You'd think I was getting the hang of meeting all these other bloggers by now, following the ever increasing amount of occasions in which I've had cause to cross paths with various different ones.
Well perhaps I am getting the hang of it, but it's still weird for me seeing people in real life for the first time and recognising them from the photos they've published online - I'm so much more accustomed to knowing people's faces first and seeing photographs of them at some point later. So I'm sure it sounded daft on Saturday when I said, isn't it weird how people look like their photographs?
So - Saturday. I had by now met Caroline, who looked remarkably relaxed and composed given the hectic few days she'd had of promoting Black Boxes. I bought a copy of the book, and tried to give her the money directly (I'm so used to buying cds or records directly from bands after gigs). Luckily for me, she didn't take it, and pointed me in the direction of the counter.
I had also only just started getting used to the fact that I'd met Caroline, who is very lovely, when I found myself being introduced to a whole host of other bloggers (and being introduced as trousers, which made me smile). At which point, who should wander in but Ms M, Stray and Badger. In seemingly no time at all I was sat having lunch with these latter three. I felt very comfortable in their highly genial and warm company, though I didn't get to meet their dog, Ruby: they'd not brought her since she would have been baking in the car (a much underused skill for a dog, perhaps).
The initial weirdness that struck me about Cheshire Oaks now was replaced by a sense of conviviality. I remained with the aforementioned individuals - and the equally lovely b - and we had a mixture of illuminating and silly conversation, drank coffee, looked for bargains in the stationery department, and discussed the finer points of Fermat's Theorem amongst other such pressing topics.
Later there was a change of scenery for a gathering, and much eating of cakes and drinking of tea: the atmosphere remained just as pleasant and relaxed throughout. I also met and enjoyed conversation with some people entirely new to me, and it was a delight to make their acquaintance too.
Well, if this sounds all-too-pleasant and enjoyable, that's because it genuinely was a perfectly good, memorable afternoon. In fact the only thing that served to put a slight dampener (so to speak) on the whole day was when, with perfect comedic timing, a bird shat on my jacket sleeve while I was waiting for the bus back into Chester. Bless it....
With a short while to wait for the train, I had a reflective pint not too far from the station. It was slightly odd seeing such a picturesque town centre being the backdrop for what would otherwise be pretty standard Saturday night drunken hordes, but this didn't serve to break the spell of the preceding few hours. I felt very content.
At the train station itself, the evening light was glorious: I stood for a few minutes just soaking it all in.