My assumption that I would be able to rise slightly later on Sunday morning, the one that immediately succeeded the 'wedding', was rather foolish on my part. Due to the consumption of alcohol, most cars were left somewhere other than their registered address. I had to return Samantha's vehicle, as I had taken her home, and her father had to collect his hire car from his daughter. The plan, (and I am still not quite sure why I agreed) was for me to drive downtown to collect Garry, take him to Samantha, then he would drive me home.
By nine o'clock, I was back at my house, having deposited both car and dog with my daughter, and seen the convertible Camero, speed out of my complex, on its way to goodness knows where!
Richard and Steph had packed their bags, and were discussing their imminent departure all too soon. After lunch, at Texas Land and Cattle, where the jalapeno cheesy grits were consumed, by me, and became my instant 'favourite' on the menu, they bid farewell to Edward and Samantha, and Holly, before being driven back to our house for one final 'check under the bed', and a cup of tea. Steph drove their vehicle round to the back of our condo, and they loaded up their cases. I did not realise quite how emotional their departure was going to be. Apparently, Steph felt the same way about their vehicle! Having them to stay for the week was a delight, and enjoying breakfast with my son and his gorgeous wife, was a blessing! I was going to find it hard to adjust. However, as I got back inside the house, I received a message from Beverly, asking what time we wanted to meet for dinner, which helped slightly with the 'separation issues'.
Once again, it was very strange to drive downtown, and have to search for a parking space. Dana experienced the inconvenience for the first time, but we did find a spot almost opposite the Hilton, and went inside. The plush lobby was quite busy, with the motor bike enthusiasts leaving, and the 'convention' attendees arriving. Several large coolers, filled with water and fruit and veg (one lemon, one strawberry, and one cucumber) were dotted around the area, together with plastic cups to aid consumption. We helped ourselves to a beverage, and sat in the rather comfortable arm chairs. Jodi and Will appeared, as they were waiting for Samantha to collect them and take them to her apartment. While we were planning to have a nice relaxing meal, they were ready to continue partying, along with Edward's sister, Pam, and her husband, Chip. I am not sure how many were attending the soiree, but I had opted out, leaving the youngsters to have fun, without parental supervision! In other words, one party in a weekend is quite enough for me! However, Samantha's dad did put in an appearance, but chose to leave before the toasts, as he was driving.
The Moonshine restaurant, a block away from the Hilton, had been very busy at lunchtime, as usual, but I had assumed the crowds would have lessened for the evening session. Beverly had expressed a desire to check it out, and I was quite willing, as we have always enjoyed the food. However, as we exited the hotel, we noticed that the queue was still around the corner, and we decided against entering the arena. Although we do not frequent the establishment on a regular basis, we do know that the tables are rather close together, and the audio level is less than conducive for conversation, no matter how meaningful! Where to go was then our dilemma, but when Stanford expressed a desire for 'meat', we could only think of one place that was within a reasonable distance and would cater for his whim. Texas Land and Cattle has a very varied menu! Having eaten the smoked sirloin for lunch, and having not eaten very much for the past couple of weeks, (mainly because I did not have time, rather than an attempt to diet,) my appetite was not as good as it could have been, and I ordered an appetiser of Nachos, to be brought up with the main meal. On reflection, another order of smoked sirloin (with the jalapeno cheesy grits) would have been the better option, as there would have been less on the plate! The plate did leave the table empty, however, as all tucked in and we enjoyed the company, and the conversation. The night was still reasonably young as we left the Steakhouse, and we suggested they might like to enjoy another Texas tradition. Dairy Queen's slogan is, after all, 'That's what I like about Texas!' We ordered the famous Blizzard, an ice cream treat that is always turned upside down before serving, (no answers on a postcard as to why, please!) and we sat in the corner and chatted some more. As we had work the following morning, we dropped the visitors at their hotel, and headed home.
Monday saw the departure of more guests, and the return to work, for me. Surprisingly enough, the routine of mundane was what the doctor ordered, as getting back into the usual swing of things, was a positive experience. Samantha called to say that she was meeting up with her father, and Chip and Pam, before they all left for the airport, and would I like to join them, as this was going to be my only chance to bid farewell to my (official) new in-laws. The burger bar was only one exit away from the office, and I drove myself to the venue. We enjoyed a very civilised ninety minutes, thirty of which were waiting in line for a table, and the food was excellent! I opted for a salad, as I knew we were meeting up with Beverly and Stanford for dinner, and the restaurant had not yet been decided upon. The second round of 'goodbyes', took place and I returned to work, in a less emotional state than the previous day.
Deciding to take the Brits to our favourite diner was another positive experience. We had introduced our guests to the staple diet of Texas, (Stanford was rather bemused at the fact that steak is on the menu for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and any other meal that takes our fancy,) it was time to reveal another aspect of our culinary preferences; that of good ol' fashion' cookin'. Monday night's special is meatloaf, served with 'y'alls choice of two sides'. Upon Stanford's replying in the affirmative to, 'gravy?', the four of us who reside in the Lone Star State, shouted in unison, 'brown!' This was duly noted by the waitress, but left our friend in somewhat of a confused state. The explanation that there are two choices of sauce, one being the thick, 'in it's own food group', variety, was sufficient, and there was a modicum of relief upon his face, when he saw the 'white' option. The food was good, and plentiful. Our waitress (who has a soft spot for my husband, which I do find rather amusing) was very chirpy, very obvious, and definitely being encouraged by all except the one for whom she has a soft spot. After telling us a portion of her life story, with a hand firmly planted upon Dana's shoulder, tapping occasionally as if it were a cue to laugh, she skipped away rather happily. She returned to clear away the dishes and smile sweetly in a certain person's direction. I did not mean my comment to come out quite as loud, or as sarcastic as it did (although sometimes I wonder if the latter is beyond my control!) but my announcement, 'I think he has had quite enough already', when she asked if Dana would like dessert, was met with raucous laughter. Our waitress left the bill, and skipped away rather happily!
It was such a pleasure to be able to show my friends from England not only how I live, but my actual home. We returned to thecondo for tea and cake (as I had, of course, over catered with on the dessert front for the wedding). We had the guided tour of downstairs, before enjoying 'afters'. However, when I asked Beverly if she would like to see upstairs, she declined, saying that they would be going back to the hotel. Samantha came to the rescue. 'She asked if you would like to see upstairs', she reiterated. The exuberant, 'Yes please', was followed by an explanation. It appeared that she had misheard, and thought I was asking if she would like to stay! I felt much better, as I had considered that perhaps she was uncomfortable in my home, and wanted to leave as soon as she could!
We postponed dinner 'out' on Tuesday night, as both Dana and I were thoroughly exhausted. I had planned to make an evening meal for all to share at the condo, but did not have the energy. The last few months, and the 'grand finale' had finally taken their toll, and the adrenalin had finally run out! I had an early start at the office on Tuesday and apart from a short break for lunch, when I joined the happy couple, at a farewell lunch for Holly and Andrea, I sat at my desk clearing the last week's backlog. I thanked Holly again for being a brick, which she took in the affectionate way it was intended, and suggested that she be 'on call' should I ever need to be 'whipped into shape' again! Upon arriving home, I decided that any 'de-guesting' of bedrooms and house would have to wait until Saturday!
Wednesday was fun! Samantha, now guest free, got into work later than usual, as she had to pick up some papers from one of our clients, who open their doors slightly later than us. My morning started at Joe's, with an extended visit for coffee, and then a trip to have my nails varnished! I was playing hooky for the day, and with no more planning or purchasing for an event, I was going to enjoy every minute! After relaying the weekend's events to my very patient nail technician, I drove to the Hilton and met Beverly in the restaurant. Another cup of coffee was consumed, before bidding adieu to Stanford, and heading out for a girlie day. Our first stop was, ironically enough, a bridal store! Jodi is getting married in September, and there is a shop in Austin that stocks the dress with which she had fallen in love. Although arrangements have been made on the other side of the pond, there were a few details they wished to have clarified, and as the actual gown is made in the USA, it seemed an apt opportunity to speak to someone on home soil. The ladies in the shop were more than willing, and very obliging, and I believe, set minds at rest!
Then on to the mall! With 'prom season' on the way, the variety of evening wear was abundant. I was relieved that I was not in the market for another costume as there were so many from which to choose. We walked the lanes, and enjoyed lunch, before heading back to the Hotel. I did not realise how late it was when I parked the car, and called Dana to ask what time he thought he would be ready for dinner. He was inundated, and had not realised that I was not coming into work for the whole day. After attempting to excuse myself for my tardy behaviour, ever the gentleman, he told me that although this was now 'our' business, it had survived without me for a decade and a half, and assured me that he was not upset, just overwhelmed. Beverly and I took the elevator to the 'pool' floor, and interrupted her husband's 'alone time', with our itinerary for the rest of the day, before going back down to the lobby. The young man behind the reception desk was not particularly au fait with the Austin traffic system. We were asking for a map, that would show my guests the easiest route to the restaurant of choice, that evening. 'We need to avoid the Interstate', was obviously seen not as a direction, but a suggestion, and one he failed to think appropriate. 'Take the frontage road, and get on the Interstate', he said, smiling through gritted teeth. My teeth gritted just as well, as I made my direction, less of a suggestion. His smile, like the DQ Blizzard, turned upside down, and remained there as I suggested he show them how to get out of the car park, and take 6th Street, along to Mopac. Obviously, he took the suggestion as a weakness, and directed them along 1st Street, and then on to Mopac. Perhaps he saw it as a battle of wills, but then suggested Beverly go and ask the Concierge for a map. I left the hotel, and battled traffic, avoiding both Interstate and Mopac, to get back to the office, where I helped take some of the angst away from Dana, (even though he survived for a decade and a half without me!) and we departed for Abuellos at 7pm.
The Concierge had given Beverly and excellent map, which took her along 6th Street and on to Mopac. A very direct route! (One a cabbie.....) The meal was superb! They had now experienced yet another reason why we enjoy the Lone Star State! Tex-Mex at its very best! We took more photographs, laughed a lot, and finally said au revoir, until morning, when Samantha and I said we would join them for breakfast before they headed back north east!
We did not have steak for breakfast, but tacos! The walk back to the hotel was not far, and Beverly and I questioned the same young man that we had encountered the previous day, as to extra charges that had been put on their bill. Assuming that he had the upper hand, he claimed victory very early, telling her that the tax was obligatory, and State law! The amount that was itemised as 'extra' was in fact 'included', and shown as a 'courtesy', giving the guests an idea as to where the money is designated. Victory should never be claimed until the winning line is crossed. Before long, the smile was, once again, blizzarded, and turned upside down, and he removed several items that had not been 'itemised' when the booking was made. I could only hope that his shift was from afternoon until morning, and it would soon be over. Being that it was so near to Easter, he was far from a happy bunny! After several farewell hugs, and promises to meet up when I return to Blighty in the summer, we made one more trip to the 'fruit water' stand, where Beverly proceeded to keep our receptionist unamused, by knocking over the entire stand of cups. We laughed heartily!
I worked a full day Friday, and was very happy to do so. Much as my 'mini vacation' had been exceptionally pleasant, my daily routine is what keeps me going! It was a Good Friday from start to finish. We enjoyed coffee with Joe, and left the office before 6pm!
With all the 'meals out' enjoyed over the two week period, it has also been a pleasure to stand in my kitchen, and prepare dinner. I had not really had an opportunity to settle in to the new office before the big event, and I was still finding it somewhat of a challenge. My new desk is not as good a fit as its predecessor, and I am coming to terms with the new layout. A full week with 'all the trimmings' certainly proved to be a little fraught. However, without life's little ups and downs, I certainly would not have anything with which to write ......... another story.