Sunday, 21 April 2013

Friends Fill my Life With Joy

Last Saturday I drove down to Farnborough in Hampshire to meet for the first time a man I have come to know over the last two years through his blog writing.

Dicky Carter and I had a couple of beers and a good chat - the kind of informed conversation expected from long-time friends.

We met up in The Crown And Cushion pub in the rural setting of Hampshire. A typical olde English Inn dating back to the 16th century, The Crown and Cushion oozes warmth and old world hospitality.

Dicky was exactly as I expected. His views and opinions matched my expectations to a tee.  I was instantly convinced he writes his fine blog openly and from the heart.

I would have liked a longer session and could easily have sat in that cosy pub sampling all the fine ales and continuing our interesting conversation, but I was en route to Basingstoke, a further 45 minutes away.

It was a pleasure meeting Dicky - I hope we can meet up again soon.

On to Basingstoke I went to meet up with Claudia, my dearest friend from Madeira, and her husband Marco. Claudia's work led them to leave Madeira some 6 months ago, much to my delight.

I arrived at her address just as the heavens opened up with a monsoon-like downpour. Claudia came to meet me from the car with an umbrella small enough to make not the slightest bit of difference. But it's the thought that counts.

It was lovely to see her beaming smile and to greet her with a huge hug, so far away from our familiar setting of Madeira. We went straight to the local pub to meet up with Marco, who was having a pint with some friends.

After the brief interval of dining at their home (my favourite Portuguese dish of bacalhau) we went straight back out to the pub, where a night of excellent live music made me feel as if we had never left The Warm Up Cafe.

Marco, Claudia, Lisandra and I at The Warm Up Cafe - Madeira
about a year ago. The night we all wore Johnny Walker
promotional fake specs

Back at the house some few hours and many beers later, we continued chatting until 4am. Just as my eyelids began to struggle to stay apart, we all called it night and staggered off to bed.

My phone woke me up at 8am with a call from Mattie asking if I was already on my way to pick him up - an hours drive away - to take him fishing.

I got out of bed and made my way, silently, to the kitchen downstairs, in order not to wake my hosts. Just as I turned on the kettle I heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Claudia appeared seconds later, smiling and looking none the worse for wear, and promptly insisted on making me breakfast. My objections were not taken seriously and soon the exotic aroma of fresh coffee brought me out of my alcohol-induced drowsy state.

I left some minutes later, jumped in the car and drove away, just as a wave of sadness engulfed me. On  the rear view mirror I could no longer see Claudia, and I was missing her, all over again.

So looking forward to the next visit.




  1. Lovely way to spend the weekend...with the Johnny Walker glasses though there's more than a passing resemblance to Michael Palin

    1. Haha, indeed - and my wandering lifestyle makes it all the more comparable :)