Early last week, when the ash cloud was probably little more than a rumble deep in the earth, I had to go to London for a series of meetings (and OK, I admit it, an appointment with Gary at John Frieda). I dithered for a while as to how best to do it - plane, train or automobile, before finally deciding to go by car and ferry (something I rarely do as it basically involves two days of driving.) This was my first lucky call.
The second was that, while in London, I decided to check my car in for a service. I subsequently discovered that two of my tyres were so worn down that they were illegal and a third one was borderline - now I know why I had such problems driving in the snow and ice earlier this year - while my brakes were also 95% worn. I shuddered at the thought of how I'd flown up the autoroute at 130km per hour, in a state of blissful but dangerous ignorance.
The third stroke of luck was that because of the above, I had to delay my return and was still in London when the volcano erupted. This meant that I was able to give my French friend Martine a lift back to France on Saturday morning, which made the journey back much more enjoyable. (If it hadn't been for my dodgy brakes and tyres, she would probably still be stranded, waiting for her Ryanair flight or queuing for a Eurostar ticket at a hideously inflated price.)
As we drove down the sunny autoroute towards Poitiers on Saturday afternoon, with a new set of tyres and fully-functioning brakes, listening to reports of volcano-induced chaos elsewhere, we both felt very, very lucky.