Herefordshire Week 208: Tuesday 19 – Monday 25 December 2023

Countdown to Christmas, over to Essex, speedy side trip to London, a fab Christmas Dinner from Phil, and a Christmas cold (but not COVID).

Christmas at Battersea Power Station
Christmas at Battersea Power Station

Woke up late again on Tuesday, and a bit down in the dumps / listless. Gloomy inside and out. Did weeknotes and prepped the blogpost titles for 2024, 2025 and 2026 (I still love spreadsheets), watched a squirrel carrying a windfall apple across the front lawn (needed a lot of stopping, dropping,  rebiting and resuming), did a bit of packing and wrapping for Essex and enrolled onto a couple of short courses at Herefordshire, Ludlow and North Shropshire College, got the log stove going and did more pre-handover LRB reading.

It’s a cliche, but doing some exercise brought back my oomph on Wednesday morning. We delivered the local Christmas cards early afternoon and when we got back I decided there was time before teatime to make mince pies.

Making mince pies
Making mince pies

Very tasty they were too! Last VWW of the year then tea and telly in the evening. En route I topped up the screen wash and the antifreeze / coolant in the car ahead of Friday’s drive to Essex.

Thursday was a windy day. The morning featured the last class at the gym for 2023, checking the tyre pressures on the Panda, applying WD40 to the irritating squeaky clutch (in vain), hair wash and clothes wash, cleaning the clogged filter coffee machine (fingers crossed). Packed and prepped in the afternoon then we walked down the lane for Christmas wine, crisps and catch up with TJL.

Up early on Friday – still gusty outdoors – for the drive to Essex. The motorway route got us there in about 4 1/2 hours, with a break at Rugby Moto services and a worrying, rhythmic clunk under the car as we crawled towards the Braintree roundabout …. gulp.

Late lunch at J&J’s, hello to Pippa the cat, the train to LST and tube down to Battersea Power Station to rendezvous with H for the David Hockey light projection, Christmas lights and cocktails and Dinner at Dishoom. No sore heads 🙂

David Hockney Christmas animation at Battersea Power Station
David Hockney Christmas animation at Battersea Power Station

Sleepless night Friday / Saturday worrying about the car. Chatted with P and decided to park the potential problem until after Christmas. Tube and train to Wivenhoe via Moorgate M&S for post-Christmas treats.

Lovely and sunny in Wivenhoe. I stocked up on overnight supplies from Co-op and treated myself to a Mincemeat Roll from the Norwegian Bakery stall on my way back for Christmas Eve Breakfast.

Lazy afternoon instead of the walk I felt I ought to be doing. Nice catch ups with Tom and dad. Then got the telly going and settled on the sofa upstairs: polished off Vigil season 2 (obvious whodunnit once I thought about it), followed by Imagine… Russell T Davies: The Doctor and Me (lovely).

Sundown in Wivenhoe
Sundown in Wivenhoe

Did a precautionary COVID test on Sunday morning, which came back negative, so I was OK to catch the train back to Witham (£9.20 for 20 mins). P met me at the station and we strolled into town for a coffee then back to base along the River Walk nipping into Morrisons to finish. Should have been wearing our Christmas Jumpers, or PJs, or Onesies….

My Christmas Cold got the better of me for the rest of the day, which I spent snoozing on / in bed while Phil did Christmas Dinner prep downstairs with periodic checkins and food and drink delivery to the invalid upstairs.

Monday. Christmas Day. Lovely to hear the church bells ring out at 9am. Leisurely breakfast in the lounge, present opening, family phone calls and emails. Christmas Dinner, a little after 1 o’clock, was a triumph over kitchen adversity on Phil’s part: turkey crown, pigs in blankets, roast potatoes, roast parsnips, roast carrots, sprouts, stuffing, bread sauce and cranberry sauce.

Ghosts Christmas special and grande finale for evening telly. I, for one, got a bit tearing saying farewell to the gang.


Three sheep materialised in Kiln Field. We three sheep of orient are?


TV: Fleishman is in Trouble, (finished off), Only Murders In The Building (alright but not amazing), Vigil (wrapped up series 2), Imagine … Russell T Davies: The Doctor and Me.

Podcasts: The History of England, The Memory Palace, The Rest is Entertainment, A History of Rock in 500 Songs (Phil’s choice on the drive over – Good one!), Hooked on Freddie, In Our Time , History Extra, Being Roman with Mary Beard, The Reunion (Band Aid 1984), The Wombles the the Rescue, Gone Mediaeval (chanced upon on a Cnut Quest) <— a lot of these were sleepless nights worrying about the car, and while resting to try to get rid of my cold quicker.


Photos: Herefordshire week 208 on Flickr, once I’ve tagged them 🙂

Phil: Fortnight-Notes to come…. Voilà! f/e 2023-12-31.