As I haven't seen my sister for two years (unbelievable!), I booked to go to the Lake District, where she lives, on Monday the 11th, then come back on the 18th via an old school friend in Liverpool and a KT Tunstall concert at the Philharmonic, scene of all my old school prize-givings and carol concerts. I spent ages working out the journey to try and get tickets at a reasonable cost and was thrilled when I managed to get tickets to Penrith, Liverpool and Euston for a mere £41.
My sis put a slight spanner in the works by suddenly remembering she had to man a bookstall at a fair in Kendall on the Friday and Saturday which, as I wasn't arriving till late on Monday afternoon, only gave us three clear days to spend time together. Then the second spanner arrived: she couldn't drive me to Penrith to catch my train to Liverpool on the Saturday as Kendal lay in the opposite direction, so she offered to buy me a ticket from Oxenholme instead.
While this was going on, my friend in Liverpool was waiting to hear what time I would be arriving, so she could pick me up, but my sister wanted to leave it till the last minute and buy a ticket actually on the day. Just as well she did, because dramatic events were on the horizon.
A very close friend has aged parents up in Southport. They had just moved into her brother's house so an eye could be kept on them, when her brother's water tank sprang a leak and they had no central heating or hot water, which meant the Aged P's had to be moved back into their own flat. This coincided with her 94-year-old dad being admitted to hospital, leaving no-one to care for her 93-year-old mum, who has a failing memory and can no longer look after herself; it had been Dad who did all the cooking. Not knowing when she would be coming back, my friend couldn't put her cat into the cattery so she asked me, very apologetically, if I would drop my arrangements and move into her place to feed the mog, who is a very pretty and affectionate ginger and white rescue cat who craves company and mopes if he's left alone. She did, of course, offer to reimburse me for the cost of my journey. And the very next day, the day before I was going to her place, I took a chocolate from a box of Cadbury's Roses, thought it was a soft-centre, bit into it, found it was sticky caramel and broke a tooth!!!
There is a reason why I am going into all these details, so stay with me. I spent a warm and pleasant week in North London, during the course of which I went to see the film Philomena, which, having experienced parting with my own baby, I found incredibly moving. Even the fact that they charged me double and I didn't find out till two days later (I raised the roof and now have a voucher for a free visit to the Odeon), didn't diminish my enjoyment. My friend came back on the Tuesday evening, her father having perked up and her brother's water tank having finally been fixed, and offered to pay for me to travel up on the Wednesday, but as that would have only left me one proper day with my sister, quite apart from the fact that I hadn't packed my hiking boots and fell-walking clothes, I declined.
The next day, I had my broken tooth fixed and the dentist said it was a good job I hadn't left it, as the dentine was exposed and it soon would have started giving me hell (which would have been halfway through my stay up North).
Thank goodness I declined my friend's offer to buy me another ticket, and not just because of my tooth! On Saturday, I had an email from my old school friend which said it was a jolly good job I hadn't gone, because there had been a plumbing disaster in her block of flats, nobody could use their loos or run any water, and she had had to go and stay with her son. On Sunday, she told me that though KT Tunstall herself had been very good, the seats I had paid for were in direct eye-line with the lighting rig, which beamed coloured lights directly into her eyes so she had been forced to spend most of the gig with her eyes closed. I can just imagine the migraine I would have got.
So in the end, it all worked out for the best, especially as various unexpected people landed on my sister, wanting to stay because of a local film festival, so it would have been pandemonium, sleeping bags at dawn. I don't plan to book another trip till the spring now. Will that one run as planned? Who knows. Fate works in mysterious ways and whatever it has in store, I shall just have to go with the flow.