It seemed a wonderful idea. My three friends and I ( known as the badger bitches, or The Coven’ to Andy) had decided that as we were unable to meet for our usual get together featuring gastronomic delights and fine wine in my home as usual due to covid regulations , we would need to meet to exchange gifts and recharge ourselves in the way only a night with friends can do by meeting outside at a mutually convenient time.
So we chose my special place which they have kindly adopted as ours at the Rollright stones. There we have plenty of space , we can pick a time when there are no tourists and sit and chat socially distant but together. But it is December, and cold. And wet. And very very cold ( Did I mention that?). Deciding it would be a bit of a lark to meet at sunset and take lanterns and candles .We had images of a night time picnic with us being central in the stones portraying a slightly mystical ,ethereal spectacle should anyone come by.
I packed my picnic bag with hot chocolate in a flask , enough goodies to feed a small army( we each do this…its good to have choice!) and grabbed a picnic rug, candles and made up a bag of essential items for such a gathering. Lengths of ribbon, for doing witches ladders, pendulum and dowsing mat and a few other bits we might need depending on what candle magic we fancied .
Away I went…this is going to be such fun i thought to my silly , naive self. Cosy in the car the drizzle was just a little nuisance, the heating and warm seats were comfy and cosy and the wind rocking the car was just adding to the excitement. I got out of the car. Ok. It’s a bit chillier than I thought but that’s ok…put on my coat…now I do not wear a coat. EVER. I don’t walk anywhere and driving in a coat is really uncomfy so my coat although kept in my car is usually neglected. This was testament as to how cold I was in the first few minutes! I was the first to arrive so determined to bagsy the only bench at the site ( because who knew how many countless others might decide to have a wander around the stones in a gale in the dark ) I loaded up with picnic bag, camping chairs and bag of magic goodies. Stumbling and squelching through the quagmire I reached the stones…this is going to be ok I thought.
It’s an adventure! We are making memories! I set out the things and wait for the other girls to arrive, the wind is whispering through the trees, the rain a light mist, for about three minutes! Then it pours and the trees are no longer whispering. They are screaming and I’ve lost feeling in my toes.I check the time, they are late, but that’s ok, I am having fun. I tell myself sternly. At last the first two girls arrive, they have been waiting for me in their respective cars, of course why would anyone wait in the middle of a field in this weather? I greet them with a smile( it is actually a grimace but let’s not split hairs) and suggest we retire to the copse as it might be a little more sheltered.
Lugging all the bags again we stumble splodge squelch to the relative shade of the trees and find an area to sit. Pleasantries are exchanged, manic laughing ensues and hot drinks poured.into mugs Lynds has produced as gifts to demonstrate how much she cares for us each. Mine has a Robin saying Tosser and Jennys says Arsehole. ( We know that Maries says Pisshead and I think that might be more apt for me at this stage of my life ). At this point Lynds shows us her hand with its white dead finger.
‘Its ok this happens lots it my raynauds,’,,and proceeds to swing her arm around like a windmill to force some sort of life back into it. The rain cascades, the wind howls the cold…permeates and we are still determined to have fun. The darkness falls and Marie arrives…with umbrellas and fully functioning toes and fingers unlike the rest of us at this point. She hands us each a candle and pulls out a box of matches and tries to light one…I glance at Jenny and we giggle childishly as I hold a lighter…watching Marie struggle . except the match lights in the end and my fingers are so cold I can’t make the lighter work.
The food is consumed greedily as usual and the darkness becomes thick. We sat huddled into ourselves and whilst we would have so enjoyed making knot spells and lighting lanterns then frolicking in the middle of the stones in the night we are bloody freezing and after two hours of laughing and being stoic I suggest we go home. The girls are amazing, I know they are trying to keep my spirits up although we have made another ( very strange yet beautifully odd) memory we need a hot bath and to thaw out. We make our way back to the cars and exchange gifts. I will open Christmas morning and think about how lucky I am to have such unique and true friends.
Home at last, I soak in the bath and think how Andy would have brought me up a coffee laced with whisky then sat and chatted about the nights events laughing at how silly we are whilst I warmed up in the deliciously hot water, instead I have two little dogs crying because they cant get into the bath with me… I am surrounded by love and the thought helps as I realise I’m crying yet again.