"I was talking to my old primary school head at the storytelling session," Malcolm belatedly informs me. "I was at school with her son and he's just moved up to Skipton from
with his wife and 3 year-old-son." Bristol
"Is his wife a Southerner," I ask eagerly. "Do you think we could be soul mates?"
"I think so. She was sitting opposite you."
"Well why didn't you introduce us then?!"
So I have to do my own detective work, track down a number and leave a jaunty phone message, basically saying "Will you be my friend," whilst trying not to sound too needy or desperate.
Our first play date is fixed for six days' time. The forecast is dry for once so we opt for a state of the art village park, newly and tastefully instated thanks to various outdoor grants. "We could bring a picnic," texts my date. "Owen will have his scooter so Joe might want to bring one if he has one." Now that ticks all my boxes.
We get there first, unfashionably early. It's ominously grey and very chilly, but no cancellation text materialises and soon Joe and Owen are scooting around the skatepark and digging in the sandpit and clambering over the play equipment while Kate and I chat about life without a city or friends but dangerously close to the in-laws. She even lived in Stoke Newington for six years and has brought buckets and spades for the sandpit.
We're in a picturesque stone village with a river babbling by, moors on the horizon, boys in their element charging around an empty playground and the regular hoot of a train passing the level crossing. What more could mums with young boys want?
A coffee. Where's a chichi cafe with quality take-away coffee when you need one? We try the pub. Closed. (Shame since we both need the loo by now.) The second pub? Unfriendly and doesn't do hot drinks and we don't dare ask to use the loos. As luck would have it, the little post office has a coffee sign outside and a hot drinks machine inside. Monmouth coffee it isn't, but hot and wet in a takeaway cup it is.
Somehow five hours go by in this little rural playground, including three trips to the post office drinks machine and one much needed trip behind a bush. Joe's definitely made a new friend, and I think I have too.