I suffer from a terrible curse, an illness, nay a disease... leave me just a few steps from home and I'm an instant amnesiac. My sense of direction is so painfully woeful that I manage to irritate the socks off myself. I am anything but a helpless damsel in distress, yet pathetically I can't even manage to master a walk on my own that I have done literally hundreds of times with my carer, my husband.
After returning from an amazing Ski holiday, slightly delirious from the early wake up in Italy of 4.30am, I arrived in England jaded but resolutely determined not to wallow in holiday blues, but embrace the beauty of a cold, clear, Cheltenham. Unfortunately this call to arms was not met well, and so being a stubborn little donkey, on I plodded. It really was a walk so well trodden that I had a cocky, confidence to my strut, telling my darling husband, go home, relax, I've got this.
I had 'got' nothing.
Through the park I strode, the cold suddenly making me need to use the toilet, and smugly I knew just the place in the park... not the bushes you dirty minded people, but the public conveniences. To my delight they had not yet closed and I did my usual routine of desperately trying to avoid the stupid squirt of soap that comes before the water jet, but as usual, never quick enough. Instead, I was left with just enough water to foam everything up, and just too little air to get rid of the paddling pool of a mess my hands had become.
An unpleasant incovenience but not enough to 'dampen' (I'm wincing at the pun) the mood.
Then it all fell apart.
On entering the race course the light was beginning to fade, as it seems were my chances of coming out of this thing unscathed. I turned a corner and no longer recognised my surroundings, I tried a gate, went through a field, changed my mind, turned around, changed my mind again, turned once more to the field, then suddenly heard voices and dogs the other side, so went towards this promising glimpse of hope. Attempting to appear nonchalant I casually trotted through what was becoming a mud pie of squelch under my boots. Glancing down, I realised they were utterly covered and clods of mud fell into the boot wrapping themselves around my feet and working themselves into the soft leather. Refusing to show weakness, I styled it out, then to my horror one of the figures recognised me...'Lottie, is that you?'
Goddamit I thought, all cover blown, looking like a mud urchin fool, but painting a grin on my face, I said, 'Happy new year, what a lovely surprise, in fact, I'm just turning around, too muddy for me' (casual laugh thrown in for effect).
'No, no, don't do that, you just need to get past the mud by ........................ (what follows is a list of instructions, I was utterly ignoring, as I realised my fate, and was trying to think of a way out of it but failing). Even if I had heard the directions, it would have been pointless, a left is a right, is an upside down as far as my addled little brain is concerned. I headed in the general direction she was gesturing and waited till I was far enough out of sight, but at this point totally and utterly lost.
My next plan was to keep ploughing on, there would be no turning back, not now. Bumping into a man (thankfully a stranger), I asked if this was the worst of the mud, and was informed that if I just got through the patch ahead all would be well. But, I didn't. Oh no, instead my boot got sucked down into the gloop of glorious mud, sucked right off my foot, and my nice warm foot went straight into a cold dark puddle which quickly became sucked under too. I glanced round to see if this humilation had been witnessed, but a tiny shard of good luck was on my side. Quickly thrusting soaking wet foot into equally soaking wet and muddy boot, I angrily stomped on, thinking the end must surely be in sight.
Sadly, what was in sight was a padlocked fence with barbed wire. I considered my options: 1. to turn around, walk all the way back and have to return home beaten by my ineptitude, and demonstrate to my husband I really was as useless as we had suppposed. 2. to scale the fence, probably alert security and get a barb up the bottom. 3. to somehow wiggle my way through the tiny gap achieved by stretching the chain and padlock to full capacity and kneeling on the floor.
After some consideration, I opted for number 3, I won't go into details, but lets just say at one point I had a terrible vision of being discovered in the morning caught half in, half out, and then having to be cut out by the local fire brigade. Needless to say I really was cursing my inability to remember the route, and my sheer stupidity. Oh, and by the way, it was now dark.
Nevertheless with all these obstacles placed in my way, I triumphantly made it back home in one muddy piece, and proudly announced what an adventure I'd had, and how much I had enjoyed my walk. I had, especially now it was over. So there we go, the sad tale of a strong, independent but spatially unaware woman.