I decided to splash out and travel up to Oxford on the sleeper train rather than getting the bus; I'm not at all sure the extra money was justified, since I didn't manage to sleep very well despite having much more seat space, and the train messed up my extremely tight schedule by, predictably enough, being late.
Anyway I arrived in London eventually mid-morning on Friday and met up with NZ after the usual mobile phone farce. We found a ducky little Italian restaurant that fed us a highly delicious brunch involving something that my barbarian palate can't distinguish from pizza and melon smoothie. And we caught up by means of talking very fast for a couple of hours.
Arrangements for the afternoon in Oxford were a bit thrown by the various transport delays, but in the end I did manage to connect with Old A (pseudomonas), darcydodo and then J and her fiancé W. Considering that the poor boy had just got off a plane, was jetlagged out of his skull and had to make an impression on three of J's closest friends at once, he acquitted himself reasonably well! J gave me a lovely lovely mikraot gedolot1 set, which I utterly adore. And it was so cool to have the four of us together again after all the time that has elapsed since we we were an unofficial family in Oxford. I hadn't seen J for a year or darcydodo for six months, given that both have been in forrin parts.
I went to shul in the evening, as much to catch up with some people from the community as anything else. Though I must say it made a pleasant change to simply attend a service that didn't require me to organize or lead anything! Then I spent a deliciously relaxed evening with pseudomonas and a friend of New A's.
Saturday I hadn't made too many plans because I had not been able to contact darcydodo, so had just left the day free to fit in with her. In the end I spent an hour or so with her in the morning (some of which was spent in the ultimately girly activity of bra shopping). While she was engaged doing stuff related to the graduation ceremony, I ate pseudomonas' pie. It wasn't really the weather for pie, but it was good pie.
Icecream for supper on Saturday night and icecream for breakfast on Sunday morning, both in the company of AL. The former was at G&D's, a veritable Oxford insitution, which is overpriced but very good for a treat, and also involved darcydodo and AL's bloke. AL also managed to derive a way to combine icecream with tea; this made me very happy.
Icecream for breakfast was at a random little Italian café in the bus station, new and rather better in quality than most of the uninspiring chains that populate said bus station, but with prices to match. And annoyingly pushy waitresses; the place wasn't exactly packed, but they really weren't prepared to let us sit around for more than two minutes after we'd finished our drinks. Stupidly, AL and I left a tip out of sheer habit, and only afterwards realized that the service had been quite bad enough that we oughtn't to have rewarded it.
Then M arrived in Oxford (very sweet of him to get up early on a Sunday morning in order to come and see me). I hadn't realized how little he knows Oxford, but there wasn't really time to remedy this on this occasion, so instead we sat in the University park and enjoyed the sunshine briefly, before meeting up with pseudomonas, darcydodo and AL for lunch at the Restaurant du Liban. Very much one of my favourite eateries in Oxford, (authentic and tasty Lebanese food, a pleasant atmosphere, and the owner is a lovely guy who is almost a friend after the number of times I've ended up there, and sensible prices) they excelled themselves on this occasion.
M had met pseudomonas but not darcydodo or AL before; everybody seemed to get on satisfactorily, which is not surprising considering that M is a lovely guy and also very much the same sort of person as most of my close circle. darcydodo is incredibly good at handling social situations, but she still deserves credit for the way she dealt with this one. (As I originally planned this lunch, the party consisted of all three of my exes plus M; I didn't realize this until after I'd invited people, but as it turned out ID couldn't make it and AL could.)
Then M and I headed back to London, which was incredibly slow and I was fidgety about having enough time to catch my train in the evening. However, the unpleasantness of this was greatly mitigated by M's company. In the end we got to Euston in plenty of time and I managed to find a dinky little Nepalese restaurant which fed me supper. Nothing special, but above average for a bog standard Indian takeaway, and being within a stone's throw of the station but inexpensive was definitely a bonus.
In the end the [expletive] train sat around in the station for over an hour for no very obvious reason, so none of that panic was worth it. Anyway M was kind enough to hang around until the train left, so once I'd calmed down we had a very enjoyable conversation. Although I normally always wake up when the train stops at a station, this morning I managed to sleep right through from Edinburgh to Montrose (which is practically all the way to Aberdeen, a lot further than I wanted to go; the fact that they weren't announcing stops didn't help!) So I felt stupid, but I will also comment that the people at Montrose station were incredibly nice and didn't even charge me for travel back to Dundee. And I got to hear someone ask (I'm not making this up!) for a wee tickie, which pleased me.
1] Biblical text with a complete set of traditional commentaries
So, all in all a highly satisfactory weekend!