A few months ago my partner announced her intention to walk from Manchester to London via approximately 200 miles of canal towpath - a journey that would take about ten days.
"Nice idea," I said, thinking that I might look forward to a little 'me time'.
"And you can follow me in the campervan to provide sustenance and accommodation at the end of each day," she replied.
I foresaw a relentless evening routine of cooking, foot massaging and listening to the schemes she dreamt up during her miles of solitary tramping, although I would still have the days to myself - apart from a bit of driving, shopping and scouting for camp-sites.
The time has come and, as it's turned out, it coincides inconveniently with the possibility of our moving home. I say possibility because, although we have a willing buyer for our old flat and a willing vendor of our new flat, completing the deal is a convoluted transaction conducted through third parties i.e. two firms of estate agents and two firms of solicitors. It's a set-up guaranteed to maximise the opportunities for miscommunication and, unsurprisingly, that is exactly what is happening. With the Data Protection Act being quoted as the justification for not putting buyer and seller directly in touch with each other, the professionals have carte blanche to charge for a service imbued with a degree of old-fashioned, bureaucratic sloth such as hasn't been seen since the GPO was in charge of domestic telephone installations. Pinning down a completion date is as frustrating as trying to get through to someone on a help-line who is actually helpful.
There has also been a simultaneous timing complication because we have just traded our ancient campervan for one less decrepit but in need of some remedial work - fixing the pop-up roof, sealing the leaky gas pipes and so forth.
"I'll sort it out" I said and called a few places to book in for repairs.
"Sorry, sir, can't fit you in till after Easter," was the general response. Knowing that within days I would be on the road and held accountable for the quality of accommodation, I saw no option other than to buckle down and fix it myself. The gas leak was straightforward: it simply required the dismantling of the interior to get access to the leaking joint in order to tighten it. All I had to do then was make good the devastation. In all it took me eight hours. The rising roof was more problematic. It required a new gas-pressurised strut, bought on the internet and delivered next day (at huge expense) - but that turned out to be the easy part. Experienced mechanics probably have ways of compressing gas-struts which don't result in personal injury but I went through the learning process painfully - and in a mere six hours. The other, minor repairs were less demanding but nevertheless added up to a couple of days spent sourcing and fitting spare parts.
The great walk starts tomorrow, so today is one of tidying some outstanding desk-based admin. It has not started well: my computer has told me that it has stopped backing up my files to The Cloud. All else is under control: the van is fixed, the logistics are planned and the completion date for the move, although unresolved, is work-in-progress (we have established a programme of relentless harrying which refuses to accept the concept que sera, sera). I call The Cloud help-line and listen to the specialist talk to himself for an hour or so until my mobile rings. It's my partner.
"The van's broken down. The rescue man is here. He says it needs a new alternator."
I almost forgot: my partner's epic towpath trudge is not purely whimsical. She is determined to raise awareness (and funds) for the cause of Girls Out Loud.
You might like to help out with a little contribution via Just Giving
or by sending a text to 70070 and entering GOLW99 £(sum of your choice).
And you might like to follow her progress, share in her adventure and lend encouragement on Twitter @rachelmwl