So… we were delighted to be invited round to our friends Charlie and Wendy for a New Year’s Eve party; it’s something of a tradition, and the food is always wonderful (chilli, spaghetti bolognese or veggie bolognese tonight) the company is always grand (neighbours and friends) and it’s always a great way to begin to usher in New Year.

As well as Charlie and Wendy, Breeze the dog was host to his chums, Mollie the Westie who had a splendid haircut (short over her back and shoulders and with a lovely ‘skirt’ round her legs) and a pink collar, a beautiful Staffie cross rescued dog, and Gerry a terrier who was wearing a very smart tie (yes a tie) We chatted to various people and had various conversations about people working in sensitive jobs (i.e. secret) the impact of the Normans on England after 1066, the potato famine in Ireland, education, Richard III… you know, those sort of things…

Sadly we had to leave to go to meet with other friends, but the party then went down to the beach and lit fireworks and watched the displays across the Bristol Channel in Wales, and those close to Uphill on the Grand Pier in Weston. Meanwhile, we walked back to the Dolphin.

There were plenty of friends in, neighbours, pub people, book club friends… new friends who we had never met before but who embraced us warmly… There was music, a band plus Phil, the one and only Phil, cook, bar person, lovely guy – and amazing singer!!!

The magic hour approached and the time was called and we all rushed outside; I have no idea how many we were, maybe forty maybe more, but we stood at the junction and formed a rather lopsided circle as Nigel, the chief time-keeper, counted down. The witching hour came, and under the stars we sang Auld Lang Syne and then embraced friends and strangers and wished each other well. Phones rang, my son and his gorgeous girlfriend wishing us Happy New Year, my daughter sending love, my cousin, my friends…

There was a general milling about and I got in conversation with a man I had never met before who I think was a stranger to the village, but was delighted and amazed by the pub. The Canadian barman Tom, a lovely young man, came over and we had a conversation about travelling and his plans, and the Ukraine, and the stranger joined in, fascinated.

Back in the pub there was more conversation – the strange coincidence that my book club friend actually knew a lot of people who I knew, overlapping circles she said! My husband went to the other bar to listen to the band and I stayed catching up with messages from friends and chatting to people. People began to drift away and my husband returned and the lovely bar person who had a leopard costume and face paint, and her hair done up to look like animal ears, came – undoing her hair with great relief,  and we had an interesting conversation about sell-by dates on food, artificial additives, sweeteners, butter…

More people began to leave, more hugs, and our drinks finished, we too, said goodbye to those left,and set off back home. In our little village you can walk down the middle of the road, and that is what we did.

Home and what seemed a good idea? A whiskey for him as he had been drinking beer, and a glass (or two) of port for me… what a wonderful introduction to 2017!!

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