"for the happy, the sad, I don't want to be, another page in your diary"

Sunday, 26 December 2021

Christmas Served Pink

On Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, I am back at work. WFH. Which is good apart from the fact it’s raining and someone wants the back door open. That is despite the fact they’ve just had a walk.

L was been walking MD in the Lakes without his halti on now when I put it on him this morning he looked quite put out. Maybe he's growing up and he really doesn’t need it any more.

The locksmith arrives again, as pre-arranged, and fits our new letterbox.

Aside from bring back from the Lakes all the presents, a pickled liver and a halti less dog, I also seem to have acquired a sneeze, a cough and a runny nose. So I do one those dreadful LFTs which was negative or faulty obviously. Maybe I've just developed a dog allergy after a whole week with the Lad.

After being certified negative (or faulty) I head off to Asda to shop for my parents. Which is even more horrible than usual given that it’s nearly Christmas. They’d ran out of baskets and trolleys. Everyone was having to queue for them to be returned.

On Christmas Eve I do another LFT which is again negative for Covid/Omicron/cold/flu/dog allergy etc then I finish WFM at 1pm. So many acronyms. We spend the evening in the Organ Grinder which is about as busy as we’ve ever seen it on Christmas Eve.

Daughter does the night shift and then crashes at our place at 7:30am on Christmas Day with tales of rescuing a deer from someone’s kitchen. Which is impressively festive although it didn’t have a red nose.

I do another LFT which is once again negative before we Parkrun at Alvaston. The Lad is a pain, of course, but our time isn’t too bad.

We then visit L’s Mum for a coffee. Sadly her Christmas Day at L’s brother’s has been cancelled due to his wife having Covid but she seems happy enough spending it in front of the TV. Son will also later test positive which will disrupt the rest of his Christmas.

Then we go to my parents' where my brother is also visiting and we exchange presents. My brother will be taking them a meal round later.

I take my Dad out for a pint (or two) in their village at the White Hart where a pint comes with free port.


At which point I think it’s wise to hand the car keys over to L and then as we head back home we pass my mate on his bike on his own way back from a Christmas Day pub trip.

We cook another non-standard Christmas Lunch, not that Daughter is surprised at our weirdness any more. We serve a platter of meats and cheeses then prawns with chorizo in red wine with fried potatoes. It was supposed to be scallops but naturally Sainsbury’s didn’t have any.

Daughter exits early on Boxing Day and we take our meals on wheels service to my parents' where we put our leg of lamb on to cook while we head to L’s Mum’s again to take her to the care home to visit L’s Dad for lunch.

Then we head back to my parents to serve lunch and meet my brother there again. At which point their oven fuses all the electrics in the house. We do manage to get the power back on to everything bar the oven which means the lamb will have to be served pink and, after several failed attempts in the microwave, without Yorkshire Puddings.

(Sunday 26th December)

Wednesday, 22 December 2021

Old Haunts And New Places

On Wednesday we head off to the Lakes for what is a frequent pre-Christmas treat and this year is longer than usual as I’ve been told to use up holiday from work. Which is not a problem.

A Wednesday to Wednesday schedule makes a cottage impractical so we do a mini road trip taking in three dog friendly hotels. Two of which we’ve stayed at before and one we haven’t.

First up is two nights at an old haunt the Watermill at Ings. We have really seen this place grow and develop since we first visited over 20 years ago. The car park we park in appears to be the latest new development as we don't recall it being there before. We have a pleasant couple of nights on their dog themed beers which in our case are mainly A Winters Tail and Ruff Justice. 

Our days are spent rather touristy e.g. Christmas shopping in Kendal, Bowness and Hawkshead with a spot of walking at Coniston Water, a morning run at from the hotel and then a trip to visit the Sticklebarn in the Langdale Valley.

Then we move to Grasmere and the Travellers Rest for three nights. This is somewhere we’ve long wanted to stay but we might not return as L is convinced that they kept serving her vodka and tonic without any vodka in it.


The weather is cold, misty and frosty but sadly L doesn’t get her wish to be snowed in somewhere.

Of course there has to be a Parkrun and we do the one at Whinlatter Forest on possibly the hardest course ever in preference to a three lap easy one at Rothay Park in Ambleside. It is incredibly hilly with evil downhills that my knees don’t like one bit. It doesn’t help that when they start unexpectedly, the Lad and I get left behind and have to catch up hindered by his usual lead biting as we zigzag down one of the downhills. Perhaps Ambleside might have been nicer.


There is more touristy shopping in Keswick and a walk near Bassenthwaite Lake as well as trips to Glenridding and Ullswater. We also fit in another morning run.

Then we move to another old haunt in the Mortal Man at Troutbeck. Where we do a pleasant walk from hotel and visit the nearby Queens Head for post-walk mid-afternoon coffee, whiskey and dog treats. Finally the trip home is via some final Christmas shopping in Ambleside and a pint in the Hawkshead Brewery at Staveley.

(Wednesday 22nd December)

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

The Muffin Stealer

Saturday is the Locko Park Christmas 10k which is a new event and the first time I’ve raced at Locko Park. L and Daughter run it too. The course isn’t great being basically three laps of the lake with an off road section up a track.

This particular section was eventful on the first lap to say the least. Once you got to the top you were asked to do a U-turn and then go back down it. Except there wasn’t room to separate the runners going up from those coming down. Those coming down had to run to the side of the path in long grass which wasn’t good for anyone’s dodgy knees or ankles let alone my papier-mâché ones.

This is part of my excuse why it took me 54 minutes, which is worse than it sounds because it was quite a bit short of being 10k as well. I did consider doing old un-favourite the Bolsover 10k on Sunday instead but then if I was serious about marathon training I’d probably be doing both.

In the afternoon Derby beat Blackpool 1-0.

The next day L is visiting Son in Leamington. So I join them. I take the boys for walk while they’re Christmas shopping and then gate crash their lunch. Son hands me a mysterious barrel shaped thing that is my Christmas present. I look forward to finding out what it could be.

Monday is my first day back working from home which nicely coincides with the locksmith chap coming to fit a new barrel inside the lock on our front door. Having changes the lock I best make sure I’m in when L comes home.

He’s also replacing our broken letterbox but we haven’t got that yet as he only had one in gold and that would have looked a bit daft on our white front door. So he’ll be back after our holiday to fit that.

One advantage\disadvantage of being back at home is inadvertently sharing my breakfast with the Lad. I was looking forward to my toasted muffins this morning but then found that one had disappeared off the worktop while I was on a phone call.

Bizarrely Tuesday’s Libertines gig at Rock City has been cancelled even though Tuesday is the day before vaccine passports come in and they have it rearranged for February when there may be even less chance of it going ahead.

So having cancelled my dog training session I quickly un-cancel it. At least the muffin stealer will be pleased.

(Tuesday 14th December)

Friday, 10 December 2021

This Party Is Actually A Business Meeting

L's pool is very quiet at the moment which could be due to the latest Covid scare or it could just be because a lot of people seem to down tools their fitness programs at this time of year until after Christmas. That is assuming you’re not training for a spring marathon. In an attempt to keep up with L’s superior fitness regime I head to the gym.

The assumption that now that L’s Dad is in a care home that visiting would be much easier and more frequent than at the hospital turns out to be a bit naive. They allow only two visitors on the premises at a time and each resident is only allowed one 30 minute visit a week.

By Tuesday the weather has turned decidedly icy. It would be nice to have some snow but that doesn’t look as if it’s going to happen. It is windy though which may be why the Covid testing tent near L’s work isn’t there this morning.

I have a night out with my ex-school colleague after work. Drinks in the Alexandra and the Brunswick before food in Silk Mill which was much better than last time in the Exeter.

There’s sad news from dog training as I hear that the Lad’s ‘mate’ from training has been rehomed after he attacked his owner and she needed to have stitches. He was handful but didn’t know he could be violent. He’s now at a rescue centre in South Wales.

L wants me to ask if they want a cat as a replacement. She wants to offer everyone her Mum's cat as it’s about to be rehomed for the somewhat lesser crime of being slightly annoying.

By Thursday, the Government is again advising everyone to 'work from home where possible'. At work our new owners tell us we can do so starting immediately. Our old owners advise that we must have a dedicated work environment which does not include sitting on a bed and we must have a webcam for face to face meetings. So I now have a webcam, courtesy of the company.

Thursday is also, by some weirdly ironic fate, our Christmas Party at a new Indian called Nicco Restaurant and Cocktail Bar on Pride Park. Did I say party? My mistake. This fictional party is definitely not a party it is actually a business meeting.

So it won’t be wild and certainly not as wild as the Lad’s fourth birthday party back at home where I’m sure they’ll be sausages.

Our business meeting is followed by the now traditional post-event long walk to somewhere to have a drink bypassing many places where we could have had a drink. This year's long distance venue is the pool club in the centre of town. No, I have no idea why we went there. I stay for one more beer then get the bus home with a pocket full of birthday naan for the boys.

On Friday I decide to spend one last day in the office before starting working from home again. Two staff don't turn up at all, last seen asleep in the bus station after last night's business meeting.

(Friday 10th December)

Sunday, 5 December 2021


L asks if I’m basking in post-race glory at work. I’m not sure glory is the right word. Celebrating survival more like.

Mask wearing has always been high at Sainsbury’s and on Monday, ahead of Tuesday’s compulsion, it is back up to around 90%.

In the evening Derby have a home match which they unfortunately lose 2-1 to QPR while Tuesday is dog training in sub-zero temperatures.

Sub-zero doesn’t put L off swimming in the outdoor pool in the morning, which is presumably heated, but it appears she has a hard time persuading Daughter to go alfresco when she joins her.

Daughter’s race numbers meanwhile have now arrived for last Sunday’s race. A little late perhaps.

I bike despite the cold, the wind, and a brief shower of rain.

Wednesday is the first day of December and therefore the first day of Advent. What better way to celebrate the festive season than a pair of Advent chocolate nipples (or whatever they’re supposed to be) to share with your significant other every day for 24 days.  

The dogs have their own Advent calendar which comes without nipples but with a horrendous amount of plastic packaging every day for 24 days.

On Thursday I take the bus to work which was really quiet, which surprised me, and on time, which surprised me even more. So much so I do it again on Friday. 

I get my Covid booster on Thursday at Midland House in Derby where I’m straight in and out, aside from the ten minutes you have to wait afterwards to see if you get an allergic reaction.

L has a totally different experience at Forest Rec on Friday where they are queuing around the block even if you have an appointment. They have those signs that say you ‘reached the 30 mins to wait point’ like they do at Alton Towers. She has more patience than me, I’d have come back another time.

On Saturday after Parkrunning at Alvaston and taking L’s Mum for an eye appointment we have a meal out with some friends at Anoki on the A38 near Burton. I have never been there before and this is partly to make up for the fact the dog club have arranged a night out there next week when we’re away and also because we haven’t been properly out with these friends for about 15 years!

Sunday is the dog club’s AGM which is very sparsely attended and then in the evening we have a few beers in the Borlase and the Organ Grinder.

 (Sunday 5th December)