Sunday, 29 January 2017

Festive season

Quite a festive season this year, oddly in a way since I didn't take any time off work over the festive period.

First part of celebrations had nothing to do with Christmas. Some friends decided to have a sort of all combined family celebration - their silver wedding anniversary, mother-in-law's 80th birthday, eldest son's engagement and youngest's 18th birthday. Obviously quite a mixed age range of guests.

They had hired out Charterhouse, which is quite a thing. I have never been there despite it being a five minute walk from my old office. Needless to say an impressive venue. With Scottish Country Dancing as a feature. Which had curious memories for me from my very young childhood, as this was the staple for my Scottish mother's church social crowd in Luton 50 years ago.

With the way Christmas fell, one could leave the office on Friday afternoon and not have to return to London until Tuesday evening. So I could go up and spend 4 days with my friends in Cheshire, and even had a good journey up. Normally it feels like trying to get the last helicopter out of Saigon, so I booked a first class reservation on the train up and it was great. Ended up sharing a four person table with just one young chap who turned out to be a trainee solicitor. So after a very pleasant conversation, and for once being on time so could make my connection, I then manged to meet up with an ex-colleague who like me lives in London, but whose folks live in Harford, so he met me off the train and we headed into the local pub for the couple of drinks we had never manged in several months of trying in the Capital.

Then I settled into family life, just not my family, for 4 days. My friends live near countryside, so inevitably went for a walk, or at least we chaps did.

 Christmas day was slightly eventful. While the ladies went to church, I wandered out for a walk and saw a rainbow.

 Christmas lunch became dinner, in part due to defrosting issues with the turkey. Alison (who is a veggie) offered to share her lentil roast with me rather than risk botulism, but frankly given the alternatives of near certain death and a lentil roast, death almost seemed welcoming. But somehow we all survived.

Christmas day was the only day that wasn't glorious. As these photos of Sandiway show.

 We had a cinema day after Christmas. Boys went to see the new Star Wars film, Rogue 1. Spoiler alert, its essentially about data filing and everybody dies. Its fine action stuff but you do need to leave your brain out at the door. We then had a quick break and the adults returned to see the Harry Potter spin off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them tarring Eddie Redmayne. I liked this more than I expected, and it feels less of a fantasy than the Star Wars film. The scene with the randy giant rhino on ice is very funny. You have to see it. And its so realistic. The fat Polish bloke gets the pretty girl. Always happens in real life, never in films. Up to now.

Last day in the area and we went to Port Sunlight. My first visit sine the Lady Lever Art Gallery was renovated.

If you have never been here, well you should have been. Its a model village like Saltaire and Bourneville. Its very pretty and of course historically interesting. And better town planning than modern town planners manage. Very attractive environment to inhabit.

 The Gallery itself is a delight. Being a collection based on one man's taste is always interesting. So this collection is strong on 18th century furniture, Wedgwood porcelain and pre-Raphaelites. Which coincidentally I like very much too. I obviously have the same tastes as Victorian soap manufacturers.

One thought I had seeing all this, both the galleries and the model village, is just how much money there was in soap. A lot of profit made. But put to good use.

Which left a return to work. Managed to visit a couple for the first time since their first baby appeared, so chance to see both new baby and renovated house. But mostly to drink rather a lot.

And finally New Year in Exeter. Which was also good fun, even if I did end up sleeping in a sleeping bag on a top bunk of a teenager's bed (before you start worrying, teenager was duly moved out into a different room!)

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