Saturday dawned sunny and hot. Took it easy in the morning. Was tempted to laze around in the afternoon too, but didn't. Joined Georgie and Don for a car trip to a private house somewhere outside Petersfield. Apparently an old chum of Don's (who runs a company that organises marquees'n'stuff for special occasions, like birthdays and weddings) thought we'd like to see his latest creation. Have to admit that I reckoned if you've seen one marquee, you've seen 'em all, but I was wrong, very wrong. When I saw the marquees and the amount of effort he and his team had put into creating the perfect party setting, I was gobsmacked. Truly impressive. Turned out the client (a charming, recently widowed lady) had recently downsized (crikey, how big was her previous place?!) and wanted a house-warming party combined with an 18th birthday party for her daughter. I think about 200 guests were expected that evening. Perfect weather too, so I expect a few teenage revellers ended up in the swimming pool. Hope they didn't end up in the lake 'cos it's full of damned great fish (carp?) and apparently hasn't been fished for over twenty years. The scene looked impressive enough in daylight but really impresses at night (so we were told) when the lighting's switched on. Although I saw trails of little lights along the fencetops and around the garden perimeter, I can only imagine the spectacular effect. Hope the guests appreciated Don's chum's work. Ooh, how the other half live, eh?
After hanging around there for about an hour while the finishing touches were being done, we headed to a country pub for a pint and a bite. Again, gobsmacked. The perfect pub (did an internet search afterwards and it's The Tree Horseshoes in 'Elsted', not 'Elstead' - well worth a visit if you're down that way). Sat at a sunny outside table with a glorious view of the South Downs with chickens running around (not yer ordinary chickens but a rare breed with fluffy legs - comical when running) and the scent of roses in the air. Absolutely fabulous. Pubs like this (not that there are that many) are one of the few things I miss about England. Thoroughly enjoyed a pint of Young's and a ploughman's then headed for the hills opposite. Parked high in the South Downs and had a leisurely stroll. Admired the sunny views then headed back to Putney, stopping off at a huge Sainsbury's on the way. Bought grub, pillows (Georgie's been meaning to do this for ages - apparently our old ones are about twenty to thirty years old!) and a couple of bottles of champagne for tomorrow.
Sunday, once again, dawned sunny and bright (why has all this type suddenly become centred?!). Today's celebrations were my reason for the quick trip to Blighty. Forty years ago I was Best Man to my old mate Howard who married Jill. And yesterday their youngest daughter married Jamie. So, today (Sunday), they were having a joint celebration at their home in Henley. Unfortunately Don couldn't make it due to other commitments (would take too long to explain but involved her mum, mum's helper, credit card and police) so Georgie and I went there by trains and tube. Left around eleven, arrived about two-thirty - late as usual! Had an absolutely splendid time. Marvellous to see my old pals again and their grown-up kids and grandkids. The frightening thing about seeing grown-up kids is that they're living proof of how quickly time flies. Scary. Anyways, all was going swimmingly 'til I switched from Stellas to gin and tonics. Photographic evidence on Facebook indicates that this was not a wise move. Luckily, at around nineish (or was it tennish?) I was rescued by the cavalry - namely Don in her little yellow Peugeot - and driven back to Putney.
Monday was obviously a write-off.
I regained consciousness and a modicum of sobriety early on Tuesday morning at Stansted airport where I found myself in the company of Greece's Paralympians. I looked so bad that one of them offered me his wheelchair but I politely declined and staggered onwards. Miraculously made it back to Limoges, remembered to collect the dogs and drove back to the hills. Isabelle collared me for supper last night. Back in the old routine.