Back in England and I have a sense of acceleration towards our forthcoming festivities. But first we have an important birthday to celebrate. We drive up to Hackney on the 12th and collect Lola and Ruby from school. It is wonderful to see them and a special treat when we take them to the Fish House at Hackney for supper. There they have F and C whilst Nick and I have lobster and chips for the first time. We have presents to leave, and my mysterious Christmas slippers. Back at the house we chill out with Emma and Dan and drift into Nick’s birthday, the reaching of which is marked by a comfortable doze with Rooney sprawled across Nick’s chest.
In the morning Emma is away early for her clients and the rest of us scrabble our way out of the house to drop the girls at school, Dan at his office and on to central London where we park the car. We walk from Piccadilly to the V & A, which museum we have not visited for many a year. They have a temporary exhibition on Pearls which I want to see and Nick prowls round the building taking in many of the permanent exhibits. The museum café provides a very adequate salad mid-afternoon then we take a bus back to Piccadilly and check into the Thistle hotel to await the arrival of Charlotte and Ryan.
Earlier this year Charlotte proposed a surprise for Nick’s birthday: a theatre trip to see The Book of Mormon followed by dinner and an overnighter in London. The show is at one an ‘indecently funny and a brilliant musical’. No-one of sensitive religious disposition should subject themselves to the experience but Charlotte, Ryan, Nick and I laughed our way through the show. After we ate a wonderful dinner at Hawksmoor Restaurant in Soho, enjoying the best fillet steak we have ever eaten, cooked to our perfection. The following morning after breakfast we beetled back to Godalming where we dropped CJ and Ry. We caught up with Ted and after a short interval drove back up to London for the Conchological Society meeting at the Natural History Museum. The Christmas meeting is always a convivial affair with many exhibits and short presentations. We didn’t stay in London to eat with our friends, having a prior arrangement to sit Ted at Godalming.
After an excellent Perryman brunch on Sunday we drove across to Barns and Lukie’s cottage where we spent the day with the crew, ate a delicious late afternoon meal and drove back to Winterborne K in the evening. We left presents and Christmas slippers for all the Oxford kin. On Monday we were due to meet up with John and Gill for a walk at Lyme Regis before lunching together. In the event the weather was too unpleasant to walk, but we met for lunch just the same at the River Cottage Canteen in Axminster.
On the day before we crossed the Channel for our appointment with Christmas we drove to visit Maddy and catch up with Lis who took the train from Taunton to Maiden Newton that morning. If I’m honest I was more excited to meet up with Bertie.
I enjoyed the treat of walking him to the station, in company with the dogs Flossie and Teddy. Back home at WK for lunch, we then spent the afternoon and evening packing the car and settling the house before we decamped to France.