It had gone midnight when a calendar alert popped up telling me I had Team Building due tomorrow. I checked the distance to the venue and the time required to drive it. Settling for the night, I woke the next day and set out to the Bank House Farm Hostel giving myself lots of time to account for traffic. I knew that I’d arrive well before the others, due at five, but had no idea it’d be by more than 25 hours.
On arrival I checked my phone and was going through the multitude of messages and Ruthie’s birthday greetings which I was anxious to reply to, to be promised a call later. Once done and stepping from the car, I was greeted warmly by Sammie, a fellow from Hartlepool with a rich accent. We soon established I was a day early and that he, an ex-girlfriend, both grandparents to the four young children in their care as well as the children’s aunt and uncle. Maddie and triplet brother, Oliver.
On learning how far I’d driven and that it was my birthday, Sammie immediately asked that I join them in the barn for the night and help myself to beer and the chicken and steak he was busy barbecuing. A more welcoming and warm family I have yet to encounter. They were as true and honest as the day is long without any inhibitions. As soon as I’d finished a beer, the next was open in my hand, offered from the cooling stone trough the spring flowed through towards the firepit. Maddie’s dad had done some home extensions and had given them a mountain of offcut wood we steadily burned until just before midnight. She had also offered me a cigarette as she lit her first and my resistance to abstinence crumbled.
So there I was, feeling guilty for missing a surprise party that Beverley had arranged, complete with cake, the biggest surprise being my non-attendance.
Oliver had just finished his master’s degree in electrical engineering and told me of his life’s plan to work four years with a year off for travel every five years. What an astute young man? Why had I not lived that way? His sister’s arm was so tiny when she was born, her father’s wedding ring would slide all the way up to her shoulder. Ruthie made good her promise and called me before the day was over just before falling asleep. What a special day it had been?
Sammie insisted that I read “A Voyage for Madmen.” on learning of my adventure, I promised I would. Parting company, so soon the next morning left me sad to lose them so quickly, and I cheered myself up with a trip to Robin Hood’s Bay for an ice cream cone on the beach.