The Night Before

Last night I was invited out to the local brewery, which holds “members nights” every so often – for paid members to visit (along with two guests per member), and try out the various beers the brewery produces. They host a live band, a barbecue, and a chance to meet up with friends you might not have seen for some time – hundreds of people from the surrounding area typically descend on the brewery for the evening.

It was cold last night. Really cold. You’ll notice in the photo accompanying this post that the hand holding the pint of beer is wrapped in a glove. That’s my hand, and that’s one of my cycling gloves. The cold permeated the glove, and caused my fingers to go numb in short order.

Towards the end of the evening I made the regulation visit to the brewery shop, where they line up the prettiest bottles around the checkouts, ready to capture guilty husbands about to set off home. I bought a bottle of wine, a bottle of rum, a bottle of Tokaji, and a bottle of marmalade vodka that happened to be standing next to the checkout. Yes – marmalade vodka – you read that right. I bought one last year and never saw it again – hopefully this year I’ll get to try it out.

Other than the cold, the beer, and the shop I got to make a new friend last night – the newly married wife of a guy I used to work with. She was funny, charming, interesting, and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at some point. I apologised for not making it to their wedding – and half-explained about the reasons we haven’t really been anywhere or done anything for the last couple of years. It turned out my new friend’s line of work coincided with the challenges our children happen to face. I worried we were boring everybody as the conversation centered around parenting, education, and child development, but nobody seemed to mind.

The brewery is a mile or so from home, so we set out into the night wrapped like polar explorers, secure in the curious blanket of warmth and laughter that alcohol seems to provide – our faces aching from laughter, and filled with conversations about meeting up soon, going to a pub quiz, or doing something – anything – together soon. I’ve lost count of the times that conversation has happened after parties with friends.

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