Remember when The Blondies and I went to Stranger’s Hall? And all the signs were that it was shaping up to be an absolute horror of A Day Out? That was Sunday. Alistair and I had decided to visit Binham Priory, an absolute gem of north Norfolk I’d visited briefly a month or two ago. That was fine. Loading up the car was fine. And then it started…
‘Mum? I feel carsick, Mum.’
‘Mum, my shoulder hurts, Mum.’
‘Mum? Mum? MU-UM!
‘Mum? How much further is it, Mum? Mum, and how long will it take Mum? And how long is half an hour, Mum? Mum? How long is thirty minutes, Mum? Mum? If I count to sixty, thirty times, will that be thirty minutes, Mum? Mum, I’m hungry, Mum? Mum? Mum? MUM! I still feel sick, Mum. Mum, where are we going, Mum? Oh yeah. Mum? Mum? The Boy's annoying me, Mum. Mum? The Girl's being a pain, Mum. Mum? MUM! I still feel sick, Mum. Mum, The Boy just drank all the water, mum. MUM! The Girl's lying, Mum, I didn't, Mum! Mum! Mum! MUUUUUUMMMM.’
My shoulders were hovering protectively by my ears, trying to protect me from the onslaught. Alistair was clearly starting to get annoyed too, judging by the whiteness of his knuckles, I noted resentfully. It’s not like they were badgering HIM. For some reason, he was insisting on using the sat-nav, which had obviously decided to reset itself to ‘Scenic Route’ mode. Norfolk in August is beautiful. Very beautiful indeed. But I’d rather just reach my destination. Especially when:
Me: Oh look, there’s a sign for Binham!
Him: The sat-nav’s saying straight on.
Me: But that way is the right direction.
Him: But the sat-nav says straight on.
Me: We ought to go right though. Where that sign is.
Him. The. Sat. Nav. Says. Straight. On.
Me: But that sign we just passed was for Binham. And it’s quite a small village. So we can’t be far away.
Him: SAT. NAV.
Fifteen minutes down the road…
Me: We haven’t seen any more signs for Binham. Just thought I’d helpfully point that out.
Him: You saying you know better than the sat-nav?
We were now at the ‘dangerously silent’ point of being completely narked off with each other. Rather like a jumbo jet sits at the end of the runway before take-off, letting the engine build up power, immediately before I lose my temper, I go very, very quiet. If I’d had the opportunity, I would have married him there and then, just so I could divorce him immediately. From SPITE. And The Blondies were still Mum? Mum? Mum?ing at every opportunity. I was just about to tip from ‘dangerously silent’ to ‘overflowing wave of poisonous fury with swears’ when we turned the corner, and there it was. Binham Priory. A collective ‘WOAH’ arose from all three DEEPLY ANNOYING Blondies, and silence reigned until we got to the car park.
And then, just to push me further towards meltdown, Alistair decided he was Taking Charge. And led us, not towards the priory, but the graveyard. Every headstone was to be inspected. I stood, deliberately to the side, lips pursed like a dog’s bottom, every atom of my body quivering with ‘WHAT are you DOING? The most AMAZING ruins and church are right THERE and you are IGNORING them and this is making me ANGRY’ vibes (to be honest, I quite like poking around in graveyards too, but not when the purpose of our visit was something else entirely. And the graveyard would still be there after we'd looked around the priory).
The Boy, as usual in tune with my moodiness, took one look around and announced ‘I hate birds. They’re so disrespectful, pooing all over graves.’ To illustrate this, he pointed out the following headstone
Now that’s a name to conjure with! The pair of us edged away from Alistair and The Girl, and towards the entrance
I don’t know why I find the ‘Any reasonable time’ opening hours so amusing. Something about it suggests a middle aged stout woman in walking tweeds demanding to be permitted to visit at half past three in the morning. But my mood shifted, the sun came out, and we began to explore…