Thursday, July 03, 2008

Going home from work

We were making our way home yesterday. I was sat, gazing out Uncle John’s window, not paying much attention and pondering whether the bread dough, which I had kneaded in an experimental mood in the morning and put in a large bowl on the dining room table to rise (the dining room stays quite cool during the summer; it gets very little direct sunlight while the sun is high in the sky) would have risen, not risen because it was too cool, or over risen and collapsed. And whether to try making mint-choc ice cream with the super abundance of mint there is in the garden and if the skimmed milk we had in the fridge would make a tasty ice cream or whether to stop somewhere and get some full fat milk. And watching the rain and mildly bemoaning to myself that we had intended to go to the allotment and dig some potatoes and heavy showers are not an ideal condition for doing this.

As we started to trundle up the hill from Woodseats towards Meadowhead, The Builder suddenly expostulated: “Something’s gone!”. Gone? What something? Oops – the accelerator cable had gone. No power to Uncle John’s wheels at all :-( Fortunately, the engine was still working and we had just enough oomph to crawl up the hill at a gentle walking pace, through the traffic lights by Morrison’s supermarket and up on to the flat, top of the hill.

Clearly, we cannot drive all the way from Meadowhead to Tupton at a gentle walking pace. Fortunately, however, we have breakdown cover – as any sensible person would do on a vehicle they have bought on eBay! While The Builder was coaxing Uncle John up the hill, I was talking to the breakdown people on his mobile phone (The Builder’s, not Uncle John’s!).

There we sat, waiting patiently, by the side of the road. It stopped raining and the sun came out. I almost never go anywhere without a book or a magazine somewhere to hand. By a minor coincidence, the book I had with me yesterday was one about bread-making. Did you know that you can leave bread dough to rise in the fridge for up to 24 hours? No – neither did I. It will take very, very much longer to rise and (I think) works better with rolls rather than loaves – but I might try it one day. Makes it look slightly more promising for my experimental bread back at The Sidings, though.

Anyway. Eventually the breakdown man turned up. Didn’t even attempt a roadside repair but efficiently hauled Uncle John up onto his wagon and off we all trundled towards The Sidings. All was well. Perhaps there may yet be potato digging.

Well – all was well until we got to the Unstone slip road on the Dronfield Bypass. The traffic ahead was queued about a mile back from the roundabout and pretty much at a standstill. Looking down to the right, onto the northbound lane – there were police cars and an ambulance and flashing lights and all sorts. The northbound lane was closed. Somebody had clearly gone down the embankment.

Slowly, slowly, we inched forwards. The air ambulance flew in. Slowly, slowly, we crept a tiny bit more forward. Uncle John could have done this under his own steam no worries! The air ambulance flew out again. I assume it took at least one patient with it. Eventually – we reached the roundabout. And finally managed to get round it (all the traffic that would normally go up the bypass was being diverted onto the little side road that runs up to Unstone and was blocking southbound traffic from exiting). And eventually got home 2.45 hours from when we had left the Adsetts Centre and 3 hours almost to the minute since The Builder had left work.

I left The Builder to transfer his tools and things from Uncle John to the Vixen. Walked into the dining room and thought. That’s an unusual smell, sort of yeasty. What is it? Looked at the table and saw my entirely forgotten about bread dough, all risen and puffy and full or air holes. Grabbed it, took it into the kitchen and re-kneaded it and set it in the late afternoon sunshine to rise again. Had it been in a baking bowl rather than a mixing bowl, I might have been tempted to bake it as it was. As it was, I just plonked it on a baking tray and left it to get on with things while I fed the cat and poured The Builder a vodka and tonic. Turned out to be a very tasty loaf. Extremely crusty!

We didn’t go to the allotment and dig potatoes. We didn’t really do anything else terribly useful. We had beef and tomato sausages and chipped tiny new potatoes with gravy instead, and watched a Time Team special I had on DVD and talked to Stella and Tony and went to bed.

I think The Builder is considering trading Uncle John in on a station wagon (that’s an estate car for those of you who don’t speak Australian). I’d have thought if he can get most of his stuff in the Vixen’s boot, a station wagon would do for most things he needs to carry about. And it would be easier to park in our very narrow driveway to boot.

There must be something about this particular week and us being thwarted in our attempts to get home. It’s a year ago this week that those floods prevented a smooth return home from work. Although – I think last year’s effort seriously outdid the excitement and interest levels that yesterday’s trip engendered!

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