Sunday, 31 July 2011
Every summer, for a very (very) long time, a few of us have gone out for a lovely meal, and cemented our friendship from the 70's! Last year, everyone came to Spain but this year we met near Stafford.
There was the eternal 3, Alison, Tracey and myself, along with Tina, Janet and Penny (we hadn't seen Penny since we organised a big reunion at Tracey's parents house).
I was lucky enough to be able to stay overnight at Alisons, so, Mum agreed to drop me off in the centre of Stafford, and Alison picked me up there. As we waited in the car park, Mum asked me what Alison drove - I had no idea at all - a big, dark, estate car of somesort probably. Just then a white sporty number went by, with a blonde driving. Mum flashed her wipers at the car, but nobody noticed! Yes, it was Ali, in a car befitting her managerial status!
We had fun drinking while getting ready (true chav style) and desparately trying to help Tina negotiate the traffic jam that is the M6 on a Friday evening. She arrived with just enough time to change before the taxi arrived.
The taxi had set off from Stafford, via Old Croft Road in Walton-on-the-Hill (where we all went to school) and picked up Janet and Penny, then into Rowley Park to pick up Tracey, and was then comming to get the 3 of us from Penkridge before taking us all to Brewwod for our meal. As the driver pootled along, the 3 of them chatering away, Tracey asked where he was going, "Brocton" was the reply from Janet. Tracey pointed out that Alison had left there some 25 years ago and now lived in Penkridge! The poor taxi driver must have wondered what he was in for. After a scenic route to Penkridge, he drove up the lanes, with Tracey giving him directions. She then pointed out which drive to go up.
At this point - Alison's phone rang. It was Tracey, but she couldn't hear Ali. It was relly funny, we were laughing as Alison kept shouting 'Trace' down the phone, but it was pretty pointless. She could hear Tracey shouting 'Ali' as she was looking around. There was some level of confusion, when Alison then heard another voice... Tracey was at the wrong farm! She had turned up one drive too early, got out, and was wondering around the wrong house, looking for us. She noticed Ali had a new kitchen, and had changed her carpets, but thought it very odd at the lack if furniture upstairs (the property in question belogs to a single man) even the bathroom was different! When she got back outside, there was a strange man outside the barn, asking what she wanted. Thankfully, he knew/understood what had happened, and put everyone right. The funniest part, was that we had heard this over the phone, so we knew what had happened, before they arrived just a few minutes later! We were all laughing to the point of tears, as we drove to the restaurant.
We had a lovely meal. It was an italian style restaurant, with a glass of wine included in the price of the meal. The food was excellent, but, as Tracey ahd ordered 2 bottles of particularly good wine, the house wine was a bit of a disappointment (a little unfair - as there was nothing wrong with it, it was just the comparrison that made it seem poor). I had had enough wine by the time we got our 'free' glass, so I casually moved my glass next to Alison's empty one, she didn't notice, and casually drank mine. Penny saw me do it and was quietly laughing.
The restaurant was meant to shut at about 11pm, and the taxi was due to pick us up later from a different pub. At the end of the meal, the girls all insisted that I go to the toilet. What? I didn't need to go, but they made such a fuss, that I went. When I tried to come back, Tracey made me stay in the corridor. What on earth were they doing? I wondered if they were juggling my share of the bill (with me being poor), but I wanted to tell them that it was ok, I could actually afford it this time! Eventually, I was allowed back (but not before I had confused the staff, by waiting outside an empty toilet cubile!), whereupon I was presented with a beautiful Pandora necklace, to celebrate my 50th birthday. It's not for a little while yet, but I will be the only one of us that hits it this year, the others all being 1962 babies! (hmm, Janet isn't actually 49 yet!) We also had a bottle of champagne to celebrate, that staff keeping the restaurant open especially for us. I cried, as I hadn't expected anything like this at all. (It turned out, that as Mum and I had walked around Stafford that afternoon, we had almost passed Tracey while she was buying my gift - had I looked into the relevant shop and seen her, I would certainly have gone in and joined her and possibly helped her choose it - presumably 'for her sister'!)
As we sat there celebrating, our taxi home drove past the window! We had already paid, so we raced out, and down the street to the other pub. Half way there, I realised that I had forgotten my bolero jacket, so I had to run back. Thank goodness I had flat shoes on that time! Alison had managed to attract the driver, and we all jumped in. All of us very merry and happy. What a laugh on the way home! We had a different driver this time, and he was killing himself listening to us. He was really lovely and joined in with many of the comments. He didn't stand a chance - 6 women against 1 man!
It was terribly sad to separate at the end of the night. I didn't get a chance to see much of Tracey. Normally, she spends some time in Spain in the summer, but sadly not this year. Never mind, we will be able to make up time next year.