Our mission was to buy a coat for me from my mother as a late christmas present.
10.30am mother phoned to say she was waiting for me in the road. Donning my legendary red fleece I joined her in her car for the short journey to our destination. I think I realised early on, as in before we had gone a quarter of a mile, that this was not going to be the smoothest journey. At the junction with the first main road you have to get as far forward as you can to see the traffic coming from the right. The railway bridge on the corner is not very transparent.
Luckily we didn't have to wait too long as there was scant traffic at this time. (they must have known). The next junction has traffic lights which were red as we approached. By now I realised mother has developed an alergy to junctions as she stops half a car length shy of the junction. Onwards we go heading west until we reach the recently improved roundabout that we have been navigating regularly for 20+ years. It is several months since work here was completed and although I have been at this roundabout with her a number of times since then she still can't figure out how the lanes work. To me they look the same as always but with an extra lane on the outside.
Cautiously we manage to get around to the required exit and head for the motorway. Turning onto the slip road I am amazed that we didn't clip the curb. We join the motorway at a sedate pace I wasn't checking the actual speed. I have never known my mother to drive at speed.
Two junctions later we exit the motorway again finding it difficult to stay in the designated lane for our destination. We manage to get onto the right road but miss the turning for the superstores. I suggest we take the next roundabout and use the other entrance to the superstores. Mother agrees but doesn't change lanes as she is intending to circle the next roundabout and go back along the dual carriage way back around the motorway junction to try again. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!
I manage to persuade her to change lane and turn left at the roundabout then at the second roundabout turn left again which takes us to the superstores. We are now faced with a massive car park jam packed with cars. Now the fun really starts. After driving around for a time we find ourselves back on the perimeter road. I spot a space at the very end of one of the parking areas and another car is reversing leaving two spaces. I notice there is an elderly (ok late middle age) man with two walking sticks standing in one of the spaces helping a huge 4 x 4 to manover into the end space. Once in place we turn into the parking area ready to park but the man with sticks is still in the second space. I dread this but persuade mother to reverse into the space. As she is waiting for man with sticks to move another car moves up alongside us waiting to exit the car park. I manage to stop mother from hitting him as she tries to swing the car into the waiting space (she hadn't even noticed the car beside her!!). By now I am thinking it would be safer to jump out and help her into the space. Finally we are parked.
Now for the walk to the store which is humming with humanity of all sizes, shapes and sounds. Mother finds herself a perch whilst I walk around looking for a coat. Perhaps it was only to be expected that I didn't find one that was suitable. However did buy a very nice black jacket with red lining to wear on special occasions, along with a black lace top and a caramel coloured satin blouse and a pair of chocolate stockings. So the trip was not a total waste of time. But next I had to brave the journey home.
Oh how I wish I hadn't directed mother towards the main exit which comes out next to the motorway junction. It meant stopping on a fairly steep slope as we waited for the lights to change. Mother has not had the confidence to do hill starts since the incident on the Isle of Wight ferry a few years ago. (Now that was scary). Hmmmm I don't think I have ever travelled on the hard shoulder before!! Oh and before we got back to my home we did curb it once.
Mother says she seems to have lost some of her confidence after not driving very much in recent months. I would dearly have loved to take over the driving today but that would have made another dent in her confidence.
I love my mother dearly but she has never been a good driver and now I am afraid it is probably only going to get worse.
“Doing” a Doctorate – week 3
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