Prior to departure I’m up with the G.O.’s 5 am alarm; drink coffee & do a little blog surfing; decide I have plenty of time for a 40 minute walk; pack my bag to be on the safe side; go for a walk; upon returning realise I don’t have that much time; make a quick breakfast; shower; dress, change tops, put new top on wrong way and inside out; get call at 10.30 am from the G.O… who has a horror of running late to the airport because of one occasion… was it only my responsibility to set the alarm?… to make sure I’m about to leave, which I am – almost; get cab to airport; at airport rearrange packing formation of carry-on bag half a dozen times until it fits into the cradle that rates it as cabin luggage; go through security scan, forget to separate out tiny aerosol deodorant, wait for security personnel to extract it from carry-on bag & and scan it separately to make sure it is a tiny aerosol deodorant; walk to gate 58 at the other end of the airport; listen to attendants endlessly call late people to flights, which delays my flight; finally walk down stairs onto the tarmac and up stairs onto plane. I’d forgotten, regional travel is a little more basic and the planes are much smaller.
My flight, running late, lands in Tamworth just after 1.30 pm. As I call a cab and turn off flight mode multiple text messages beep, including one from my friend Nanna “Are you getting off plane I can see? I have just arrived near airport”. My lovely friend Nanna also running late, figured somehow it was my plane and was already driving around to collect me.
Getting in the car, I smelled then saw a lime green carry bag containing my tea order: Japanese Green Lime; Ginger & Lemongrass; Rose Petals; and Dragon Pearls (white tea) which I’d ordered from Nanna for special school reunion delivery. Nanna zooms us away from the airport as we talk nonstop punctuated with a few exclamatory swear words which we’re both trying to be more circumspect about employing… oh dear.
Arriving at my motel, Mrs S. emerges from the room next to mine. As I hang a couple of things & unpack, she and Nanna settle into the comfy chairs and we chat for half an hour. We’re supposed to be meeting up with the greater group but decide to head off for coffee first. Nanna takes us to Addimi where I enjoy one of the best long black (Americano) coffees I’ve had [shame on you Sydney baristas] served with a small tumbler of sparkling water.
Revived and still engaged in nonstop three way chat it is mid afternoon when we head up to The Tamworth Hotel to meet up with the rest of the group. We collect cold drinks from the bar; water & ice for me as the day still has a way to go, and head to the beer garden. It is great to walk into the congregation of familiar faces, most who I hadn’t seen for 10 years, some longer, but seems like yesterday.
A couple of hours later we break to go back to our various accommodations to prepare for sparkling pre-dinner drinks at 6 pm. Nanna drops Mrs S. & I off, and heads to her mum’s. After quick preparations our motel group assembles, deciding who’s driving and who’s walking. Mrs S & I elect to walk, with another 4. As we get to the main road and wait at the traffic lights, I was amused to see a young man also waiting, check us out, and wander further along – we may have looked a little too much like middle aged hens nighters for comfort…
As we arrive at the front garden of the old cottage that houses Le Pruneau, it is sprinkled with fairy lights, which lends a lovely atmosphere to the bubbly wine served by a personable young waiter who chatted as he poured, about his ambitions to become an airline steward for which he would be certainly be suited. He copes with 21 of us plus 2 husbands, and conversation at a decibel level such that as I walk out to call the G.O., I have to go 50 yards down the street until the noise of the group is muted enough to conduct a mobile phone conversation.
When the bubbly runs out and the night gets chilly we head inside where there is more wine, conversation, laughter, old photos, year books, memories and food. Seated, we catch up with our table mates until after entree we shift places, and post-dinner we flow around the tables.
We make a toast to absent friends. There is one round of hands-up-if-you questions: are married; have kids; are divorced; are a grandmother; and as an afterthought, are a lesbian. No takers on the last… hmmmm. Conversation is about where we live, kids, grandkids, lost parents, husbands, divorces, careers, holidays, the past, present and future. We’re of an era and age where it’s all possible.
11.30 pm arrives and as we’d talked, laughed, drank, eaten, paid and the staff had homes to go to, we leave with arrangements to meet for breakfast. We walk back in refreshingly chilly air to the motel where I put in a late call to the G.O. who’d been at a mate’s place and had left me a message he was still up. By 12.30 am I was asleep.
Daylight & noises wake me at 7 am. I enjoy a quiet, solitary cup of tea, and didn’t quite so appreciate the coolish shower… should have jumped in quicker. Doors open and we meet outside in morning sun. By 9 am, more photos have been taken as several are departing. Leaving my bag at the motel, Mrs S. drives us to The Old Bell Tower for breakfast. More chat, more photos: the waitresses can’t make themselves heard trying to deliver drinks and food orders to our tables. By 11.30 am all but a few classmates have departed.
My flight isn’t until 1.40 pm and I want to go for a walk and take photos. I entertain thoughts of a browse in the shops but there is no time. Nanna who with a bad head cold made a heroic effort, staying out the night before and getting up for breakfast, says she’d drive me. But by this time I need space, air and movement.
At 11.40 am I make my farewells, and race up the hill to our old school, snap photos and proceed to walk back down through the town centre, across the bridge back to the motel. Enroute I call a cab which meets me at the motel at 12.40 pm, and gets me to the airport in time to check in, repack my bag once again into acceptable cabin formation, and board at 1.20 pm for the flight which leaves on schedule at 1.40 pm.
Always a fun thing to do at airports is star spotting, and at Tamworth airport for the return flight I spot Claudia Chan Shaw from ABC TV’s The Collectors who was in Tamworth to talk about her book Collectomania. Also held in Tamworth over the weekend was The Australian Country Dance Festival, and on the return flight I recognise a couple of the faces of the special guests – Nadia Friel & Paula Greenwood, familiar from where I’m not sure.
By 3 pm, I’m home. Happy.