A quick trip to England, this weekend, flying visit for gift exchanges and spending some time with friends and family. It might just be me, but got the impression that random strangers were more friendly than I am used to. Camaradery in adversity?
My sister organised the first family dinner that I've been to for a while, her kids there, their respective partners, our Mum and her partner, we had four generations in all. Nice to get everyone together in the same place, in Christmas or at least pre-Christmas spirit.
Thai meal with our London-based friends. I think I want to live for 3 or 4 months each year within walking distance of Wimbledon village so I can eat at the restaurants there. Then the rest of the time I'd need to spend out here in the sticks to recover. It's amazing how quickly an evening goes when you're with friends, talking about nothing in particular, downing some excellent wine as you go. And their eldest is off to uni? How did that much time pass?
Shopping for the things you can't get in France is on the agenda of course. Mostly spicy food, but I found that the DIY consumables are cheaper there - got some big tubes of glue that fit into those pump frames for 43p each in Tescos. And high quality silicone sealant you can get over there for a fiver a pop, but you're lucky to see even average stuff here for much less than 10 euros. Perhaps I need to shop around more.
There was a small display in Tesco's in aid of Diabetes UK. They were trying to get people to pedal the exercise bikes far enough to send Santa up a mountain. Or something. A local bobby in full uniform was there, pedaling away doing his stuff. I needed some exercise after all my recent foodie indulgences so I gave them 2 quid and did 200 calories in a bit over 20 minutes. I don't know how far I went, but Santa got nearer to his mountain-top. It seemed odd to me that they were giving out mini sweet bars (Bounty, etc) in exchange for donations. I wasn't sure that this was in line with the ethos of Diabetes UK, but, whatever, I took one of their mini minces pie afterwards and ate it with my Costa coffe. I figured I'd earned it.
Tesco's car park used to be free for all comers, but too many people were using it to park all day for work, (surprise!!) so they restricted it to two hours, and only for customers. I though two hours was a bit mean; we got out with three minutes to spare. They give you all this stuff about having to pay 60 quid or so if you stay over the two-hour limit, but if they tried that on me they'd lose a lot more than 60 quid's worth of profit by the time I'd finished with them.
P.S. can you identify this house plant? It was flowering in my Mum's conservatory. I'm sure I've got a house-plant book somewhere that has a picture of this plant in it, but the house is upside-down at the moment and I can't find the book.