Tuesday, 20th December, 2022

[Day 1009]

Today has been a full day but we have managed to pack a fair bit into it. The most important thing is that we had an appointment with the optician fairly early this morning and this appointment went well, with no significant changes to report. Fortunately for us, the optician knows us very well and has been testing the eyes of both Meg and myself for at least 10 years now, so it is excellent to have that continuity of care over the years. He was able to provide some words of reassurance and so will see us again in about one year’s time. After this appointment was concluded, we popped into one of the charity shops in order to augment our supply of Christmas cards – I thought that we had boxes a-plenty but I needed an extra supply not least to give to my Pilates fellow class members when I see them later on in the day. One of the boxes of cards was of quite a stunning design and I wish I had seen them before but it is always possible to be wise after the event. Then we paid a visit to our local television and radio dealers to see what they had to offer the way of FM antennas for my newly installed system. Late last night, I borrowed the very simple wire aerial from one of legacy sysems and put it onto the newly installed Panasonic and was amazed at the quality of the FM transmissions that even this simple wire aerial managed to produce. Considerably heartened by this, I was happy to purchase another copy of what is technically called a flat-ribbon FM aerial for my new system. At the moment, I have it draped over a radiator to give it a degree of warmth to remove any residual kinks in the system before I install it later on this evening. Then I received a call on my mobile from our University of Birmingham friend who was happy to meet us for a coffee in the Waitrose coffee bar as his usual ‘Men in Sheds’ (participation in running repairs to whatever people put in front of them) had packed up their toolbags as this is the week before Christmas. Whilst in Waitrose, we met with two more of our pre-pandemic friends and we exchanged Christmas cards and Christmas greetings with each other before promising each other that we meet again next Tuesday (the day after Boxing Day) and we just might manage to squeeze in another visit there this Friday as well. Whilst I was in Waitrose, I noticed a bottle of Prosecco that was being made available in the middle of all the other Christmas stock. As I know all of the members of staff so well, one of them kindly wrapped the bottle for me in a combination of red and white paper which was folded around the bottle and decorated with a huge bow – it really did make the whole into a very attractive gift. This is intended for our new neighbours who just moved into the bungalow just across our communal green area and we will pay a visit to them later on today.

When we got home, there was a bit of a race around to get things ready for my Pilates class. Fortunately, I had already labelled up and wrapped in Christmas paper all of the damson gin bottles to be distributed later. Then it was a case of writing Christmas cards for all of my fellow class members and then I pulled on some of my Santa Claus kit which I wore underneath my track suit bottoms. The journey down into town is a bit burdensome on this occasion because I have a rucksack with some Pilates gear in it, a Pilates mat, a bottle bag with seven bottles of damson gin inside and then a Santa Claus hessian bag with all my other Santa Claus gear inside. The routine is well established over the years. We always have about 5 minutes of ‘relaxation’ in the session before Christmas and I take the opportunity to creep out, change into the rest of my Santa Claus gear and then come back into the studio as the relaxation session ends to play Fr.Christmas, distributing my cards and gin to my fellow class members, my tutor and the two administrative staff as well. Then, of course, there is a frantic change back into more-or-less normal gear before it is time to walk home and cook a belated lunch (traditionally fish cakes on a Tuesday)

After lunch and a rest, we went round to introduce ourselves to our new neighbours who, as it happened, were just turning up in the family car as we wandered across the green to see them. We took with us not only the bottle of wine but a business and a Christmas card. As it was cold and dark by this time, we had just enough time to exchange names, make brief introductions and then make a promise to have a proper Christmas-time mince pies and sherry session (traditional with neighbours in any case) where we can get to know each other a little better and I can fill them in on any of the practical arrangements of our communal living arrangements. Then we knocked on the door of our next door neighbours where we exchanged news and were invited in for a very welcome glass of sherry.