This was a beautiful, crisp, autumn morning. It followed a week of rain. The deep blue heliotrope which had sat on a chamber pot on the two-tone blue garden table had become waterlogged and drowned. As Jackie and I sat with our morning coffee we had that sense of ‘what now? the job’s done’. But that didn’t stop us enjoying the garden.
I walked down Upper New Road to In-Excess in West End High Street in search of more display books for Mum’s project. They didn’t have any, so I returned via West End Road. When you read this, and especially what follows, Mum, I hope you appreciate the effort that’s gone into tracking down these folders.
Much of the day, apart from a trip to Southampton, was spent printing out my posts.
After lunch Jackie and I went to Sainsbury’s superstore in Hedge End and bought the wine for next weekend’s grand event. We then went on to Southampton’s Staples in search of the display books. We were headed for the Retail Village in West Quay. Elizabeth had given us a Super Red Book, the local map for Southampton. The map was clear, we thought. All we had to do was work out where to start from and follow the roads marked. Easy enough. Really very soon, having driven along Bitterne Road, we passed a sign welcoming us to Southampton. Then we hit the traffic. A continuous stream in front of us suggested that the whole of the West Country was headed for the docks, and probably West Quay. That, whilst we knew where we were going, simply demanded patience. Soon it got a bit more complicated. I was navigating, and Jackie was trying to interpret the road signs. Tying up the actual road layout with what looks straightforward on the map tends to be rather confusing. Anyone who has driven before the days of the Satnav will understand this problem. If only you could pull over and get your bearings. Not possible without parking where you shouldn’t, or sending another driver into an apopleptic fit. On one occasion it was a pedestrian we upset. Jackie, having stopped at traffic lights, had been going to drive straight on. She was positioned in the correct lane for that when I gently suggested that she should turn left. This involved a three point turn at the crossroads. A pedestrian attempting to cross, actually against a red light, got a bit cheeky. Following a sign to to the south circular road, we ended up in New Road which didn’t seem to make much sense. Again changing lanes at traffic lights we headed down Palmerston Road and into more confusion. I have always believed that the Satnav has rescued an awful lot of marriages.
It was with some relief that I espied the familiar blue and yellow of an Ikea building. I remembered passing that last week when Elizabeth had driven me to Staples. We were obviously somewhere near the retail village. This, we now knew, meant a right turn. The trouble was there were no more signs to West Quay or Retail Village. Each right turn seemed to lead either to an hotel or a car park. We had plenty of time to work it out as the traffic was solid. Harbour Parade was what we wanted. Fortunately we took the correct turning into it. We still weren’t clear of car parks and found we needed to extricate ourselves from a few. Reading the directional arrows on the tarmac of these places can send you round and round in circles for some time, especially if the Exit signs are lacking. Eventually we found ourselves in ToysRus car park, within sight of Ikea. But we hadn’t found Staples. It was at this point that I remembered that Elizabeth had approached the Retail Village from the motorway to the north of Southampton. She had erroneously thought she had gone a long way round. As we had gone through Southampton we had approached Ikea on our right. Elizabeth’s route had been with the landmark on her left. This made a bit of difference, I phoned Elizabeth, told her where we were, and asked her for directions. ‘Somewhere between where you are and Ikea’, was the best she could come up with. It was, in fact, perfect. Staples emerged into view and we parked outside with some relief. Jackie, who has, for many years, visited mother and sisters in the area, said: ‘now I remember why we always avoided Southampton’.
Staples had the binders. I scooped up an armful and we were soon on our way back. This time on the motorway. Elizabeth, you were not wrong to use it.