Today was the day when we knew that some of our close friends from Oxfordshire were due to break their journey here in the Midlands. So we had a complete change to our routines this morning. As it happened, Meg had not been feeling too well and spent the morning in bed – in the meanwhile, I raced off down to the newsagents in the car and thence to our local Waitrose. As I had gone down to town in the car, I did not bother to wear my trade-mark Australian leather hat and the newsagent almost failed to recognise me as, hatless, my appearance had changed so much. – at least I did not have a repetition of what happened last week when a 3-4 year old tugged at his mother’s arm upon seeing me in my hat and exclaimed ‘Mummy! There’a a cowboy who has lost his horse!‘ This morning when I was wondering what to wear, I looked through some of my range of shirts and reminded myself that I had a Batique shirt that I had bought when working in Indonesia – as I had not worn it for about 20 years, I thought now was quite a suitable occasion to try it on for a change. Batique shirts are meant to be worn close fitting and I must say I have probably put on a little rotundity over the course of the last 20 years but I could still get it on without every button straining at its fastening so I gave it a go. Batique designs are a little difficult to describe if you haven’t seen the design before but it is intricate, with many interlocking swirling shapes and motifs that look vaguely like flowery or fiery shapes – anyway, it is a special occasions type shirt and the Indonesians tend to wear them for particularly smart and/or formal occasions (without a tie). Dressed in this, I popped into our local Waitrose and bought a selection of breads, cheeses, patés and salads such that we could throw together a meal when my friends arrived. I needed to do a minimal degree of wiping down of our external garden furniture and then I complement the metal chairs with some large cushions that I had bought in bulk from Oxfam a year or so back and which we keep in the garage for just on those occasions when we are going to eat outside. Our friends arrived shortly after midday and I was delighted that Meg had sufficiently recovered to come downstairs and to eat a meal with us in the beautiful sunshine. Normally, I would have erected a parasol to shade the outside table and this was sorely needed today. Anyway, the last time I got out the parasol, the mice had had a good old nibble at it all the way around the edges making it look like Cinderella’s dress on a good day (and so it had to go) Today we started off in the sunshine but decided to move the whole table into the shade as the midday sun was so hot. We had a wonderful couple of hours chatting and enjoying each other’s company until was time for our friends to depart and carry on in their journey through the Midlands (where they are due to call in on another of their old friends) with their ultimate destination being Scarborough (on the basis they had never been there before).
Our avenues of unalloyed pleasure is set to continue tomorrow. We had made some tentative plans to meet with some of our Waitrose friends that we FaceTimeregularly but who we have not met face-to-face for over a year now. Tomorrow is my Pilates day which rather messes up the middle of the day- we had made some outline plans to meet in Webbs,the huge garden centre down the road, but we decided to rip those plans up and come and have some afternoon tea in our garden. Our friends had seen the outside of the house but not the inside or the garden so we are going to negotiate access for our friend’s wheelchair down the side of the house (which we think we can do with no difficulty) and eat out in the garden again. If all of this comes to nought, we still have lots of options to eat at the front of the house (as we are quite private and some of our neighbours do the same). We are looking forward very much to tomorrow and our friends are going to bring a cake and we have lots of salad-y things left from today so we shall not go hungry. I must say that I felt that Meg felt so much better having made the effort to get out of her bed and see our friends and they have certainly given her spirits a huge fillip. Whilst the weather is good, we are making the best of seeing our friends whilst we can – next Wednesday, if all goes to plan, our local Waitrose cafe may soon reopen and let us see then how many of the old crowd will reconvene.