Not As Planned

Well, we had planned to head North to spend time with a photographer, but issues with their health and of course the flooding in the Midlands, we changed our plans. We went to the cinema instead – but having booked online we were somewhat surprised to find the entire place locked up and empty.

A sympathetic security guard had wandered over to see why so many people were annoyed, I did feel sorry for him. He did at least contact the office and arrange for us not to be charged parking – which was a good move.

So I may have wandered into a bookshop to buy things with some of the money very generously gifted me yesterday. Book three of Locke & Key, a signed copy of False Value, and a hardbound edition of DCeased have therefore made their way home with me and I’ve been a happy little bookworm.

Oh, and I finally got round to starting on my Jack Crawford cosplay for the Red Dragon Con next month. This has mostly got to the point of trying out different shades of purple shirt and ties as it really is a very simple costume.

So, not the day planned, but nothing like a bit of flexibility to make the day whizz past.

Back Home

We came home early from up North as plague – or at least heavy colds – descended on the Maidment households. Feeling it was better to recuperate in our own beds, we fled back South on Boxing Day, joining the thousands on the roads travelling between their own branches of families over the Festive period.

Surprisingly, the traffic actually flowed well despite being so heavy so we made good time and collapsed with pizza and presents we hadn’t taken with us to console us.

Today we therefore had a lie in rather than spending it all on the roads. We even dared travel in to Kingston in search of a book of pattern-making for Lady M, and ended up buying… well, rather a lot of books really

We don’t have a book problem. We have lots of books. It’s no problem

I do need to remember that getting rid of older books is not an automatic prompt to replace them. Oh well

On The Road

Lady M and I are on our grand tour round the UK to drop off gifts and spend time with family. Like so many other people, we’re on the road in an escape from the day-to-day and Christmas podcasts are currently filling the car.

Our first leg was the longest, a six hour trip from London to Hartlepool. I handled the driving duties with a single break as Lady M was feeling a bit under the weather. Lady M’s sister lives in Hartlepool, and it’s where she grew up so it brought up a lot of memories.

Hartlepool Marina this morning

Hartlepool is receding behind us now as we head towards the West coast. We’ve been lucky so far in that yesterday’s traffic was heavy but generally moved along with only minor stopping and starting in the M1. This morning with Lady M driving seems so far to only be light traffic, so that’s a bonus.

There you go, boring journey updates logged. I suspect the next few days’ blog posts may be filtered through Christmas cheer.

A Few Days Off

And…. Relax…

I’m visiting lady s for a few days as I had more leave to book this year than Lady M. After a long week, it’s been good to switch off. Lady M and I drove down on Sunday afternoon and dropped off presents for the household, then I stayed on – much to the cub’s bemusement.

The stress levels have been slowly dropping as we’ve watched films and YouTube clips. In between, we’ve been having a tidy up before Christmassing and generally taking it easy.

Tomorrow we’ll be seeing the cub at his school Christmas play, before Lady M returns and whisks me away so we can finish packing to go visit family next week.

Amusingly, Lady M had forgotten that I was going away at one point as she was hoping I might pick her up from drinking with colleagues this week – I mention this to forestall any visions you may have of Lady M somehow languishing like Rapunzel in her tower. One of our many strengths is that each of us are equally comfortable and in need of time alone as in being with each other (as wonderful as that is)

Winding Down

I’ve done so much covering for other people with my leave that I basically have to take all of the rest of the year off after this week.

Oh no, however will I cope.

We were already planning to see my parents for Christmas, but as I have an extra week on top of what Lady M can take, I’m going to spend a few days down with lady s. As she is heavily engaged in creating a dress, much of my time is likely to be spent providing beverages, reminding her to pause for rests, and providing supportive cuddles when things don’t go to plan. It’s not unlike my routine when Lady M is making a dress to be honest.

I plan to take sketchpads, notebooks and a plethora of pens. Writing may even be perpetrated…

Anxiety Day

We’re up and around the Cleveleys/Cumbria region at the moment, and while we had a great time exploring the amazing bookshop in Carnforth, my brain has not been cooperating today.

It was bad enough we had to make our excuses after lunch with my parents to go back to the hotel to collapse, shower, and attempt self-care.

That said, if you do get a chance to see this place then do – 14 rooms of new and second hand books, plus general gifts – and wonderfully friendly staff. I found a couple of little things, and we did some Christmas shopping into the bargain.

I’m brighter now, but do feel like I’ve cast a pall on the day. Sigh. At least I’m up to date with Inktober, and will post the final three tomorrow.

Weekend Gathering of the Clan

Aaaand we’re back from the Welsh valleys, gently baked from the glorious sunshine. We’ve been to another wedding anniversary celebration – this time of my mother’s cousin – and so we’ve been meeting various relatives whose names I have no hope of remembering. (To be fair I am awful at remembering most people’s names).

Our journey had been long, mostly due to roadworks and tailbacks from accidents, but I suppose that’s normal for any travel on a bank holiday weekend. We’d all been booked rooms at a hotel in Llangamarch – which certainly broke the ice – so the first evening was spent generally catching up and welcoming people.

Saturday was quiet – we were exhausted – so we slept through breakfast and instead went down to Llanwrtyd Wells to the Caffi Sosban which we’d so enjoyed last time we’d visited. One hearty brunch later, we went back to the hotel to chill out. We knew hat a minivan had been booked to make several runs on Saturday evening to drive us down to the farm freehold itself.

And yes, there was much wine, food, and conversation through the evening. Dogs were herded, small children steered away from the alcohol (mostly), and geese avoided.

We’re generally an amiable bunch, and storytelling really plays at the heart of all our gatherings. Sometimes the stories are even true.

At the end of the evening, the minivan reappeared and made multiple runs back to the hotel. An amazing evening, and with such glorious weather we were a little reluctant to head straight back to London.

Nevertheless, we left early to try and get the worst of the travel done before the roads filled – so we meandered back without any extra drama and have spent the rest of the weekend relaxing. All in all, a great break in routine.

Switching My Brain Off

At least for a little while – its been a busy old day, with many customers needing perhaps a little bit more hand-holding than anticipated. Nothing particularly outrageous happened; its all just been a bit relentless. On the bright side however, I’m now not due in to work until next week, and there are celebrations and shenanigans to attend in the meantime. As an added bonus, it happens to be payday tomorrow as well – meaning I can breathe a bit more easily for a bit.

I think my staff may have been a little concerned for my sanity today, all the same. I may have appeared at various moments looking a bit wild-eyed as I avoided certain customers, focused on completing certain tasks, and felt steam coming out of my ears as I attempted with my fellow managers to play enough shell games to cover staffing requirements. The relaxed expression currently on my face comes at least in part from the knowledge that I won’t be called upon to have anything to do with that for five days – three of which being a bank holiday so I don’t have to feel too guilty about my colleagues stressing in my absence.

My out of office emails have been set. My morning alarms switched off. I may even have a gin and tonic shortly…

Bugs and ughs

Tis certainly the season, as they say, but if it could manage to not come accompanied by colds, muscle aches, migraines and barking black dogs that would be a huge bonus.

Still, we soldier on, and at least in our household a lot of the gift buying is complete and giving way to thoughts of decorations. I’ve already overseen the assembly and decoration at two of my libraries of the carefully packed away artificial trees and as of last night I even have an undecorated tree up in the flat.

Now begins the perennial fight to summon up enthusiasm and joy while wearing the customer services Christmas cheer mask. With any luck the black dog will mostly stay in his kennel.