My walking group annual dinner

Last night, Friday 13th (unlucky for some… but not me it would seem) was my walking group annual dinner. I was a wee bit nervous! But need not have been. I am not a night-owl at all so it would not be normal for me to ever be up at 1.30am in the morning… fully clothed. But yesterday was not a normal day…. but another, special day. I only arrived back from my dinner out at 1.20am, and what can I say! OHHHH MMYYYY GOOOODNESSSS MEEEE!!!!! AAMMAAAAAZZIIIINNNNGGGG!!!!!

Tears of joy dangerously brim as I write about it! Four hours chatting with many people – women and men – who all treated me like a normal girl….. and I think I may have an admirer….. or he may just be a charmer of the nicest kind.

Anyway, I set off at 7.30, stopped at a local supermarket for cash from the machine, then drove to the centre of Belfast. I located the restaurant, Tedfords, but was a bit wary of parking far away as I’d likely be leaving in the dark (definitely as it turned out) but when I drove around the one-way system again I found a spot maybe 75-100 metres away. Phew.

Entering the restaurant a waitress with a really cheery demeanour met me, I said I was there for the group meal, and she diverted me downstairs to a bar where several of the group were already waiting… but I didn’t know any of them! Anyway, John, who has been a member for a while, struck up light conversation, and introduced me to a couple of other guys (Mark and Michael), and I talked to them and also two girls who he did not introduce (Christine and Cathy, both teachers). I bought a sparkling water from the bar, and after 20 minutes of chat we headed to the top floor which was reserved for us, with two long tables. I sat on the far one with 11 other people, four guys, the rest girls. Next to me sat a retired guy I had not met before, a new girl from London, Karen, was directly opposite, Mark next to me, Michael and his wife Cathy the remaining two directly around me…. and the whole night just had loads of enjoyable chat about all sorts of things. I could just write on and on about it!! As some people were leaving we talked about a walk we are doing next Saturday, to Rathlin Island which looks lovely, so we discussed things about that including the ferry, and they said they’d see me there.

So, my “admirer”, Alan! He is in his late seventies, has hearing aids and it may be that he is half blind… and I only say that last bit because he called me a “beautiful girl”! Wow, huh! Another time we were talking about Portugal, and I started to interrupt him, and he cupped my face very gently in his hands and gently said “listen to me, lovely girl”. He asked me if I wanted some wine but I said I was driving, so he called me a Good Catholic Girl (well, he was wrong about the religion, but that doesn’t matter). Another thing that I think is quite a compliment for me is that he said I talk a lot with my hands and wonders how I would cope if I had an accident and one of them got chopped off! There were other bits of conversation where I was also labelled as a girl… just like I want to be all the time. When he left for the evening, maybe half an hour before the last of us (including me), he was standing behind my chair saying goodbye to people, and his hands were gently caressing my shoulders as he talked, and finally to me he said “I hope that I may see you again”.

The girl Pauline, who I got on well with before at a walk, came over from her table just before she left to say hello – just to me and nobody else at my table – and we had some giggly chat. Even a guy who I was not sure about (owing to aggressive/opinionated posts on the walking site) shook hands (gently) and had a wee chat, and a girl Deirdre with him also introduced herself… and when the guy said some silly remark about not apologising to someone for not turning up to a walk he’d arranged with her Deirdre told him off and I agreed with her.

So at 12.30am, I was in the last group of four to leave the place! The other three were heading to another venue for more drinks, but I was driving and it was late, but I was glad they were walking in the same direction as me because we walked past a nightclub with some very unsavoury people outside, including a guy who looked quite stoned who made some comment to one of the guys with me. At my car we said goodbye, lightly shook hands, and headed off home…. feeling rather ecstatic!

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