My friend had a bit of a nightmare getting to my village from the Czech Republic, what with delayed planes, a broken Underground and a lack of taxis at the very last hurdle…but arrive he did, in the early hours of the morning, instead of the evening, and headed to his hotel, agreeing that we would meet the next morning. Me, though, I had to go to work regardless. By the time I got home, Gary had wandered down to my home, Ani had already trained him in the niceties of ball-throwing and the right place to scratch her back, and he and Stuart were well on their way to being friends.
For the first few minutes, things felt a little weird… Gary is someone with whom I talk with the ease of long friendship, yet he is also a person I had met only once before, and that briefly. Five minutes later, that no longer mattered and we were just old friends catching up.
The long-weekend that followed was a delight. We took Gary to a number of places that featured in The Initiate, the first book Stuart and I wrote together. Gary had read and reviewed it years ago and was almost as excited about it as we were, so it was good to be able to share some of the places that had set us off adventuring.
We visited our rainbow chapel and delved into its mysteries. We ate lunch amidst the ghosts in the graveyard of a Templar church. We lingered over cider in the sunshine, watching the kites wheel overhead and lingered even longer over the dinner table and into the morning.
The following day, we went underground, into the chill of the Hellfire Caves, exploring the story of Francis Dashwood and adding our own theories to the speculation of what was really going on with the notorious Hellfire Club. Then headed to Hughenden, to visit the strange, ornate church on Disraeli’s estate.
For our last day together, we drove out to Uffington, in search of a stone we had never found, a white horse and a dragon… and the ancient peace of Wayland’s Smithy. From the very first site to the last, there was magic afoot.
There was laughter, comfortable, companionable silences and long, involved discussions. Stories were swapped and remembered and memories made. Our final dinner was enlivened by the realisation that Gary was actually on the restaurant menu and our final evening ended reluctantly, much, much later.
It was a good weekend… and I hope our next meeting will not be quite so long in materialising 🙂