Monday Dec. 5th
I woke earlier than Nellie that morning and decided to make myself useful, so by the time she got up I’d raked out the ashes from the previous day’s fire, emptied the ash pan, got another fire going, brought in some coal, timber and peat logs from the garden shed and swept the floor; she was quite surprised when she came down and saw that everything she would normally do had already been done. Just after breakfast the medical equipment hire firm came to collect the hospital bed and once it had been dismantled I helped the guy to take the various pieces of it out to his van, then Michael and I brought the settee back down from upstairs, the furniture was rearranged and the living room was soon back to how it should be.
After spending the rest of the morning relaxing with my book I decided to take Trixie out. While looking round the shops the previous day I’d picked up a copy of a hand drawn map with directions to a castle situated in the countryside just outside the town, so although it was a rather dull day I thought I’d have a walk there and hopefully get some photos. The directions said I was to follow the road from the town centre past the railway station and continue until I came to a pub on the left, turn left there and I would find the castle about half a mile further on just past a saw mill. Looking at the map it didn’t seem to be any great distance so off we went – but how wrong I was!
I found the station with no problem, it was only just out of the town centre, so happy that I was on the right road I carried on walking….and walked, and walked. Every time I came to a bend in the road I was sure the pub would be just beyond it but it never was, and with very few houses there was no-one around to ask. At one point I almost decided to give up and go back to town but as I’d gone so far I thought I may as well carry on – after all, if I gave up then and later found that one more bend would have taken me to the pub I would have been kicking myself. Eventually, after several more bends and what seemed like forever, I did reach the pub and turned left – hopefully I wouldn’t have much further to go, but again I was wrong.
Even though I was in open countryside and could see for quite a distance across the fields there was no sign of anything that looked like a castle or even a saw mill. A check on the time and a quick mental calculation told me that by then I’d walked about five-and-a-half miles, and of all that distance I hadn’t seen a single sign for the castle. There was another bend up ahead so I came to a decision – if the castle wasn’t at the other side of it I would give up. I’d just set off walking again when I saw a van about to turn out of a nearby farm entrance; apart from passing cars this was the first person I’d seen since I’d left town so I stopped the driver and asked where the castle was, only to be told that it was about another two miles away.
Now had it been summer time I may have carried on but the further I walked meant that I still had that distance to walk back again and I would end up running out of daylight. So as I had no wish to be walking along an unlit country road in the dark the decision was made – I would abandon my quest and go back to town before the light started fading. I hadn’t reckoned on the unexpected kindness of the farm guy though – even though he was supposed to be going in the opposite direction he offered to drive me back as far as Roscrea station. It was an offer I wasn’t going to refuse, and as we drove back along the road I realised just how far I’d walked – and I came to the conclusion that (a) whoever drew that map has absolutely no sense of distance and (b) if I ever want to make a future attempt at finding that castle I’ll be driving, not walking.
Back at the house I found Nellie talking to Patsy and Noreen, and they were all surprised when I told them where I’d been. Trixie just hopped up onto a chair, curled up and went to sleep – I don’t think her little legs had walked as far for a long time. After a coffee and a few minutes chat I went out again, this time to the travel agents; Michael’s passport still hadn’t turned up so I needed some advice on what to do if it hadn’t been found before Friday. When I got back to the house again I found that Noreen and Patsy had gone but Carol had called to see if the passport had been found; when told it hadn’t she suggested looking in the recycling bin as that was just about the only place we hadn’t tried. So between us we turned the bin over and tipped all the rubbish onto the front path, putting it back in again item by item; there was still no sign of the passport but at least we provided the neighbours with some early evening amusement.
After Carol had gone Nellie cooked a late dinner then we spent a pleasant evening watching tv, and though we all missed Jimmy very much it made a change to be able to actually watch a full programme without him continually changing channels with the remote. Although Michael stayed up quite late I went to bed earlier than usual; I had several hours of travelling ahead of me the following day, plus my long walk of earlier on had finally caught up with me, so I wanted to get some decent rest on my final night.