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Ladies Wot Lunch

I had a really enjoyable day off on Friday, meeting up with one of my oldest friends for lunch. I first met P when I was seven, when my family moved into the house three doors down from her. We’ve remained in contact ever since, though of latter years it’s been more by email and Christmas cards than in person. So meeting up for lunch and a good gossip was long overdue, and the recent relaxing of Covid restrictions gave us the kick we needed to stop procrastinating and actually meet up.

We decided to meet for lunch in Oxford – it’s about half way between Malvern and where she lives, north of London. I suggested we book a table at Brown’s restaurant, which is a fairly large bistro-style place – big enough that they have enough space to remove tables to allow for social distancing. The food isn’t particularly exciting, but it’s reliable.

I was astonished at how quiet Oxford was. Granted, it was before term had started, but I was a graduate student there for long enough to know that it is usually still pretty busy over the summer. What really struck me was the complete lack of large parties of tourists – one got so used to seeing crocodiles of Chinese/Japanese/French/American tourists following their tour leader and blocking the pavements. But not this time. Also, I was astonished at how much on-street parking there was available. My friend P was easily able to park really close to the restaurant, when normally it’s a struggle to find anywhere suitable to park. There were a lot of shops that were boarded up, and lots of the restaurants were still closed. The council was obviously trying to help the local economy, because at least one of the streets had been closed to vehicles, with tables and chairs set out into the road, so some of those restaurants that were open could offer outside seating. Though how enticing that will be as we move into autumn is an open question!

We had a really good catch up over lunch. We were both horrified to realise that the last time we had met up was eleven years ago, but Christopher was there so it must have been that long ago. Which meant that we had over a decade of news and gossip to catch up on. We’ve both decided that we really mustn’t leave it anywhere near so long next time!