The first few days of my 'summer holiday', seemed to go by in a
flash. Before I knew it, what we know as the 'August Bank Holiday Monday', was upon us. The rain started sometime in the early hours, and did not stop all day.
However, this trip I was vehicularly mobile! Driving was a little bit of a challenge, originally. Most of the roads in Austin are one way, and rather wider than the main roads in the village where mum resides, and with parking either side, the road becomes 'one track'. Patience is not one of the virtues of the drivers in the ever growing village, but I continued to wave, and smile, for a few days. I was no longer in 'Stepford', where (unless you are in Costco car park!) everyone is so polite!
My car appeared to have a very light scratchy mark on the back. During our travels in the US of A, Dana and I have always checked the car, and reported the slightest discolouration to the staff. They have smiled courteously, and advised us that they are really only concerned with 'dents'. However, my sister's partner said that he had been the victim of a 'scratch', and had to argue as to whether it had been there before his hiring. The male to whom I was connected when calling, (gentleman is not an appropriate term,) was rather abrupt, telling me it was too late to report any damage. I advised him (probably a little naively) that I had not called earlier as it was a long weekend. When I was five or six, I was quite responsive to authority, but that was normally when I was spoken to by someone who was at least a generation older. Quite plainly, and discourteously, I was sent to the metaphorical naughty step, and listened while he berated me for my abject stupidity. 'We are a car hire firm, at an airport. We are open seven days a week!' Silence is a great way to debilitate. With age, comes wisdom, and I delayed my response until just the right time. 'Young man', I started, (the phrase, 'a woman scorned', was obviously not familiar to this prepubescent male,) and continued to let him know that, in addition to the slight mark on the boot, the petrol gauge showed that the tank was not completely full, and by the time I had finished letting him know that, whilst I was responsible for any damage after I had hired the car, it was his (yes, him personally) responsibility to make sure the car was given to the customer in full working order with a full tank of gas! The few mumbles that emitted down the phone lines, assured me that he had, indeed, made a note of all I had said. I put down the receiver, and noted that 'Stepford' was now a long way away!
As I have said before, if you drive on the left side of the road, you tend to walk on the left side. I found myself bumping into people, not quite understanding why it was happening. I had parked my car in the car park, shouted at someone who had attempted to 'take my space', and made several suggestions to other drivers, about their driving methods. Once my official business had been completed, I wandered around the shopping mall, apologising for the careless way in which I was strolling. I saw an old friend, who was browsing, in one of the stores, and another who was at the check out. Then I 'face timed' Samantha while I had the Internet connection. Time was marching on with no regard for my feelings, and before long, I realised that if I did not leave, I would be caught up in the 'quitting time' traffic. Driving home, along the winding main road, someone pulled out from a side street, directly in front of my vehicle, and I missed him by a whisker. The air inside my car turned the same colour blue as the paintwork, as I suggested that the perpetrator was anything but born of a human. In fact I am ashamed to say that I suggested his mother was, in fact, a canine! As I finished my ranting and raving from within the confines of the vehicle, once again, I contemplated on how very far away from home was I!
Driving Miss Stella around made a welcome change, as my mother is usually my chauffeur. While I was home, she wanted to take me out for dinner, and asked Elise and David to join us. We drove to the venue and were quite amazed at the amount of empty spaces that were available in the service road, outside the restaurant, until we saw the abundance of police cars. We turned into the narrow side road and managed to find a space. The fish and chip shop was quite busy, and we were shown to a long table where a couple were already seated. We sat, as directed, facing the door, and waited (looking like two old maids) for Elise and David to arrive. The whispers about what had happened a few doors along, and why there was such a large 'emergency service' presence, were becoming louder, and as the crowd grew, so did the tales. The incident could have been anything from a car crash to the assassination of an intergalactic super hero. I could not even make an educated guess to something in between. Elise and David walked in shortly before the owner of the local butchery, who apparently had heard another version of events. The female member of the couple who sat on the end of the long table where we were sitting, attempted to make eye contact with the butcher, as she was, apparently, one of his customers. He looked in her direction a couple of times, but did not appear to recognise her. Watching her, watching him, and looking to see if she would catch his eye, he caught mine, and I quickly looked away. The butcher moved down the shop, and in her frustration at not being recognised, the lady asked her husband to to move to the seat next to me, and she sat in the seat that he had occupied, and again attempted to get the attention of the meat-man. However, each time I looked to see if he was going to make a connection, he caught my eye. After half an hour of fluttering eyelashes, and a bobbing head, so that it would land in the the focus of the butcher, he bid farewell to the restaurant staff, and turned to look in her direction. Almost falling off her chair in a final endeavour to come into his line of sight, the butcher looked over at me, and nodded, with a look that said, 'Where do I know you from?' I received a less than kind look from his female customer, who would probably suffer from a stiff neck in the morning, due to all the extended ways it was stretched during the period of dining.
We left the restaurant, the patrons of which were still deliberating on the severity of the earlier incident, and expected to see the streets ripped up, reminiscent of the carnage New York City suffered in the movie, 'The Avengers'. The pavement was a little uneven, but no more than usual, and the sky was a little dark, but it was 8:30 in the evening. I had my camera ready, in case I should spot a Robert Downey Jr, lookalike, Scarlett Johansson in her leathers (a souvenir for my husband!) or Chris Hemswsorth, (a souvenir for me!), but the only 'out of the norm' person was the forensics man, dressed in a white overall that covered him from head to toe. He was of average height and build from what I could see, and although we hovered for a couple of minutes, he remained the same, and did not seem to shape-shift or develop two heads. Convinced, as far as possible, that he was probably human and from the local police station, we walked up the hill to the car, and I drove Miss Stella back to the bungalow. Samantha found the news article the following day, giving a full description of the incident, which involved a knife, rather than the Thor's hammer, Captain America's shield, or one of Iron Man's collection of classic cars. The victim was, fortunately, not fatally injured.
I managed to stay on the correct side of the road when driving over the next couple of days, and my patience had been restored. As those in neighbouring cars could not hear my insults, there seemed little point in wasting my breath. Driving Miss Elise was my Saturday delight, and we set a course for Costco. The warehouse was as packed as usual, but did not have the same allure as the one in Austin. Somehow nowhere does it like Austin! We wandered around the fresh food section, and up and down most of the aisles, just to see what was on offer. As we turned into the crisps and nuts section, we heard the dulcet tones of an accent. The dialect was such that I thought it was probably Canadian, but Elise insisted that I ask from where they hailed. 'Excuse me', I said politely. They immediately apologised, and moved out of the way so that the whole aisle of produce was available to view. Very polite, typically Canadian, I thought. I explained that, although English, I lived in Austin, Texas, and they said, 'We are from Canada'. I acknowledged that I was not surprised, and so as not to seem completely peculiar, told them that when in Austin, I generally pick up on a 'foreign' accent. As I was in England, the same applied. I turned and waved in the general direction of Elise, and said, 'My sister and I heard you talking', but my sister was not there. We bid farewell, I wished them a nice day, they told me to 'Take care', and I walked away in search of my naughty little sister! Standing on the opposite corner was Elise, pointing and laughing, saying, 'They were Canadian'. With our adventure completed, and Costco's shelves still full, we headed back to mum's and then on to a smaller shop to look at household items. A tangled web we do not weave!
Saturday afternoon was spent doing very little, and I went round to Richard and Steph in the evening, to see my beautiful grandson, who is growing, and changing rapidly (although not in the intergalactic way!)
I met Lesley, my friend whom I have known the longest (oldest always sounds so inappropriate) and after another visit to the world's most beautiful baby (so far - I may have more grandchildren one day, so I have to remain objective) we spent a lovely afternoon lunching and 'catching up'. Sunday night I was back to see Oliver, and his other Grandma cooked us all a wonderful dinner.
With so much to do, and so little time, my post this week has been delayed. Monday I met with Sheri, another friend whom I have known since I was a kid, and we had coffee and catch-up. Richard and Steph know her elder daughter, who is also a mum, to two gorgeous little girls. Sheri's dad, like mine, was a Licenced London Cabbie, so we pondered on our parents' generation, ours, and another, and now, another. The circle of life goes on.
I shall leave England on Thursday, provided my passport is still in date (I am ever hopeful) and I find my way back to the car hire place (I have checked the route several times, and trust it will not change overnight, but you never know). As long as the airport, itself, is not transferred to another location, I should not have a problem boarding my plane! I anticipate a slight emotional breakdown, but with my new-fangled phone, I should be able to keep in touch by message, pictures, videos and real-time media. Another generation, another family member, and of course...... another story.