Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Oh The Pleasure Of Christmas Shopping.

Wish me luck, I'm off to do the 'big shop' tomorrow - with the other half. We've managed to squeeze in one day between now and Christmas when he can get a day's holiday and I can be away from home for the whole school day!

Time was, when we could leave the girls with my parents and make a long day of it, with a sit down lunch at the Guildhall in Worcester, maybe even afternoon tea, and a stroll into the Cathedral to calm our pre-Christmas nerves. But now that's not an option, and we have school hours to contend with too.

So tomorrow we will do the Leicester dash. Leicester being the other half's native city, he likes to make an annual pilgrimage to the city centre in search of the Christmas presents. What this actually means is a couple of hours in the car, finding one or two gifts, spending longer in the cheap electronics shop - hold me back - then rushing back down the M1.

And of course what that really means is that after tomorrow, I'll still have a list as long as your arm of other people to buy for, but the other half will think that the Christmas Shopping 'has been done' and will have mentally 'ticked it off'.

Never mind, I do quite like the chance to spend the day together, and although we probably won't get much done, at least I can have a real browse around and hopefully make notes about what to buy on other days, when I'll go off on my own.

Part of my problem is that I don't like to start the Christmas hype too early. What that ends up meaning is that I have to get everything done in a very short space of time and too often a spanner comes winging over curtesy of a sick child who needs a couple of days off school, at exactly the time I'd planned to do the critical shopping trips.

The other small problem is that for some reason, lots of our friends decided to have children around this time, so I end up having to think of birthday and Christmas presents at the same time. It's hard enough shopping for your own offspring, let alone other people's - who you probably haven't seen for a year and have no idea what they're into, or what they already have. This year I've decided to be kind to myself and ditch the guilt. They'll all get a gift voucher.

So that's it, I'm just going to dig out the present list from last year and fill up the hip flask. It helps to be prepared.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

On Winter And Falling On Ice.

Do you love winter? Are you a snow worshipper? Well I'm feeling a bit undecided at the moment. Until last night I'd have had no hesitation in saying that I love snow, there's nothing quite like sinking down into a few inches of fresh deep snow, the crunching noise it makes and the the potential for snowball fights in the garden.

Winter Wonderland? Photo by Dan
But that was before yesterday, or yesterday afternoon to be precise. You see although we've had a bit of snow here, we haven't got the drifts which are covering so much of the rest of the country - what we do have however, is ice - compacted, shiny, rock hard and as lethal as you can imagine - ICE.

I went out to meet a daughter from school yesterday and managed to go from vertical to horizontal in a split second. I was lucky, nothing broken, although how I'm not sure. What I do know is that I now have  a huge swelling on one hip, with the promise of a bruise from hell to come out in a day or two.

Now I can just about start to laugh about it. After all, I'm still in one piece, not laid up in hospital in plaster. But I'm an ordinary middle-aged woman, fit enough to get around without a stick. How on earth are the poor old dears who inhabit most of the town supposed to get about?

I've been listening to so much whining on the radio about keeping the roads clear - of course it's important and annoying when things grind to a halt, and yes, people in Scandinavia manage to cope with far more difficult conditions than this every year, but my point is simply this; why doesn't the council attempt to clear the pavements?

Forgive me if I'm beginning to sound like my - or your - mother, but I don't remember it being this bad when I was younger. I lived in Yorkshire for ten years and I don't think I missed one day's work, despite enormous amounts of snow. Now I feel practically housebound because I know that thirty feet from the house I have the option to ice-skate along the pavements or take my life in my hands and join the cars on  the road.

I think the biggest problem is the fact that we haven't had enough snow. We've had just enough to compact and freeze over to form a nightmarish glassy surface, but not sufficient to give us any kind of grip. If we'd had a few more inches, at least we'd have had that reassuring crunch to get our wellies into.

So, do I still love snow? Well yes, I guess I still do, I just wish we could have it in a decent quantity and that as soon as we've had our fun, the sun would come out and melt it all away. Wishful thinking? Of course, but I think from now on I'm always going to look at it from a slightly different perspective and consider what it means for those who're not as fleet of foot as they once were.