The morning began for part of the brood with a round of clay-pigeon shooting. I'm afraid I passed that up in favour of a lazy lie-in and the ability to let my house-guest, rosamicula, in when she arrived from London, but it was fun meeting up with glowy-cheeked ladies afterwards and hearing all about it.
Despite our plans, rosamicula wasn't actually able to get to my house to drop off her luggage during the morning in any case, due to delayed trains - which became a bit of a theme of the day. Catching up with her at the station, we found ourselves only just in time to leap on a train to York, rather than a bus which would be our only alternative for the next hour. And even the train took twice as long as usual, due to engineering works which necessitated a roundabout route.
Nonetheless, we were the first to arrive at Middlethorpe Hall, where 16 lovely ladies gathered in a private drawing-room, complete with portraits, a stag's head (though not a hen's) and a roaring fire, to giggle and chatter over afternoon tea. It was absolutely lovely, and just the perfect thing for celebrating ms_siobhan.
Once tea was over (i.e. two and a half hours later!), we proceeded on into York for champagne at kissmeforlonger's lovely flat, and then dinner at Bari's. The food here was fantastic, and rosamicula was on fine devilish form, first bowling over the waiters with her Mediterranean film-star beauty, and then deploying her feminine powers get them to bring out a cake with sparklers in it for ms_siobhan. Sitting there, I felt pleased and proud to be part of such a lovely group of warm and sparkling women - it was one of those precise and palpable moments you sometimes get in the process of settling in to a new part of the world, where you suddenly recognise how at home you have come to feel there.
Certain die-hards went on from the restaurant to continue the evening in a local goth club, but rosamicula and I decided to make sure we got ourselves on the last train of the evening, rather than take our chances with the replacement buses. It may not have been such great a decision, as after the train had set off, we learnt from an announcement that it was going to take an hour and a half to get to Leeds - nearly four times as long as usual, and surely worse even than a bus.
But it was nearly empty (other people presumably having been better informed than us about how long it would take), so we curled up in great comfort on the seats, and before long found ourselves being thoroughly entertained by a young and very drunk boy with emo hair, who was trying to explain to someone on his mobile phone where on earth he was, but was mainly just raving incoherently and declaring "I'm all alone on the train with my hat!" Eventually, the person on the other end of the phone realised that other, less drunken, people were on the carriage with him (probably from our audible peals of laughter) and made him pass the phone to us so that we could explain where his extremely inebriated brother actually was, and what station he could pick him up from. I do hope he got home safely - though in fact the last we saw of him was the back of his be-hatted head, moving rapidly in exactly the opposite direction to the station exit...
Today, we've had a lazy day drinking coffee and chatting, interspersed with a healthy romp in bright sunshine through the woods between Headingley and Meanwood. I found budding snowdrops in my garden, and we found an abandoned bandstand in the middle of the woods. And now I have Poirot and laptop and sofa, and all is right with the world.
ETA: Oh, by the way - did anyone who was in the restaurant find a purple scarf when you left? I'm pretty sure I left it on the floor by my chair. No worries if not - I think it only cost 99p in the first place. But it was deliciously soft and fluffy and a very lovely shade of purple... :-(
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