Happy Christmas to you all...
I am now on holiday until 5 January 2015.
The annual collection of good produce from local supplier at Priory Farm tomorrow morning will fill the refrigerator with traditional fayre.
Then I will be up to London to escort my Mum to Merstham on the limited train service to stay until 2 January. It will be a change for Mum, which will hopefully give her a boost as she hasn't been away from her flat in Covent Garden for a long time.
Christmas Day lunch will be my "traditional" which has served well since the boys were lots younger and first spent Christmas with me after Jo and I went our separate ways.
The Menu will be something like :
Starter - Prawn and Salmon parcels.
Main - Roast Turkey with stuffing and trimmings, Roast Potatoes, Swede and Carrot Mash, and Steamed Brussel Tops with Rosemary Butter.
Followed by Christmas Pudding and Mince Pie with cream and custard.
Wine will be a Chateau Neuf-du-Pape with the main followed by a Dessert Wine and ending up with some Port.
It is really pretty good "dos" as my family says.
It is coming up for that time of year - just pre-post-Christmas - when a glance back over the past 51 weeks brings a smile or a sigh or both.
Mine brings a smile.
It has been a good year in most areas of note.
The Science Museum, Imperial War Museum, Eastbourne, The Greenwich Maritime Museum and Number 24 Bus have all provided stimulating and enjoyable times.
However, the BIG memory will be the brilliant installation of poppies at the Tower of London - "Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red". Moving, provocative and very poignant.
I am lucky enough to say that this year has brought some great gigs and music my way...
It looked like this:
19/2 Just Julia, Emmy The Great
21/2 Jake Bugg
7/3 John Cooper Clarke
26/3 Art Club, Paul Hawkins & the Awkward Silences, Summer Camp
1/5 Seth Lakeman, Billy Bragg
23/5 Duke Garwood, Seasick Steve
4/7 Hop Farm Festival - Jezabels, Lightning Seeds, 10cc, The Full English, Nick Lowe, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbot, Echo and The Bunnymen, Ray Davies
5/7 Hop Farm Festival - Tinlin, Azedah, The Feeling, Paul Carrack, Slow Club (1), Nerina Pallott, Squeeze, James Blunt, Brian Wilson
6/7 Hop Farm Festival - Ordinary Noise, Meadowlark, The Dunwells, Danny and The Champions of The World, The Family Rain, The Beat, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, Chas & Dave, Peter Hook and The Light, Marc Almond, Billy Ocean, Grace Jones
12/9 Paul Thomas Saunders, Rae Morris,
11/11 Happyness, Slow Club (2),
2/12 Ella The Bird, NEEDTOBREATHE
... AND I landed a ticket for next year's Glastonbury Festival.
Enjoyed the Scouting this year. Good camps and reunion .
Seven Cub Scouts achieved the Chief Scouts Silver Award this year.
Numbers have grown to 24 in the Pack, so we are now at full capacity.
All of this and my beloved Gunners won some silverware after all this time.
Getting a little late now, so I must to bed.
This has been a good year, and I am already looking forward to 2015.
I caught the fall out of Black Friday when I covered at the Uxbridge office - piles of Amazon and other packages hit the Post Room on Tuesday of this week. I am realistic enough to see that people can't resist a bargain, but have to ask the retailers why they can't sell the goods at these prices all year round.
I was surprised to read that on Cyber Monday, Visa was expecting that £5000 per second would be crossing their system in the UK.
Creating fanatical demand is not a good thing, as evidenced by the need for Police Intervention in at least four London stores. I cannot understand the darker side of the human condition which leads to folks fighting over a TV set.
At least the numbers of items coming into my normal office in Woodhatch are steady, although inflated.
I have been a licensed road user since about 1976, but had a new experience this week.
While driving home on the main road from Horley after doing some Christmas errands, I was waved down and stopped by a Police Officer with a speed gun. This has never happened to me before.
I realised straight away what the issue was, but as I told the PC, it did not seem THAT fast - I was just on the way home.
It seems that I was doing 41 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Rather than issuing me with a caution (and points on the license) the officer gave me a warning and there will be a note on my license that I have been stopped for 12 months. If it happens again in this time, there will be no leeway.
I guess that if nothing else, this will refocus my attention on driving speeds.
NEEDTOBREATHE (acoustic) at Bush Hall was terrific. The band seemed to be feeling their way a little and suggested that this was the first fully acoustic set they had performed. They are a good bunch and their experience showed.
The Christmas gig by Slow Club scheduled for next Friday (12th) has sadly been cancelled as Rebecca has been told by the medical team to rest until the end of the year.
This is the first concert that I have experienced being cancelled in 36 years of gig-going.
Seasick Steve is releasing a new album next March and touring. I have pre-ordered a signed CD and booked up tickets at Hammersmith for James and Tara and me to see the Dawg in April.
I was asked to play Father Christmas at a Family Day in a couple of weekends time at the office. It is a nice thing to be asked.
At first I baulked at the idea, but then warmed to it.
Oddly, in a straw poll of friends and family asking if I should do it, only 3 friends who are Scouters told me categorically "No, don't do it". Everyone else said, "Go for it, it will be fun".
Having settled on this, a colleague told me in a quiet moment that he felt a bit sad when I changed my mind and decided to do the job - he had thought that he would really like to do the Santa thing.
Of course, I told the organiser that I had stepped down in favour of my colleague and felt better for it.
I think it is much better to do this sort of thing if you WANT to do it rather than because you COULD do it. Fair play, I say.
Judging on how I am feeling better about my eventual decision to decline this opportunity, perhaps I just need learn to say "No" and stick with it rather than over analyse.
Not a bad couple of games for the Gunners since my last update.
Without Alexis Sanchez however, I wonder where they would be. He runs and runs and scores. Seems to be a great buy.
"Wenger Out" ? - my take is to be careful what you wish for. He may have had his day, but I can't see anyone fit to replace him. Arsene has an eye for talent and no one can deny that he helps the Arsenal Board run the business in a very sensible manner.
Frustrating to see that even when they are beating one of the best teams in Europe Borrusia Dortmund 2-0, half of the Arsenal "Faithful" see fit to make their way home with 10 minutes to go rather than cheer the team's success at the final whistle.
Having to go to Stockley Park has messed with my Scouting, but next Monday is the last of the year - it was planned to be a games night, but we are going to have to make cards and finishing Christmas presents (shhh... don't mention it.)
The Leaders are quite pleased as this year 7 cubs have been presented with the Chief Scout Silver Award, which is the highest achievement a Cub can get.
Managed to get Mum out to Marks and Spencer last Saturday and we got her a few new clothes to wear over her stay at Christmas. It went pretty well and we didn't have raised voices.
And that, dear reader, is about it for this one.
Until next time...