Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Lost on the way to Paradise

There was a mini meet from my birth board today. Just 5 of us going, and due to the icky cold, I was considering begging off. But actually, I felt much better, one of the people going rang me (thanks Laura) and forced me to get dressed and actually move.

Started,as most of my days do, badly. I was running extremely late and so didn't have time to dry my hair properly. Due to the disasterous Pob thing I had done (hate it hate it hate it) I'm growing it back out... Somehow, I developed triangle shaped hair jutting out the side of my head. *sigh*

Right, so.. car packed, camera, nappies, wetwipes, gingerbread men, suncream, drinks, toys, fruit pot and spoon, money, car keys (no.. not in the bag.. find them and dig them out), first aid kit, etc etc etc. On darn.. forgot sunglasses.. back in house.

I left at 11.10. We were meeting at 11.30, and according to my trusty Google Map Directions sheet, I was 1 hour and 20 minutes away. Dammit. Left home, singing to Lal who was in his car seat tilted back so he could have a nice long nap. Perfect.

M25. Hell road, but I can do it. Drove along nicely, singing my heart out, albeit quietly to Take That.. Looking at my directions there was a tiny part I didn't understand, so I decided to ring L and ask her if I did have to go over Dartford Tunnel (or even under it) The response?

"Umm, Katie, where are you going? We are in the complete opposite direction. You've gone the wrong way up the M25."

Great! 15 miles in the wrong direction. FINE. At least I found out before the bridge/tunnel thingy, so I didn't have to pay. Twice as it would have turned out.

Turned round at the nearest sliproad, got back on the motorway heading in the right direction this time. By now 40 mins late.

L had said that I needed to get off at Junction 26. And then the park, Paradise Park, would be signposted and even I couldn't go wrong. I was under strict instructions to ring her as soon as I got there. I could do that. I have an awful feeling that L seriously regrets giving me her mobile number.

Oh yes, and I hate Google Maps. With a passion.

Junction 26. Left motorway. Hmm. No signs for Paradise Park, but plenty for Lea Valley Park. Ok, thought I, that's fine, maybe it has a new name. Rang L again. Nope, wrong park.. but if I carried on down the road, I would get to a bridge with high sides and a filter lane to take me left..and to Paradise.

I saw low bridges, no bridges, right turn filter lanes, left turn fliter lanes, and a bridge that *possibly* had high sides. Perfect. I must be near. In Cheshunt.

I wasn't. In desperation, and because I was far to humiliated to call L AGAIN and tell her I was lost, I called Hushy. Hushy who lives in Scotland. About 350 miles away. Hushy who could do nothing, but commiserate and laugh at my predicament. I drove into an Industrial Warehouse car park on her bidding. No help at all from there.

I even swallowed my pride and called my dad.. and K.. to see if they could go online and see where I was. How I expected them to guess where I was in relation to the park, I have no idea. Dad didn't answer, and K just sighed. Fan flipping tastic.. He did tell me, quite helpfully, that I should have got off the M25 at Junction 25.

Ooh... sign post.. A10. Someone somewhere mentioned that. I needed to be on it. Yay! Got on A10, after many, many evil mini roundabouts.. and rejoiced in the 60 mph speed limit. Until I saw the sign "You are about to enter a congestion charge area" WTF? London? I may have the mental capacity of a diseased flea, but even I know you don't get many wildlife parks in central London. And I was heading towards Enfield.

Turned around AGAIN. And then the thought that saved me. Ring the park and ask which direction I should be going. As I suspected, the opposite one. Again. Great. Bloody marvellous in fact. Except I got stuck behind a brand new learner, doing 20mph,and I oculdn't overtake. KNowing a friend of mine (one who I would be meeting) had just passed her test, and moaned about people tailgating learners, I hung back a suitable distance. And got tailgated myself.

I was, by this time, thanks to a still asleep Lal, muttering obscenities under my breathe about roads, the UK in general and their policy on crappy roads with NO signposts for me, swearing about driving, wondering why I hadn't brought any water along for me, etc etc etc.

And then I saw it. "Paradise Park Wildlife Park" YES. WOOHOOOOOOO. Yay. OMG! I did it. 1 hour and 50 mins in the car... I did it. YES. Oh the relief. My enthusiasm was loud and I woke Lal and still had 9 miles to drive.

By the time the signposts were telling me I only had half a mile to go, I had made up slightly demented songs, chronicalling our progress. "2 miles to go.. woohoo.. and now it's 1 and a half.. Oh yes, my Lal, we'll not live in the car.. it's only one mile to go... " 200 yards, nothing can stop us now. Which segued into "Don't stop me now.. " Except I wasn't having a good time, not at all.

And then there was a person. A person in front who drove up to the desk to pay.. but who didn't actually want to get in to the park.. noooo.. she wanted to chat to her friend who worked at the desk for 15 minutes. Have you ever sat in front of someone who is angrily and pointedly turning her car off and on.. off and on.. She refused to get the point. I could feel tears. 2 hours I'd been trying. 2 whole hours. Please, let me out of the car.

Anyway.. we got there.. we had fun..we met some lovely people.. and beautiful babies.. thanks to my "finally there" excitement, Lal can now say "Wooo hooooooooo!"

It was 30 degrees, or 90000 depending on where you were standing. They had a life size Thomas the Tank that traumatised Lal no end (to the extent that he actually threw his mini Thomas out the door when we got home) They had lions and tigers and bears... they place itself is fab.. highly recommended.

It took me 35 minutes to get home. The less said about that the better.

Some pics!

Lal and Jamie, on the best "ride" in the whole place. I think they called it "Run up and down a slope"


All the babies..


Babies and mums.. notice my cunningly thought out plan? A Katie sized hole above Lal? yay! (My son.. never looking forward *sigh*)


Please.. go to as many meets as you can. It's so much fun. And lovely to meet the babies you have "seen" grow up..

I, on the other hand, will not be making it to anymore meets. And its not looking good for my drive up to Scotland to meet Hushy. I'll probably end up in Denmark.

K x x

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