As some of you may know, my driving history is chequered. I never quite got to learning to drive when I was 17. A couple of lessons with Dad tattered my nerves and his and once I was living away from home in Edinburgh and then London somehow it never seemed essential. Indeed, there was some attraction in not being able to tackle the big shop single handed…. Once we moved back to the Borders it became essential. Perched as we are, halfway up a hill three miles from everywhere, being unable to drive was a serious handicap. As a mature learner I was an absolute disaster. My instructor, the ever patient Greg had nerves of steel and the patience of a saint. Tests came and went, came and went and I seemed to be getting no better. Finally we bought me an oldish mini as an incentive and having lessons in my own car seemed to help a bit. I passed on what might have been the 10th go, it could have been more, they had all melded into a single waking nightmare by then. Even with my licence I was a nervy driver. It took at least a year until I was reasonably comfortable pootling about locally. Driving at night was a particular bugbear as my cataracts were perfectly positioned to maximise glare. Alas, the December before last the inevitable happened. I somehow skidded off the road one evening and glided gently into a waiting bush. The elderly mini was not worth repairing. I, however, was deemed worthy of intervention and the cataract operation was promptly booked in the new year. (Frankly, it was all worth it for the bionic eyes which I would now not be without). By the time I was out of the plastic bug eye protector for the second eye we were in lockdown and so the purchase of a new mini was delayed until a suitable lockdown window. When the new Mini arrived I had been out of the driving seat for quite some time and my confidence had gone into rapid reverse….Driving opportunities during lockdown haven’t been huge so I have been getting my nerve back extremely slowly. I am sure local drivers must see my car ahead and sigh, anticipating a tedious delay behind Miss Marple until they get past the succession of bends and hidden dips to a decent overtaking spot….
Well, this long ramble in is by way of explaining why, on the way back from a visit to the BGH with Mum to see dad today (nb he was a bit brighter and they are trying some new drugs so that’s encouraging) I found myself becoming deeply stressed out. By the time we got to Kelso I was grinding my teeth and gripping the wheel like a drowning man. There was only one thing for it. I pulled into the Lidl car park and we had 10 minutes of intense retail therapy. Keith declined the chainsaw they had on special offer (he’ll regret that I’m sure) but Mum and I returned to the car triumphantly bearing:
- 4 packets of speciality filled gnocchi
- 2 packets of Westphalian dumplings
- 1 packet of sauerkraut Pierogi
- 2 bars of Halva
- a Dornoch brie
- a packet of beef treat sticks for the dog
- two bottles of shampoo
- A pair of pink rubber clogs for wearing to the coal shed
- a small rake for getting leaves out from under the lonicera hedges in the herb garden
- the makings of a couple of rounds of mojitos; and
- a late Christmas present for Ishbel
After this I felt much more relaxed and the rest of the route was a doddle. Indeed I swerved the potholes on the back way from Birgham with skill and verve.
In other news, Mum has been dragged on one sunny and several cold and muddy walks. Mum and I are now engaged in stalking what we think may be a badger, judging by the prints. All the swans for miles around have been holding a three day conference on the rape field near the river. They may be plotting a coup. Cake invention of the week is sour cherry and marzipan (I found a packet of old hard marzipan in the pantry and chopped it up as an ingredient – consumer testing is ongoing but if feedback is positive I will upload the recipe). I have nearly planted all of the Binny Plant purchases but it is slow progress as it has been freezing and the pre-planting routine of digging out the existing plant in the only available space, finding a new home for said evicted plant elsewhere and then wrestling buttercups from the mud and digging in compost in both planting areas has proved time consuming (especially as we are again down to only one barrow without a puncture and at prime gardening times queues for its services are forming – pity they weren’t on special in Lidl…).