I fact the last one i went to was probably 11 years ago.
But that changed this weekend. There was supposed to be a nice sized group heading to Stratford (the real one, not the fake one in East London) but over the weeks people dropped out. The organiser asked if my hotel was refundable since so few people were going, I replied that it wasn't but also that I wasn't fussed about it being smaller than Gathering I had attended in the past.
In the end it was myself, a player from my neck of the woods back in the Midlands, and the organiser, her husband and their daughter.
It's funny, I thought I hadn't met them before, but it turns out that I had! At the very first Gathering I attended, they had been there, along with their daughter who was a babe-in-arms, I just didn't remember. Mostly because I was quite drunk.
It was a lot of fun, after I had checked in, the organiser bemoaned that myself and the other midlands should have brought our research notes on the game, so that she and her husband could help. There was a pause, and we both replied that we had!
As if i was going to pass up the opportunity to get some help on puzzles I had been stuck on for years!
Anyway, after we met at the hotel, we took a slow walk into Stratford and the marina by the theatre. I've been to Stratford many times, since when I lived in Birmingham it's under an hour by car, and it's usually a bit touristy for my tastes. I think picking September was a good idea, although it was touristy, it was a lot quieter than when I have been in warmer months.
We took a tourist cruise around a section of the Avon, which was fun. Although I consider myself a land-locked Brummie, I have a fondness for rivers and canals. We sailed past very expensive houses, and pondered how much we would have to win on the lottery to be able to afford them.
Of course I had to have dessert, and went for a vanilla creme brulee with a top that was so thick and solid it really required a good hard crack with a spoon.
Then it was time to roll down the road back to the hotel. People can be snobby about Premier Inns, but the bed was good and the room clean, although it had a slightly strange smell to it and the windows don't open to let fresh air in. The staff were all as polite and helpful as one could wish. One obligingly took a group photo for us, and let us have an ice bucket for red wine.
Although the bars on the windows of my room were a little off putting.