Week 262

22nd December, 2013

A beautiful, warm and sunny Spring day in the middle of December. Yesterday was mid-Winter and the Shortest Day or Winter Solstice. It produced tranquil, evening colours on the landscape.

solstice

Today starts the march towards the Summer. Once again, we are warmer than Athens.

Unfortunately, I’m celebrating Christmas with a stinking head cold. It is the first bug I have suffered from since I finished work four years ago when I would expect to get two or three of these each year as the pupils passed it round the institution.

23rd December, 2013

A bad night and the heavy head cold persists. We’ve had to cancel a trip to the Health Club. The day outside is extremely warm but has turned very wet and windy as we approach lunchtime. (What am I talking about? I don’t eat lunch.)

Pauline is cooking for Christmas – preparing two kinds of stuffing: sausage meat & chestnut and sage & onion , two sauces: cranberry and apple. She is preparing pigs in blankets, finishing the Christmas cake decoration and checking on the pudding. She made meringues and double cream, vanilla ice cream. One thing’s for certain, there will be no shortage of food.

24th December, 2013

It was a wild night of gale force winds and torrential rain but the morning dawned still and dry and very mild. The television news this morning, however, and the newspapers were dominated by the effects of the storm. The Surrey/Sussex border seemed to be particularly bad along with the South Coast. These are pictures from the morning papers:

flood1 flood2 flood3 flood4

Hundreds of trains weren’t running because of trees across the line. There were reports of thousands of people without power. Phyllis & Colin arrived to say they were without power and had been since midnight. A terminal at Gatwick was packed with people trying to get home for Christmas but going nowhere because of persistent power cuts.

flood5

The sun is out here and we are preparing for a family trip to the best, local Italian restaurant for a late afternoon meal. All diets are off when we step through the doors of Amore.

25th December, 2013

hc

In spite of terrible floods and power outrages, Christmas morning has opened up bright and sunny if rather ‘crisp’. We had a lovely Italian meal with the family last night. We drank wine but still managed to rise around 7.00 am. The news was all about towns and villages not far from us being flooded and cut off, thousands of houses without power for Christmas Day. We feel fortunate and we hope you do too.

It was on this day five years ago that the Blog actually started and it was with this picture of Pauline’s Mum out on the fields of West Yorkshire. Sadly, neither are still with us

mum

although both are in our minds and hearts.

Pauline cooked the most magnificent meal. The trouble was that trying to eat two days running was too much for me. Everybody enjoyed the day and we went to bed tired and stuffed.

26th December, 2013

We woke at 6.30 am still tired and stuffed but to the Radio 4 news telling us that Byfleet – a village about two miles down the road – was virtually cut off by flood waters and that the giant retail park, which houses M&S and the Tesco hyperstore where they were expecting Boxing Day sales to start at 9.00 am, had a totally flooded car park and sewers erupting like fountains. The story had been similar all around us on Christmas Day with floods and electricity outrages at Guildford, Bournemouth, Leatherhead, Epsom, etc.. The photo below shows Debenhams in Guildford:

flood7

Unfortunately, I’ve passed my cold to Pauline and she has become a fellow sufferer. The difference is that she doesn’t mention it.

27th December, 2013

A lovely, bright morning. Took Pauline out early to M&S to pick up an order she had made on-line. Apparently, ‘click & collect’ is fast becoming the shopping method of choice although I prefer ‘click & receive’. Whatever floods there were have disappeared and life is back to normal in our area anyway.

The post brought a card from Greek friends with lovely wishes for the New Year along with the inevitable Bills – electricity, satellite TV (OTE), etc.. I also took a call from my old friend, Brian, who has just completed the sale of his French property in Bordeaux and is happy about that. We will go up to Yorkshire/Lancashire in March to visit him.

I used my new INR testing machine for the first time and produced an almost optimum result of 2.6 which was very pleasing. I must admit, though, that neither of us is feeling brilliant at the moment. I still haven’t thrown my cold off and Pauline’s continues to develop.

28th December, 2013

A beautifully sunny and relatively warm day. An early trip to the supermarket to avoid the crowds was completely unnecessary. There were hardly any shoppers and this morning’s Times reported footfall down 10% in High Street Sales although they suggest it may have been partially compensated for by on-line shopping. They were probably all reading The Skiathan instead. Intriguingly, they also reported a large rise in people doing their on-line tax returns on Christmas Day between 12.00 – 1.00 pm..

hmrc

These are the cash-rich-time-poor people who wait for such a moment of free time to pay their tax.

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