The four younger boys soon joined Lesley, Graham and Ellie outside, where they were sat around the picnic bench waiting patiently, but hungrily.
“You lot took your time!” Ellie shouted, as the lads began emerging from the toilet. “Come on, we’re all starving! Let’s go and find some food shall we?”
The boys all eagerly agreed, and both Lesley and Graham nodded enthusiastically, standing and gathering the groups various bags.
“Breakfast was a long, long time ago, haha. The nearest restaurant is this way, let’s go and find a table.” Graham led the way, with the small posse following him into a jungle themed restaurant and joining the queue to be seated.
Before long, the 7 of them were sat around a table draped with pretend plant foliage, poring over menus as they decided what to order. The four youngsters of course were making their choice from the ‘little dino’ menu, whilst the adults err busy eyeing up steaks, figuring that if they were going to treat themselves, they may as well do it properly. Ellie, meanwhile, was torn. She kept looking over the adult menu, knowing that she was nearly 14 now and really should be choosing an adult meal, but at the same time only really wanting kids turkey dinosaurs. Had it been just her family, she wouldn’t have hesitated, but ordering from the children menu around Lesley was a little embarrassing! She didn’t let it stop her from colouring in the menu though, something which both her Dad and Lesley noticed and acknowledged with a shared wink, although neither said anything to embarrass her.
“Order whatever you fancy sweetie” Lesley encouraged, pointing at both of the menu’s lying on the table.
Taking a few more moments to consider, Ellie realised that Lesley had seen her growing up for 7 years of her life. She’s known her when she’d dressed in Dora the Explorer dungarees on own clothes day, she’d witnessed her singing entirely the wrong words, solo, in the school concert and, shamefully, shed also been the one to help her clean up after she’d wet her pants, on more than one mortifying occasion. So, in the grand scheme of things, ordering a meal from the kids menu was hardly embarrassing. Her mind made up, she pushed away the list of steaks and salads, pulling the ‘colour-me-in’ menu back in front of her, and announced that she’d have the turkey dinosaurs please, same as the 4 lads, before returning to colouring in the Velociraptor she’d been working on.
Being a themed restaurant, a member of the team arrived dressed in full costume to take their order, and made a point of asking what the ‘dino cubs’ would like to eat, before turning to Ellie “And, how about the little warrior princess?”
Horrified at being referred to in such a way, Ellie hid her face behind her hands, jabbing a finger at the turkey dinosaurs on the menu, too embarrassed to face man and speak out loud, although if she’d taken a moment to consider, she’d have realised that he was himself dressed as a giant pink dinosaur, so clearly it didn’t matter in the slightest!
Lesley and Graham had ordered ‘dino steaks’, and even agreed to share a small bottle of wine, on the basis that the’d be at the park for at least a couple more hours yet, so would be fine to drive home afterwards.
When their meals arrived, Lesley was served first, and then the waiter turned to Graham “And for your husband…” she declared, placing the plate before him.
The man made to protest, but Lesley was quick to place her hand on his, drawing his attention and smiling at him. Thinking about it, she really didn’t mind being mistaken for Graham’s wife, not at all. She’d not had any interest in romance since her husband had left, the bitter and painful divorce all but extinguishing any remaining spark she may have felt, but now she sat with Graham and their respective children, she felt a sense of warm companionship which she hadn’t for many years, and it felt good.
Returning her smile, and gripping her hand tightly and affectionately, Graham nodded his thanks to the waiter, and proffered a tip as their wine was poured.
Retuning with the children’s meals, the waiter placed their plates before them, with the boys each topped off with a plastic dinosaur action figure, and Ellie’s crowned with a warrior princess tiara. Obligingly, she placed the headdress atop her head, causing the rest of the party to burst out laughing, before convincing them all to pose for a group selfie – Lesley and Graham in the background, two boys either side of Ellie holding up their dinosaurs, and Ellie herself in the middle, with the tiara resting on top of her hair, all 7 beaming wide smiles. It was only as Ellie looked a the photo, ready to post it on her social media account, that she noticed her dad had placed an arm around Lesley’s shoulders.2
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