So Verity kindly invited me to her Advent Tea Party this weekend, by email or Twitter or something some weeks ago. My uncertainty as to the method of this invitation is key to the story. Keen to chat to Verity in real life for more than about 15 seconds, which is all we managed when we first met up, I eagerly accepted and started planning a little outing to Oxford.
Then Gina at Something Literary very kindly donated some Austen bits and pieces for the Advent with Austen giveaway (details to follow). Gina’s shop in Steyning is not all that far from where I grew up, so I thought a little trip down might be order, but Gina only opens the shop on certain Saturdays (as well as during the week) and so I started thinking about combining a trip down to Steyning with one to Oxford and doing all my bookish socialising in one day. Then it was all a bit much and too far and I got Gina to post the prizes up to me in London.
After a difficult morning involving tea, tears and tantrums (all on my part), The Physicist convinced me to follow through with my plan to go up to Oxford yesterday to attend Verity’s party and catch up with a few friends. I was heard to say “I don’t want to go, but I’ve said I’ll go and I don’t want to let her down”. Among various permutations of “I don’t want to go” (told you it was a difficult morning yesterday).
So we get to Oxford at just before 3 yesterday afternoon and knowing that the party was from 2-5 and a little way out of Oxford, I hopped in a cab at the station and off we went to Kidlington. Pulling up outside the house in question I could see some fairy lights and a few cars on the street and recognised Mr W, Verity’s husband, from the wedding photos she shared on her blog, standing outside. So out I hop, accost the poor man with “You must be Ken…” and he takes it all in his stride and into the house I am led… “Verity, Yvann’s here”…
There’s a moment’s silence from the living room…
“Yvann! A day early!”
This is even funnier if you know that I am obsessively organised; my nickname (behind my back) has been The General for a long time, I am always bang on time, and one of my favourite websites is basically a glorified to-do list. This is pretty mortifyingly embarrassing for me right now (or at 3.05pm yesterday).
To Mr & Mrs W’s credit, neither batted an eyelid, I was welcomed into their lovely home and fed tea and excellent homemade biscuits for the rest of the afternoon and we chatted at length about books, physics, the vagaries of going into companies as a consultant/auditor (surprisingly similar, mostly a dislike of windowless meeting rooms), what’s up with those neutrinos, triathlons, Couch to 5k and a zillion things beside.
I had a fantastic afternoon chatting with two lovely people whom I wouldn’t have got to know half so well had I been on time for the party!
Verity and Ken, I hope you have a lovely Advent Tea Party today, and I promise never to show up on your doorstep a day early ever again!