I found an old copy of

Pamela Bragg – How to Remain a Lady

– the best-selling modern life book, published way back in 1960, and only available in the Home Counties….

Chapter 7 – Travel like a Lady

“Ladies, off out on a drive with your husband? A glorious new establishment has opened on the Motorway 1 (known as the M1 I believe). If you are venturing, daringly, to the North on this wonderful road, you can ask your man if he can pull off just before leaving Buckinghamshire at Newport Pagnell. So whilst your chap checks his dipstick (make sure he wipes it spotlessly dry with that handy kitchen towel you packed), you can rally the children (if you have brought the little brats) for that picnic you have prepared.

Then, enjoy the view over the highway, watching just the occasional car. Don’t for goodness sake comment on, or argue with your husband when he mistakeningly recognises a Mini Wolseley for a regular Mini. Just smile sweetly and look after little James. And don’t forget to pack the first aid kit. It’s for those minor bumps, scratches and severe lacerations that our little offspring can receive when they are thrown, helplessly from the rear car seat into the back of father when he is just a bit too eager braking upon seeing another vehicle a mere 400 yards in front! I understand some technical wizards are looking at restraining devices for use in the future. Oh, and ladies, you will find machines in the powder room dispensing some of those new, how can I say, absorptive items. Please be very discreet. And be aware, just like riding a bike or a horse, these things can seriously affect your future prospects. We will never forget Lucy, from Camberley, and her shocking incident of carrying too many shopping bags whilst also trying to manoeuvre some rather large altar candles out of the church shop.  She had to marry a chartered accountant. Let that be a warning Ladies………………….

It is November 2017, Lee and his carer for the day are travelling North. We pull into Newport Pagnell services near our destination.

It hasn’t changed much. A blend of a prison and psychiatric hospital, Newport Pagnell offers a quite unique lunch time view.

How did I get here?

I am working with the Motor Neurone Disease Association (MNDA) on awareness ideas and needed to attend a meeting in Northampton!! For my American readers, although Northampton is only about 130 miles away, it is a messy journey from where I live in southern softy land! In addition, I do not travel alone anymore, unless it is for a meeting in broad daylight and within 30 miles! Jean usually comes with me. But as we have had several events recently, she couldn’t justify the extra day off from work.

So I asked my friend, Paul, who is a man of some leisure (having retired a while ago), and although we are in different positions in life, we have had sort of ended up with the same result. We both have partners who work, come home and laugh/wince at what we have done or achieved during the day! Well no longer, we are on the attack!

I was absolutely humbled when he accepted my proposition. He then immediately invited me to stay at his house (which is on the way) the night before so as to break up the journey. Even better, Paul and Nadine, forsaked their downstairs bedroom for me to make it easy.

So after a safe, but spirited, drive to Paul’s, with appropriate music (as discussed in my post Celine Dion made me cry…..,) on the stereo, I was presented with amazing food and had a thoroughly good evening before retiring to bed early ahead of the drive in the morning.

I woke very early at 4am, and got a bit bored!!

I hope Nadine forgives me when she finds out that I put all her “recreational” underwear up for auction on eBay! I needed to do something to occupy my mind, I couldn’t sleep! She should be pretty pleased as I sold it as collection only, saving on expensive postage. A man named Jeremy is coming round tomorrow to collect after dark. And, all in all some pretty good money raised for charity!!

We set off in the morning at a comfortable hour and I drove, reaching the legendary Newport Pagnell services by 12pm. Legendary? It was the very first U.K. Motorway services opened in 1960.

After a lunch of burgers and sandwiches, Paul took over the driving whilst I navigated the last 10 miles.

We were way ahead of time. But then, absolute disaster!

WTF! Turning left, I could see that the Sat Nav was only going to return us to the very same road direction!! It was the end, we were doomed! But being cunning, I directed Paul with ingenious navigation skills (something I and Paul discussed on our journey along with Brexit, DIY and Snowflakes!) It was only to be expected in a car full of testosterone. Or is that Toblerone!?

“Look Paul, where we need to go is just behind that building. Turn right, go straight and drive into the pedestrian shopping precinct there!”

Yes, I know what you are thinking. But the aerial map showed we could weave our way through. With only 20 minutes to the meeting time, this was going to be a military operation. There was no way I was going to be late for a meeting. I have never, in over 30 years, been late for one, and nothing was going to destroy that record! After the right turn into the limited access precinct, ahead laid an apparent impenetrable barrier, with an area that appeared to be a potential access lane for buses only! Paul was hesitant. I said, “Look, go for it, we need a gogetter approach”. Apart from the patronising pointing finger of a local shopper (who tried to walk under the front of our car) we made it! All was calm, and we arrived for our meeting spot on time! Record maintained!

Paul, so many thanks for your help, which really made it easy for me. Not only did he help with my foldable rollator, but also carried my work bag into the building. Even better, when I returned to the meeting room, after a loo trip with my stick, my iPad was all positioned on the table! Thanks mate, so a carer and PA all in one! Jean you now have a lot to live up to!

After the meeting, Paul drove us back south, and again with ingenious navigation managed to achieve a great journey time. And to cap things off, our bladders survived the journey!! “What Lee?” Well, I don’t know about you, but in this newly cold weather, however many times I pre-wee before getting in a car for a drive, I can guarantee the need for another trip to the loo shortly after departing! The cold narrows blood vessels etc. So as a consequence I have devised a cunning pre-drive routine now for any long trip. I simply stand in the garden getting cold for 10 minutes, and then wee up a tree.

All acclimatised, I then begin my car journey!

On this helpful tip, here endith this week’s reading.

Same time next week, readers!