It's been quite a week, with not much time to think but certainly one to remember. Much of it is recorded elsewhere, so rather than repeat myelf I'll simply add links. At times, during the last few weeks, I felt my life was something like the picture above! Coming home from Birmingham was great. Not that the exhibitions haven't been great fun and so hugely rewarding, but there's no place like home. In particular, there is nowhere to sleep quite as comfortably as in my own bed! Monday and Tuesday were days to sort out, to catch up and most importantly, to make sure everything was in place for Wednesday. That was the day of the big meeting, the sell out event with a full Town Hall and eminent speakers. My Swansong.
It would be wrong to say I was nervous. Having got two of these events under my belt, I know that it's a bit like leaving on holiday. Get the thing started and anything that's been forgotten or omitted is simply hard luck. I knew that I had Liz there for me, secretary and veteran of many such occasions and I was confident that she had thought of everything. I had written and tweaked my speech, gone through the timed agenda over and over again to make sure nothing was forgotten and taken out a couple of phrases which I knew would prove too emotional to speak out loud. I had checked everything I could think of. But having said that, I was conscious that having been away from home for a couple of weeks, I hadn't quite got all my ducks in a row as I'd normally have. Most important, I had no shoes to wear!
On Tuesday I had my hair done and bumped into so many friends in Cirencester, all of whom were looking forward to the meeting and who said how sad they were that I was coming to the end of my three years. I guess that was the first hint of what lie in store for me the following day. Edward came home on Tuesday evening and his presence was a great distraction from the big day ahead.
I felt calm on Wednesday morning and confident that everything would go smoothly. A call from BBC Radio Gloucestershire at 7.15am set my nerves a-twitching - just what was the best collective noun for a large number of WI members? As soon as "my slot" was over, the phone rang and a neighbour who'd been listening said how she'd enjoyed it. By this time, I was feeling pretty shaky!
My colleagues were pulling out all the stops and putting together a fantastic show by the time I got to the Town Hall and it felt good to be part of such a terrific team. I had little to do myself, which was probably as well, since I could walk no more than a couple of steps - not because of my shoes (!) but because everyone wanted to stop and chat and to say thank you and sorry to see me go and so on. Quite amazing.Just before we were opening the doors, the phone rang again - Radio Gloucestershire wanting a final decision on that collective noun. We settled for "A Flirtation"
The meeting itself was wonderful. Baroness Fritchie of Gloucester, local girl and a familiar face to many was so very inspiring. Understated and quietly spoken but so powerful in what she had to say. I think she left a huge impression on everyone in the audience. Anne Widdecombe was - Anne Widdecombe! Great speaker, very amusing and so eloquent without a note in sight - her performance was an entertaining start to the afternoon. she was rushing back to Westminster for a three-line-whip, so the Chief Constable spoke last. He too had thought provoking things to say - did any of us realise before then how very close we'd come to absolute disaster last year after the flood? Maybe just as well we didn't.I was delighted to present a cheque for proceeds from our book, to the Gloucestershire Flood Relief Fund knowing there's yet more money to come! Which brought us to the end of the meeting and the traditional thank you. I had been quite ok throughout the day, in spite of occasional thoughts which threatened to bring a tear to my eye. I was, however, totally unprepared for the response to my friend and colleague's formal "thank you" which brought everyone in the hall to their feet and that tear (and several more) to mop up. The rosy glow of that moment has continued and I have so much appreciated cards and calls from friends with so many kind words and good wishes that I treasure. My successor has been elected and I am happy that she will do a grand job. Relieved of the day-to-day responsibility, I will have time to do more tutoring, spend time with friends and best of all, have time at home to do whatever takes my fancy! Not only that, but all those friends will still be there as well. And on Friday, I was amused to hear the party referred to on BBC Radio 4! We sat listening as snow/hail pelted down leaving the garden room roof white over for a (very) sort time.
Who would have thought that Good Friday would be colder and more wintry than Christmas Day?
How very much I'm looking forward to my holiday next week! I won't miss the pots and pans and assorted paraphernalia which made up that amazing display in Habitat in Cheltenham this morning. Quite reminiscent of an Anthropologie display, I thought. (Oh dear, in getting that link I note they're now shipping to the UK...that's pretty dangerous)