Changing Tack

We had planned to have a very poly Christmas this year, having our first Christmas together in the almost three years we’ve been bumbling along. Oh well.

I was going to go pick up myr s, the cub, and Lady W as metamour in chief on the evening of Christmas Day. That way they could enjoy a family meal with myr s’ father and Lady M and I could have a quiet morning to ourselves. A quick dash down to Portsmouth and back in the evening and we could then have a few days cosily in our flat. In line with the then-restrictions we would also be able to welcome Lady B during that period and have a table-top dungeons and dragons extravaganza.

Because that’s how we roll.

Instead, I am now busily making up details for that one-shot game to convert for Roll20 and our usual Sunday Twitch slot. No pressure or anything, I had been planning to largely wing it for the table but now I need to at least draw some maps. I’ve even written a four part structure for the characters to completely derail.

So, there will be other Christmases, and certainly plenty of other opportunities to get us all together again, no matter what coronavirus throws at us. For now, we’ll stay safe and do our bits to keep others safe.

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.

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.

Christmas Disney Travels

We finally made it to the Animal Kingdom. I say finally because it took two hours to clear passport control and sort out the rental car – which isn’t too bad, but after a nine hour flight just dragged.

Still, despite the best efforts of the little poppets in the row in front of us, who kept reclining and then straightening and then reclining their seats, it was a comfortable enough flight.

The roads here, once I’d reminded myself how to drive an automatic, were clear and the staff at the Lodge have been amazing as ever.

We have animals grazing outside, peace and quiet, and our bellies are comfortably full from eating at Sanaa.

I’ve even had some sleep. Full day planned, adventures to follow

Off to Disney

The day is finally here – an evening of pizza and prosecco last night has turned into an early morning drive to Gatwick and the trials of automated bag drops and clearing security.

We’re currently sat in the Weatherspoons eating breakfast, and the initial giggliness from the girls has subsided into serious refuelling and checking of Facebook.

Lady M, Charleesi, and I have done this journey before, but it’s been some 20+ years for the ex-Lady M so she has been fascinated by the processes and procedures that now accompany the whole flight experience.

While I was being patted down (because of course my belt buckle set off alarms), I was asked where I was off to. “Florida” I replied, to which he said “Of course,” smiled at my Tigger hoodie and, “I should have known, have a wonderful time.” The tinsel on his belt sparkled, and behind him a security officer in an elf hat and ears grinned too.

I still haven’t got my head round this while being on holiday at Christmas, but I’m sure I’ll adapt with all these little kindnesses and flourishes.

Travels and Trust

Oh, yeah, I have a blog – so hi there anyone who’s still hanging around… It’s a bit of a busy time of year for everyone, and we’re no exception having realised that this weekend was our main chance to try and get presents out to far-flung family members before we flit away on holiday.

So Friday saw me doing a full day at the library before going to counselling, and then driving up to Hartlepool straight after. With the closures of several sections of the M1 this meant that we got to our room at 3.46 am on Saturday morning.

A quick handful of hours’ sleep later and we dropped presents in to Lady M’s sister before popping over the Pennines to catch up with my parents and do likewise with them. This led to a gentle evening of gin, food, wine, and board games and then a relatively early night to try and make a dent in the sleep debt.

Cue a restless night, because my brain wasn’t cooperating.

And now we’re driving home again. Or rather, Lady M is doing the driving and I’m forcing myself to relax and ignore the part of me that is uncomfortable as a passenger.

I know it’s purely a control thing, especially with the weather being so wet and windy, so it’s a good exercise in trusting Lady M and her extensive driving experience – and forcing my jittery brain to just let go.

It’s been good to step outside of normal routine and comfort zones. That’s the positive here, alongside knowing that a good proportion of Christmas presents are now where they need to be…

Christmas part four or five

I don’t know what it is about this year’s Christmas but its proving rather extended. Between our journeys North and Back Again, we seem to be distributing presents on a daily basis. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun and appeals to that part of me that likes putting smiles on people’s faces. It just doesn’t seem to stop right now.

Today was the turn of the Charleesi and her mother, the ex-Lady M. While handing out presents from us, friends, and family we chatted about those friends and family – and how it is now less than a year until we all go away together to Disney. The ex-Lady M continues to pretend not to be excited yet, while the Charleesi and Lady M are just… plotting…

The big gift for the Charleesi this year was one a whole bunch of us contributed to: an XBox. Being her father’s daughter she joined in our conversations while systematically unpacking the various cables and components. I watched her lay them out, strip off packaging and then quietly wire it all up and into the existing AV equipment before squeeing and clapping her hands as it powered up and started its setup process.

Its moments like that which make me so proud, and which make the extended present deliveries so worthwhile, because I get to share the excitement. And in the case of the Charleesi, as she put it, I can now co-op play Halo5 with her. So there’s a bonus 🙂

Oh, So You Want To Talk Stressful Journeys?

Just to prove that the best laid plans absolutely will fall apart even for the most organised of us, our return trip took double the expected time.

In retrospect, believing our satnav when it first said there was an hour’s delay and that it knew a short cut was our big mistake. We knew there were roadworks ahead, and news reports started coming in of multiple crashes in multiple roadworks areas along our route. The in-car satnav and Googlemaps on my phone were both metaphorically screaming and flashing big red lines over significant portions of the roadmap of the North of England.

So we did the stupid thing and began rat running parallel to various motorways down and across the country, with occasional dips back onto main routes. Lady M did the first half but then the tiredness and stress triggered her fibromyalgia, so I took over. In the BMW with which I have been struggling the last few days.

Now, in a bout of desperate anthropomorphism, the car and I seem to be coming to a wary truce; but even so the experience of driving through unlit country back roads at speed in an unfamiliar car was perhaps a little more excitement than I had anticipated.

At least nobody got more than a little startled, and there was only one roundabout I drove round more than once – but I was still very pleased to finally reach the Magic Roundabout – also known as the M25 orbital because that meant we were only 20 or 30 miles from home.

We had intended to go to #Tuesday as usual, based on our original estimate of being home around 5pm at the very latest, but the combination of getting home long after 8pm, plus no food in the house and the local fast food places so busy they weren’t delivering was too much. 

We picked up a simple pizza from the supermarket, made our apologies to the unusual suspects, watched a bit of telly and opened our Christmas presents to each other while supping some whisky.

Back to work in the morning. Who needs sleep anyway?