These past few days have been absolutely astonishing in so many ways. Magic and surprises are becoming almost an every-day occurrence. Friendships are thriving. Prospects are flourishing. Solutions are showing themselves at every opportunity. Some expected, but many more as wonderful surprises.
Take Sunday, for example. I arrived in Edinburgh to see my friend Mary Turner Thomson, and as soon as we reached her house she presented me with a mock-up of the front cover for my first book! To actually hold it in my hands suddenly made it all so very real. One step closer to the dream taking form and catapulting my life one stage further on. Totally unexpected and quite a motivator, I can tell you!
We had a wonderful time together with the children - and we all made the most of the sunshine rolling down the grassy banks in the nearby park. I haven't done that since I was a child myself! And yes, whilst staying mindful of my less than whole knee, I threw myself into the game with gay abandon - joining in with the races, and holding hands with her small son so we could roll down together like a huge articulated sausage, shouting and screaming all the way... and it felt absolutely marvelous! Exhilarating, liberating, energising - and that "devil-may-care" sort of a feeling that seems to keep presenting itself these days. Mind you, I don't remember feeling quite so dizzy, queasy or breathless after similar escapades when I was a child... hmmm...
In the evening Mary and I spent ages just chatting - sharing secrets, making plans and finding even more and more things in common. We may only have met at the end of last year, but as we agreed, we simply can't imagine a time when we didn't know each other. Soulmate Sisters - that's what it feels like. And we now have a lifetime ahead of us.
Monday found me heading down to Darlington to see Audrey and stay with her for the next couple of days. I had never been to Audrey's house and had never met Ewan, her husband. But over the past few weeks I have come to know Audrey as a true friend - and a real-life Angel. Someone who enriches my life in so many wonderful and surprising ways. For example, on the night before the Top Banana Team Day, she had thought to pack some food and snacks in case I was hungry after my journey - even though she had faced a 5 hour drive herself to get there! On arrival, she presented me with the most beautiful card (which made me cry and now sits on my desk) and showed such wonderful thoughtfulness and kindness, and continued to "look out for me" throughout the entire time we were together.
When I arrived at her (beautiful and welcoming) home last week, I found another gift for me sitting on my bed in the guest bedroom. This time a beautiful Pandora bracelet with an angel charm on it. And that was just the start of it. Chocolate cake baked specially for me. A delicious evening meal. Visits booked to meet new people. And trust, laughter, and authenticity at every turn - truly enriching and energising, and also humbling at the same time.
It seems to me that I am collecting the most amazingly inspiring bunch of friends around me - proper Top Bananas - together with a growing number of "holiday homes" up and down the country! Flippin heck, just how lucky can a girl get?
And this brings me back to my original point. You see, I thought life just couldn't get better. I thought that now I was on a steady stream of "goodness" heading my way. But no. The Bank Manager was just something else.
I had accompanied Audrey while she opened a new account and had her first meeting with this lady. The previous chap had looked after Audrey's account very well indeed. In fact it seems he'd been so brilliant that he'd been promoted elsewhere - much to Audrey's disappointment - and today she had a meeting to find out who was going to replace him. This slightly nervous lady, it transpired, had been with the bank for many years with personal banking, and had just been moved over to business to fill the gap left by this aforementioned super-star. Our expectations were not very high.
It started off as just a normal meeting, nothing extraordinary, but as it progressed we realised that this lady had more to her that first appearances would suggest. One of the questions on the endless pages of forms Audrey had to fill in was "How would you like to be addressed?" A slightly bizarre question, certainly, but no less bizarre than Audrey's answer - "Princess Audrey, please!" she retorted, winking at me and with her head cocked to one side, a cheeky grin spreading across her face. The Bank Manager didn't flinch, and I wondered whether she'd heard.
Until, at the end of the meeting, when she showed us out of her office, she shook hands and with a twinkle in her eye she gave a mock curtsey and said "Thank you, Princess Audrey, I shall be in touch with you as soon as I have your new account details!" Well, that shut us up and at the same time shot the Bank Manager straight to the top of the leader board in customer service! Who would have thought it? Mouths open, and full of admiration, we left the bank discussing the little surprises in life that make us feel good.
The next afternoon I walked in to Audrey's kitchen to find her giggling uncontrollably "Listen to this! You've GOT to hear this!" she squeaked, smiling from ear to ear. The Bank Manager had left her a message on her mobile. It went something like this:
"Good afternoon, Princess Audrey. I'm just calling you to let you know your account is now set up and everything has been agreed as requested. It was a pleasure meeting you, m'am, and I look forward to working with you Princess Audrey"
Brilliant! It really doesn't take much to brighten someone's day, and this lady had gone out of her way to do just that, and in the process has likely secured a customer for life. What a star! She's also the first person I shall approach when I need a new account - so two for the price of one.
Now, she's a real Top Banana we agreed, nodding and smiling together, and again I noticed that growing feeling of warmth and happiness that is now as natural to me as breathing.
Life IS good, and ALL is well.