I don’t recall angering any old gypsy fortune-teller women. I’m sure I haven’t crossed the path of any hags, or dealt with many devils. I’m sure I never wished for a holiday to Cornwall on a dried monkey’s paw, which subsequently curled one of its gnarled old fingers into the palm and bestowed a twisted, cursed version of what I asked for. I definitely didn’t ask for travel help from any mournful, withered mermaids, who agreed to assist my voyage in exchange for a terrible price.
However, with all that in mind, I can’t really understand how my trip down south went so catastrophically wrong.
It was Mark’s father’s birthday last week, and the old sod lives at Land’s End of all places (although Mark himself is a good solid Lancashire Lad) so we were in for a long trip, no matter what happened… But I had to do this one alone, since I have less holiday than him with work, so he went down with the kids three days before me, arriving at the same time as his brother, his uncle and aunt and all their kids.
So bad enough already that I’m still stuck in work while he’s sipping sangria in the Cornish sun, but I’m flying, and the app won’t let me print my boarding pass til the day before the flight, so I have to content myself with packing and arranging everything well in advance, besides the passes (you know how I love organising everything! I’m a proper organised mumma, me).
Two nights before the flight, I turn the house upside looking for my passport, but can’t find it anywhere, even using extremely methodical, room-by-room clearing tactics that would make a Navy SEAL search team weep with jealousy. It’s getting late at night now, and the passport has ceased to exist, or slipped through the creases in the fabric of reality to some other plane where the Anti-Jin has just bemusedly found it. On the cusp of a rage, I decide to have a cup of tea and a sit-down to calm myself down before continuing, when Mark call from Cornwall to tell me he’s remembered where he put them!
He put them in A Sensible Place, So They Wouldn’t Get Lost.
The day before the flight, I could finally print my boarding pass, but – oh wait, no I couldn’t – the office printer was broken! Inexplicably, irreparably and utterly busted, the office printer was a useless shell, smouldering quietly, and there was a very real possibility I wouldn’t be able to get those passes.
I racked my brain. Who would have a printer? Not the girlies – we’re all office mommas, so we don’t have printers in the house, and without logging on to my email, then my FlyBe account, there’s no way to access the passes, so I couldn’t send them over. Then, in a stroke of typical Jin brilliance, I remembered – Liverpool Central Library.
Calling ahead of time, I confirmed that they had available printers for public use, and immediately after work I belted into town to sort my printing. Boarding passes in hand, I tried to fathom the horror that the next day would hold, if my bad luck streak carried on.
The Day Of The Flight
The day of the flight was well planned out, in my head. First, I would wake up, have a classic egg breakfast, have a shower and get dressed, do a final clean of the house, put the bins out, water the plants and leave the house.
Getting to the train station, I would get on the train to Earlestown, which runs every hour, and get a transfer there to Manchester Airport, where I would get my flight.
At that point, the hub-sub-la-bub-bub would pick me up from Newquay Airport and drive me, fast as anything, to dinner with his family, as that was the night we were having the official birthday dinner.
All good so far, right? Wrong.
So continues the Spooky Curse Of Jin The Spooky Cursed Lady.
First, my train arrived almost at Earlestown, only to stop for ten minutes on the tracks, until I missed my connection, then pull in. So first, I was trapped in Earlestown for an hour! I’m as partial to the poors as the next person, but this place was rough. Within ten seconds of leaving the train station a child of no more than five chased me down the street, yelling, only to give me the middle finger when I turned around and just stare at me!
As a mother, I can’t believe the sort of parent it would take to allow a child to do such a thing. The thought of Tilly pursuing a random stranger down the street simply to make vile gestures and stare makes my blood boil. However, vitriolic little children aside, I survived, and made my connection train an hour later with no further harassment.
I arrived in the airport several hours early, to allow for just such shenanigans, and got myself a cup of coffee. Luckily for me, this is where I made a friend, as the coffee shop was busy and there was nowhere to sit, so I offered my seat to a lovely Northern Irish woman named Saoirse (she taught me how to spell it).
While we were chatting, my flight was delayed in little increments, slowly ratcheting up in the background, until it was 35 minutes delayed. Now we’re cutting it really, really fine for making that dinner reservation.
However, when I got off the flight (practically running), my Mark was there with the car ready, and we jumped in and went!
Immediately after leaving the airport, a juddering sound began to come from the engine, making him nervously say that he had never heard a sound like that coming from a car. He immediately said he thought it was fatal, but I didn’t want to believe him – we made bets on whether we’d make it to the house to collect another car, or whether we’d get all the way to the restaurant. The power of positive thoughts!
I thought positive things and occasionally complimented the engine for being a tough little soldier while holding onto my llama-hair prayer bracelet tight, and I sincerely believe that’s why it lasted as long as it did.
We still wound up stranded on a green verge between the slip-road and the A30, since the car began to lurch as if it was going to stall and then an incredible boom sent bits of metal and oil spraying all over the motorway, forcing us to beach the car and get out. The recovery driver said it would be two hours to wait, and that was the soonest he could get out.
Everyone else had already begun to drink at the restaurant, so there was no rescue coming from there, and I’ll admit, when I sat down on the grass I was being a huffy little madam.
Tilly would have been so proud.
At least the children were at the restaurant with Mark’s brother Will and their cousins, so I didn’t have to worry about them, but the hubble-bubble-toil-and-trouble and I were starving, so while he waited by the car I walked up the slip-road until I found a Premier Inn that could do us a bottle of coke and a little paper bag of chips. They were great, and sitting there eating chips as the sun went down on our own little green island in the middle of the road? Well, it wasn’t all that bad after all.
We made it to the restaurant after the kitchen had closed, but Will had – amazingly – managed to arrange a cheese board for us, so we had chips and cheese for dinner.
We told the story to shocked faces, and everyone was amazed at my terrible luck! Mark’s dad laughed the longest, and it got me thinking, he never did like me. What if he was the one that made my journey so terrible?
I’ll have to do some digging and see what I can find out about him.
Hope you all have a magical week!