Friday, 31 May 2019

The Farmer, The Fox, The Chicken And The Cabbage

This popular maths puzzle appears in many forms [see here] It is a fox or a wolf, a chicken, duck or goat, a cabbage, bag of grain or sack or beans. But the premise is the same - the farmer only has a small boat, and has to figure out how to get everything safely across the river.
Although it was a Bank Holiday on Monday, Bob decided against taking a full day off, for various reasons.
He did take me out [to the Hospital so we could visit sick church members together!] and he did buy me an ice cream when the van came up our road in the afternoon. So I am not complaining.
But in Tuesday we did take some time out. We went over to IKEA for breakfast. There were a couple of small things needed for Cornerstones, so we planned an early start, full breakfast [with Family Card Discount and free coffees] then back home by lunchtime.
These things never turn out as you expect...
A while ago we realised we would need to replace the Cornerstones sofa sometime soon - and we wanted a sofa bed in order to accommodate overnight visitors. We'd been looking around - and found The One. It ticked all the boxes [size, style and price] but as I'm not teaching at the minute, we decided to defer the purchase for a while.
But as we strolled round the store on Tuesday, and sat on the sofa again just to reassure ourselves about it, I spotted a yellow ticket. Oh no!!
We found a very helpful assistant. Yes, that style was being discontinued in July. Yes they did have the one we wanted in the warehouse... frantic mental arithmetic, could we juggle things and get it now? [it was actually a little cheaper than when we'd seen it last year]
The assistant said she was really surprised, it had been selling really well and was very popular. OK, we will buy it now, we said. Do you need to arrange delivery, it will be 3 -5 days? No, we have a big car, said Bob confidently. In his defence, the Skoda will seat 7 adults comfortably [he took six deacons in it last autumn to a church event!]
We went down to Collections, and by the time we arrived, they had the three boxes, plus bag of cushions, on a trolley, ready and waiting. We wheeled the trolley to the carpark.
This is when we discovered 3 IKEA boxes is not equivalent to 7 adults. The first box went in. But the next box [same size] would not go above it or beside it. The thinner but longer box went in [after reclining the passenger seat] and the bag of cushions. But one box stayed on the trolley. We tried again - every permutation, all the doors open to allow every possible manoeuvre...
On the roof? I suggested. No! said Bob, we don't have the roof bars[currently at a friend's house and he is in Austria for a week] So as the farmer, fox, chicken and cabbage could not all travel together, I was left to guard the final box while Bob returned to Ferndown, unloaded everything and came back again.
I tried to be cheerful - but I had no book, and no knitting to occupy myself. I sent Steph a message about my plight, and referred to the old maths puzzle, saying I'd been left behind like the old chicken. Quick as a flash came her reply, witty as ever. "Eat the cabbage!"
I wheeled the trolley back to the Collection Point. The assistants were puzzled, they had not that long ago waved us goodbye. "Don't laugh" I said "But you see..." They put the trolley in the back area, and said it would be safe there till I collected it later.
I went up to the restaurant and had a cup of coffee and almond cake [better than uncooked cabbage]
Bob's round trip took about 1¾hours. 
He found me in the restaurant and we went and collected some lunch. Halfway through lunch, he suddenly said "Erm, where's the big box?" "Oh, I left it out in the car park on the trolley" I said nonchalantly "I figured it was too big and heavy to get nicked"  [then I 'fessed up, and said it was safe in the care of Lizzie downstairs]
Now of course, we have to work out how and when to get three large boxes [and a bag of cushions] to Norfolk. I suspect it will be a slow process, one box at a time on our next few visits...


  1. for you to eat almond cake sounds vaguely autosarcophagic! Hope it was good.

  2. Well, now, what else would you eat other than almond cake? LOL!

  3. I'm pondering the name for a collection of 6 Deacons in a Skoda!

    1. That sounds like a great competition for a church magazine! Looking at FCs erudite comment, how about autohexadiaconus?


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