Four Firm Friends.
“We could have a picnic.”
Since 1985 Margaret, Jackie, Joy and I had been friends. Margaret was born in the West Country and relocated to Minehead in 1984. Joy was already here. I came in 1985 and Jackie a year later. I can’t remember how it happened but Margaret was the catalyst that drew us all together and we became firm friends. At least once a month we would have a jaunt, taking it in turns to organise the outing which would remain a secret until we arrived.
Margaret reminded me that I always preferred to visit a country
This is how Margaret remembers it:
M: Pat what have you brought in your picnic.
P: I don’t know; Alastair made it.
According to M I then brought out napkins, a series of dainty little goodies, four wine glasses and a chilled bottle of wine. I have no recollection of this but it is true I was very, very spoilt.
Things are rather different these days. It was a sadness to us all when Margaret and her husband left for
Jackie is about to be 90 and is very well cared for by her daughter with whom she lives. Joy is now a widow and quite frail especially since a fall in the garden which has prompted assisted living – at least for the time being.
Our problem was how we could get us all together whilst Margaret was visiting me and her suggestion of a picnic didn’t seem a brilliant idea. As usual Margaret made light of any difficulties and a plan was formed.
Jackie’s daughter Jane would drive her up to Joy’s house complete with her picnic. The door would be open so we could all gain access. Margaret and I would walk up the hill with our own picnic and would prepare Joy’s when we got there.
Then we started getting cancellations and doubts and fears but M and I were adamant it was going to come to pass and if Joy wasn’t happy after a few minutes we would retire gracefully.
At first it was quite muted as we reacquainted ourselves as a group. I was quite peckish so made Joy salmon sandwiches garnished with lettuce and tomato – enough for have to have for lunch and later. Wisely Joy kept the wine in the fridge and M and I had already decided - with the various medicaments we would have our tipple later in the day. We had – between us - to get Jackie safely home - down one lane and up another. Gradually we fell into our usual – everybody talking at once, some of us getting the wrong end of the stick, mishearing, reminiscing and having a good time.
Two hours later when we thought perhaps it was time to go Joy perked up and wanted us all to go upstairs to see the suit she had bought with her daughter for her daughter’s second wedding. We followed Joy up on her stair lift – keeping a hand on Jackie and then we had to back down a bit whilst Joy dismantled the stair lift so we could get by.
We admired the suit, compared it with the suit she and I had bought together for her grand-daughter’s wedding and Margaret and I made the bed - being hypercritical of each other’s hospital corners. (Margaret was once a Norland Nanny) We were given a tour of the upstairs – my second in a week and at some stage we went to inspect the back garden and take nuts for the birds.
This was a bit nerve wracking as the garden is steep and we had to keep an eye on Jackie and Joy. Then it really was time to go. There were hugs and kisses and a few tears all round. Joy has her son’s visit next week to look forward to and Jackie’s daughter is giving a party for her 90th soon.
We got Jackie safely home – by this time some of us weren’t quite sure who we were and decided we would have a night on the town whilst we still could.
Showered and changed we ambled down the lovely tree- lined Avenue in the fantastic weather we have had for a week now - with a delicious warm sea breeze to the newish Stones pub, and had a very pleasant veggie meal in their garden. It was such a balmy evening we took a long rambling walk home remembering various houses and people we had known, reflecting how Minehead had changed over the years but was still the quiet, sleepy, laid back town we had always known.
Who knows what the future holds but what a blessing to still have at least three friends for life.
Please see pics below.