HMS Thirteen

I well remember being  lectured by  Transcendental Meditation teachers half a lifetime ago.

“There are some days,” my well-meaning round-eyed moonchild of a mentor told the group solemnly. “When you wake up and everything goes well. The sun us shining, the air is fresh, your clothes feel great, your work goes well and everything you do is charged with joy.

“And then, there are the other times.

“You wake up feeling bleary and your face looks old in the mirror. Your clothes will not fit and everything you do is laced with irritation.

“On those days it is important to remember: it’s not them. The world’s the same as it always was. It’s you.”

Well, gee, thanks for that, I remember reflecting dryly, if inwardly. That was worth the hefty £500 course fee.

Today I woke up and the sun was shining. Life was good.

And then the small elves whose job it is to put miniscule but fiendishly effective spanners in the works began to make their presence felt.

My running app refused point blank to work. I could not do my morning run. Already I felt argumentative.

The day disappeared with rather more haste than I would have liked. We visited my nephew, Big Al’s family. The diminutive blonde four year old had commandeered the vacuum cleaner hose as a gun. He wasn’t taking prisoners. He was practically goose stepping around the house.

I cooked lunch and Felix came up with a wonderful plan. Why didn’t we do the Midsomer Murders trail?

Free, peppered with luscious locations and starting just yards from the Roald Dahl Museum in Aylesbury, it sounded like a Really Good Idea.

Today the satnav was not playing. It sulked in a corner and told me it simply would not calculate the route.

I made a hasty choice. That’s ok, I told the kids. It’s down the M4.

It is. And then very long way down the A40. I had no idea how far: this is Britain, and we think very carefully about driving anywhere for two hours.

After 45 minutes’ drive we went to pow-wow in the service station. Over coke and crisps, we ascertained gloomily that we were not going to trail after Midsomer Murders.

But The Vale of the White Horse was just 15 miles away. We could grab a picnic and explore.

Except that the Satnav was on the go-slow of its short life. The power of leading a clueless family about willy nilly had gone to its circuits.  I ended up charging off in a deeply unsuitable direction.

“Kids,” I sighed, “I’m so sorry. Shall we give up and go home?”

The kids were philosophical about it. ‘We could have our picnic in the forest by the pond,” ventured Felix.

We did. The kids chattered and the dog rolled and ambled and christened and ate grass and gagged noisily and theatrically. When we got to the pond Felix found a nice stick to play boats with.

“I name this ship: HMS Thirteen!” he declared triumphantly.

“In that case, I confess, Felix, ” I rejoined, “that I don’t hold out much hope for it.”

He grinned happily.

It sank.

Felix was delighted. “Hey, Maddie, I just called a ship HMS Thirteen and it sank!”

It has been a day of HMS Thirteen scenarios. But there was really no need to fret. We have so many days which jazz the synapses that one can be delighted when one’s HMS  Thirteen has sunk.

For there we were, in the dappled light of an English forest, watching the reflections dance on the lily pads, munching a very English picnic.


56 thoughts on “HMS Thirteen

  1. Your moonchild would have told you your subconscious affected the satnav (and the universe?) so that you all ended up where you should have been, in the forest. After all Midsomer is a VERY DANGEROUS place – people keep getting bumped off there.

    1. I know, Sidey. Don’t want to get bumped off. You’re quite right. Although we have all decided to return with Phil for a full day of trail following. Should be fab.

  2. I found this post interesting because it is clear that technology is in charge of your life 🙂 How did you run before apps? Or drive before satnavs? Did you stay indoors and not do anything? 😀

    TBH, I’m having one of the days your tutor described, and I thought she made a lot of sense.

    Please ask Felix not to name me 🙂

    1. I did less, Tilly. The advantage of these gizmos is that, when they work, a trip which would have taken days to plan takes just minutes. Journey time is a key decider for me: 40 minutes we can all manage: two house less so, and usually I just pop in a postcode and get time accurate to the minute.

      I truth: I would never have dreamed of starting out with the family to do most of the things I do without today’s technology. I just wouldn’t be bold enough.

      Off to Hampton Court today. Satnav willing.

  3. The photos are wonderful, and Mac the Master Dog shines through once again.
    It is amazing how much we rely on our gizmos to get us through the day and places we need to go to. I have the first NAV on a car ever, never wanted to be bothered with them in the past, and I love it. Of course, I still go a Google map search first and occasionally will scout out the route on an old Rand McNally map to be sure I have my bearings. But, all in all, I can punch in the address in about 15 seconds or use the voice command thingy to accomplish the same thing.
    Running App?? Hello feet, start moving!! 🙂

    1. It’s an app called Runkeeper which tracks my run by Satnav and churns out enticing statistics to help me along. Every now and then a comforting woman’s cybervoice tells me how far I have run. It’s like having company. I know the dog should suffice, but you know how it is 😀

  4. All’s well that ends well! Except for falling down one, when in well makes one unwell.
    I wish I could get that sort of money for telling people that you get good days and you get bad days …

      1. And if you think about it, it is NOT you. It is the wretched day playing nasty tricks on you. I’ve just had one of those. Everything turned pear-shaped.

    1. An app which tracks where you go, how fast, and how far you have run, Tinman. I’m a data monkey at heart. Without the stats I just can’t be bothered to put one foot in front of the other any faster than an amble.

  5. This made me smile. (I too remember TM, though it was probably only a tenth of what it cost you.) I also loved the photos, so evocative and heart-warming.

    I’m not a technophobe at all (I wouldn’t be ‘penning’ this if I was) but I’m loath to rely on satnavs. Part of the problem is that people using a satnav to get to us inevitably travel down a neighbour’s farm track, to their confusion and the neighbour’s irritation, but it’s also because I find reading anything lengthy on screen, whether proofreading on a Kindle app or scanning wordy websites, somehow makes me grumpier than missing my breakfast. So I prefer my large-scale road maps, along with real books for reading.

    1. Gosh, it’s very good indeed of you to come and read this stuff, Chris! Maps are the best, really. But while I have many attributes I freely admit common sense is not one of them. Satnav often renders that immaterial: not yesterday, though.

      And as your neighbour’s track proves: you have to treat what those things tell you with a huge dose of caution. Being slavish does not pay.

  6. What a great way to sum up a day not unlike many I encounter! Just a day that doesn’t seem to go where I told it to go! Remarkable teaching tool for children, actually, building on the TM theme…”go with the flow.” I think I’m going to add “HMS 13” to my vocabulary as shorthand for those days in my experience, thank you, Felix! And I love your thumbnail photos lined up so beautifully in recent posts. I need to tell you that when I figure out just what it is you are doing I intend to copy! 🙂 Debra

    1. I was displaying them as slideshows, but people were finding the pictures too small. Instead, these days, I download lots of pix in the usual way, and then go to the very bottom of the form and click “insert gallery”. That way you can click a thumbnail and see it nice and big.

      1. You are so kind to tell me, Kate! I love the look of the photos. I love the large, beautiful photos, but they aren’t very practical, are they! We were in the mountains this past weekend and I could get a slow speed internet…I wanted to read the blogs, and most just wouldn’t download! Too many large files. It has me thinking. But thank you for sharing…they do look like a gallery! And so pretty!

  7. Sometimes, these days turn out the best for me in the end. It looks like you ended up precisely where you needed to be.

    Our speaker at Rotary today was a beekeeper, and he had a couple of pictures of how hairy bees are. Neither of them were as good as yours.

  8. “this is Britain, and we think very carefully about driving anywhere for two hours.”

    Perspective is a funny thing. I was talking to a friend in California last week, a west coast woman who’s never been to America’s other shore, and she wanted to know why I didn’t visit New York or Washington more often, since they were only 4-8 hours away. Her geography is so large, an 8 hour road trip is almost necessary to go places. Four hours is a last minute jaunt for her, just as a two hour drive is just on the cusp of spontaneity for me.

  9. Lovley post, Kate.

    Hope “the sun us shining, the air is fresh, your clothes feel great, your work goes well and everything you do is charged with joy.”

  10. Everything begins within, Kate!
    It sounds like you’ve had a bit of a technological nightmare, but this time it was most definitely them and not you!
    And HMS Thirteen is a great name for a ship – I was born on the thirteenth so it’s a great number! 😉

  11. I love Felix’s response; such are the little boys who grow up and do great things in this world, undeterred as they are by a sinking ship. HMS13 – I will remember that on my next, well, my next HMS13 day!

    Your photos are great, Kate, and you over there and me over here are both taking pictures of bees upon thistle. How ’bout dat?

  12. I admire that all four of you have great can-do spirit. When I was a kid, our Chevy broke down en route to a picnic on a Sunday in summer in 1968, my mother ripped my father a new one as if he was General Motors on feet, and I don’t think we attempted going on another one again until the following year. Love the photos and I agree with Lou, Mac the Master Dog is as delightful as ever!

      1. Deodorising is anathaema to Macaulay, Lameadventures. He is a biohazard on legs. He cultivates smell like me with my PRADA perfume. When we wash him, he sulks for days.

  13. “The woods are lovely, dark and deep … ” What a delicious play of sun and shade among those trees! And you shared it with your kids. It might not have been your intended destination, but it was still time well spent.

  14. Thank goodness for flexible children. Judging from the photos, I’ll bet you had a rollicking good time. Although, I would really have liked to go on the Midsomer Murders trail. When we were in London, we went on a ghost tour and on the Jack the Ripper tour. Both were very entertaining … and a little creepy at the same time.

  15. Dealing with disasters philosophically and with such resiliance is a great sign in children. However as I wake up and face days like that most days, I’m not encouraged to discover that it’s all my fault. By the way, if you go up the M4 and down the A40 isn’t that some nasty kind of triangle from where you are? I never trust satnavs. They’ve gone silent at key moments once too often on me. Maps are the way forward. 🙂

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