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Gill informed me, when we chatted yesterday, that during my visit to England, we would be going on some lovely walks–through pastures, by the seaside, through quaint(possibly thatched roof?) little towns. It sounded wonderful.

“Not to worry,” I assured her. “I’m bringing my good running shoes, the sturdy ones with my orthotics. I am well prepared for whatever conditions you throw at me…short of the black cloud of doom you’re fond of mentioning in the weather forecast. Just a word of warning, though. I don’t do steep hills…and I mention that since you told me about your walk recently from which you are still recuperating. I’m spry but I’m not stupid!”

“Yes, well, I may have overreached on that little 12 -mile jaunt,” she admitted. “I promise, no steep hills. It was just that I wanted to give the new hiking shoes that Crazy D helped my buy a true test. That and the small, insignificant fact that I misread the map…”

That threw me off slightly, I must admit. Now I have always been a walker (as all three children can attest…I used it as a form of discipline/torture when they were small.) It’s a wonder, really, that they now want to walk at all! But I had more in mind short, leisurely strolls through parks or down a beach. You know, something fitting an old lady with ugly, malformed feet and a recent broken bone. The fact that we might need a map was disconcerting. I voiced my concerns to Gill.

“Oh, but you must see some of the lovely country, Ma! We have to venture off the beaten track a bit. Besides, we have to live up to our reputation of doing stupid shit when we’re together. Crazy D and L’il Sis would expect nothing less. Why, it wouldn’t be a proper vacation if we didn’t. And in a particularly brilliant coup, I’ve just purchased this wonderful Ordinance Survey map of this area. It’s got everything — elevations, paths marked with little acorn signs, possibly even fields that contain cows that we might have to avoid…and a gun range. I can’t wait to use it and put some more mileage on my new Crazy D shoes. I have to give him an update on where the shoes have been, what they’ve seen. He’s expecting me to put no less than 100 miles on them by Christmas. And he told me he wouldn’t let me buy them if I didn’t promise regular briefings.”

“Back it up,” I ordered. “What was that about a gun range? I don’t intend to become somebody’s practice target. Dodging random bullets was not what I signed up for. If I wanted that, I’d go to Chicago! Of course, if I wear my bright fuchsia raincoat, I’d stick out in a field like a sore thumb and they’d see me and know I wasn’t a target.”

“Ma, if you wear that coat on our walks, you’ll be NOTHING BUT a target! It’s lovely but a bit …uh, ‘See me, I’m Screaming For Attention’, as if you’re on a red carpet somewhere about to be asked who you’re wearing! Discretion is the key when wandering the countryside. And don’t forget, there could be angry bulls in a field. Your pink magnificence would be the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of them. Do you suppose they can tell the difference between fuchsia and red? I’m thinking your dull beige jacket would be just the thing. Besides which, it has big pockets for your silly pink camera, energy snacks (chocolate), and emergency lipstick.”

“Well for starters, I would NEVER wear a fuchsia coat on a RED carpet! They’d clash and I’d be in the “What Not To Wear’ section of the gossip rags or YouTube the next morning. And yes, the dull jacket would be better. But don’t mock the lipstick…at this age, if I’m not careful, I’ll scare those cows…I need all the color I can get. No point looking like a walking corpse. As for the chocolate, you know I get shaky if I haven’t eaten enough. The good thing is it won’t be hot enough in England to melt the chocolate. There was a rather messy incident in Australia…don’t ask. I still can’t wear those pants.”

“I’m so excited about using this new map, Ma! It’s going to be such fun.”

“It will be. I just hope you can read/decipher this map better than you can find your way around home when you’re driving my car. Well, I won’t worry. You have a couple of things going for you here: you’re not DRIVING and by the sound of it, there aren’t many actual signs. You’ve always done better at navigating when there’s a weird statue on the corner, a 7-Eleven with a neon advert for a sale on Slushies, a crooked tree with a large branch hanging down…you know, recognizable points of interest. But just in case we go astray, you will have your phone with you, no? That way, the authorities can find us…even if WE don’t know where we are or how we got there.”