Brilliant sunshine greeted me when I woke up this morning – and I found myself wondering why on earth we had decided yesterday to cancel our bird-watching group’s monthly ramble planned for today.
Fifteen minutes later, I thought again. The skies darkened, the wind howled down the chimney and the rain lashed at the windows as if it had a personal grievance against
them for sheltering us from its excesses. Perhaps it had been a decision well-made, I conceded.
And anyway, were we not meeting up at the Bluebird
Cafe at 12 in any case to enjoy a post-Christmas lunch together? We might not see any birds but we would be in good company – and we could watch the steel-grey waves crashing into the shore from the safety of the cafe.
Mr B grumbled a bit about driving me to our chosen venue. It’s a bit of a convoluted route and easy to get lost along the way. However, if he wanted the use of the car this morning, there was
no option so he gave in with a certain lack of good grace. Inevitably, our short journey was marked by enforced stops at every set of traffic lights and more than one encounter with a “mad driver.” As my dear Mum always used to say, whenever
I set out to drive anywhere: “Remember, dear, they’re all mad except you!” I never knew if this was a cautionary warning or meant to reassure me. I still don’t. Mr B definitely goes along with the premise that every other driver
on the road but him is mad, bad and dangerous to know.
The car park at the Bluebird Cafe was dotted with deep puddles, further incurring Mr B’s wrath as
he manoeuvred between them. I waved him off with the promise that I would do my very best to find someone among our merry Birdie Band to give me a lift home, thus saving him the bother of coming back out to collect me. Moving from two cars to one on
my retirement was undoubtedly a sensible move financially but requires a large helping of compromise, not to mention goodwill on both our parts.
It was surprising
just how many people were patronising the Bluebird Cafe on such a blustery winter’s day. The ten of us crowded round one of the long, wooden tables and ordered our food. Sandwiches for some, jacket potatoes for others, fish and chips for
three of us. My meal was enormous so I ate till I felt full and left the rest, then spent the remainder of lunchtime feeling guilty about the waste of food. Everyone agreed that this was down to having grown up in times of rationing, under the influence
of mothers who would never forget queuing for scarce food during the war. We exchanged stories about the leftovers which our mothers would never throw away - the few spoonfulls of custard, the quarter of a sausage. We all had a tale or two to tell.
One thing you need to know about the Birdie Band is that we don’t just talk about, well, birds. We talk about anything and everything and, of all the groups I have joined over the last eighteen months,
it is the one which guarantees the best, most interesting conversations. Today we talked about religion, the Troubles in Northern Ireland in the old days, the influences which shape our characters and the state of the NHS. One of my companions
asked me if I used to be a nurse. She wouldn’t tell me why she thought that. I decided to take it as a compliment.
Yes, more than one person
offered me a lift home when I tentatively asked if anyone was going either in my direction, or in the direction of a bus stop. I was even offered lifts to our next Birdie Band meet-up by three different people which pleased Mr B no end when I reported back.
I read in the newspaper that today has been labelled “Blue Monday” because it’s the day when many people feel seriously depressed. Apparently it’s
something to do with Christmas being over, credit card bills landing on the door-mat and there being rather a long time till Spring is sprung. The so-called experts who have reached this conclusion have apparently based it on the number of down-beat
posts or tweets on social media.
I may be bucking the trend but, thanks to the Birdie Band, I have had a rather splendid day.