This jolly vehicle is my youngest son's van, which he uses for his work as a street entertainer, as he has a good deal in the way of props and gear to take around with him. He bought it last year and arrived in it for the first time to visit me in November. The occasion was the final clearance of my late husband's house, and he had brought a friend with him to help him hump stuff about.
I took one short ride with him then, just to the other side of the village, but it proved to be a major operation to get me into the passenger seat. As you can imagine, it is not possible to step straight in as one does with a car, and the built-in step-up is 16" above the ground. Well, I could lift my leg up far enough to put my foot on the step, but it then required a considerable heave upwards, plus a twist, to get one's bottom on the seat. On that occasion it took Richard pushing from behind, and his mate in the driving seat pulling from in front, to get me there. Since then we have been talking of getting a portable foldaway step that we could carry in the van if I wish to travel with him in the future - which I most certainly do.
I love to travel by road with Richard. We used to do regular five-hour journeys together at one time, when he would drive me from Hertfordshire to Shropshire for an annual Growing Old Disgracefully event. He is a relaxed and easygoing driver and does not mind stopping, or turning round and going back to see something, or anything that I may wish. Once we stopped off to go to a garage sale we passed on the way, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. We can talk comfortably and easily together about almost anything, like mates more than like mother and son; he is certainly on my wavelength, and I hope that I am on his.
But it's beginning to look as though this will never happen again. He arrived last night for an overnight stay, and we took the opportunity to study the problem of getting me into the van, with the aid of a small step stool. We tried it forwards, we tried it backwards, we tried it sideways, but there was no way that I could make the necessary movements to get up there on my own. Even with my son pushing behind it didn't really work - it seems that ageing, stiffening skeletons simply cannot make the sudden heaves, leaps and twists that are required to get into a large van. It might possibly be easier if he fixes a couple of grab-handles to the doorframe, but it's a lot to ask him to do, for the occasional journey I might take with him in the future.
"Bugger being old" I wailed miserably, as we gave up the effort and retreated into the house, and was comforted by a massive hug. But unless the neighbours were busy snapping us through their curtains in the dusk, I am afraid there are no pictures recording this event!!!