You’re more stressed than you realise when…

D and I are in Devon right now, at the Victorian coach house that’s my sister’s holiday home. A week’s break, and tomorrow is our 25th wedding anniversary. 25 years. Oi vey.

Anyhow, getting here was a real exercise in stress management. Or, rather, the lack thereof.

First of all we were late setting out. The original plan was that my sister would come across on Friday night to collect Mum, who’s staying with her while we’re away, and deliver the keys for the coach house. But Den’s nephew Robert starts at Rugby tomorrow and Friday night was the big family get together to celebrate and see him off to school. Rugby will be good for him. It’ll at least get him away from his helicopter mother. But it meant that the very early start we’d planned for yesterday got put back about three hours.

So, Den came and left, we had the keys. So we bundled ourselves and Molly the cockerpoo into the car and set off around 10, stressing out because we knew we had to get through Forest Gate, the district of London immediately north of ours and on our route out, because the police were closing all the roads at 10.30 for a mela festival and procession. We got through just in time and boy, was it colourful. All the ladies in their saris were like jewelled birds. So very pretty.

So. Through Forest Gate and Wanstead and onto the M11 motorway (highway to my US friends) for about seven or eight miles. Now then. We live in East London and Devon is in the far SW of England. No way do you drive through London, you understand, but you get yourself north up the M11 and then turn off west onto the M25, the much-hated and despised London orbital motorway. Ten miles along that and I had a meltdown. A minor one. But I had one.

First, D had forgotten to take the trash out of the kitchen and put it in the bin outside. A week of this heat in the kitchen? The house would have been *full* of flies. And I mean full. Second I’d forgotten to put the remains of Molly’s breakfast into the bin – decomposing dog food would have really helped with that fly problem. Third, I hadn’t put the filing boxes holding all our important papers down into the cellar (I work on the principle that fire will go up the house and stuff in the cellar should be safer). And last, while I’d backed up everything on the computer onto the external hard drives, I hadn’t brought those with me, so if there were a fire, I would lose everything – all of Shield, Suave Molecules.. everything.

We turned around and went home. D, bless him, was as antsy as I was. We’d just left in too much of a rush. So, back along the M25 to the junction with the M11, a route we’d taken literally 100s of times, but as we reached the junction, Molly started fussing and I turned around to deal with her. When I looked up again, we were already on the M11. Two minutes later a light plane went past us to land at North Weald airstrip, a tiny private ex-WWII airbase. An airbase that is *north* of the junction with the M11. You may not have realised this if you weren’t paying attention earlier (grins) but London is *south* of the M11/M25 junction. D was merrily taking us to Cambridge…

Turn around at the next junction and head south. Forest Gate is closed now so we have to go around it. Sort everything out, have cups of tea to calm the nerves, and set off again an hour or so later, now a full six hours after we originally intended.

We stopped off for chocolate to eat en route. We felt we’d been thoroughly Dementored and J K Rowling knows what she’s about when it comes to comfort.

We got to Devon without further mishap, had great fish and chips for supper and collapsed into bed. This morning, we took Molly to the big beach at Woolacombe and had a long lovely walk in the surf. That washes away the stress things, I can tell you. At least it did for me and Molly. D doesn’t like getting his feet wet.

But yeah. Normally we’re so organised it’s unbelievable, and I’m not claiming this is anything but a blip that in retrospect was really kinda funny. But hell, I wish to God D’s work would just tell us what they’re doing about his job and stop stringing us along. Stress. It gets you where you least expect it and in the smallest, niggly ways. And no one, not even me, is immune.

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