Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Lost in the fog - and Jools Oliver's new children's range

For a moment I nearly panicked. I was stuck in the middle of nowhere, in freezing fog, with no phone signal and not a clue where I was going. I was off to my monthly book club, with a copy of Barbara Pym’s Excellent Women tucked in my bag, but it looked like I wasn’t going to make it. 

Of all the stupid things to do, I hadn’t checked where I was heading before I set off. The February meeting was at P’s new house in one of the loveliest villages in Northamptonshire. She’s only just moved in and I hadn’t visited before - but I assumed finding it would be a piece of cake. After years as a news reporter, haring off all over the country at a drop of the hat, my sense of direction hasn’t failed me very often. So all good, except I don’t have a sat nav and I’d left in such a hurry that I hadn’t phoned P for directions or printed out a map. “Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll just get to the village and ring P from there.”

Only it wasn’t as simple as that. The snow has vanished from Oxford as fast as it arrived but the winding country lanes of Northamptonshire are a different story. As I drove at snail’s pace along the back roads, past snow-covered hedgerows, rabbits skittering in the ice and posters emblazoned with the words “No HS2 Rail Link” fluttering from the trees, thick fog descended and I could only see about two metres in front of my nose.

Finally, half an hour late, I drove gingerly into P’s gorgeous but alarmingly hilly village. Reaching for my mobile in the pitch black, my heart sank. “No service,” said the illuminated words on the screen. I’d stupidly failed to appreciate that in the wilds of the countryside O2’s signal is patchy to say the least. I drove up the hill, peering at the country cottages, all shrouded in darkness. There wasn’t a soul about and I briefly contemplated knocking on doors, reporter-style, but was too much of a wimp. After managing a scary 28-point turn to avoid ending up on the icy verge, it seemed my only option was to concede defeat pathetically and drive the 40 miles home.

And then suddenly, for a second at the top of the hill, a tiny bit of signal miraculously appeared. Another book club friend answered my call and yes, I made it to book club after all. Late, flustered and slightly incoherent, but I made it.

PS.  I’m not usually a fan of celebrity collaborations but I reckon Jamie Oliver’s wife Jools is a great choice to design a range of children’s clothes for Mothercare. The mother of four (three girls and one boy) is ultra-stylish, down-to-earth and I reckon she’ll come up with clothes that mums want to buy and children want to wear.


  1. I really must find a good book club local to me. Yours must be well worth belonging to if you're prepared to go to such lengths to get a meeting.

    1. Hi Nicola. We all used to live near each other but when we moved we still wanted to keep going to the book club! I really recommend belonging to a book club. Mine makes me read books I might not have otherwise chosen and I've discovered some great new authors.

  2. I keep meaning to join the book club in our village, not sure I'd go to the lengths you went to though! I wonder if I could persuade people to come to Witchmountain....!? x

  3. Hi Witchmountain. You should join your local one. Book clubs are really fun - great company and good books. An unbeatable combination!


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