Friday, 25 December 2015

As you get older….

Friday 11th December to Monday 14th December 2015

This weekend had long been set aside for a great chance to catch up with everyone in Stone; a chance to have a Xmas drink ( or maybe 15 Xmas drinks) as well as lunch with so many people that we have spent the last few winter’s with and whose company we have enjoyed and always will continue to enjoy.

There must be special thanks to the organisational skills which Sue is so well endowed well qualified – once a thought is suggested it literally comes together in a matter of hours.

Diane arranged the accommodation and I arranged the car hire; Phil looked after the boat for us – much appreciated.

We headed off at 7am on Friday morning (having picked the car the previous day) and headed northwards – all of the traffic heading the other way – in towards London.

We would usually take the M6 Toll road but instead veered past that and as expected there was little to no traffic – the roadworks that have plagued the M1 and M6 for so long appear to almost be at an end.

Stafford came into view and we popped into a café for a coffee before we met Andy and Sue and also their daughter Nikita (whom we hadn’t met before) for lunch at a favourite Chinese restaurant.

Afterwards we checked into the hotel and by then it was time for early doors at The Royal Exchange in Stone – it was lovely to see Michelle and Laurence behind the bar again – and nice to be remembered.
 
Just like old times again 

Jim and the very angelic Joan

Richard and Sharon

Andy telling Dot dirty jokes - again

wouldn't trust this bunch together

Obviously something very important being discussed here - for the life of
me I have no idea what it was

Butter wouldn't melt in their mouths - would it?
What is most surprising is that none have a drink in front of them!!

We didn’t stay too late, but later than we would have in the past, but it was such a great afternoon/night.
Diane made sure that she grabbed a chips and gravy on the way back – part of the reminiscing of past exploits.

Saturday was the big day; Sue had organised lunch for everybody and we only had to turn up – payment had been made; meals already ordered; so simply find a seat and a drink.
 
Table 1 - all the girls apart from two invaders - Malcolm and Gordon - must
have been told where they had to sit

All guys but Sharon snuck in there at the back - obviously the naughty boys table

....and then there were these two whacky ones - Diane and Bev

It was not a matter of being about the food, but that was very good of course, it was always primarily about the company and despite not seeing most of them for most of the year, it was, as it always should be, just like we saw them only the day before.

It did resemble a bit like an Australian BBQ – almost all of the women were on one table and the blokes on the other.

We had a couple of new ones to the whole group and so please to meet Malcolm and Marguerite from nb Old Codger – didn’t get a chance to chat a lot but glad to meet you both.

All too soon it was over and we were saying our goodbyes – it really is a great group of friends to have and to be a such a part of.

Naturally, we knew it would not / could not just with the lunch and six of us headed back to The Royal Exchange for a drink or two.

We reminded ourselves that we were without an integral couple to our group as Paul and Elaine are away in Spain at the moment – and in likelihood will be enjoying the sun for quite a bit longer – they are never ever far from our hearts.
 
We wanted Paul and Elaine to be part of it all - so a picture
on the iPad was the best that we could set up quickly

Hardy souls - continuing the tradition at the Titanic

It wasn’t too long a stay on out part at the pub – it gets harder to keep up as you get older, so we headed back.

It is a group that is hard to keep away from each other and when someone mentioned breakfast for the Sunday morning, we managed to attract 10 starters for that.

Breakfast the next morning - we must be getting old - not a hangover amongst the
lot of us

Andy took advantage of Diane's kind sharing nature -
luckily for him she didn't have a fork in her hand - else
it would have been in back of his

One thing is for certain there is a deep affection for each other that distance does not decrease and we always look forward to next we get together, but for now it was time for us, at least, to head back south and back to our boat whilst others were snug inside theirs.

The trip back was the usual M6 traffic - not moving -
and we had the rain as well

Something else I have to say, is that we noticed the difference in temperature between London and Stone – from overnight temperatures of 10-11C down to 2-3C and similarly during the day.

On Monday the car was returned, the boat was all OK – well done Phil – everything was fine – but we did spend a bit longer in bed not wanting to wake up.

As I mentioned above, it does get a bit harder to keep up as you get older.

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