I got lost. No big surprise. I often get lost - more often than not, if the truth be known.

I’d be a good, confident driver, if only I knew where I was going. Which might be a metaphor for the country, now I come to think on it. There wasn’t time for any of that philosophical stuff though – because I was lost.

No reliable signage to lead the way, no help from sheep and geese in the road ahead. Lovely landscapes, bathed in evening sunshine but frustration was setting in and Google seemed to be having a laugh.

So, impatiently and with fingers crossed, I turned right. At Hethersgill.

There’s another metaphor. Not Hethersgill, obviously. Impatience, I mean.

You get utterly fed up with drifting around for too long, getting nowhere; nothing and no one to show you the correct route and you make a decision to turn sharply and hope for the best.

Then, even more lost than before, you regret it.

Well, that was my experience anyway. Heading out to meet the lovely ladies of the Women’s Institute Border Group, I was afraid of being late – which would have been rude. The girls had invited me to speak to them about the media. Newspapers principally. To start with a badly missed deadline would have been embarrassing, to say the least.

I stopped to ask a dog walker if she could work out where I had gone wrong.

“I’m afraid I’m very good at getting lost,” I said.

“Most people up here are,” she said. “Sounds like you shouldn’t have turned right when you did.”

These metaphors were stacking up.

Anyway, she sent me on my way with a better idea of direction and confirmation that I’d find no signs. Note to self – trust real people before internet advice. People, particularly the ones with dogs, are infinitely more reliable than Google.

Pitching up with minutes to spare, a fistful of scribbled notes and silent prayers of thanks to the gods of merciful rescue, I was met with smiles and knowing nods.

“Bet you got lost,” said Margaret.

“I’m known for it,” I said. “I wasn’t even sure I was at the right place when I pulled in. When you said village hall, I sort of expected a village.”

She nodded sagely.

“The members from Nicholsforest are here. Strictly speaking, Nicholsforest isn’t actually a place.”

Still a lot to learn, then. There’s always something else to learn. When you spend so much of your time lost – with a dodgy sense of direction.

All went swimmingly, nevertheless, with much discussion about who to trust in media for unbiased, straightforward information and analysis; the vital role of local newspapers in rural life; resistance to change; the unreliability of social media and a dislike of being told what to think and how to think it by national media outlets with set agendas.

Public transport issues, country living and interconnecting communities were up for a chewing over too. These were strong, sympathetic women with purpose and a willingness to pitch in where help was needed.

Some laughs too. And tea. And home-baked biscuits. I had a fine time and remain grateful to the Border Group girls for their welcome, their splendid hospitality – and Sheila.

“Follow me when you’re ready to leave,” she said. “I’m going to Brampton. I’ll lead you home.”

I was reminded – as if I’d ever forgotten – how the Women’s Institute has long been and still remains a force to be reckoned with. A sisterhood with oomph. Non-political, non-religious and sufficiently influential to make prime ministers sweat profusely into their shirts... ask Tony Blair.

And so it happened, as I followed Sheila home, that I pondered the possibilities of being lost – metaphorically.

Sometimes it can be okay to be drifting - your destination seemingly a long way away. Turning sharply in frustration is forgivable and natural under extreme circumstances.

So long as you get there in the end, trusting real people to put you on the right road to find good women who don’t judge you by your mistakes, flaws and faults.

And if you find a Sheila to lead you home again, so much the better. Thank you, ladies. You’re fabulous.