Sometimes, days are just plain sailing. Up early(ish), breakfasted, dressed, and out and on with the rest of the day, and in what seems like a flash the day is coming to an end once again.
Most days, it could be said, are generally like that.
Some days, however, are so far removed from the truth, they are, well, unbelievable. I’ve already described my meeting with Walpole E. Epstein, and the utter devastation he caused to my bathroom and landing; that in itself was unbelievable, but there’s more!
I’d decided that, as things weren’t going as they usually did, to drive a different way that morning. I arrived at a fork in the road, and a broken signpost was telling me that a strange place by the name of Meringue was off to the right. The pointer to the left had been long broken off, so I had no clue where that road led to, and didn’t want to check right at that moment.
I looked down at my bedraggled self as I walked back to the car, and thought I needed to sort myself out. I couldn’t be seen in public looking as though I’d been dragged through a hedge backwards. And nobody was going to believe that I had fought off the power of a black hole, only to be covered in some of the contents as it began to repel rather than attract. No. I’ll keep that one to myself, I think!
I drove back to the Mansion, and walked up the stairs.
For some reason, I’d forgotten what had happened less than twenty minutes ago. The stairway was dripping. All kinds of everything were strewn all over the landing and in the bathroom. There was no way I was going to get cleaned up in there.
Luckily, living in a Mansion, I have a spare bathroom. It’s over on the East Wing, an area that I don’t tend to go in very often, as it overlooks the summer meadows in the Grinds outside – and that triggers my Hay Fever. But when needs must, I can live with a few sniffles.
So, I had to remember my way to the spare bathroom. Across the landing, down the stairs, through the door at the bottom of the stairs, across the hallway, through the double doors, along the corridor, up the step, along the west corridor and around, out of the window, along the balcony, down the ladder, across the patio, through the French window, across the room, through the door, along the corridor, up the stairs, up the stairs, up the stairs (!), through the window, across the balcony, through the window, across the spare bedroom, and into the en suite. Luckily, it’s always well stocked, because I always forget something.
An hour later, I was ready. Fresh, dressed and impressed as I saw myself in the Flattering Mirror – it’s one of those smoke-effect mirrors that show everything in a good light. Whether I’d look so good after my trek back to the front door remained to be seen, I remember thinking, but I’m sure things were fine.
In fact, I know they were.
I’d changed my plans for the day. I was going to explore Meringue, and I now looked the part!
I drove back to the fork in the road, and swallowed deeply. I was exploring something new. I set off along this road to the right. It was a long, thin, winding, narrow country lane. So winding in fact, the top speed I could manage was two miles an hour… and that felt too fast! I’m not saying I speed or anything, but feeling that two miles an hour was too fast is really a little extreme. Well, such is life in an altered reality, I suppose.
Eventually, I reached the end of the lane. A wide, but quiet, road crossed it, and a green road sign on the other side of the road pointed to the right, and indicated that Meringue was one mile in that direction.
I was about to set off when something on the sign caught my eye. Just five words that caused me to do a double-take, slam on the brakes, and jump out of the car. I ran over to the sign, staring in disbelief.
The five words were “The Ceremonial Shire of Somerset”.
I was in Cheshire a narrow lane ago, and I’m now close to Somerset?
Now… don’t get me wrong, my geography isn’t perfect. I’m good, but not brilliant. I know that Cheshire is a Northern County in England, and Somerset is a Southern one. The two have never, ever bordered each other since the dawn of time.
That morning, however, things had changed.
And this little Somerset town was the first in a chain of not so subtle differences I was about to discover…