The first part of our bookcrossing adventure was picking Wombles up from the airport on Wednesday night. We had it all planned: lytteltonwitch would pick me up just before 9 pm, we’d collect Wombles from the airport at 9, and then come back to my place where Wombles and lytteltonwitch were staying the night.
The first part of the plan went fine: lytteltonwitch arrived just before 9, unloaded her sleeping bag from the car, then backed down the drive. Now our driveway is very narrow, and the witch’s car is rather large. And she admits herself she’s not very good at backing. So the inevitable happened – she hit the mailbox. The mailbox has been hit by quite a few cars (like I said, very narrow driveway), so didn’t suffer much, but her car had a large scrape on the back to show for it.
She was understandably reluctant to try backing down the drive again, so came up with a plan B. There’s just enough room in our back yard to turn a car around (and my brother has done that with lytteltonwitch’s car before), so she decided to give that a try. It was looking good at first, but she must have judged the angle wrong or something, because somehow (and even though I was watching, I’m still not exactly sure how she managed it), she ended up at 90 degrees to the driveway, wedged tight between the fence and a tree, with absolutely no room to move in any direction. I so wish I’d thought to take a photo!
By this time we should have been at the airport, so I sent a text to Wombles (hoping she had roaming on her phone) telling her we’d be a bit late, then we tried to figure out how on earth we could get the car out. Our first thought was to see if we could get it bouncing enough that we could shove it to a slightly better angle (I’ve seen heavy cars moved using this technique by just a few people, so it *is* possible), so we called MrPloppy outside to provide some extra manpower and all started bouncing on the back. But because it was so tightly wedged against the fence we had to work from strange angles, and (even when we’d taken all the books out of the back to lighten it) we couldn’t get enough bounce to be able to move it.
The next plan was to cut back some of the ivy round the tree – lytteltonwitch and MrPloppy were doubtful that would help, but I reasoned that there was probably 5-10 centimetres’ thickness of ivy, and taking that off might just give enough leeway to be able to gradually manoeuvre out. So there in the dark we all were, armed with assorted garden shears and pruning shears, ripping ivy off the tree (I spotted one of the neighbours looking out his window at us about that time – he must have wondered what on earth we were doing!). Eventually we got the ivy cleared from in front of the car (an awkward process, because to get from one side of the car to the other we had to either clamber over the bonnet or in one door and out the other), and as I’d predicted, there was now a few centimetres of clear space in front of the car. So the witch got back in and tried moving again, and this time it worked! She managed to get herself unwedged… and pointing backwards down the drive again.
With some guidance from MrPloppy and I, she managed to back out successfully this time (with just a minor pause to disentangle herself from another plant that tried to reach in through the window and strangle her (hmm, this is making our garden sound like an overgrown wilderness – it’s not *that* bad, honestly!)), and we finally set out for the airport.
They’ve recently built a huge parking building in the airport which has changed all the roads in, so we got a bit lost and weren’t sure where the best place to park was, which meant we ended up parking quite a long way from the terminal. So by the time we got to international arrivals we were very very late, but reasoned she would have taken a while to get through customs and hopefully wouldn’t have been waiting too long. But the arrivals hall almost empty, and there was no sign of Wombles. We checked the monitors, but there was no mention of a 9 pm flight from anywhere. About then I realised I hadn’t asked her which flight she was on, or where she was flying from, just what time we should pick her up. I did remember she’d said she couldn’t get on the direct flight from Brisbane to Christchurch, but I had no idea which of the many alternative routes she’d decided to take. We decided we’d try the domestic terminal, and I should try ringing her, although I didn’t expect to get through, reasoning that if she was still on the plane she’d have her phone turned off, and if she’d already arrived then she would have texted me to let me know. We walked towards the other end of the terminal (at Christchurch domestic and international are at opposite ends of the same building) and I was just beginning to dial her number when we spotted her walking towards us. It turned out she’d flown via Auckland, so had been sitting in the domestic terminal all this time. She had got my text, but for some reason her phone wouldn’t let her send messages or make calls, so she’d had no way of replying, and after waiting nearly an hour she was starting to get worried and was on her way to find a taxi when she saw us.
That should have been the end of the adventure, except as we were walking back to the car (and trying to remember exactly where we’d parked!), lytteltonwitch discovered she’d lost the ticket to get out of the parking building….
Ballycumber waiting patiently by the car (showing off its war wounds from the mailbox encounter) while the witch was frantically searching for the lost ticket.
Eventually the ticket turned up, and we were able to pay the exorbitant parking fees, escape the car park, and finally get home for some much needed sleep before our early start in the morning. Except of course we stayed up late excitedly talking about the coming weekend…