13 December 2015

Is Christmas really less than two weeks away?!

This will be quite an unusual Christmas for us – we’re still in disarray from the move and the various projects ongoing at Framington House and Nick and Lucy are in the midst of their own house move early in the New Year so it’s chaos all round. Wherever and however jumbled and unsettled it might be, it’s sure to be fun and we’re well on the way to being ready or at least giving a very convincing illusion of being so.

Early in the week we selected an excellent tree from a farmer down the road and, after a bit of scouring in the cellar, Penelope found the box of decorations carefully labelled “Christmas Decs”. I spent a happy hour untangling the lights and then draping them decorously about the tree while Pen rescued all the baubles and other ornaments. With a fire in the grate, a pair of stockings hanging on the mantelpiece, a glass of wine and a mince pie or three and the tree glistening in the corner it should be quite convincing.

More importantly even than being decorated perhaps, the Christmas claret has arrived and we should be sufficiently well stocked to survive the festivities.

We’ve also managed to get our cards in the post although sending them on their way proved a bit of an adventure for Pen on Friday morning. She set off for Banbury for an early morning swim and then popped into town to get to the post office. After twenty minutes in the queue, she reached the front only to discover that she didn’t have her credit card with her – she had made an online transaction the evening before and left the card by her computer. Quel merde! So, she made a retreat and tried to give me a call at home – we were meeting up at Pilates later that morning so I could bring it along with me.

Oops! She had no credit on her phone. No problem, pop in to one of the many shops which provide a top-up service and use her phone card to get some more talk time. Not until she tries to call me a second time does it become apparent that the top up has not been processed correctly and she still has no credit. All the while, remember, she is clutching several thousand cards to her person. So, off she trots to the phone shop to see why her phone card is not topping up her phone only to discover that her phone top up card has expired and rectifying the issue is much more than the schoolgirl assisting during the run-up to Christmas is capable of. Encore du merde! With forty-seven customers ahead of her, Pen eventually abandoned her quest along with the will to live and retired to the sports centre to join me for our Pilates session.

In the end, she had to make a special trip to Byfield to wrestle with the herds and hand our cards over to the care of the post office there. When/if you receive yours give a quiet thought to the trouble she went through to get it to you.

I wouldn’t like you to think that’s been the only thing going on this week. Penelope’s Projects march on; in between the showers and the freezing gales, Pen has been out on her hands and knees finishing the pointing on her Victorian paver path at the front of the house. The nearly-finished result is looking splendid.


I produced what was probably the best loaf of sourdough bread I’ve ever managed the other day. It rose to a majestic height (in contrast to some of the sourdough pancakes I produce from time to time), had a crisp, crunchy crust and large bubbles with a tangy and chewy taste. Wouldn’t it be grand if I could somehow replicate the steps required from one loaf to the next?


Intriguingly linking the debate about gun control and terrorism, The Huffington Post ran an interesting little snippet the other day:

there were more Americans shot by their dogs (6) than British police killed in terror attacks in the past five years (0).

and then went on to provide a link to a few examples.

Honestly, you couldn’t make it up. Apparently, though, you can.

The Huffington Post is also where I ran across the story about the Sun “newspaper” having to remove a story from its web site after it was shown to be completely untrue. (Yawn – old news. A loony right “newspaper” printing something which is untrue? What a shock). A journalist writing in the Sun claimed to have travelled from Turkey to Paris, along the same route used by refugees and some of those behind the Paris attacks, without once having to show his passport. Not surprisingly, this fits the Sun’s narrative that European border controls are too lax and that Europe is being overrun by migrants and terrorists. Unfortunately for the Sun, the Croatian authorities produced a scan of the journalist’s passport taken when he crossed the border proving the story to be utter nonsense. The Sun, of course, is owned by that bastion of free speech and honest, decent journalism, Rupert Murdoch. Oh yes, you can make it up.

Finally, as we’re wobbling our way towards Christmas, have a look at the Guardian’s Twelve Cartoons of Christmas – they’ve not revealed all twelve yet so think of this link as a 12 Day Advent calendar but instead of chocolates or similar treats, you get a Christmas-themed cartoon from a well-known illustrator each day. Enjoy.

Quentin Blake
Travelling home for Christmas

Love to you all,




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