What a day….what a bloody day….
We a band job today which is something that I normally look forward to, and today started out as no exception. But it just started off badly and then went worse.
We were due to meet at the venue at 11.30am ready for playing at noon, which meant leaving our house at 10.30am to make sure we had plenty of time to arrive, and then park, and then lug all the gear to the stand. The venue, incidentally, was an archery field in the middle of Hebden Bridge, a small West Yorkshire town that is a tourist attraction for most of the year round and is a really lovely place to visit. We have visited it many, many times in the past as part of days out with the family or for craft fairs or band competitions and so on, but we have either travelled there in convoy with other cars or on a band coach, or when we have been meandering around the Calderdale valley and we have “happened upon” it by accident.
We should have remembered that when we set off from our house slightly late this morning (10 minutes over time) as, with just a quick glance at the map and not quite trusting the sat-nav on my phone we set off not quite knowing where we were going.
The first thing that went wrong was that we should have filled up with petrol on the way home from band last night but we had had a nightmare there too and we were late home and tired (the junction on the M62 that we come off to get home was closed and we had to do a big detour, putting us about half an hour later than usual).
So the first stop was at the petrol station to fuel up, and onto the M66…and straight into a queue. Oh boy…
I was driving (Kevin’s back was playing up yesterday and this morning he was bent into a semi-permanent paperclip shape and had to take strong painkillers to even get out of bed) and once we’d got going properly on the M62 I felt a bit better.
The sat-nav tried to tell me that the best way to get to Hebden Bridge was to go through Todmorden (where we rehearse) but having glanced at the map earlier and clocked that Hebden Bridge was halfway between Todmorden and where we would come off the M62 if we carried on to past Huddersfield, I was convinced that motorway (faster) driving would get us there on time. At that was my first mistake.
We got off the M62 at Elland and followed the road signs (and with half an ear on the smug sat-nav) towards Halifax/Hebden Bridge/the end of the world. Unfortunately, when we got to Sowerby I did that thing and listened to the sat-nav, which took us down what looked like a back lane rather than the main road. You know when you’re driving with a sat-nav there are two rules to abide by? The first one, “listen to the sat-nav” and the other, “don’t listen to the sat-nav”…and the skill is knowing which one to do when. Well, I got it wrong and decided that I knew best and carried on the main road.
Mistake number 2.
According to the estimated time of arrival on Her Royal Smugness’ face, we were only about 10 minutes late at this stage, which, although frustrating and disappointing, wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
But then, because I thought I knew better than a satellite-driven, NASA initiated, Google-peddled little app on my phone, we ended up going along a side road, that led to a small lane, that led to a farm track that eventually ended up as a bridleway somewhere on the hilltops overlooking Mytholmroyd (the next village over to Hebden Bridge).
Not too bad time wise, but then we hit a “road closed” sign and a diversion sending us further up the valley side. The very helpful people who were standing by the sign told us “yeh cahn’t ger dahn thur…” and then carried on with their conversation. I should point out that this was in the middle of nowhere and apart from the two people talking in front of the sign there was not a soul to be seen for bloody miles. Not a building, not a vehicle, not a blessed soul. It might have been helpful if they could have said “…but you can do down THAT road there and you’ll be there in a jiffy, old bean”.
But they didn’t, so we ended up looping back through miles and miles more of little lanes, country tracks, bridle paths and even a footpath at one point (which was cobbles, not even a metalled surface). Fifteen minutes later, and after following a series of diversion signs and arguing with HRS sat-nav (no, we are NOT going to drive through that farmer’s field, no matter how indignant you get madam!) we ended up back at the same point.
So back we go, and round the loop again, past the same set of cows in the same field that we passed about 20 minutes previously and Kevin in the front seat frantically trying to get hold of someone from band to let them know that a) we were going to be really late now and b) we were hopelessly lost.
We managed to pick up a wider country lane, and were heading in the general direction of Hebden Bridge but were worryingly still on the tops of the valley and not heading anywhere down it just yet, when we did pick up a road that looked promising.
Oh you little bugger you. It turned out to be a con, and we drove up a (very) steep incline – cobbled again – where there was a steep ravine to my right and a dry stone wall to my left. Now our car isn’t that wide, but it felt like it was about six inches too wide for this particular track and I accidentally (well I wouldn’t do it on purpose would I?) hit the wall on the passenger side.
It was around this time that my nerve began to fail and I began to cry. Pathetic eh?! Not only were we late, but we had about 20 colleagues from band waiting for us in a field SOMEWHERE in Yorkshire, and we were lost, and we had the music in the boot, but I’d just driven into a dry stone wall which my husband (funnily enough) thought was something which I should be remonstrated about. I can’t tell you his exact words, but they were something along the lines of “goodness gracious my dear, that was a little close, I think you may have breached the edges of the road somewhat”. Or words to that effect…
Anyway, tears and tantrums over (all the while desperately driving along the stupid road) and I decided that my instincts were strong enough to bring us back down the valley without either listening to Her Royal Smugness or following diversion signs that were sending us round and round in circles, and I found myself back…in Sowerby where we’d been about 45 minutes earlier.
By now, it had gone past noon the time we were supposed to be playing and I had bitten most of my fingernails down to the painful bits. I had another little cry as we hit a traffic queue in the centre of Sowerby but what could I do? Kevin was on the phone to bandsmen at the venue, Ethan was in the back saying “are we there yet?” and Her Royal bloody Smugness got silenced without mercy once we’d hit the A58 again.
We had a new ETA of about 12.30, which meant that we were only about 15 minutes away when my bladder made its presence very uncomfortably felt. No matter, we were quite close by then and it wouldn’t be long… or would it?
We hit another traffic queue on the approach to Mytholmroyd which took about 15 minutes to negotiate through (about 2 miles in 15 minutes sums it all up really), and just as we were about to hit Hebden Bridge (hurrah!) we saw Liz our chairman running along the road in her band uniform, flagging us down.
Did I mention that our car was full of gear and we had 4 folding chairs on the back seat with Ethan? Well, I don’t know how she did it but Liz got in the back and managed to squeeze herself in on top of the chairs and direct us in to where we were due to play. By now it was getting on for 1pm, which is when we should have been starting our second spot, but we made it with oooh seconds to spare.
While the boys set up the stands and handed out the music, I made use of the facilities (which amounted to a very wobbly toilet in a shed in the middle of the field, with handwritten instructions on the wall on how to flush it) but I didn’t care. At least it wasn’t a tree by the roadside!
We suffered the usual sort of ribbing and teasing – well deserved if you ask me – and we finally got underway. Only an hour and a bit late.
And then it came to the homeward journey.
It took us two and a half hours to make a 45 mile journey to get there, and once we’d realised that Hebden Bridge is only 4 miles away from Todmorden (durrrr) it took us a little under an hour to get back home again.
I haven’t written about the argument we had with a tractor (met at speed on a downhill stretch of pathway, and as I’m no good at reversing, reversing uphill and round a bend to let it past us is something that has traumatised me and I will need counselling for in the future). Nor have I written about the “check engine light” that kept flashing on and off whilst we were cruising at altitude above the Calder valley. And neither have I written about the suspicious ticking sound from the engine that started just after we left home and which prompted me to remember Kevin telling me last night that he “should really check the oil in the morning before we set off”.
So lessons learned today:
1. Check a proper map before you set off.
2. Listen to your sat-nav.
3. DON’T listen to your sat-nav.
4. Make sure you fill up with petrol well in advance.
5. Find out how close places are to the band room, it will save an awful lot of time!
6. Make sure you check the oil to stop unnecessary (and very scary) ticking noises from the engine.
7. Learn to reverse uphill and round bends on narrow country lanes.
8. Don’t bounce off dry stone walls when avoiding 1000 foot drops on the other side.
9. Your husband loves you really and doesn’t mean to shout when you put a huge scrorp (scrawp?) mark down the side of the car and a dent in the back door.
10. Banding is fun. Honest.