Three days. Three successes.
I decided to push things for a fourth day, to tempt fate and dare it to give me an impossible challenge to overcome.
So I asked her, "What shall I photograph? If I go out."
For I wasn't feeling good in myself and the temptation to stay home was strong even though there was somewhere I wanted to go and something I wanted to attend.
She said, "Marble run!"
I said impossible. Now, I like marble runs, but the chances of encountering one seemed far too remote - I was planning on attending a theology conference and they don't usually include marble runs in talks about theology.
So she said, "Pink flamingo."
Now this seemed an unlikely encounter too.
So she said "Butterfly."
And that seemed easy enough in some form or other. I would find a butterfly when I was out. And I would ignore the other challenges.
Except she said, "You keep saying impossible so I give you more challenges and then you make yourself do them all!"
A fair point.
But for now I would focus on that butterfly challenge. I would ignore the painting of a butterfly in the lounge. I would ignore the six magnetic butterflies stuck to our fridge. I would ignore the real butterflies on a wall, butterflies which died and were mounted a long time ago.
Home butterflies weren't allowed. Because my head told me so. I had to find butterflies in Sunderland. As I travelled I hunted.
There were no butterflies near my seat on the Metro. There were no flamingos either. And no sign of the impossible marble run.
There were no butterflies near these fountains. I confess that my legs did get rather wet as I wandered between the jets of water. If only I had been wearing adventure boots instead of light red shoes. Then I could have sploshed about and screamed with happiness. It would have been even more fun to share the water with the giver of the challenges.
There were no butterflies on the walls of the old fire station either. None at all. Unless they were hiding under the eaves and wishing they had exited their chrysalises on a warmer day.
I walked on, keeping my eyes peeled for butterflies and flamingos. And I approached my destination. The location of the theology conference. Which is where my day went wrong. The door looked closed and I panicked. Was I in the right place? I checked Facebook and read the event description again - and read it wrong. I wasn't in the right place! The right place was on the other side of the river and I would never make it in time for the morning talks in the next six minutes. That would have been an actual impossible quest.
Saddened, I decided to make the best of the day and join the conference after lunch for the afternoon talks and activities. A new plan. This gave me time for my hunting. I decided to try all the charity shops in the centre of Sunderland. Maybe one of them would have a butterfly. Maybe one would have a flamingo. And maybe one would even have a marble run.
I went to every single one. Unless there are any I don't know about. There was no butterfly. There was no flamingo. And there was no marble run. There was a gorgeous dress that I would have bought. Except it didn't fit. Damn my large rib cage. I have been told that my large rib cage and my blood group are two signs that I am an alien and not human at all. I am not entirely convinced by this claim.
I wasn't doing well at all. And then I walked along a street of shops. It would have been easy to be sad. I hadn't found a butterfly. And this street had no charity shops. But it did have some pretty shop fronts.
These are two different shops. One with ouija boards. One with magical sigils. Sunderland, like most places, has a shopping centre filled with all kinds of dull chain stores. It's the kind of place I find awful to be in. And then it has shops like these. It's not that I want to buy a ouija board or be tattooed with sigils. But it's much more interesting than a street of chain stores.
And then I came across another shop. Big Daisy Kiss. It's an "alternative artisan boutique" filled with lots of interesting things people have made. Much of it is rather lovely. And there in the window, wonder of wonders, I saw this:
I could hardly believe my good fortune and had to go round to another angle and check again that it was real.
I walked into the shop and saw all the pretty things. Much of it was prepared of course for Halloween. I am guessing the stock rotates and soon it will have changed. And then I saw this. Beautiful.
I had succeeded in my quest. That morning we had agreed that it was the easiest of the three quests so perhaps I should just aim for that one. And I had done it. Hoorah for me!
Later I triumphed again. I had decided to make an effort to find that pink flamingo. If there was one to be found - and not found in a big shop that I didn't want to enter - then I was determined to find it.
What I did find was another butterfly. Isn't this gorgeous?
Next time I will talk about my quest for a pink flamingo. There will be lots of photos because sometimes the journey is much more exciting than the destination. And sometimes - in a place like Sunderland - there can be unexpected blessings.