Wednesday, 22nd December, 2021

[Day 646]

Today I knew was going to be quite a busy day so I set the alarm to get me up promptly at 6.30am. Then after a wash and a quick bite of cereal, I made my way to Waitrose in Droitwich, anticipating being there about 2-3 minutes before the store opened. When I did get there the store was already open and seemed quite busy so the store must have (quite sensibly) opened an hour early to accommodate the Christmas shopping. This was always going to be quite a big shop- up and so it proved as we missed out on a shop-up when we went up to Yorkshire last week. Also, there were various things that I knew we had run out of so I needed to bear in mind the extra things that inevitably one buys at Christmas time (Christmas pudding and the like) as well as some extras because I knew that we were entertaining our next door neighbours this evening and a solitary mince pie looks parsimonious in the extreme. The shopping and the extra shopping took a lot of unpacking so we were late getting on our normal excursion to the park. In fact, we were so late that we decided to go by car not least because once we had picked up our newspaper, I needed to buy some more (first class) stamps to ensure that last minute Christmas cards got to their destination on time. Once we had made it to the park, it was so late and a bit cold and damp so we decided to cut our losses and get straight home and have our elevenses at home, which we did. Then we decided to eat our quiche which I complemented with a tomato/mushroom/garlic sidedish which complemented the quiche very well.

Before it got well and truly dark this afternoon, I got our dustbins pulled to the front of our access road and then did a quick consultation with my email to see if one of Meg’s cousins had replied to an earlier plea asking for addresses of relatives that had escaped our system. Meg’s cousin had replied so we set up a time when we can ‘Zoom’ each other. Armed with an up-to-date address for another of Meg’s cousins, I thought I would make a lightning visit down into town hoping that the Christmas card for which I now had an address would manage to get to its destination on time. It was raining cat and dogs but I managed to get to a postbox where I think (hope) that I will have caught the last post today so I am hopeful it may arrive tomorrow or Christmas Eve at the very latest. When I got home, I immediately starting to plate up the ‘small-eats’ which we needed to entertain our next door neighbours later on this evening. We had slightly mistaken the time they were due to call round but no problem as we had just about got everything sorted out anyway. I had bought some Rose Prosecco from Waitrose this morning as well as some medium sherry and both of these were pressed into service this evening. Then we had an incredibly enjoyable couple of hours with our neighbours and we have them a blow-by-blow account of how the funeral services had gone (well) and lots of other neighbourly type of things to chat about. I regaled them with some of my civil service escapades which are ‘old hat’ by now but at least they hadn’t heard the story before, nor of my escapade sailing my boat (upturned kitchen table) when I was aged about 3½ or so.

It is always nice to get this stage before Christmas i.e. shopping done, neighbours entertained, cards delivered – although the immediate neighbour’s cards still have to be done. We are now at the stage when all ought to be plain sailing. I have always thought that Christmas, particularly Christmas Day, has to be carefully planned and I allow myself to relax from Boxing Day onwards. Last night, I suddenly thought about the diary which I need for next year (I tend to buy the same model of Letts so that they form a series oer the years) and a large Collins type of wall calendar that I have displayed next to me desk so that I can look at commitments for a week or so ahead. Fortunately, both of these were in stock and the diary will be arriving tomorrow and the calendar a day or so after that.

Now that another ‘semi-lockdown’ seems to be upon us – I would guess some time immediately after Boxing Day – it may well be time to activate our Zoom, Skype and FaceTime networks. The peak of the Omicron virus is not yet quite in sight but in a few days we might see if the curve is flattening at all. Getting reliable data over the Christmas and New Year period may be arkward but I suspect that in about a fortnight’s time, the epidemiologists might have enough data to firm up their predictions.