And so it came to pass that another season ended and another Traders appeared over the horizon. Having booked a table at Sweeny Todd's Pie Shop for a large quantity of people, Mark and I made several frantic phone calls to ensure that everyone would turn up and we wouldn't have to eat 25 dinners to keep the management happy.
Friday morning dawned - as mornings usually do - and I made the classic mistake of popping to Tesco's to pick up a few things for Sunday breakfast whilst half asleep and ravenously hungry. A full trolly-load and a second mortgage later I staggered back into the house and desperately tried to cram everything into the fridge. It was never going to happen,so I took over the lodger's fridge as well. The off to Traders. This was the longest drive I had undertaken since breaking my leg at Castle Howard, and I was feeling quite smug as I cruised into the car park at Cowley. It was only what I went to stand up that I discovered that my foot and ankly had swollen up to twice its size, which made walking a little awkward. So I hobbled and tottered into the hall, paid my £1 at the door, and fell into a large pile of sheepskins, smiled apologetically at the guy who came to pick them up, said I'd be back for one later and took off at a swift, zigzagging sideways gait to find Steve and Margaret. Thanks to the
Thanks to the trip to Tesco's I had been well and truly bitten by the shopping bug, and duly shopped till I dropped. Or, to put it more accurately, shopped, dropped the shopping off at Dave Ryan's stand, then shopped a bit more. Armour Class, Drunken Monk, Sheepskins R Us... yes, I actually went back for that one, so Ben the dog had something warm and soft to lie on when he comes to visit. Big tough Alsatian that he is, he's scared of it, and would rather walk all around the room than lay a paw on it. Bless.
Friday evening saw Steve, Margaret and Mark make a beeline for my kitchen for Spaghetti Bolognaise, bringing with them a bottle of Silver Birch wine from the Drunken Monk, which was rather yummy. Speaking of Spaghetti, how are you meant to get it into a small, round saucepan when it's rock hard and a foot too long? Someone should invent a long straight saucepan so it can be laid gently in, instead of trying to wrap it into a circluar shape while steaming your own hand.
Saturday morning found me looking around the newly converted attic and wondering how I could have been so stupid as to think it oculd sleep six. Even after copious amounts of tidying up and moving boxes of books it still looked like I'd just moved in. Which I had, actually, which makes me feel a whole lot better. The off to the Traders fair again, to show everyone who showed some interest which sword I had ordered. Unfortunately, by the time I dragged Neil and Curly Dave over, it had gone, so Mr Rabbitts and I tried to describe it by using flowery phrases such as "swirly bits", "pointy thingies" and "flies eyes". It wasn't long before Dave raised his eyes to the heavens and walked off. Bored with walking around the stalls which I had exhausted the day before, especially as the Drunken Monk had run out of Moniack Mead and Silver Birch wine, I went to the viewing gallery and watched the world go past.
Having done my best to ensure everyone knew where they were going that evening, and that they could actually get there, and having spent much of the weekend concocting cunning plans on getting Henry to Traders / Reading from London / Bristol, and collaborating with Mark, Lyn, Sam, Steve and Margaret and anyone else who's phone numbers came to hand, it was with an air of resignation when I heard that plan D (plans A, B, and C having fallen by the wayside) had finally collapsed, with the result that no-one knew where Henry was. "Don't worry" said someone, "we'll get to Sweenies and he'll already be at the table in full kit". Close. Having braved the locals of Reading - and they wondered what we were wearing! - we go to Sweenies to find that Henry was there but not in kit. Someone had let the cat out of the bag about Steve J's recent birthday (OK, I cannot keep it a secret - it was DD).
Lots of talking, laughing and one depth charge later (go Steve!), "Screaming Lucy" was awarded a curly wurly straw so she could always test how drunk she was, DD and Jo had a discreet "Big Bust" competition (Jo won), and Henry gained the nicknames of "One-legged Henry" and "Legless Henry". Nothing to do with the drink, incidently.
Everyone bundled back to my place for a late night caffeine fix. My living room looked really big until we tried to fit 21 people into it. A big thank-you to Steve and Dave Pavely for standing up in the hall.
Up bright and early on Sunday morning - well, what choice did we have with DD in the house? I'm just thankful that she didn't get up 1! Suzehad a restful night lying on the kitchen seat glaring at the dishwasher until it finished its cycle. The only thing she was thankful for was that she couldn't hear anything from the next room. Not that anything necessarily happened in the next room. Okay, shovel, big deep hole... Bye...