Tuesday, 25th April, 2023

[Day 1135]

Today has been one those really life-affirming days, as I shall shortly recount. Last night, fairly late in the evening and with a very heavy heart, I emailed the members of the ‘Old Fogies’ dining club (ex-University of Winchester colleagues) with the news that I would not be able to make our planned reunion in Winchester the next day (being today, Tuesday) But Meg and I felt really buoyed up by meeting for afternoon tea with our new-found friends yesterday and Meg felt that she was quite up to making the trip today. We decided to see how Meg felt in the morning after a night’s sleep whilst I did some research on nearby car parks nearby to the restaurant. The restaurant was more than helpful as its website had a clickable link with the location of nearby car parks. There was one about half a kilmetre away with space for over 400 cars so I suspect there would always be some spaces available in this. The car park itself was probably built to serve the needs of the County Council Offices which used, when I worked in Winchester, to have premises almost adjacent to this multistorey. Much later in the night, I accessed my emails and was incredibly touched by the very heartwarming emails I received in response to my earlier email notifying colleagues of my non-attendance. So encouraged by this, Meg and I were quite keen to make the journey by car and it was a beautiful fine spring day which ought to make motoring easy. The journey itself was uneventful apart from a section where they were renewing the central reservation barrier and had squeezed the other lanes so that the presence of large lorries adjacent to one encouraged a degree of nervousness. When we got to half way point we stopped and had our elevenses in one of the numerous parking areas which are quite common along the dual carriage way of the A34. The only slightly unfortunate blip on this journey was trying to make a toilet visit at one of those service areas where you actually have to leave your the carriageway to access a service area which is off a roundabout off another roundabout i.e. not properly contiguous to the carriage way as is the case with ‘proper’ service stations along the course of a motorway. I must say I have a particular dislike of wat I might call these indirect service areas. My dislike was intensified when the one that Meg and I decided to access seemed completely closed with cones across the access roads, yellow stickers over the doors and occasional personnel calling out to the odd intrepid souls like ourselves that the whole site was closed. But the car park for which we were destined had a post code which meant that our SatNav could locate it easily which it did. When we got to the carpark, we found one space available on the ground floor which I seized but then quickly worked out why the space had been left vacant as once you were in the space, its proximity to a pillar meant you could not actually get out of the car. But I looked across one of the roadways and noticed someone who looked as though they were just about to leave as they seemed to be fiddling about in the space. Eventually, though, it transpired that it was one of our University of Wichester friends, parking his car for the same lunch appointment. Needless to say we were both delighted, and amazed, to see each other as of all of the people you might meet in the carpark, we were not expecting to see each other. Then we made our way as a trio to the restaurant which was very helpful as Meg had two males to support her over any tricky kerbs.

When we got to the restaurant, we were greeted with mutual delight by one of our number who was there early and, of course, having received and replied to my email of last might was not expecting to see us there. I think we were a group of 8-9 altogether and I thnk it is fait to say that a marvellous time was had by all as we enjoy each other’s company so much. Incidentally, this little dining club started off as a joint birthday meal some twenty years ago as by coincidence there were about 5 of us who all had birthdays in May and pretty close to each other. Of course, over the years we have all gradually relinquished our links with the University of Winchester but, as a matter of interest, I wonder how many groups of ex-colleagues are still in regular contact on a twice yearly basis after so many years? I am sure that it must happen but I do not suppose it is a very common event. We finished off the meal at about 3.00 having started at 12.15 and we made our way home in glorious sunshine. The only thing to mar my journey home was a warning light indicating a low trye pressure. I called in at a garage attached to a service area and ensured that all of the tyres were correctly inflated. But the warning light did not go out on the dashboard – I have a vague memory of this having happened before but I think the not very intelligent sensor system does not reset itself once a warning light as been triggered even though the type pressures have been checked. I think a quick visit to QuickFit might ensue tomorrow morning.