to cover their tracks and even noticed the helpful note that would have provided vital evidence to the car their incompetence had caused to be damaged.

So the Isle of Wight is an Isle of dark deeds and bright days. All in all, it’s been a holiday to remember.

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