Today was the day in our diary when we were scheduled to go and see our friends in Oxfordshire for a pre-Chriustmas lunch date. We set off in time and got ourselves well prepared yesterday so that the car was filled with petrol and, as we normally do, we took along some bottles of wine and also a specialised little cactus plant in its own little mini greenhouse which rather took our fancy when we espied it yesterday. All went reasonably well on the trip but we did have a holdup on the motorway with massive congestion on the M42. We did not bother with SatNav as we were pretty sure of our route of the A34 after Oxford in the direction of our friends. In the event, we thought we had missed our turning and got of the A34 early. But after a bit of fishing round, we fortunately located our friends postcode so that the SatNav could ride to the rescue and, in the event, we got quite soon again back on track. The journey on the way back is always so much easier as the M40 being a major arterial route between the South and the Midlands is on the roadsigns from about 30 miles out, meaning that you can navigate back in your sleep. Fortunately, the weather was kind to us and although we started off at 0 degrees and it became -1 as we progressed along the route, we did not have any ice or snow to impede us, even on the country lanes in the environs of our friend’s house. We had a delicious dinner of some specialised meatballs with cranberries embedded within them. Our hosts told us that this was one of the specialist Waitrose recipes so we must go and try it some time. After a marvellous meal and a chat, it was time to go – our friends had some business with a bank so they needed to leave in time for their appointment. On our part, although we are always sorry to take leave of our friends, we were quite pleased to make some progress whilst we had some daylight left as it can start to get dark from 3.30 onwards at this time of year. We managed to get well onto the M40 before the shades of twilight started to close in on us and it is always plain sailing once we get onto this motorway and we have motorway all the way to within about three miles of home.
Before we went on our journey this morning, our son who had arrived early to work in the study he still maintains in this house, located the Christmas tree and decorations that we keep accessible in the loft and we safely rescued them. Last year, instead of a family ‘genuine’ Christmas tree, I bought a tree which is made of entirely artifical silver branches. Although this sounds a bit tacky, the overall effect is very pleasing when it is compared with thoe artificial trees that attempt, and fail abysmally, to emulate the real thing. So after we had arrived home and had our obligatory cup of tea after journey home, I decided to erect the tree and put it in a customary spot in the hall (near a power supply) At first, it did look a little straggly as one had to bend some of the branches into a particular position and then, of course, there were the lights to disentangle. When I gave the lights a cursory look, it appeared that they were unifom ‘white’ colour but upon my testing of them before I put them on the tree, I was delighted that they were actiually multicoloured. From this point, it was a simple case to drape the lights around the tree and make some adjustments to cover any evident gaps and then admire the overall effect. I must say, the overall effect was very pleasing and tree requires no more adornments (being silver anyway) to look more than respectable, particularly when illuminated. I cannot now remember whether we did actually put any more decorations on the tree as we used to do with our ‘original’ Christms trees but am sure that our domestic help, when she arrives on Wednesday, might be more than happy to give it one or two little tweaks, Incidentally, although it sounds a little killjoy, we no longer stack family presents under the tree as we did years go. We feel that to do so might be an invitation for someone to break into the house and steal them. When my son won a scholarship and spent a year in a Mexican university, the family actually did some last minute shopping in the days before Christmas and their car was broken into and all of the presents were ‘liberated’
Whilst we are getting well and truly fed up with the current spell of cold weather, it looks as things may improve for us from about Saturday onwards. Meg and I have got into the routine of wearing ‘two of everything’ and so today, for example over my norml vest and shirt I have three sets of jumpers called into use and I still feel that I am only just about warm enough.