The lengths we go to (it’s a long story)

The lengths we go to (it’s a long story)

Whilst we were away, it’s been a bumper year for the roses, apparently.  Of course, we enjoyed plenty before we went, the bride was showered with the rose petals we dried for her and there are still a few blooming here for us too.


Today, though, my Hero had a birthday and during the last three days, I’ve been doing my secret squirrel bit to try to engineer one or two surprises.  Along the way, I have encountered a few every obstacle in the book but I’m glad to say it all came right in the end.


He spotted a book whilst we were travelling.  It weighed a ton, so the deal was, I’d buy it as a birthday present if he carried it.  Done.

But it wasn’t a surprise, was it?  I needed another idea.


A while back, he’d expressed a wish to replace his everyday watch.  It’s a Samsung Gear watch and the newer, snazzier version has been out a while and the old one was scratched.

But it wasn’t a surprise, either. 


Whilst we were away, though,  I had an idea of a surprise something I could get for him and as soon as he went out on Tuesday afternoon, I tried to order it.  But the order didn’t go through, I tried again (and failed) and the warning came up that if I failed a third time, that would be it.  I picked up the phone to place my order with a real person and it rang in my hand.

“There is fraudulent activity on your card.  Someone has just tried to spend £x”

“Well, yes – that’s me!”  I confirmed that I was trying to buy a gift in a hurry, but was failing miserably.  My card company agreed to lift the fraud marker right away and I placed the order.

“Payment declined”.

Aaagh!  As I spoke to someone else in the call centre (how is it, we never speak to the same person twice?) I heard the door and you-know-who was back.  On the pretence of unpacking my last suitcase, I went upstairs, taking my phone with me and for the next four hours tried, unsuccessfully to make the purchase.

The store said it was the finance department’s problem.  They knew my card was ok.

The finance department said it was the store’s problem.  They knew my card was ok.

Sad smile

I just wanted to buy my lovely Hero a birthday present.

Sometime in the early evening, my phone rang again.  Even though my payment had not been processed, someone had noted the time-sensitive nature of my order and the store agreed to authorise the purchase without payment ! I had an immediate text to say it had been despatched and another to say it’d be there to collect the following day.On Wednesday morning I collected his surprise present whilst I was out shopping and thought I’d leave it in the boot of my car, somewhere I was sure he wouldn’t look.

Except my car was going for its MOT *sigh*  They’d want to be in the boot to check the spare wheel and stuff.   I took the surprise to m-i-l Bettine’s on the way home and had to come up with all kinds of excuses about why I’d been out so long!


That meant he still wouldn’t have a surprise this morning, then…but at least he’d have the watch.  Except, in all the fuss and bother, I hadn’t managed to order it, because my card wasn’t working!  In haste, yesterday morning, I quietly went online and ordered it (using a different card), same day delivery, from a store I wouldn’t normally choose, but whose service was second to none.  They even agreed to deliver it whilst he was at his choir rehearsal! 


Sure enough, last night, at 5 to 8, a young man delivered the parcel.  Phew.

On the box was a sticker: “Do not accept if seal is broken”.

Guess what?  The box had been opened and there was another sticker “Opened and examined by Mike”.  Who was Mike and why did he need to open my box?  Were my consumer rights affected by this?  What if the watch didn’t work?

At 8 o’clock, I was on the chat line.  It seems it was a returned product, perfectly ok and as new, but since the seal had been broken, they’d refund me 10%.  I had an immediate Paypal notification.

OK.  Yet another problem resolved – to some extent.


And then I remembered, I’d bought a small souvenir in Detroit.  A tile coaster.  He would have a little surprise to open at home on his birthday morning after all.  I wrapped it in tissue paper, put a few bits of washi tape on it and dropped the blooming thing, smashing it into smithereens.



You’ve probably given up and gone home by now, because this is turning into a bit of a saga.  But thankfully, this morning, the Birthday Boy opened his watch with delight.  It was all fine and in good order (and I don’t suppose he’d have noticed the broken seal had I not said something about it).  He had other sweet presents and cards to open from friends and family too.  Only Bettine and I knew about the other surprise, which was still in her dining room. 

I checked my card statement online and it appeared I’d still not paid for it, though.


And so we went out to lunch.   We’d eaten there before, it’s a reputable kind of place with a strong local following – but our food was awful.


I’ve no idea how my “medium rare ribeye steak” was cooked, but it wasn’t good and tasted about as dreadful as it looks.  My Hero’s monkfish was inedible and Bettine commented that the chef would do better to buy his chicken kiev from Marks and Spencer! *

It was just one of those days.  Thankfully, the Birthday Boy was unaffected by all of this and oblivious to all the hoohah and “calling into Bettine’s for a cup of tea” was the turning point.  Not only was there a couple of birthday packages for him there from her, there was also the – still unpaid for – totally unexpected surprise box too. **


You can imagine his reaction to that one. 


Mid afternoon, then, and another party to go to.  Our Goddaughter was born on my Hero’s birthday and she was celebrating being two with a party for friends and family in her garden.  Her favourite present was a pink, push along butterfly on wheels, which blew bubbles as it went along.  Everyone loved it, both young and old.

I’m thinking of a bubble attachment for the lawn mower as next year’s surprise present.

* I had a call from the restaurant manager last evening, with profuse apologies and an invitation to afternoon tea

** You’ll be relieved to know that my credit card transaction went through yesterday afternoon

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