I am sitting in my car outside Durrington on Sea railway station waiting for the 11.43 train from London Victoria. I have arrived early, as is my wont, to make sure I can park right outside the station so I have almost
ten minutes to wait. I therefore decide to clear the small compartment just in front of the gear stick as part of my current de-cluttering craze. So far this has been confined to the house and garage but I see no reason why I shouldn’t branch out into
my car while I have the time and the opportunity.
The first piece of paper is an ages old email from my older brother providing directions to the house he doesn’t
live in anymore. I decide that this can go. It isn’t too difficult a decision. Next I find a map of Woking with my brother’s former house marked with a circle in blue pen. As my brother and his wife still live in Woking, I reckon this might come
in useful (provided I can find their new house on the map) so I place it on the passenger seat as the first item in my “keep pile.”
Then I pull
out several post it notes, some yellow, some pink, some blue, all with telephone numbers written on them though, unfortunately, not accompanied by names. Reluctantly I consign them to the “rubbish pile”, next to the “keep pile.” Finally
I have reached the last item - and what a lovely, sentimental find it is. It is a slip of card, decorated with a red rose, giving instructions to guests invited to the wedding of My Boy and the Darling Daughter in Law, nearly fifteen years ago. This
find proves two things: (i) that my car, the Grand Old Lady as I call her, is very old; and (ii) that I have probably never, ever, emptied out this particular compartment. Before I can contemplate what this tells me about myself, I hear the 11.43 trundle
into the station, bang on time. I push everything back into the compartment (one of our visitors will need to travel in the passenger seat so can’t be expected to sit on my rubbish / valuable finds) and jump out of the car. Okay, I don’t exactly
jump but I do wriggle myself free as quickly as possible.
As the train pulls out of the station, I can see our visitors making their way long the opposite platform.
“Hiya!” I yell, gesticulating wildly towards the steps over the railway line, to make sure they know where they are going. It doesn’t occur to me that, having spent the last nine weeks travelling around Europe and presumably successfully
finding their way wherever they wanted to go, they probably won’t have too much trouble sussing out the best way to exit Durrington on Sea railway station. They turn and wave at me, broad smiles spread across their faces as they see who it is yelling
at them. Hopefully there can be no doubt about the warmth of my welcome.
Our dear friends hail from Across The Pond. We have known them for close on twenty years,
since the year 2000 when I took part in a Business Exchange and relocated myself to California for three amazing weeks. We have kept in touch ever since and they always count us into their itinerary when they are travelling on their European holidays. To Salzburg
to visit Mozart’s birthplace - tick. To Barcelona to ramble along Las Ramblas - tick. To Worthing to catch up on all the news with Mr B and me - tick, tick, tick.
In conversation, it takes me a little while to remember that our downstairs cloakroom is “the rest room” and that our back garden is “the yard” - but that aside there is no danger of our jaws rusting. As well as sharing all our
family news (our friends have a second grandchild on the way which is most exciting ) we delve into politics, eager to ascertain each other’s views on The Donald, the Brexit Business and the marriage of Meghan and Harry. We have a fascinating discussion
on whether, had George 111 taken a different, less high-handed tack way back in the day, America might not have struck out for independence. I love those “sliding doors” conversations, all those “what if” and “just suppose”
I take them to visit my church and Field Place, one of Worthing’s hidden gems and the venue for two of the happiest occasions of my life - the
wedding of the Eldest of the Darling Daughters and our Ruby Wedding. We finish off with a roast lamb dinner and, just before I drive them to the station, a photograph in the back garden. Sorry, yard!
That was yesterday; today our friends visited Windsor Castle and counted themselves lucky indeed to see Her Maj and Co setting off for Royal Ascot. Another day, yet another (right Royal) welcome.
Until the next time!