Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

You know how, upon their completion of a long and arduous journey, a person will incredulously regale you with every last painstakingly dull detail of it?

Well, I'm not going to do that.

Because there was so much of my disastrous car journey with Perry last Friday that, even straight afterwards, there was just no way that I could remember it all.

So instead, here are the main factoids of our 6-hour odyssey that have burnt themselves onto my memory, in no particular order: (this in no way makes me guilty of paragraph one)

1. Finally finding the town that we were looking for - Burley. We knew where we were on the map. We drove down its high street. We read the roadsign of the street that we were on - 'Burley Street'. Then we somehow lost it again. No, not the road, the entire town. For several hours.

2. Later stopping in the middle of nowhere, with nowhere stretching out through 360 degrees around us, and Perry exclaiming, "We were there! We were in the town! We were actually in the town!!"

3. Trying to turn a sharp corner in the dark, taking it a little too sharply, going up and coming back down the grassy mound in the narrow road's sharp corner, and finding that we were now at right angles to the road itself, with a grassy verge hemming us in at either end of the vehicle. Think of that scene in Austin Powers when he's got the golf cart impossibly stuck at right angles to the narrow corridor that he's in, and that's how our vehicle was.

4. Sitting down on the toilet in Rownham Services and leaning back slightly, only to discover too late that it had one of those optical switches for operating the flush.

5. Sitting in Rownham Services trying to get my Android phone to opt out of Weekend Freebee in order to be able to top up again without immediately losing money, and thus utilise its SatNav. Apparently I was also opted-in to something called Vodaphone International, so I opted out of that. Apparently I was also opted-in to something called Vodaphone Passport, so I opted out of that. Then the signal went dead, and I realised that I was no longer opted-into anything. Furious jabbing of the buttons ascertained that I was now unable to even contact Vodaphone to fix it.

6. Driving up and down the same stretch of the A31 a total of seven times, including making it all the way back to the Northbound M3 towards London again, and passing a sign that entertainingly included the word "Midlands".

7. On the motorway, overshooting our somewhat hidden exit.

8. At length, overshooting the same somewhat hidden exit a second time.

9. At further length, slowing down to cautiously approach the same somewhat hidden exit a third time, only to find that since the second time it had now been coned off.

10. Trying to drive into Picket Hill, through a bunch of people with placards. All right I made that one up.

11. Perry muttering under his breath that the whole fiasco was "not even a joke."

12. Perry later muttering under his breath that the whole fiasco was now "beyond a joke."

13. Back on the motorway, my trying very very hard indeed to not start laughing. My looking away out of the passenger window and silently wiping the waterfall of tears that was cascading down my cheeks. My getting out of the vehicle in order to privately weep at the whole ridiculous catastrophe under cover of darkness.

14. My refusing to abandon the car to continue on foot through the darkness, mud and rain.

15. Perry abandoning the car to continue on foot through the darkness, mud and rain.

16. About an hour later, my abandoning the car to continue on foot through the darkness, mud and rain.

17. Turning my torch on and discovering that the slab of off-white stepping-stone that it was illuminating in front of me was in fact a large and very wet puddle.

18. Finally arriving at the house, Rich opening the door, and my barking straight at him "Not! A! Word!!!"

19. John laughing at us harder than ever before in the 22 years that I have known him.

20. Bish interrogating me: "Steve - who was navigating?"

21. Rich referring to the pizzas, or more specifically the gorgeous, hot, tasty pizzas full of precious carbohydrates with the words "I don't think I've ever seen Steve each so much so quickly."

I guess that after such an expedition, the rest of the weekend really should have paled by comparison, but the whole event was a ton of fun. We caught up, rewatched This Is Spın̈al Tap, played Scrabble (undefeated winner again :) ), messed about with apps at the pub (specifically Shazam), and ate quite a bit.

Oh, and somewhere along the line, we also fitted in quite a bit of actual walking. Despite what these photos suggest, we definitely didn't spend the rest of the weekend continuing to get lost…

Maybe the explorers of old called it The New Forest because it took them so long to find it.

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