The Cottage Smallholder

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The Cottage Smallholder Buckinghamshire meet up

Feverfew and Rabbits Ear flower stalks

Feverfew and Rabbits Ear flower stalks

We got lost in Milton Keynes. We didn’t follow the AA instructions – so it was our fault. Danny was calm from the outset and I secretly panicked. No roundabout name matched the ones on the instructions. In Newmarket we have three major roundabouts. Milton Keynes has a few more. So I gingerly admitted the problem.

Captain Danny proved to be calm at the helm.
“Let’s go north. If we were supposed to be going north on the M1 we were probably meant to bypass a lot of the town.”

If I’d been driving alone there would have been tears. I have a poor sense of direction and have wept in many lay-bys across the UK. They never seem to be the ones that serve a sustaining bacon roll and cup of sweet tea.

We drove and drove. As we twirled around the many roundabouts we noted that the superb names did not match the key ones on our route. We discovered that Milton Keynes is a very big place. As it doesn’t have a cathedral it cannot be called a city. But it’s a town the size of a city and more.

Where was Roman Park? Was Toffeeapple nervously checking her watch? Would we ever find the place and give TA the hug that she desrves. You might not have noticed that our forum has one main administrator. Toffeeapple is there day after day keeping you lot in line with her wicked spanner and a lot more. She just gets a small Christmas box for her efforts so don’t test her limits, ever.

Back to the tale of being lost in MK. I was gettig increasingly jittery and then suddenly, like finding pairs in a tricky game of pelmanism, a roundabout matched one of the ones on our instructions. Then another, and another. And within minutes we were there.

Meeting people that you ‘know’ on the Internet but have not met in ‘real life’ always gives me an apprehensive twinge. Will they look like their gravitar/photo? Could they be murderous stalkers? Will we warm to them? What will we do if they don’t like us? And there’s the rub.

But of course most of these relationships have been built up over quite some time. We ‘know’ other people on the blog and forum yet probably haven’t been exposed to any slightly scratchy edges. These are hidden blips that make each one of us a bit more human – to me these are the interesting and integral pieces of a complete personality. I can report back that from the first two meet ups, none of us to date are from the Stepford dynasty.

We have a lot in common – otherwise whay would they have visited our site. Many more laughs than we’d ever expect from anyone. Lots of warmth and generosity of spirit. It’s refreshing in the best possible way. If you have a website/blog/forum be brave and try a meet. It will plump up your faith in humanity. And that’s what we all need in these testing times.

The Buckinghamshire meet up was very good. Smaller than the big summer party but equally fun. This event was hosted by our Key Forum Moderator Toffeeapple/Toni (she had left her controlling spanner pronger at home, thank goodness!). When we arrived we were we calmed by her warm hugs. Along with the fabulous Toni, we finally met KateUK, Catofstripes/Manda and Mr Catofstripes/Paul. The usual suspects were Seth/Ray and Jean/Gottaknit with the perfect pop up banquet, Michelle and Dan from Oregon (U.S.A.) and Danny and me.

As we were leaving Mos/Geoff had just drawn into the car park. He was driving a pick up with a detachable dinky mobile home perched on the back. So cute that I wanted to move into it immediately. He had bought it in Cornwall and MK was the key pit stop on the way back home.  Heather (his partner and Super Chef) unfortunately was on a double shift and was busy wearing whites in a boiling kitchen somewhere near Wolverhampton. Heather we missed you. Do hope that you didn’t succumb to the 48 hour bug that felled your fellow workers.

Of course we snaked back to catch up on Mos’s news. Jean opened up her banquet hamper and he feasted.

When we finally glided away in The Duchess, we felt so warm and happy that the Internet had introduced us to so many good friends. Thank you Tim Berners – Lee  from the bottom of my heart. You have changed our lives completely! Absolutely for the better. Talking face to face is good but if you can’t do that, your Internet shines with loads of vroom. I did meet Danny 13 years ago on the Internet after all. These meet ups, our blog and our forum are all down to you!

Raising a glass of slightly immature sour cherry gin as my fingers fumble over the keyboard… Thanks to everyone who braved the motorways to our second CSH meet up! We really enjoyed the event and touching base with every one of you.

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  1. The Liquineer

    Used to live in Buckingham town so saw MK expand rapidly in that time. It was even more confusing at one time when the old country lanes suddenly came to an abrupt dead end as a new V or H road had been driven through cutting through the countryside. Sounds like it was as enjoyable as the Summer event.

  2. kate (uk)

    We got lost too!Was lovely to meet people. Seth,I have delivered the tomato to my Mother and await her opinion.Jean- not had a chance to look at the wool shop yet as I had some Americans with me….thanks TA for organising and how cross were we we missed Geoff?very!

  3. Ahhhh…good old MK. I lived there for 5 years and got lost on a weekly basis. Now I work here…and still get lost on a weekly basis. I’ve never driven so MK is a source of utter consternation to me, and the huge distances between places make using buses for a non-driver mandatory.

    However, the redways are a good source of sloes, bullaces, damsons, rose hips, crab apples, normal apples and blackberries. You can tell how I spend my lunch hours in the summer and autumn can’t you ;-))

    Glad you had a lovely time, and I was interested to read you met Danny on the Internet. I met my husband on the internet too.

  4. Toffeeapple

    You didn’t tell me that you got lost! You poor things, everything looks the same when you are new to the area.

  5. Tanya @ Lovely Greens

    Despite the driving/getting lost bit you really sound like you had a great time! I just love the idea of meeting up with bloggers with similar interests and experiences. Just fantastic 🙂

  6. Ah, you haven’t had the true MK experience till you’ve got lost 🙂 I have spent many happy (?) hours driving around MK. The roundabouts may have superb names, but it all looks the same. However, once you’ve figured out the H (horizontal) and V (vertical) grid numbering system, it all gets a lot easier, even for the direction-challenged like you and me. Just count up or down to the one you want 🙂

    Sir Tim Berners-Lee is my hero too. I have endless admiration for him — not just for what he did, but for the way he did it, making sure the key protocols that make the web work could not be taken over and made proprietary. Someone I would love to have tea with!

  7. I had a meet up recently with someone who has followed my blog for three years and indeed it was like meeting an old friend. She was really brave as she came out to see us here in Latvia and she lives in England.

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