The morning dawned as frostily as the last few days, but the temperature did rise a few degrees by early afternoon. We needed another trip to Ringwood where Jackie had to take her car to the excellent Wells garage in Salisbury Road for a light bulb to be replaced. It must be a stroke of design genius that requires the bumper to be removed before a £7.50 bulb can be replaced.
Whilst she waited at the garage I walked back to the river and turned left along the Castleman Trail to see what the other direction was like. Passing three boys busy making themselves sick on Golden Virginia, I soon came to Bickerley Road, where there was no continuation sign. With a sense of deja vue I searched for a route. A major road called Castleman Way, and especially a Railway Hotel pub, offered a shred of hope. This was unrealistic. I even asked a postperson for directions. She stood with great internal concentration, scratched her head, stroked her chin, and kept repeating ‘I have done it’. Eventually she proclaimed: ‘but it was so long ago I can’t remember’. I bet she’s wondering still. I know I am. I didn’t find it and eventually returned to the town centre and the cafe where we again enjoyed excellent lunches in the Bistro which, although not the Martin Cafe is a pretty good replacement, reminiscent of Jackie’s regular Rosie Lee in Morden. My choice was toad in the hole. Jackie’s was eggs on toast.
Whilst by the river I thought again that the water on the fields may not be so high. Swans and an egret were enjoying the unwonted flooded expanse. There was the odd submerged tuft that offered the swans a perch.
Whilst Jackie was booking the car in I stood in the foyer idly looking at a little old Fiat vehicle perkily standing on the floor. My reverie was disturbed by a voice from behind which compared its owner’s three year old Volkswagen most unfavourably with this allegedly perfect gem. This gentleman, who appeared to be inflicted with logorrhoea, proceeded, with neither introduction nor pause for breath, to eulogise about the 1971 Fiat car which was being renovated by the garage. I must say it did look in pretty good nick for a 41 year old, even if it had only done 21,000 miles. He, of course, should know, because he had worked for Fiat when a young man in Greece. When he helped himself to coffee from the machine, and demonstrated his complete misjudgement of me by going into great technical detail as if assuming I would have the first idea of what he was talking about, I thought maybe he was on the staff in some capacity.
Because of the necessity to remove the bumper, Jackie’s car wasn’t ready by the time we were to meet, so we walked back to the garage after lunch. On the way we spoke of our garrulous friend. Apparently he had found other victims in the form of people looking at cars for sale in the forecourt. He was happily showing them round. As she left for the cafe she overheard him saying ‘I don’t actually work here’.
This afternoon we took the car up to Wimbledon for separate evenings out which, because by the time we get back it will be too late for a post, will be described tomorrow