THURSDAY: Woke up, showered, caught coach, napped en route to Birmingham, arrived at Birmingham on time, grabbed lunch from the cafe on the same block as the coach station that charges distinctly smaller prices than the cafe in the station itself. My coach from Birmingham to Oxford arrived about 45 minutes late, due to an accident on the M6 further north, and left about an hour late. It lost a further ten minutes on the way to Stratford-upon-Avon, but made five of them back by the time it had got to Oxford. Final result: 65 minutes late. Met leathellin and metame who had been waiting for me in the designated pub tremendously patiently; we had an entertaining 50 minutes' discussion about jobs, lacks thereof, board games and (most memorably) fraud. Lovely to see them again after, probably, about five or six years.
Shortly afterwards, I discovered that part of the metal frame that stiffens my suitcase had snapped. Accordingly, when I tried to drag it along the ground by its wheels, one of the extruding snapped metal rods rattled along the ground, impeding progress. This effectively made dragging the case along impractically slow and noisy, so I ended up having to carry it in the air instead. It was a very heavy case, to the point where it could not conveniently be carried in one hand - I usually grabbed it in both arms and staggered one or two hundred footfalls before needing to stop for a rest. About ½-¾ of a mile later, I reached the divine Peppers whose half-pounder with tandoori and aioli retained the title of World's Best Burger Bar for about the seventh year in succession. The wander back through town suffered from exhaustion - it took me about 70 minutes for the two journeys plus the burger-inspired break in the middle.
I reached the bus stop for Abingdon where I was greeted by a lady who might politely be described as enthusiastic. As truecatachresis had posted, there were anti-war demonstrations taking place in Oxford that day which had caused the cancellation of a number of bus services and the rumoured redirection of others. Happily, my wait was only about 40 minutes or so before a suitable bus turned up, albeit not quite the one that had been intended. A fortuitous visual memory recollection later, I got off at a stop only one after the ideal one and found the house without too much more difficulty - albeit arriving at 9:30 pm rather than the intended 8 pm.
At this point, it occurs that I haven't mentioned the purpose of this trip. Effectively it was a reunion of a number of members of the Oxford University Diplomacy Society at the house of former secretary Phil Hannay (wedding photos) plus a number of his gaming colleagues from work. Phil's wife Sarah attended for the first day and a half before leaving to visit parents. On average, there are two or three such weekend-long gatherings organised by people each year, plus a handful of externally-organised larger games conventions where we frequently tend to congregate.
Edit: I haven't really felt like finishing writing this out in full, and I've been putting it off for a couple of days, so I doubt that I ever will get to finish it off after all. Suffice to say that here are the notes I made at the time to flesh out later: Age of Steam, room setup, sleep, FRIDAY, Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Wiggy's World, Lunch, Planet Laser, Carc H+G, Dinner, Buffy game, Werewolf, Swings, sleep, SATURDAY, Rising, Trip to Harrow o t H, Portaloo, demo, pics, Hyde Park, return journey, sleep, Food - "bun in batter", Really Nasty Horse Racing Game, Curry and strobe, Ball games, I Have A Ball, Mao, sleep, SUNDAY, wake, rush, Radcliffe Arms, journey home, sleep. If you want me to expand on any of these then I will do, but I feel like neither (a) describing them all in full nor (b) picking a few to describe in full at the moment. I'll certainly post the pics I took at the "stop the war" demo I attended in London last Saturday. Many thanks to truecatachresis for meeting up with me on Sunday lunchtime and many apologies to lambertman for not wishing him a happy birthday in a more timely fashion. It's just started to be cygnusfap's birthday as well, so a pair of birthday greetings to you both.
I'm in a pretty decent mood at the moment, not least because I'm off to Mac200bage tomorrow. (Back Monday.) Have been writing quite a few comments in other people's journals and a reasonable deal of e-mail too, just haven't really felt like producing a full write-up right now.