Or, The Retreat that Nearly Wasn’t.
I’m not making this up. I was all of 200 yards away from the monastery when I got to a mini-roundabout half-way up the hill. The roads had been great, but this particular roundabout was icy, and when I went to pull away, my car just wouldn’t go anywhere. I couldn’t get a biting point, there was an ominous burning smell, and all I could think was “oh bugger, my clutch has gone”. I phoned the monastery to see if they could bring a van to tow me, but they didn’t have one, but they gave me phone numbers for some local garages (all of whom were closed, it being 6pm and dark and cold).
At this point a guy who was walking home came over to ask if I was alright, he tried to get the car going and agreed that it was probably the clutch. He helped me get it out of the middle of the roundabout, and then went on his way (he was quite cute and I did think about asking for his phone number, but as I’d already noticed a flicker of “aargh she’s a religious loony” across his face when I’d told him I was aiming for the monastery up the hill I gave that up as a lost cause). I then phoned the AA (my membership has lapsed), planning to rejoin and get a tow from them. So imagine my joy when I got an automated message telling me that because they had had so many callouts from members they weren’t taking new members, but I should call back later when things may have calmed down a bit. At this point I had a little cry, and then over the horizon came three men from the monastery. I have to say I wasn’t in the best of moods at this point so probably wasn’t as cheery as I could have been, but after nearly squashing them (they tried to push me uphill) one of them had a brainwave.
He didn’t think it was a clutch problem, but just that my tyres weren’t happy with the ice. So they pushed me to a flatter bit, and got me to start in 2nd gear so the wheels went round more slowly, and lo and behold, I was on my way. The monastery was 3rd on the right they told me, so I chugged up the hill, turned right, went down a bit of a hill ….. and ended up in someone’s front driveway. As I was reversing out they reappeared to tell me I’d turned right too soon, and as I was heading out my wheels did the same thing again (more burning, more swearing under my breath). But they got me started again, and I managed to get myself into the monastery entrance. What they hadn’t told me was that as soon as you get to the entrance there’s a fork, one goes to the car park and the other goes to a dark dead end round the back of the church. Guess which one I took?
By the time I got myself to the car park they were all laughing at me, I was mortified but relieved that it wasn’t the clutch and I was still there in time for supper (hooray!). It then transpired that my principle rescuer was the Rector of the monastery (cue me worrying that I’d sworn in front of him, but I don’t think I did!). When I told my friend what had happened she asked me if they’d been wearing their habits – sadly not, that would have been too perfect, and I would have overcome embarrassment and taken a picture if they had.
I’ll write tomorrow a bit more about the retreat – what can I say except it was too short – I need to do this in a holiday sometime – but it was lovely while it lasted and has given me quite a bit to think about.
On the way home I picked up some match pots, so I shall report in the next week or so how the walls are looking. Thanks for all the decorating tips, I’ve really enjoyed it and found it much more useful than my previous picking-up-decorating-tips method, which is basically looking into other peoples’ windows from the bus and thinking “I like that” or “oh my what were they thinking?” (actually I’m still doing that too, well if people will switch on lights and not shut their curtains what do they expect? 😉 ).
And I’ve loved the apostrophe debate too, particularly Kate who made me laugh out loud. In fact, being told in this very blog that I’m not Jesus and operate to different rules proved to be quite a lightbulb moment (“aaaahh, so that’s why I don’t always get it!”). For what it’s worth, I seem to remember that Chas has a much better beard than me, so is already considerably further to the front of the queue than me in the “who’s most like Jesus” stakes.