We had a walk around the fields behind Thaxted in the morning and visited the spot which my mother always tells us is laden with a magical and healing atmosphere. In recent times, whenever any of us have been a bit depressed, she's taken us down there for spiritual rejuvenation. She recently discovered a sixteenth century map where the spot was marked with the word "chapel." My Dad believes it was probably the site of a small monastic building, perhaps even the home of a religious hermit. The street at the top of the field is called Monk Street so I think he's probably just about on the money.
We had a meal sitting around the table, with not one but two advent crowns. It is, after all, the fourth advent. The one we made at Raily's house was lit during the main course, and the one my mother made was featured during the pudding.
Edward gave me a wonderful wooden travel chest for Christmas, which he'd had engraved with all of the places I've lived in my life. "David Benjamin Till. Oswestry. Potton. Higham Ferrers. York. London." I'm very excited about deciding what to put inside. Special things, obviously.
We drove back to London at about 5pm, traveling the length of the North Circular down to Kew where my mate Nat was celebrating her 40th birthday. We were hugely amused to learn (during her brother's lovely little speech) that Wikipedia reveals Nat's age as 36... Natalie tells us that she had nothing whatsoever to do with the decision to knock four years off her age. It's a strange old world!
We met some lovely people and reacquainted ourselves with a few more whom we hadn't met for many years. One woman remembered us playing pop songs on a piano at one of Nat's parties eight or more years ago. I chatted to one bloke I'd last spoken to twenty years ago!
Two chaps there had seen our wedding and wanted us to know they'd enjoyed it very much and cried all the way through. They're getting married themselves next year, so we wished them the very best for that.
Jo Emery, Tom and Nicky were there from Big Book For Girls, a show we performed in 1994 and 1995 at the Edinburgh Festival. It's so wonderful to think that something which happened so long ago has generated such long-lasting friendships. I reckon I'm still in regular touch with at least half the cast from that play (one of whom is in the new Star Wars film).
We drove away from Kew vowing to see more of them all. Tom promises to organise something which allows us to get together in March. I'm so holding him to it!