We Muttonens are great believers in the economic division of labour. One of us drives while the other navigates: we call it playing to our strengths and out of respect to Mrs M, I will spare her embarrassment by not saying what her strength is hers and what mine.
The navigator of us is assisted, usually ably, by a woman of indeterminate age whom (on a good day) we call Mildred, our satnav narrator. When Mildred intones "Recalculating" our hearts sink; but annoyance rises when we are listening to an audiobook, get to a point where we really want to hear what's happening, and what does Mildred do but break in with "Enter the roundabout and take the third exit"?
Even so, we have got used to such irritation, which has never soured the collaborative relationship between driver and navigator on which every successful car trip depends, so you might appreciate that something capable of sending the driver's hands towards the navigator's throat, in a gesture that boded neither of them much good, must have been a serious problem indeed.
The problem was this. The entrance to the hotel is on a pedestrianised street, although 15 minutes of offloading time are allowed before you have to tootle down to public parking safely beneath the main city square down the road. What the hotel doesn't tell you is what to if the button you're supposed to press to lower the obstructing bollard on the road round the corner doesn't work. Round and round the complicated road system we went, trying in vain to find an alternative way in. Poor Mildred did well to cope with a plethora of unexpected road works and diversions, but tempers within the compact Auris gradually rose to the ambient outside temperature as if the aircon had conked out.
A brainwave in the heatwave: park car in public car park first and then plod along to the hotel on foot, even with assorted luggage in sweltering weather. But Best Western Orleans really should give more precise advance advice to car-borne guests.
Fortunately hotel staff turned out to be lovely and friendly and the room was just what we wanted. Great walking around the city, bracketed by a really nice lunch and delicious dinner, restored the relationship of Muttonens senior to its normal tranquillity; but who knows what tomorrow will bring? less