Mrs H competes with our sat-nav toy

We pulled into the Fortress drive after a long weekend away. The lights were on; Mrs H went into worry mode. “The curtains are drawn! And whoever has broken in is watching television.

We pulled into the Fortress drive after a long weekend away. The lights were on; Mrs H went into worry mode.

“The curtains are drawn! And whoever has broken in is watching television.”

Loaded with our baggage I tentatively put the key in the door. We were greeted by the aroma of greasy cooking; the hall was shrouded in smog. A startled Brat Minor emerged from the bathroom.

“What are you doing here,” I asked.

“I thought you were coming back tomorrow!” he exclaimed.

It looks as though he has inherited his mother's addled brain syndrome. He had been persuaded to mog-sit for the two nights we were away and had stated quite clearly he wouldn't be there when we got home as he had other things to do. Somewhere along the line two nights had become three.

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I walked into the kitchen and it was like old times.

“I suppose this lot wouldn't have been here if you'd realised we were coming home,” I remarked pointing to a draining board obscured by the grill pan, a frying pan, utensils and a plate that had clearly been host to a cholesterol-ridden meal.

“I was just going to do that,” he said brightly.

And he did. Here, things have changed. In his teenage years this would have precipitated a rant.

Apparently the Mog had greeted him with a most welcoming gesture. Brat Minor put some food down for him, he gobbled some of it up before marching into the hall and vomiting. Brat Minor cleared it up - and properly. There was a time when there would have been a lingering stain left for Mrs H to scrub.

This trip was our first lengthy journey with the sat-nav. As a precaution, Mrs H had all the routes printed out and the road atlas to hand. Staffordshire was our destination; we didn't need much help to get there but we decided to use the gadget for the journeys over hill and dale. The big test came when Mrs H's AA route directed us along a couple of A roads but the sat-nav had other ideas.

As we disappeared into the hills, Mrs H kept letting out knowing grunts.

“Hmmm, I can see what it's doing,” she conceded. “I can't believe this is quicker though.”

There was one occasion where she crowed with triumph.

“Turn left,” the machine ordered. There was only one left turn, so I obliged.

Now, although the sat-nav voice remains even throughout, it does seem to convey a hint of “How stupid are you?”

“Recalculating. Proceed 1.2 miles and turn right.”

“Well, I don't know what we were supposed to do,” Mrs H cackled. “Wouldn't have had this trouble on the main road.”

We were soon back on track and enjoyed a picturesque ride over the hilltops to our hotel.

The following day Mrs H gleefully told the landlord of our experience. But he replied: “Oh that's the way I go. It's much quicker - and a lovely ride.”

So the sat-nav was vindicated - almost, and Mrs H has not been made redundant. I have the dashboard telling me one thing and the passenger seat telling me another.

One says: “Recalculating,” the other says. “Oh sorry, I was looking at the map. I didn't see the signpost.”

With me on the trip was my other new toy; a 'sleep ring'. It's designed to combat snoring. This noisy habit seems to have increased as I have got older and, I have to admit, is made worse if I've had a couple of sherbets. Mrs H has resorted to physical assault to quell the rumbling. She nudges and kicks me which she says serves as a temporary measure but once I settle the engine starts up again.

“You don't actually snore a lot of the time,” she says. “It's just a sort of snuffling noise.”

Then she saw this product advertised. She mentioned it in passing a couple of times but then began referring to it on a regular basis so I knew I had to act.

It is a ring which you slip on the finger an hour before you go to bed. It applies acupressure which stops the snoring. For reasons that aren't explained, a man puts it on the little finger of his right hand whereas it allegedly works better for a woman on the left hand.

Mrs H reports a good degree of success. Apparently I start up but then go quiet. It must be working because, when we arrived in Staffordshire, I realised I hadn't packed it but Mrs H had. Clearly, I will no longer be allowed to sleep without it.

This does have serious undertones. I often describe our wedding as the metaphorical attachment of the ball and chain. Now there is something physical in place. What other gismos that apply pressure to certain parts of the body will Mrs H discover? A wrist band that causes my hand to be attracted to a paint-roller; an ankle strap that forces me to walk into a fashion store and stand quietly in the corner for the next three-quarters of an hour.

If that happens, I'll probably have to wear the anti-snore ring as well.