5: I stayed off work because I had a cold. I went to Sainsbury's in the afternoon to discover that they hadn't sold out of fireworks and were doing a BOGOF offer on some of the more expensive ones. In the evening smallclanger jumped off a coffee table that we'd recently assembled (from an Argos flatpack), made a big scrape under his left eye and got himself taken to the hospital as a result. We saw a triage nurse fairly quickly and then spent a couple of hours waiting for a doctor before giving up and going back home. smallclanger took it all in his stride and probably wondered what all the fuss was about. It healed pretty quickly, though you can still see the scar if you look closely.
6: We sauntered over to Witney for the annual fireworks party held by the residents of bopeepsheep's parents' cul-de-sac. smallclanger thought the bangs were very funny, in the main, but he didn't like the whistling ones (which were very loud). He and his mum went inside just at the wrong moment and missed the big finale. We stayed overnight and came home the next evening.
13–14: Nothing springs to mind, though smallclanger says he went to his Granny and Grandad's. Edit: He was taken to his Granny's on the 14th so that bopeepsheep and I could go and see Bridget Jones 2.
18: I was running some hot water in the kitchen that evening when I discovered that we didn't have any. Tried many times to relight the pilot light of the central heating boiler, but it always went out again when I released the grey button.
19: I had to stay at home because bopeepsheep was in bed with a migraine. I joined British Gas's 3-star service for £25 a month, but they said they didn't have an engineer available until Monday. It's a good thing we were planning to be out all weekend. We wrapped up warm and had the gas fire on for the first time in about five years.
20: In the afternoon we set off for Cambridge, using a slightly odd route to the A1(M) which MapQuest had given us (basically coming off a junction early on the M25 and cutting off a corner). Apparently the M11 was chocca and/or closed, so it's a good job we didn't come that way. The directions to Travelodge at Fourwentways were a bit misleading and it's not exactly obvious when you get there, so we meandered around a bit. We had dinner at the adjoining Little Chef, got changed and navigated our way through Cambridge to lnr's birthday party (making only one wrong turn and stopping at the railway station to ask for directions) where we met lots of nice people and smallclanger stood guard at the door to the kitchen. Eventually he had to be taken back to the motel with his mum, but bopeepsheep persuaded me to go back and have a bit more fun. I talked to tea_cantata for the first time in ages.
21: After failing to get hold of my brother, we headed to his house in Haslingfield — but he wasn't back from church yet. When he did arrive we went to a nice pub/restaurant for lunch. After we were more than adequately filled we went into the city centre to meet angua, who happened to be with saraphale in the Borders cafe. Then we watched Captain Sensible turning on the Christmas lights (amid various vendors selling deely-boppers, balloons and strange lit-up spinning things) and attempted to contact j4. We ended up at the Carlton with lnr and a few others, and j4 and addedentry arrived after we had finally managed to get in touch with them. We came back to Oxford by the more usual M11-M25-M40 route, and by that time it was clear enough not to cause any problems.
22: bopeepsheep waited in all afternoon for the gas man, who eventually arrived and fitted a very expensive gas valve. Fortunately it turned out that the parts are covered under the 3-star programme (but I still had to pay for the CO-detector he left us). Apparently our installation, which presumably complied with all the relevant standards about ten years ago (and passed an inspection when I moved in), is now considered inadequately ventilated. But at least it's working now.
27: Lo, there was an ox.meat at the Lamb and Flag. Somewhere along the way, smallclanger was taken to his Granny's, and the buses to bring bopeepsheep back to Oxford were most appalling.
28: A party in honour of bopeepsheep's grandmother's birthday was held at their home in Weybridge. The plan was to be that smallclanger was taken straight there from his Granny's, though whether this happened or we picked him up first I do not recall. Actually I think we may have ended up fetching him back on Saturday night.
3: Drove down to Kent in the evening — the M25 was surprisingly free-flowing except at the Dartford crossing — to my brother's house (the one who doesn't live near Cambridge, obviously), where we also met my parents, who had decided to visit that weekend only because they had heard we were going to be there. My dad handed over a big sack of Christmas presents, which wasn't strictly necessary because it wouldn't have killed us to wait until just after Christmas.
4: In the morning bopeepsheep and my sister-in-law went to the Bluewater shopping centre, and meanwhile my parents departed to go back home. My brother and I took smallclanger on a walk round town until he finally went to sleep.
5: Other things happened. Eventually we came back home.
8: I took the afternoon off work and collected smallclanger from his mum while she went to a job interview.
11: We were going to go to the_muttster and buzzy_bee's birthday party (the child-friendly version), but it got cancelled because they were demolishing the chimney. Or something. However, bopeepsheep's Nana had gone into hospital, so we collected bopeepsheep's Mum from town and went to Ashford to visit.
16: For many years now a small group of people from Wesley Memorial choir (not necessarily the same group each time) has been going to a nursing home in Merton (near Bicester, not the London one) to sing some carols to the old folks one evening in mid-December. Also for many years, the village Methodist chapel at Murcott has been holding a carol service one evening in mid-December which people from around the circuit go to. Some (about four) years ago, these two things were merged into the same evening, which makes the nursing home carol-sing a bit rushed but is probably more convenient for most people. Last year, owing to several delays (including the new roadworks on the A40 while we were trying to drop smallclanger off at his Granny's), we arrived at the nursing home just as the others were leaving. This year we weren't singing at the nursing home because of lack of numbers, so time was not quite so much of the essence. We arrived with enough time for a quick run-through of a couple of choir items before going on to the carol service and then back to the house opposite the chapel for snacks and some more informal carol singing. Then we drove back via Charlton-on-Otmoor, where they have an impressive outdoor display of lights (though sadly we were without camera).
17: smallclanger went to his Granny's (again) and we went off to the_muttster and buzzy_bee's birthday party (the non-child-friendly version), which did actually go ahead as planned. Thai food was ordered and a good time was had by all. Since the venue is about half way round the M6-M5-M42 ring around Birmingham, we ended up having driven right the way around it by the time we were back on our way to Oxford.
18: On the Saturday before Christmas it's traditional for bopeepsheep's parent's neighbours to gather for some fun and carol singing. We've managed to miss it the last three years (by being ill and by being at my Dad's 60th birthday party for two of them, and last year it didn't happen because the pianist had a new grandson and was off visiting), but this year we went. However, the rest of bopeepsheep's family was off doing other things.
19: I took smallclanger to church in the morning and we sat and listened to a musical presentation by the junior church. In the evening it was our carol service, so I arrived early to rehearse with the choir, and bopeepsheep and smallclanger sloped in very slightly late having been let down again by the buses.
23: No more work this year — hooray. bopeepsheep had two appointments, so I became chauffeur for the day.
24: We collected up our various Christmas stuff and went over to Witney via a long and winding road because the A34 looked like it was blocked and there were signs telling us the A415 was closed at Standlake. In the evening we went to the carol service at Cogges, where smallclanger was quiet for, oh, most of the time anyway.
25: Presents! Unfortunately we'd left a bag of presents at home. So, during a lull just before lunch, I came home to collect them and a couple of mobile phones. DVDs were very much the theme of my presents: two box-sets of Babylon 5, Game On and Yes, Prime Minister (and, later, Press Gang from my brother). My present to bopeepsheep was The Sims 2. However, the catch is that it requires a processor of at least 800MHz and her computer was a K6 at 400MHz with 256MB of PC133 memory. Apparently she was under the impression that it would only take a few bits and pieces to upgrade. Only a new processor… which requires a new motherboard (and most likely a new power supply). Technically, the PC133 memory would probably have gone back in but it didn't seem sensible to combine a new processor with old, slow memory. So after bopeepsheep opened The Sims 2 she went on to unwrap a Sempron 2800+ processor, an NF7-M motherboard and a gigabyte of DDR400 memory. That's me done spending for quite a while! (But no — I still have to buy plane tickets to California…)
26: We went back home.
30: We weren't feeling up to a trip to Leicester on the 29th, so we left for Bolton on the 30th instead. Once there, we went to my Auntie K's for an evening chat and an opportunity for smallclanger to rip up paper hats and pile cushions on his grandad's knees.
2: We were planning to stop at buzzy_bee's on the way back to Oxford, but because bopeepsheep wasn't feeling well, we drove straight past.
4: Back to work. :-(
8: Although bopeepsheep's Nana had come out of hospital at Christmas, she was back in again. So, on the way to mzdt's party, we stopped off at the hospital where bopeepsheep went in and I took smallclanger round Tesco (how exciting). At the party we met lots of people, several of whom are on LiveJournal, though sadly bisonbaby was notable by her absence. land_girl did, however, bring her other daughter and a friend, and they seemed to have fun occasionally looking after smallclanger. We met tjej there, briefly, though I didn't know who she was at the time.
16: I think we didn't actually do anything this weekend, for once. However, in the evening I came down with what my doctor later described to me as "a bug" (thanks for that). So on Monday I stayed off work. On Tuesday morning I went to the doctor and stayed off work. On Wednesday I felt better but I still stayed off work because bopeepsheep didn't look too well herself. In the evening I felt worse again, and I still had it on Thursday morning… so I stayed off work. On Friday I actually went in (and made it on time for once) and of course had people queueing up at my door for pretty much the whole day.
22: After lunch we set off to oldbloke's place, where I joined in (slightly incompetently) some poker and bopeepsheep played with smallclanger and youngbloke. When we paused for Indian takeaway I was a couple of pounds ahead thanks to a lucky win against two other strong hands. However, by the end of the day I'd had eleven quid taken off me. Which in a way wasn't too bad as I'd already written off the £20 as an entrance fee. Late in the evening we travelled back to my parents' house where we spent the night and the next day.
24: bopeepsheep had caught a cold as well as having my lurgy, so I had to stay at home for the next three days.
29: We didn't do anything much, but I caught the cold back off bopeepsheep.
30: A mini meeting took place. After lunch we retreated to Grove, where smallclanger chased cats up and down the stairs.
31: I stayed off work again with my cold.
5: Not a good start to the month as sad news was received in the morning. We went to Witney and spent the afternoon with bopeepsheep's parents and brothers.
6: bopeepsheep went to the hospital while I took smallclanger out to church. Nothing much else happened during the week, as far as I remember.