However, the next day we did venture North to buzzy_bee's via IKEA. Having spent an hour trying to get ten miles up the A34 to the motorway, we were later than we had planned — but still managed to take buzzy_bee by surprise. smallclanger and buzzy_babe exchanged early Christmas presents, and we went out to the local Brewer's Fayre for dinner.
There was a pseudo-Thanksgiving supper in place of the usual Wesley Mem choir practice on Friday, at which I showed my face despite not having been to choir for the best part of a year. bopeepsheep and smallclanger were invited, but she was coming down with a cold/flu-type lurgy, so in the end I only took him. He wasn't the youngest one present. He listened to the music and tried to put us off by finding a wind-up musical toy, which was successfully abandoned in the other room after the first couple of renditions.
Saturday 26th was the 90th birthday party of lnr, damerell and mobbsy. We were grateful for the invitation, but had to decline in the end as it wouldn't have been suitable for smallclanger and we didn't seem to have any sensible arrangements for making sure he was looked after. bopeepsheep spent most of the day being ill, and I spent most of the day being tired, chasing after smallclanger and losing his nice Thomas hat while we were shopping in Tesco.
So instead we planned to say hello to everyone on Sunday afternoon. Sadly I had to leave the lurgified bopeepsheep behind. We called into Tesco on the off-chance that the hat had been found and handed in. I was so happy at having got the hat back that without thinking I turned on to the A34 as per usual to get to the motorway. The traffic came to a halt about 20 yards after the last chance to get off, so it took an hour to get out of Oxford again. Fortunately smallclanger slept most of the way there, so didn't complain about how late his lunch was (though he did manage to undo the safety belt on his car seat as we were coming down Cambridge Road).
We arrived at the Carlton at about 3pm and saw several people I recognised and several people I didn't, almost all of whom I completely failed to say hello to. ghoti came and chatted to smallclanger while we waited for our dinner, and later on lnr came over from the other side of the pub to talk to us. Which was nice. A confused sesquipedality asked lnr if anyone had seen bopeepsheep, which was really my fault for not having introduced myself earlier, and we agreed to meet back there at 8pm to arrange getting back to Oxford.
I left it a bit late to leave for the Peterhouse Advent carol service. Having decided to risk going by car and consulted a map, I managed to find my way to the right street with only once driving round in a circle and only once turning into a street that was restricted to normal traffic, and nipped into a convenient space outside the Fitzwilliam. We arrived with a couple of minutes to spare, but had to sit out in the antechapel because the main chapel was full. This at least meant that smallclanger was less likely to seriously disrupt the service if he started misbehaving. A few people who arrived after we did also ended up sitting with us. Although we didn't get a good view, it was perfectly audible for the most part (aside from the readings, which were a bit quiet). It was a good selection of music, most of which I knew, and I did enjoy it. And by means of four ‘busy’ books and a small packet of chocolate buttons I managed to keep smallclanger quiet and in his seat for a bit over an hour. We said hello to j4 and addedentry (with a brief nod to emperor and atreic) and went over to the Master's Lodge, where smallclanger appropriated my orange juice and ate a couple of mini mince pies.
After an exchange of giraffes it was time to leave, and after saying goodbye j4 and addedentry went their own way while I accompanied smallclanger pushing his own pushchair on a rather circuitous route back to the car. We managed to find the Carlton again, arriving at about one minute past eight. And so, after sesquipedality's cup of tea failed to arrive, we were on our way back to Oxford.