I feel rather full of lunch, in a good way. My father's cousin, who moved up to Lancashire at the start of the year to be near his nephew, returned to Suffolk for a visit to his U3A, where his friends had organised for him to receive a lifetime achievement award. He rang me a while back to see if the Systems Administrator and I would like to come to the ceremony. It is a long drive from north Essex to Lytham St Annes to see my cousin, and we said that we would. Then one of his friends kindly asked us to the lunch party she was organising for him. My cousin's U3A crowd are a cheerful bunch, and we accepted with alacrity.
I knew that my cousin had been one of the founder members of the East Suffolk branch of the University of the Third Age, but hadn't grasped quite how much of a founder he was. Today was their twenty-eighth Annual General Meeting, and they have over two thousand members with monthly meetings held at four locations and over a hundred and fifty interest groups. It was my cousin who put the original advertisement in the local paper, inviting people interested in forming an Ipswich branch of the U3A to a meeting.
When he moved away the members of the geology group that he ran clubbed together to organise membership for him of the local geology societies in Lancashire, and I was touched that the whole group had arranged for him to have an award. It was handwritten by a member of the calligraphy group (naturally), framed, and they had arranged for the Lord Lieutenant of Suffolk to come and present it to him. I was rather excited at the prospect of seeing a Lord Lieutenant in the flesh after my parents' account of the visit of the Devon Lord Lieutenant to Exeter university. That had a distinctly Lucky Jim vibe to it, because his official uniform included spurs and the campus tour was carefully planned so that he would only have to walk up stairs and not down them.
Suffolk's Lord Lieutenant was not wearing spurs, or even an official uniform other than a large ribbon pinned to her chest, but she was the first woman ever to have held the post since its introduction under Henry VIII. I was duly impressed, and charmed by Clare, Countess of Euston. Heavy rain on the roads meant that she was slightly late, and so my cousin's award was presented after the AGM rather than before it, meaning we ended up staying for the full meeting. After the address and presentation we got tea and cake while being serenaded by a ukulele orchestra, which hit the same problem as my music society's jazz evening, in that people were not sure whether they were supposed to listen attentively or were allowed to treat the orchestra as background music while chatting. The majority opted to talk until they were told off for their discourtesy to the orchestra.
So I was pleased to see my cousin, and a real live female Lord Lieutenant. But I do now feel as though I'd eaten more than I usually do at lunchtime, while having taken no exercise today whatsoever.
Addendum I thought yesterday afternoon that the old and new hens were starting to flock as one. I went out yesterday evening to shut the hen house as thunder rumbled away in the background. Peering in through the end window to check that the little hens had gone in and weren't still loitering in the run, I saw the old lady Maran where the tinies usually perch. Looking through the window at the other end I saw the ex-broody, so I opened the roof of the house, to find the little hens sandwiched in the middle, with the former broody's wing stretched protectively over two of them.