I had taken the week off, as holiday, and even booked a locum, so I could be entirely footloose and fancy free.
Ah, the joy of getting up in a leisurely fashion, happy in the knowledge Somebody Else Was Dealing With It. I decided to spend my time off having some day trips out to visit friends and to spend some time with my family. So I drove into town yesterday for a girls day out with my daughter. We had our hair done, shared a splendid lunch, did a bit of shopping. It rained incessantly but I was determined to enjoy my time off, so stayed out as long as possible. A text arrived on my mobile phone. It was from McColleague: The Boss has closed the house and estate and sent everybody home, due to the severe weather.
Perhaps it was time to return, after all.
The journey home was exciting, to say the least. During the hours we'd spent in town the road had flooded in several places and long queues of cars had formed wherever one of these impromptu fords had occurred. The rain lashed the windows of the car, big 4x4s and lorries zoomed by and sent waves of water flooding over us, reducing visibility further as my poor squeaky windscreen wipers tried to keep up with the job in hand.
I was relieved when, an hour later, we finally made it back onto the estate.
"Nearly home now," I said to my daughter.
We drove through the first mile of parkland, the single track road now a torrent of water. The road twists and turns downhill and the last stretch goes through the woods. As we entered the trees I had a feeling all was not well. I couldn't see the road ahead in the distance, just a mass of foliage.
As we drew nearer I could see the massive tree which had fallen down, completely blocking the road. "I'm not staying here in case any more trees are about to come down," I said as I reversed all the way back through the woods and onto the parklnad again.
I phoned my Boss. He was with Lovely Warden in the landrover and we didn't have to wait long before they arrived.
"We'll go down and take a look," said my Boss. "Then we'll come back and let you know the situation."
They rode off into the murk of the woods, and my daughter and I sat and waited, the rain drumming on the roof.
Eventually they returned. "It's too dangerous to move," yelled my Boss from the landrover. "We'd be putting ourselves at risk if we try to work in there now."
I was perplexed. How was I going to get home? There is only the one road.
"Is there anyone in the house now?" asked my Boss.
"There's my daughter's boyfriend," I replied.
"Well, phone him and get him to walk up to the fallen tree from the house, and bring your wellies and wet weather gear. Lovely Warden and I will drive you down to the tree in the landrover and get you around it on foot. You'll have to leave your car here."
There then followed a few minutes of prioritising, as I peered into the boot of the car and decided which shopping I would carry on foot and what I would leave behind. It says a lot about how people react under pressure, as I opted to bring the cheesecake and wine and leave behind the toilet rolls.
My daughter and I then clambered into the back seat of the landrover, with our bags, and headed back into the wild woods. My Boss wasn't happy. He kept looking out of the window and saying scary things like "That one's going to go soon, as well."
When we reached the fallen tree again we were instructed to stay put while he and Lovely Warden assessed the best route past it.
"Right," he said, opening the landrover door and gesturing for us to scramble out. "I want you two out of here as quickly as possible."
He guided us up the steep muddy bank and around the massive uprooted base of the tree. My shoes were sodden and didn't provide much in the way of grip. My daughter had sensibly worn her Dr Martens so was doing somewhat better than I. Still, we did both make it to the other side and back onto the road without falling over or dropping the wine and cheesecake. We have finely honed survival skills.
Fortunately my daughter's boyfriend appeared at that point, soaked to the skin himself but clutching two carrier bags full of wellies. At least the final mile was walked with dry feet.
So, the house remains closed for the time being. We are cut off from the outside world rather efficiently. At times like this all you can do is settle down with your cheesecake and wine and count your blessings.