Saturday, December 22, 2007

The winter solstice was, apparently at 06:08 this morning. The shortest day is behind us :-)

I’m on holiday. H’ray. Nearly a whole two weeks. The University is closed now until January 2nd, and I took Thursday and Friday off last week because Julia was coming. That made it 13 days off. H’ray!

We took off for Manchester bright and early on Thursday morning to collect Julia form the airport. Her plane was due in at 9 so we added a bit of extra time for peak hour traffic in Stockport. Plus, it was foggy. Very foggy. We drove across over the hills and it was extremely foggy in the Dales (Derbyshire, not Yorkshire). It was, mind you, very atmospheric. And we got to the airport at bang on 9:00

To find that Julia’s plane was delayed by an hour and ten minutes.

So we went to the café and had one of the least appetising bacon sandwiches I’ve eaten in a long time and a disgusting hot chocolate that I didn’t drink (I bought another one from the coffee barrow by the arrival gate). I bought a newspaper. I bought a foodie magazine. The plane landed.

Passengers began to trickle out. No sign of Julia. Passengers came out in a flood. No sign of Julia. Passengers reduced to a trickle. No sign of Julia :-( I was beginning to worry a tad, if only because I didn’t have any means of contacting her. Nor did I quite know what I was going to say to her parents when she entirely disappeared off the face of the earth. The arrivals lounge began to empty of people waiting for passengers. And, eventually, she appeared. She had once again been held back by immigration who seem determined that at no point should she ever be allowed to come into Britain in a smooth manner. This time it was because she couldn’t remember our address, though why she didn’t just make one up is a mystery. Still, eventually she was allowed in. I do hope that one day she’ll be allowed to come to visit without being hassled by immigration – it’s not as though she poses a huge threat to society!

So. Back to The Sidings for vegemite on toast and tea – American bread is not, apparently, conducive to a pleasant vegemite on toast experience, and they don’t drink tea in quite the way that we do. We couldn’t go out – we were waiting for the windscreen repair people to come. We couldn’t surf the net. I simply couldn’t convince my wireless router to talk to Julia’s MAC and my laptop simply refused to see any networks at all! I spent ages trying to sort it all out. Failed completely to get Julia online – I am beginning to think that it is a problem with MACs, though Ian’s laptop connected quite happily. I did, eventually, work out what was wrong with my laptop. Or, to be truthful, it told me in the end when I hovered an unknown to me icon on the task bar and it told me that the wireless facility was turned off. I think it must have been Marlo wandering over the keyboard!

We took Julia to Freyja’s place in Uncle John – the Vixen had to wait for a couple of hours for the windscreen glue to set. We had fajitas and stuff which Freyja had made for us and profiteroles for dessert and came home, leaving Julia, Freyja and Mark to natter and (I assume) stay up late.

We stayed up late too, but in The Sidings.

And didn’t get up unduly early on Friday morning, not having need to do anything in particular.

We did get the bulk of the Christmas food shopping done. We drove out across country over the tops of the hills to Chatsworth. It was still quite foggy and freezing cold. The trees and shrubs and some of the grasses were covered in frost and ice. The sky was white. It looked just like a Christmas card and was absolutely beautiful. The Chatsworth Farm shop was busy but not frantic. Bakewell was strangely empty. We had lunch in The Peacock (again!!) then made our way to Sainsbury which was frantic (and it’s only Friday!!!) and then home for a gin and tonic by way of recuperation.

I made a sausage and Guinness casserole for dinner. Gareth came around and dropped off the rabbits for their Christmas holiday in the country.

Then the police came around looking for The Builder!!!!!!!!!!!

Some many weeks ago he bought a saw on eBay. There has been no sign of the saw. I was patiently, on his behalf, sending messages to the seller, who was quite new to eBay, eventually asking for a proof of posting receipt or the return of The Builder’s £50. My patience abruptly vanished when I happened to notice that their approval rating had absolutely plummeted. There were FIVE negative reports of non-show of items. I put one in too. And all the people got together and reported it to the police. It might only have been £50 of our money, but in total it came to over a thousand. Two cheery police officers came around to interview The Builder to add further evidence to the case the Staffordshire police are putting together.

They seemed to fancy the sausage casserole, simmering happily in the oven. One of them said he was sooooo starving that he might have to eat the cat. But since he was stroking the cat’s ears at the time I didn’t take him entirely seriously.

While The Builder was talking to the police I was talking to Barb on the telephone and Lindsey on SKYPE. Poor Barb had to have her cat, BeeJay, put down yesterday because of severe kidney failure so she wasn’t entirely happy. Suddenly, I smelled a strange burning smell. Went into the kitchen to find it full of smoke. The police had been so long interviewing The Builder that the potatoes had boiled dry and were intent on destroying the saucepan. No mashed potatoes for us then. We had dumplings instead.

Right. Must away and tidy up and get ready for today. Julia, Freyja, Mark and Gaz are coming for a Sunday roast on Saturday this evening and Freyja and Julia are staying over. I’d better convert the junk room back into a spare room so they have somewhere to sleep.

Today marks the start of the Winter Food Fest. Yay! I’ve started taking things out of the freezer.

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