We met Caroline and Paul a couple of cruises ago, and we delighted to find them on board once again when we sailed from Hong Kong earlier in the year. Since their home isn’t so far from here, we tried to engineer an occasion to meet up when Ellis and Mary were but time was limited and sadly it didn’t work out. But when an invitation arrived from them for a Sunday in mid-July, we were delighted to accept and yesterday we joined them and their friends for an elegant afternoon in their lovely garden.
It was hot. One of the hottest afternoons of the year (so far…) and just perfect for the occasion. It’s so unusual to be able to plan an outdoor event with confidence, but right now, the weather is so settled that for once, decisions about what to wear were easy.
We weren’t sure we’d know anyone else, though Caroline had mentioned that another couple from our cruise were expected and having shared the same ship with them for three weeks, surely, we’d recognise them even if we didn’t know their names? Actually, it wasn’t so – quite how we can live in a community of fewer than 500 people and not come across everyone remains a little mystery, but with shared experiences to chat about we made up for lost time. Of course, the conversation moves on to other interests and connections and sure enough, in no time at all, mutual friends and colleagues are identified and there are expressions of “No – really? I haven’t seen xxx in ages!….how is he? how’s xxx (his wife)?…” Coincidence, to be in an altogether different set of people and yet, the first couple we speak to have connections to other friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Never mind six degrees of separation, more like three or four!
The next encounter was a little more of a surprise. A conversation with another couple highlighted similar holiday habits and we soon found ourselves chatting about favourite places in Switzerland where they had just been and where we will be shortly. They too had come some way yesterday afternoon, albeit from the opposite direction from us. Comparing journeys (as you do) familiarity with our neck of the woods was apparent and the name of the next village was mentioned. This wasn’t the first time it had happened – the woman sitting right behind me at the concert in New York recently came from that same village – it just seems to be that kind of place. But, this party guest knew the area well because he had been head of a local school until his retirement. Oh, and yes, it happens to be the same school where one of our good friends teaches! What’s that…three degrees of separation or two, then?
Remarkable, isn’t it? In a bunch of about forty or fifty people, quite some distance from our normal habitats, here we were, discovering all kinds of links and networks. Who’d have thought it?
Even more of a surprise then, to see a particularly familiar face suddenly appear in the garden. Sue, a dear friend from WI circles, was not only one of the Textile Treasures but also one of us who wears her Millennium Craft Spectacular campaign medal with pride. She and I have shared a few bottles of this and that in some “interesting” places, most memorably celebrating her ruby wedding in a pub somewhere near Harrogate. Well, fancy seeing you here!
Fearful that, the way things were going we’d discover some long lost cousin amongst the remaining people in Caroline and Paul’s garden, we settled into a patch of shade and our heroes joined us in putting a few things right here and there.
What a lovely way to spend an afternoon.