Around two years ago I managed to get back in touch with a cousin I hadn't seen for forty seven years. We'd corresponded now and again but hadn't met each other since I was fourteen and Alma was almost thirty when she'd moved away after her marriage.
We've met up fairly regularly since then, usually in a different town around midway between our homes, as we live a long way apart, to spend the day together.
The government incentive of free bus travel for pensioners has made it relatively easy to go long distances by bus with a saving on fares we couldn't usually afford. Once you've learned how to figure out the bus timetables it's a doddle!
Any way yesterday was a 'meet up' day and Alma said she'd have a surprise for me when she arrived.
The surprise intrigued me and I didn't sleep very well eventually drifting off early in the morning to the sound of rain against the window pane.
I awoke to rain, lots of rain and it didn't ease off as I began my long bus journey in fact it seemed to get heavier the further north I went.
I have to travel around half an hours drive to catch the bus and then the bus journey itself is an hour and a half so it's quite a long time sitting...luckily I managed to stayed dry so at least I wasn't sat in damp clothes.
My bus arrival time was about twenty minutes before Alma's and after alighting at the bus terminal in the pouring rain and very cold wind waiting those twenty minutes seemed like forever as there was no nice warm waiting room to sit in just a plastic covered walkway, with a few damp hard wooden seats, that the wind whistled up and chilled me to the marrow. The rain gregariously splashed down into large puddles and dripped monotonously from the canopy...even the bus station was deserted!
Then all of a sudden it became alive as buses began to arrive, five of them, all with steamed up windows, parking up and disgorging their bundled up passengers who invariably rushed off in the direction of the town, the only bright spot their different brightly coloured or patterned umbrellas bobbing in the rain.
It was hard spotting Alma as everyone either had brollys or hoods up so their faces were obscured but then I spotted her at almost the same instant she spotted me, her umbrella had blown inside out and she was struggling with it, eventually she righted it and crossed the wide wet bus bay to greet me cheerfully with 'What a day to pick'...she wasn't wrong!
And then suddenly I was grasped by the hands by another lady I hadn't noticed who proclaimed 'I'd have known you anywhere, you're the spit of your mother'...it was Alma's sister, Stella, who I hadn't seen since I was fourteen!
What a wonderful surprise!
By the time we'd hugged and said our hello's the bus station was once again deserted and Stella's next words were plaintive, 'A hot drink, I really need a hot drink' , it encompassed us all so we made our way down into town and found a lovely old pub called the King's Head which was serving morning coffee.
After finding a quiet, out of the way corner table we ordered hot drinks and toasted sandwiches and got down to the business of getting to know each other again.
The time seemed to pass very quickly as we reminisced and looked at photographs we'd brought with us and suddenly we'd been there almost two hours...lol...
Well, we braved the rain and wind and tried to appreciated the lovely old town we were in but eventually the weather defeated us and we retreated to an old church and looked around it. It seemed warm and welcoming at first but as our damp clothing began to steam we became aware it was actually cold in there so went outside and visited some of the tiny shops along the main street before making a very easy decision to appreciate an establishment with the welcoming name of The Cosy Cafe...and it was, very welcoming, very cosy and above all warm!
We enjoyed another hour of chat over toasted teacakes and a hot drink served in proper old fashioned china cups and saucers with matching plates, sugar bowl, milk jug and teapot...
The time was marching on and by now it was getting to bus departure time.
Alma and Stella's leaving time was twenty minutes before mine so after hugs, kisses, saying goodbyes and waving them off I sat in the same old bleak and windy covered walkway to await my bus.
The rain was still persisting down and the bus was warm and welcoming...well, it seemed like that at first but as the journey wore on it began to feel chilly and damp and as I reached my destination my feet were like little blocks of ice and even my nose was cold!
My DH was waiting to pick me up and, anticipating I'd be cold and wet had the car heater on full blast which was very much appreciated I can tell you.
My journey wasn't over as we were still half an hours drive from home so we stopped and bought fish & chips with mushy peas, which we ate with our fingers, in the car with the windows fogged up and the rain beating a tattoo on the roof...delicious and the best fish and chips we'd had for ages!
I never even thought about my Spark diet then...lol...
Eventually we reached home. I was warm, dryish, hunger sated and very happy.
I had a nice warm shower, got into my PJs while DH made me a cup of low calorie hot chocolate and I relaxed by the fire and reflected on a wonderful day...rain, wind and cold it didn't matter, I'd thoroughly enjoyed it!
One last footnote, it rained all night and today it's still raining as I type
The deserted (except for me) wet and windy bus station with it's covered walkway.
Stella and Alma inside the warm and welcoming Cosy Cafe.
Wonderful ladies, Stella is eighty four and Alma seventy nine.
I'm a spring chicken compared to them and I hope I'm still as sprightly at their age...somehow I doubt it!!