One of the many downsides of the pandemic has been the impossibility of seeing friends. This week, after almost a year and a half, I finally got to meet up with a bunch of fellow Crime-and-Publishment-ers in Carlisle. It was absolutely lovely, but it very nearly didn’t happen at all.
With help from Irene Paterson I’d arranged it for Monday lunchtime at our favourite cafe, Cakes & Ale. I was all set to travel up by train, and really looking forward to it, if a little nervous about being crammed into a railway carriage full of strangers for over an hour. At the moment, everything is by advance booking only, so on Saturday evening I sat down to order my tickets – and found to my horror that every last seat on both the outward journey and the return had already been sold.
To say I was upset was an understatement, but Other Half sprang to the rescue, donning a cape and driving me to Carlisle on the day. He spent a couple of hours mooching round and discovering interesting bits of the city, while I plonked myself at a table in the cafe’s surprisingly pretty garden and caught up with everyone again.
Not all of the group were free at such short notice, but we managed to rustle up seven: myself, Irene, Linda Wright, soon-to-be-published Ann Bloxwich, AliceMae Jamieson, John Langley, and the superstar of the group Mike Craven, whose books are now so popular that he’s had a brand of coffee named after his main character Washington Poe.
No hugs yet, but it was super to see people face-to-face at last, and be able to talk for a couple of hours (while still leaving time for tea, coffee, soup, sandwiches or cake – though not all at once). Here’s hoping we can do it again – without having to wait another year and a half.
I took my camera to get a nice group shot of us all and forgot to take the snap! So here’s a picture of the garden instead. Hard to believe this is right in the centre of a bustling city.