A trip to England to visit relatives and exchange presents has taken me out of circulation for a few days. I have no special diary of events for you, but a few observations and reactions to being there.
Presenting my lovely sister, our host for the weekend. Poor girl, not only did she have to put up with us, but knowing that a trip to England was in the offing, I turned her house into a warehouse during the previous several weeks, with all the stuff I bought by mail order and had shipped to her house to await collection.
This is Stubbington green, which I always think should be home to Pretty Little Polly Perkins. I had to choke back a cheery "bonjour messieurs-dames!" to the lady behind the counter of the Post Office, and had to make do with a passing smile instead. The wife had 37 Christmas cards to post but miscounted, and bought 36 stamps. Given that the queue by this time was even longer, and she would have to had to have spent as long again posting the last letter, was the posting mission 97% successful, or 50% successful or a complete failure?
Fareham is a market town, and used to have an iron foundry. The foundry is commemorated by a sculpture of an anvil hitting itself with hammers, which just makes me think of a hangover. I bought a zip-up fleece for a tenner this time last year and I have practically lived in it indoors this year, so I got another one with a slightly different pattern. Still the same price. Can't be bad.
There is an "all you can eat" curry buffet restaurant in Fareham. I do miss curries. Not that there aren't Indian restaurants in France, I have just never found one that does hot like English ones. Hottest I have found in a french restaurant is the herb and chilli oil you put on pizzas. I ate far too much, even though I only took the tiniest portions of the poppadums, chutneys, rices, curries, to ensure I could sample them all. Best was chicken chilli massala.
Visited my grandma while I was there. She's 96, and her short term memory is shot to bits; non-existent in fact. But she is looked after every day, and seems to be enjoying herself. This stretch of river I call Woodmill and is not far from her house, and I used to fish here with my dad when I was a lad. I like to go and see it when I can, walk along it sometimes, but not this time. Fishing was banned here ages ago, much to my dad's disgust at the time and although there are no "no fishing" signs to be seen any more, there were no fishermen either.
Other impressions? Vegging out on rubbish TV that I don't have to concentrate on to understand. Cracking up when radio one broadcast a snippet of a Very Serious Newsreader getting the giggles as he read the item about a "prankster" who tried to launch a firework rocket from his bottom on bonfire night, and suffered "serious burns and internal injuries". I don't think that "prankster" is the word I'd have chosen, at least in casual conversation. And am I the only person who gets irritated by a radar speed indicator that tells me to slow down whatever speed I am doing? Am I a grumpy old man?