To put it plainly; four days in, four wonderful reunions with fabulous people. Today was the fourth and last of my planned reunions - but what a way to finish off!
I was going to visit my good friend Paul and his spectacularly fabulous wife Em. I've known Paul since 1982 at least, and met him again when I started playing football about 9 years ago. We had lost touch for a while when he did the whole University thing, and I did the whole festering in a job that was going nowhere thing. By the time we got back in touch, Paul had met Em, so I have known Em for much less time than I have known Paul.
That's just how unlucky I am I guess.
It has been six years almost since I left Essex to follow my heart to Dorset and - because I am a rubbish friend - consequently, I haven't seen Paul and Em in that time.
But today I was off to see them, and some new folk that had come along while I was away. I was going early in the morning because I knew that Paul and Em had plans for late morning, so like a pair of translucent soiled underpants in front of a bright light, I didn't want to hold them up.
I got to their house, and was greeted by an old friend licking my face. No, it wasn't Em or Paul (though I live in hope) - it was their dog, Elvis. Elvis is a cross between......erm..........is a cross between a very intelligent dog, and a very handsome dog (I forget which exact make of dog he is) and he was as pleased to see me as I was him. Although I didn't lick his face.
Or anywhere else.
Of course, just behind Elvis was the lovely Em who invited me in and offered me a seat. We had a wee natter while we waited for Paul to come down. Except that it wasn't just Paul that walked down the stairs......
Apparently, my leaving Essex created such a void in their lives, that Paul and Em decided to compensate for this by having two children. They had two boys - Thomas (Tommy) who is four, and Samuel (Sam) who is three. These two gorgeous little monsters walked up to me as bold as brass and shook my hands as if they had known me all their lives.
Now, one of the great ironies of my life is the fact that although my ability to attract a member of the opposite sex, is as successful as my ability to retain a full head of hair - and subsequently my chances of having children are about as slim as the chances of me being voted miss universe next year - I am quite good at amusing young children. Having a very silly sense of humour helps I am sure. Whatever the reason, me and Tommy and Sam hit it off straight away.
Paul and Em were going to take the boys to the Zoo, and they very kindly asked if I wanted to come along. Having not been to a Zoo in many a long year I accepted, and pretty soon we were on our way. We arrived at Colchester Zoo soon after and spent the rest of the afternoon looking round.
I was touched to discover that Sam and Tommy both felt comfortable enough with me to walk with me round the Zoo holding my hand. Not both at the same time - at different times.
We saw the Chimps in the Chimp House (doing something very disgusting), and we saw snakes and Crocodiles, and a Leopard, and Piranhas, and a "Jungle Bells" party that was rubbish, and a Pantomime with a surprisingly attractive Little Miss Muffett in it, and lots of other things. We didn't get to see the Hippos though, which was a shame because Sam kept calling me Harry, and said that I looked like a Hippo. We did however get to meet Father Christmas in his Grotto, and Tommy and Sam both got Christmas presents early - although Sam managed to get his hands on Santa's mobile phone, which he obviously knew would have a higher street value.
When we came out of the Pantomime it was raining heavily, and we all got soaked. We squelched back to the car and drove home.
Unfortunately, I had to go back to my Sister's house as soon as we got back to Paul and Em's home - so it was literally get out of one car and into another.
There was time for a hug and a kiss goodbye from Tommy and Sam - and a bottle of Bell's Whiskey from Paul and Em. I took the Whisky with me - I didn't drink it there and then.
It was a really lovely day. I so enjoyed catching up with Paul and Em, it was fab to see Elvis again, and Tommy and Sam were just a joy to behold. I will definitely be seeing these lovely lovely people more often. :-)