For the first time I could remember, I was the oldest person at a nodermeet.
Arveragus and I popped up to St Albans market before catching the train yesterday morning. Thameslink was dismal, as usual. When we got to Blackfriars, the tube ticket barrier refused Arveragus' ticket, which annoyed me, as buying the ticket from the idiots at Charing Cross earlier in the week had been stressful enough. Fortunately, we were able to get a replacement ticket that worked, for no extra charge. Thence by District Line to Embankment, and over Hungerford Bridge to Waterloo, where we picked up the South West Trains service to Winchester.
Arriving at Winchester we were met by HamsterMan and Hexter, who escorted us into the town centre. The Hamster ran off to obtain some more refreshments, while Hex showed us the cathedral, with its Norman arches and subsided floor. Once HamsterMan returned, we also saw a statue of the diver who replaced the cathedral's wooden foundations with concrete, thus stopping the subsidence, and the grave of Jane Austen. Then off to the College.
Winchester College is a confusing place, with a house called College and a building called School. It also has a fine chapel and a very nice chantry, two sets of cloisters (more than most abbeys), and most of all, excellent noders, several of whom are leaving this week. We had a whistle-stop tour of the site, including graffiti by Anthony Trollope, and then met up with the rest of the e2wykehamists to head up St Catherine's Hill for our meet. On the way we passed cricket pitches and a very boggy nature reserve, into which HamsterMan told us he had once led a group of cadets.
I proved my innate wussiness by being the slowest, by far, at climbing the hill. The view from the top was splendid, though, and well worth it. On top was a stand of trees and a turf mizmaze. We ignored both and set ourselves down on the hillside overlooking the city to feast on home-made ice cream, crisps, sandwiches, french bread, and many other goodly things. The chocolate all melted, though. As the meal progressed, we also played about half a game of Munchkin, and there was duelling with plastic light sabres. We were joined at this point by a scar faery, the only female to attend, alas. Shortly after, with much bad punnage, we made our way into the shade of the trees, to avoid too much sunburn. (I still looked like a lobster afterwards, though.) More duelling, including me sprawling on my arse, ensued. Arveragus and HamsterMan showed the rest of us up by virtue of being trained fencers. Hexter proved himself to be Winchester's Strongest Noder in an impromptu log-rolling contest. A telephone call was made to darl, in India, to wish him a Happy Birthday. We also played Chrononauts, in which Hitler was assassinated several times, and the whole space-time continuum finally destroyed.
As the sun lowered (slightly - this is 51 degrees north in mid-summer) we headed back into town in search of dinner and more beer. Avoiding the main area of the College, we went along the riverside, stopping at the Youth Hostel to allow a scar faery to deposit her stuff. Then we split the party in search of a pub called the Ship. On arrival, we found that the Ship had thumpy music and a burly bouncer, and so retreated to the beer garden of another nearby establishment whose name escapes me. There some of us thought about ordering food, but as I've seen London restaurants with cheaper prices, we decided against. One beer or so later it was time for the Albanian contingent to head home, and so we wandered back up to the station. Wishing HamsterMan luck on his impending trip to Israel, we boarded the train and went dozily home. As far as I know, no-one was busted by a Don in the course of this noder meet, and there was certainly no morris dancing.