During all the sunny days this week I've been working, of course. So, assuming that today would be sunny and warm, I thought it would be a good idea to go for a walk round Golden Acre Park, just outside Leeds.
Today was not sunny and warm. It was cloudy and cold, with a howling gale. But still, the ducks and geese and gulls enjoyed the bread that we brought and the daffodils were coming out, though I think they were regretting it.
So Stephen and I decided to take refuge in the cafe for lunch.
It used to be carpeted but now it has a wooden floor. No doubt this is easier to clean but it is MUCH NOISIER, especially when the cafe is full of babies and toddlers, which it always is.
It was packed. There are fewer tables than there used to be, or perhaps they are differently arranged. Anyway, we didn't fancy sitting outside on the patio. One or two hardy souls were trying it and their food was doing its utmost to take off and blow away to Otley. Also their faces were blue, which put me off the eating-outside idea rather.
So we were about to head off to find somewhere else, when two friendly elderly ladies informed me that they were just leaving, and wasn't it busy today, and would we like their table, and they would clear it for us - - and they did.
So down we sat. It was a long thin table that was meant for five. At the far end by the window sat Earnest Reading Lady who had finished her coffee and was now finishing her Very Serious Novel, apparently completely unaware that there was now a queue for tables and that the whole place was ankle-deep in small children.
We ordered our food and after a while Earnest Reading Lady got to the last page, sighed with pleasure, and then stood up and left.
I was feeling public-spirited after the kindess shown to us by the elderly ladies. So I suggested to Stephen that we could move to the window end of the table, leaving room for three other people on the other end.
So we did. My side was fine. Stephen was blocked in by three toddlers but it didn't really matter since he wasn't planning to move for a while.
Then Hearty Walking Man appeared and looked at our table.
"Are these spaces free?" he asked in jolly tones.
"Oh, yes, certainly," I said, still feeling public-spirited and noting the ever-lengthening queue for tables.
"Good," he said. Then his tone changed. "There are four of us," he said, glaring disapprovingly at one of the spare chairs on which rested my bag and coat.
Of course, my answer should have been, "Well there isn't room for four. So go away." But unfortunately I was brought up to be polite, so I removed my bag and coat and there was nowhere to put them so I squashed them under my chair.
Then his Hearty Walking Friends arrived and plonked themselves down next to us, covering every available piece of table and floor with their rucksacks and scarves and woolly gloves and bobble hats and Pac-a-Macs and cagoules and spare bobble hats.
Empowered by the fact that there were four of them and only two of us, they gradually oozed bits of bobble hat over onto our table whilst pressing their corduroy-clad thighs next to mine.
Then they started a LOUD AND HEARTY conversation about the WEATHER and WHAT WAS IN THE NEWSPAPERS. It didn't even contain any interesting gossip but it was so loud that Stephen and I could barely make ourselves heard.
It didn't make for a restful lunchtime. I am afraid that my public-spirited mood has now evaporated. The next time I'm at a table in a cafe with room for more people at our table, I too will be speaking in LOUD AND HEARTY tones, every time anyone approaches, and quite possibly discussing infectious diseases. I will spread bags and coats over every chair and I will pretend I'm deaf if anyone speaks to me. Big Society? Forget it. Not at my table. Pah.