Not-so-small Visitors

Taking advantage of rapid testing and eased meeting restrictions we played host to Lady M’s neice and nephew this afternoon to finally swap Christmas presents. If you’re spotting a theme to recent meetings, then well done, it’s entirely deliberate.

Unsurprisingly, they’ve grown in the year since we last saw them. They’re just on the cusp of overtaking Lady M in the height stakes – as you might expect from a 12 and 13 year old. There’s starting to be hints of the adults they’ll grow to be, but the excitement of getting delayed presents doesn’t bypass anyone, and so the air was pleasantly full of chatter and the ripping of paper while it lasted.

We mostly got them books and dice for D&D along with a plush dicebag monster each for those interested.

And now they’re off and away home, and I’ve got a bit time to check all’s ready for tonight’s game which will be streamed on as usual. See you there.

Christmas Eve

“They read your site you know” I was warned – albeit a couple of days ago – of a vicar joining us for a family Christmas Eve meal at a favourite restaurant. I never know quite what to make of comments like that. The site is here to be read: it’s kind of the point of it really.

Today’s grand meal at The Italian Orchard has been a set piece of gathering together to enjoy fine food, good wine, and good company. Even with my mother deciding to stay home as a winter cold triggered her asthma there were eight of us around the table and we all enjoyed the little bubble of relative luxury and pampering that such a setting allows.

Writing and drawing? That’ll be me then.

The warning – such as it was – came of the other family joining us, the vicar of the parish that my parents are part of and her husband and son. Quite what this warning was meant to highlight is something if which I’m unsure: I’m told that my writing was found enjoyable, even if the route by which my blog was directed to her attention is as yet unclear.

“I love your drawings” I was told – and so we went from there. As the afternoon drew on my fingers began twitching for paper, so Lady M provided a notebook and I doodled away to let the daemons out – but quite why a warning was required in the first place I’m still not entirely sure. Perhaps there was a concern that I would be taken aback by someone knowing something of me – and of all the many things I talk about here it was nice to have it just be about my need to draw and illustrate.

My biggest frustrations come from having to throttle my creative impulses, so talking about my process, both conscious and unconscious, was relatively relaxing and eased us then into our respective small huddles if conversation as we indulged in the food and atmosphere before us.

All in all, talking about my artwork rather than my stories, or my relationships was probably the least contentious approach for all concerned. Perhaps the warning was more one to me of keeping the conversation to safer waters than delving into polyamory, mental health, or any other aspects of life around the dinner table.

Who knows – it was an odd injunction but a lovely meal and set of conversations where grand nonsense flowed and a great time was had.

And now for a quiet chill out and companionable silence as Lady M and I nurse our cuppas and collapse a while.

Freshly Recharged

I’ve had a lovely weekend, and even better it feels like a new reinvigoration to go along with it. Work is going well, and I have days off liberally sprinkled through the month to give me some nice pockets of time off in the next few weeks.

This weekend saw a charity event at our sort-of local, The Plough – scene of many a #Tuesday. The ex-Lady M has got involved in her local residents association and got roped into running a stall at the Winter’s Market they decided to run this year.

She in due course corralled Lady M into helping out on another stall, and so the scene was set for a pleasant, if chilly, Saturday.

We’d also invited More B from my Monday gaming group along. We’d all met up socially during the summer at Arundel Castle and had been making noises about seeing each other again ever since and not quite making it happen.

For context, and the benefit of those just joining us: the Monday night game takes place online, using Roll20 and Google Hangouts to connect players and GM no matter where they are.

So as we’d been talking about it a while at the end of recent game sessions, I threw out there that this event was happening and the stars aligned. 

Despite the best efforts of public transport, a Mre B duly arrived and we spent a good portion of the afternoon supping beer and relaying food and drink to the two Ladies M as they conquered and assimilated half the stalls. 

A rather confused Lord D (also a veteran of the Monday group) was in attendance as well with his son; and we witnessed a rapid succession of expressions on his face as he recognised a familiar face in an unexpected context and company.

The Charleesi arrived at the tail end of the afternoon, having finished work and done her own battle with TFL, and we all thawed out in the light and warmth of the pub’s log fire.

Given her horrendous journey to us, and the disclosure that she had seen neither Guardians of the Galaxy, or Deadpool, we offered Mre B a bed for the night and a lift home when required.

So began a gentle evening of chatter and silliness, followed by more of the same pretty much all day Sunday as well. It’s been such a wonderful break from the drama and trauma and sickness of late that we’ve all come away smiling and relaxed, positive and shiny for the first time in what feels ages.

We’ve even been organised and already arranged a date in the new year so we don’t bumble along so long before meeting up again. 

Good company, food, entertainment, a deepened connection, silliness and laughter. It’s done us all a power of good.