Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cyber Friends and Beaujolais

Yesterday was quite an extraordinary day. Against all wise advise I went of to meet two men I had met on the internet! Not one, who I may have been able to fight off and defend myself against had he turned out to be an axe murderer but two of the beasties!

Yes! It was the day that I had long been looking forward to when we would meet! LB is over here in England with his wife and between being dragged the length and breadth of Europe and seeing more landmarks, stately homes, places of historical value and famous cities than is healthy and wise, he managed to escape the clutches of The Itinery to spend some time meeting TS and me.

It was exciting but quite nerve wracking I have to admit, we have all talked and emailed online, I have had the pleasure of speaking to LB on several occasions since he has arrived in the UK and I had made plans by telephone with TS the previous day. We had exchanged photos so we knew who to look out for (we still managed to walk past each other at the train station and when I called to say I had arrived, TS said I think you may have just passed us, we laughed, I had spotted these two who looked a little like my prey and they had spotted me!)

I had been going to drive part of the way down and I had been dreading travelling along a once familiar route full of memories but at the last minute it was decided I would travel down to the capital by train.

I love setting off anywhere and from the moment I leave my house it is part of the adventure for me, so armed with my novel and a latte I settled myself on the train for the 75 minute journey, such relief in the end that I avoided the drive.

It was surprisingly comfortable, all greeting each other and saying hello and we made our way to a Fish and Chip restaurant not far away where we fed LB his first taste of North Sea Cod and we all chatted and laughed together, very surreal when you have only ever had communication over the net.

We exchanged small gifts and LB has promised to pass on a gift from me our mutual friend Bonnie and then we stepped out into the streets of London to explore a little.

We visited Regents Park, colourful, beautiful and sadly not as sunny as it had been the previous few days so after a photo opportunity by the fountain, we sought shelter from light rain in the park cafe and chattered more over hot cups of tea.

We took a leisurely stroll the distance back to the station they had collected me from and they said they would see me off on my train.

And now for the silly bit that neither of them know till they read this and I hope it will make them smile.

I had purchased my train ticket not knowing quite how long our day would be and so had ended up with an "Off-Peak-Super-Saver" ticket. This means I can travel at the 'discounted' rate of £47 but not until after 7pm at night. Not wanting to make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about leaving me stranded at 5.15pm I insisted that they leave me to peruse the new sparkly shops at the refurbished St Pancras Station and go get their tube home.

We said our warm good byes and we all parted.

I browsed the shops a little and then decided to go and see how much it would cost me to upgrade my ticket so I might travel home on the next available train. The ebony faced man behind the ticket desk examined my ticket and punched lots of keys on his keyboard, he hmmm'd and mmmm'd and pressed a few more options. "It will cost you £67 madam" he said.

I smiled my sweetest smile and said thank you, I think I shall go an have a coffee until 7pm

I wandered back towards the shops spying a modern bright wine bar full of travellers waiting, meeting and passing the time I thought I would go in there, it was after all around 5.45 by now and quite a decent time to consume alcohol not accompanying food!

I was served straight away by a tiny attractive very french barman and I ordered a large glass of red wine.
He asked which one in a thick accent and I told him I trusted his selection. "But vot du you like? *****? or ******? Fruity? ******? Fullbodied?"

As it was only fruity or full bodied that I could make out I smiled sweetly once again (I was making a habit of it today!) and said fruity would be wonderful. "Beaujolais?" Perfect I said with confidence.

He presented me with my glass of lovely 'large' glass of wine. Oh the glass was large alright but to me it was half empty!!

"Zat vill be £7.10" he crooned in his thick accent

I placed my most serene look on my face selected a crisp new £10 note from my purse and passed it to him with grace (trying to keep the 'I can get 2 bottles for that price' look out of my eyes)

I took a seat half way inside the bar and settled myself. I took out my book and sipped my expensive 'large' glass of Beaujolais, I silently toasted LB and TS and smiled to myself as I enjoyed the last remnants of my adventure until my 7.15 departure back to the real world.

Cheers guys and thank you for a wonderful day