Today was a day which was long planned for and anticipated and we hoped that all would turn out for the best. We slept a little later than we had anticipated but nonetheless we got up at 7.30 and I had a wonderfully refreshing shower whilst getting Meg organised with various creams and lotions that she still needs after her little episode of prickly heat. We went down into the breakfast room which is magnificently large and ornate that may well seat hundreds if one were to be having a full scale formal dinner. But breakfast is always quite a relaxed occasion and there were only two or three couples in the dining room when we entered. This hotel used to house the Air Ministry during WWII and they kept it on for several years after the war ended until the early 1950’s. When my mother was alive, I am sure that she had mentioned to me that she worked in this building, requisitioned by the military and one could imagine that the dining room could have been a high operations centre, such as one sometimes sees in black and white films illustrating the second World War. So I started to think to myself that there was a fair probability that my mother had actually worked in the very room where I was having breakfast, probably some eighty years previously. This was quite a thought, actually, and I did feel a slight link between the point where biography and history intersect. I got into conversation with one of the hotel staff about the little tea party we are to hold for my sister tomorrow afternoon and was actually offered a choice of venues. We had a look at several alternatives and it looks as though tomorrow we can have our little tea party in rather an individualised location.
Today was the day when we had organised to see some old friends that we have not seen in the flesh for several years now, although we have been in contact by message and email. We decided to walk up through the town and to have a coffee in a rather specialised little coffee house quite near to the station. This we did and the station proved to be pretty close by. So we organised the purchase of a copy of a newspaper and made it to the station in plenty of time – so much so, that we actually caught a train half an hour earlier than we had intended. The QR codes that had been generated for us when we bought the tickets a few days earlier worked unproblematially. So we arrived in York station with plenty of time to spare but this we did not mind as it gave us plenty of time to find our chosen luncheon venue. We did not know precisely where this was but we knew if was very near the station on one of the approach roads to the station. We consulted a street guide at the entrance to the station concourse and found our chosen lunch venue incredibly easily. We arrived there way before the time we had agreed with our friends but they too arrived early so we were delighted to make contact with each other well before midday. After we had had a wonderful natter, we ordered a light lunch which proved to be excellent under the circumstances – Meg and I ordered a roasted tenderstem broccoli and edamame bean risotto which turned out to be absolutely delicious. But we hardly had any time to contemplate the food as we were excitedly catching up on all of the family news and other domestic news since we last met. Our friends are avid Europeans (having worked in both Germany and Holland and the wife of the couple is actually Dutch in any case) so we spent a certain amount of time discussing politics, national and international. The time actually flew by and soon it was time for us to part. However, we intend to keep on meeting at least once a year. There is going to be the world premiere of Alan Ayckbourn’s 87th new play (‘Family album’) during the month of September in Scarborough so this might be the occasion of another visit ‘up north’ if we and our friends can coordinate our diaries. We walked back to the station and caught a train that was waiting for us in the station. Then, arriving back in Harrogate, we had a very pleasant walk back through the town (largely downhill) and got back to the hotel where evidently we regaled ourselves wih a cup of tea. Then I made a quick call to my sister who had just returned from a little break in the Lake District and we checked out all of our arrangements for our little birthday tea tomorrow afternoon. We will also meet with our niece and her family who are taking tea with us and we trust that the arrangements that we have put in place for tomorrow will work out as smoothly as everything has done today.