Another post thick and fast after yesterday’s? Well, I have had a FAB day out Saturday 3rd Jan, away from home for eleven hours.
My mind has come down from Cloud 9 after yesterday’s better-than-expected coming-out to daughter and ex- (see previous post if interested and not read) and so I can now go for an hour or two without tears of joy threatening to spill down my face! But I SO feel like I am finally being released from a 35 year prison sentence for something that I never did, and I am collecting my true belongings after which I will soon walk out the door to freedom. It is an ecstatic feeling like no other I have ever experienced.
This morning was the first walk of my group of 2015, and an easy one to break us into the new year, a few miles along the Lagan Valley toe path near Belfast city. For some reason the leader is starting the weekend walks an hour earlier than she used to and, owing to the time it takes to put my face on, I hardly get a lie-in! As usual, it took me over 90 minutes from getting up, through showering and removing facial hair, to putting on my face, clothes, and sorting my hair out… which I think I dried too quickly this time, as it is a bit of a frizzy mop. Anyway, got to the car park at the river (near an eatery called Cutters Wharf) with a minute to spare before 10.00am, and joined the waiting group. I had a couple of New Year hugs, including from my best walking buddy Margaret, who I started chatting to as we headed off. It was quite chilly so I got my multi-coloured woolly mittens out of my bag, and dropped one unseen as I went to close it… and a girl called out to me, and it was Karen who I met on the Xmas walk, and so my conversation switched to her for a good while, along with a girl she was talking to called Elizabeth who I don’t remember meeting before. Maybe half an hour later we paused for the group to catch up, as there were 71 people this time (!), and I was able to say hello to Kerry (who called me Michelle, yet again – I joked that her new years resolution should be to get my name right) and Paula who, as we set off again, I had a good long chat to, mainly about the trials and tribulations of having a teenage offspring! Later we stopped at the Lock keepers cottage for a bit to eat and drink, and I talked to the girl from Russia who I also met on Xmas day, who it turns out is unfortunately returning to London… at least for a while. After a lovely snack of home-made blueberry pancakes and tea we began our walk back to the cars, with more good chat. At the car park we said goodbyes and then three girls decided to go for another drink at Cutters Wharf and they invited me, well, I jumped at the chance… but first gave my walking leader an update on yesterday’s events and we shared a few hugs and I got a bit teary eyed too.
So onto Cutters Wharf which deserves a little paragraph of its own! I grabbed a change of clothes from the car and then trotted over to the restaurant, and found the girls at a corner table… which turned out to be five girls once the toilets had emptied them out. I ordered a mocha, changed into a dress and ankle boots for forthcoming shopping, and then sat with them and had a really long chat… mostly about dating men! Of course, I don’t have a huge amount of experience yet to voice on the subject… and yet I did make my fair share of contributions to the conversation, with quite an amount of laughter from various girls, which was great; in fact, I felt right at home with them. Then Karen said to me that I have a sexy voice compared to her’s, which she claimed is a bit squeaky, and that I should do those voice-over advertisements where the objective is to gently persuade consumers to buy things… and then she said I could even do those chat lines where men ring up and have some talk to them in a sultry voice. Moi? Gulp! Now, I do try my best with my voice but, well, uh, WOW! Eventually we left, close to 2.00, and I felt very pleased with my latest walking group outing.
And so onto shopping… something I have had a lot of practise at in the last 12 months… and something I have really come to enjoy rather a lot! Most of the afternoon was spent at Boucher Road, in the suburbs of Belfast, where there is a reasonable selection of shops. First of all I went into Homebase, a DIY store for non-UK viewers, to try and use some of the vouchers that my parents gave me for Xmas – while browsing the plant section a staff member came over and said “Do you need any help, love?” (yeah, that’s me) and when I said I was just browsing, he mentioned the cut price offers, and told me where to look, so I thanked him, picked up a plant that I liked the look of, then a pair of purple girly gardening gloves and paid at the checkout, served by a friendly girl. After browsing a couple of other stores, I drove to the main retail park and went in quite a variety of stores, though only ended up buying two items of clothing (after trying them on in the changing rooms) at Matalan. Then onto another retail park, Forestside, where I went into an M&S and spent ages browsing clothes in their big sale… and bought quite a lot of things! Oh my poor credit card… but it was worth it, got some good things for work, and had a good long chat with the checkout girl whose youngest daughter was getting married in 8 weeks time, and all the stress around that. Finally, feeling weary, onto Tesco for a grocery shop – shortly after entering with my trolley, a couple of youngish guys were in a rush and went in front of me, but one said “sorry love” so I didn’t really mind; I bought yet another pair of boots (although these are totally different from all my others… although not in colour), paid at the checkout (which was uneventful as by that stage I was very tired and the young girl wasn’t talkative), and then I drove home…. relieved to take my boots off once my shopping was inside.
The whole shopping afternoon was extremely busy, especially Boucher Road with cars parked on kerbs where they shouldn’t have been. I think a couple in TK Maxx read me… but they were the only ones the whole day, and if I was read it was only a short expressionless look, and I am hardly bothered considering all the other things I did… and continue to do from one week to the next with no attention; I am realistic enough to know that I will not pass 100% of the time all the time, even if that would be lovely, but I think now and again to have someone notice is just useful enough to remember how to deal with it when it is necessary… which, in my experience, is really just to ignore such impolite people and get on with life.
I had an email from my parents, addressing me “Dear Andrea” again, saying how happy they are for me. And me? Well, I remain incredibly elated, especially after another very enjoyable day out.