October 22nd, 2003



Early mornings continue, as bopeepsheep has an appointment with the dentist and I have to meet her there so I can look after the baby while she is in the surgery. I get half way there and my bike tyre goes down and won't pump back up again. I naughtily ride it on the wheel rim and am only five minutes late (meanwhile I missed three calls from bopeepsheep on my mobile because I never heard it go off).

Afterwards I park my bike near the bus stop where bopeepsheep is waiting to go into town and patch the inner tube. I need a new tyre as it is rather worn down and is a bit pitted. But not now, as I am rather late.

A journey, a handfasting and a scrape

Another vaguely early morning (well, it was early for a Saturday anyway) preceded our journey to the house of smallclanger's grandparents, where he would become someone else's responsibility for 24 hours, for the first time ever in his life. We took half the contents of our house along, of course. By all accounts he was good as gold while we were away (which was nice). After he was settled and fed, bopeepsheep and I set off down the A34 to Petersfield which took about two hours, leaving us just enough time to go shopping and eat some sandwiches before proceeding a couple of miles south to the village of Buriton.

On our second pass through the village we found a promising turn-off complete with a woman who looked like she was giving directions to the venue for the Handfasting. She told us how to get to the Manor Barn and said that `Tim' would probably be there to show us where to park. He wasn't. So I reversed into an obvious place next to the nearest parked car. That is when we heard the awful crunching noise which meant that the front of our car had been attacked by a nearby fencepost (actually, a joint on the said fencepost which was below our field of view). So now we have a nice big scrape on the left-hand front wing to match the other one. Argh.

Anyway, we changed into our mediaeval-peasant clobber, got out of the car and wandered over to where the gathering was taking place. We had arrived at 2:30pm (on some misremembered info from bopeepsheep), and it turned out that general welcoming/milling-around was from 2pm to 3pm so we were fine and it was a lovely day out (especially considering it was the middle of October).

We proceded in the general direction of the hall where the ceremony was to take place, but the bridal party kept us waiting until almost 3:15pm (typical! <g>) before the master of ceremony (who turns out to have been Robert Rankin, though I didn't immediately recognise him) started things off. (It was a slight cheat in that it wasn't a legal wedding - that part had been done in a register office a couple of days previously - but it was the official wedding as far as the bride and groom - and everyone else - were concerned.)

After that, it was back into the courtyard for photographs and general catching up, involving many tales from schooldays.

At about 6pm the banquet began and people gathered round the carvery to collect lashings of pork (straight from the spit), beef and gammon, with optional chicken wings, and of course vegetables. For afters a slightly odd assortment of mince pies, Turkish delight, fudge, grapes, and cheese and biscuits.

Goblets of mead were brought round for the speeches and toasts (though I had little more than a brief taste), and then it was time for the cutting of the cake. Not a traditional wedding cake by any means but, in keeping with the mediaeval tone of the event, a Dundee cake.

The band (a sort of `folk rock' band) assembled, and began playing at not long before 9pm. The bride and groom had a dance, of course, as did several of the bridesmaids. Personally I didn't, as it takes quite a lot of persuasion to get me on to a dance floor (maybe if we had been there longer this would have happened). It was too loud - but that is for another rant at some other time.

bopeepsheep suddenly began feeling tired, so we made our farewells and set off back up the A34, arriving home at about 11pm, ready for our first uninterrupted night's sleep for three months.

Sunday was not a very early morning, except that I woke up at about 7:30 and wasn't very successful at going back to sleep (though I think I did manage about half an hour later on). We eventually made our way back to the in-laws' to be reunited with smallclanger and for lunch. The baby, who had been fine all along, was happy for about ten minutes and then started wailing loudly. It was at about this point that I was sent out on my own to go to Sainsbury's and ended up at Waitrose instead because I was lost.

Anyway, we all got back in one piece eventually, and lived happily ever after. And the car did 47 miles per gallon.

Jessops are muppets

Another in the series of early mornings (well, I say `early' but that just means early for me and would probably be considered quite decadent by some people) saw me preparing to go out to work on Monday while bopeepsheep went back to the dentist's. Although we had decided I didn't have to go and meet her I received a reverse-charge phone call (with an operator saying "Mrs C calling will you pay for the call?" quite quickly in a Scottish accent so that it took me quite some time to work out what she had said) in which J informed me she had gone out without her 7-day bus ticket. So I spent 15 minutes looking for it, without success, then got my bike out and found the tyre flat again. Fortunately it stayed up when I pumped it up, so I went out to meet J and give her a bit of cash so she could make it back home.

So then I proceeded to the bike shop, where I left my bike for a service, and continued by bus to work (arriving horribly late - again).

Meanwhile J went into town and collected our photos from Jessops. These are the photos that her brother took two weeks ago when we went to his house and had a photo shoot with the baby. The following is a paraphrase of the conversation I had when I took the films in to be developed; there were two colour films and two black-and-white ones (the reason for choosing Jessops).
me: I'd like to put in these films to be developed. There are two black-and-white ones.
Assistant: Black and white films take 1-2 weeks.
me: Oh. And how much are CDs?
Assistant: £2.99 - and it takes 1-2 weeks.
me: This 1-2 weeks would be in addition to the 1-2 weeks for processing the black and white films?
Assistant: Yes.
me: Oh. Er, well we'll have CDs for just the colour ones then.
Assistant: You can have a Kodak CD or a Jessops CD. A Kodak CD takes one week but doesn't have very high resolution. A Jessops CD takes two weeks and has high resolution pictures.
me: Would you happen to know what the resolution of the Kodak CD is?
Assistant: About 1.5 million pixels.
me: OK. I think I'll have Jessops CDs then.
The assistant then put an `X' in the box for the Jessops CD and wrote `Jessops CD' on the back of the envelope for each of the colour films, and I paid about 30 pounds for the privilege (black and white processing is rather more expensive than colour processing for some reason). However, I did then receive four free films. Which was nice.

So what did J come home with? Two Kodak CDs. One copy of each photo, at 1536x1024, and a load of proprietory software. In addition, J's brother had previously taken some pictures of stars on one of the films, but Jessops hadn't noticed there was anything on them and had failed to either print them or put them on the CD; and that same film also had a shadow covering the left-hand third of almost every photograph (although I suspect that was J's brother's fault rather than Jessops', since he'd taken the film out of the camera and then later put it back in). Oh well. At least there are quite a few good ones in there.

So long and thanks for all the rides

I did not wake up very early yesterday - must be all the early mornings. . .

Anyway, I waited for a bus to take me to the bike shop, where it was found that my bike hadn't been serviced. The chap there had prepared an estimate:

 Chain        8.00
 block       10.00
 B/B         14.00
 Pedals       7.00
 tyre         8.00
 Front wheel 20.00
 Brake shoes  6.00
 Labour      20.00
`I could do all that for you,' he says, `but to be honest with you it wouldn't be all that good a bike even when I've done it. A new bike would be about £200 and it would be a much better bike for your money because the technology has improved over time.' I suppose I have to agree with him really. My bike is of March 1997 vintage and has been doing 8 miles or so almost every day, so it's had a good innings, as they say. At least it still works, until such time as I can be brave enough to go back into the shop and spend the money on a new one. Even the tyre was still up this morning, although it might need some more air in before very much longer.

So it was another late day in at work. And, as it turned out, an early day out. I had to take half a day's leave and take T to the doctor because his sniffling hasn't improved and the mucus from his nose now has blood in it (moreover, J was full of a cold again yesterday and didn't feel able to take him herself). The doctor said it wasn't anything to worry about, though, and gave him some more saline nose drops.