Featuring, amongst others, the alpaca on the top of the tree (the finger puppet came with a gift certificate after HD’s parents gifted an alpaca to a Peruvian family via Practical Action as one of our wedding presents), the Christmas kookaburra (a previous wibsite present exchange gift from Miss Lisa), a couple of decorations from birdie (where’s her blog gone?!) who sent them my first Christmas in Scotland after hearing I was going to be on my own and not actually have any presents to open on the day (long not particularly sad story!), and a little wooden snowman from Finland I bought when I went to Helsinki for a conference – I’d had great ideas about buying Christmas presents there till I saw the prices, all I managed in the end was the tiniest little tree decoration and a shot glass for HD which cost a flippin’ fortune! And the tree – we bought it just before we got married, our first Christmas tree. It’s only tiny, but is so full of memories!
This is our local parish church, and is where we will be heading for the midnight service (at 11.30, go figure). I thought I’d better take the picture early, as there is a yellow alert for rain on Christmas Day, and the rain has already started.
I did my last minute Christmas shopping, on the way back the sun was really low in the sky, I loved these silhouetted trees.
This Christmas card was designed by our niece.
Looks like Christmas is coming 🙂
This is the lovely view that greeted me this morning (taken from our front step). I was on my way into Glasgow for an OU meeting, no snow there which is probably just as well as Christmas shopping was stressful enough. It’s quite chilly here, but at least the awful wind has subsided.
The cards are starting to arrive now. Better get round to buying some (I don’t always manage!).
Here are a few photos from the last couple of days:
And here’s a selection of photos from Hereford Cathedral, which we visited this afternoon:
Well, 2010 hasn’t been an annus horribilis, overall it’s been OK, but I think I’d rather rerun December and do most of it (apart from submitting the thesis) somewhat differently. After the drama of the burst pipe the other week, and my ominous noting that Dudley (the car) wasn’t sounding too good, we headed south to see family on Thursday only for Dudley to suddenly sound considerably worse. We were pulling into a service station at the time, luckily, so at least had toilets, tea and (relative) warmth, but it did mean that we were then not a priority for the recovery services, which meant we had to wait a very very very very very very long time before we could get a tow to our destination. We have had to say goodbye to Dudley, who will soon be heading for the great scrapyard in the sky, just as soon as we can get our paperwork down to our brother-in-law (in whose parking space Dudley is currently). In the meantime we have had to hire a car to get us back to Scotland, but dates and availability means that we have had to put off our plan to visit my family as well as HD’s, and we will have to rectify that later in the new year. We’ll keep the hire car just over a week, I will try and have as many admin days at work as I can manage (as I won’t be insured to drive the hire car for business purposes) and try to get a lease car from work. I have put off the lease car option up till now for a number of reasons: (1) you have to commit to 3 years and I never wanted to be that long in the job (2) I have never had a financed car before, I’ve just saved up and bought one outright, and I feel a bit funny about having to pay out monthly (3) up till now we had a perfectly good car. But having sat and worked out the finance options, it will actually work out no more expensive, and in fact will probably be cheaper, than what we had spent on Dudley, his repairs and insurance etc. And for that I will get a brand new car which is insured for both of us and will benefit from free repairs (well, free to me anyway). It’s a bit of a no-brainer really. The 3 years thing isn’t ideal, but could be worse.
Anyway, apart from all that drama Christmas has been fun. I was sad not to be seeing my folks, but as there wasn’t anything anyone could do about that I have just had to make the best of the situation, and have enjoyed being with HD’s family. We have been given so much chocolate I won’t be able to start dieting till the summer (!). The car we have hired is the smallest we could get, unfortunately I have eaten so much the last couple of days it may mean the car struggles to get much beyond 2nd gear as the load is too heavy. If you see a lawnmower chugging up the M6, that will probably be us.
I handed in the thesis on Tuesday! It was a very strange feeling (not helped by the fact that I couldn’t actually find the way in to the building and ended up hammering on a locked door which was some sort of tradesman’s entrance!). On Monday night when I got the 3 bound copies of the thesis out to take a picture and to show HD, I found myself all teary, I don’t think I’d realised how much I’d got into it and how much it meant to me. I still think it tails off a bit at the end and I am sure I know what the examiners will say about it (needing more theory thread thoughout the empirical chapters – I guess I’m just not a theorist), but it got to the point where it just had to be good enough in the time left, and what is there should pass some sort of muster even though I am expecting corrections. I will be happy with 3 months’ corrections, am not expecting ‘just minor’ corrections, and it could be 6 months. My supervisor, who was herself an external examiner at another university at the start of the week, told me that really what is required is that I can justify what I did and defend why I did it, and she is confident I can do that.
Since handing it in I feel like I haven’t stopped. I still had some essays to mark, which took longer than I would have liked, and I have still had the day job to do. The flat is slightly less of a tip now than it was, HD has done a great job of sorting out the bedroom, and last night we were able to sleep in the bedroom again for the first time in a week (we had had to decamp to the sofabed in the living room as the bedroom was too damp). I have been getting up very early most days to either faff about on the thesis or mark essays before work, so although I had a great night’s sleep last night I’m going to need a lot more than that to catch up.
And now I can finally think about Christmas. We’ve not bought cards as there has simply not been time to do anything about them, so apologies to anyone who was expecting one. Hopefully next year I’ll be more organised, and might even attempt another cartoon letter. Apart from a couple of secret santa presents for work colleagues and something for HD ordered from the internet and then not delivered because of the snow I haven’t bought a single thing, so tomorrow I am picking up HD’s present from the depot and then we are going to have to hit the shops. Mmmm, city centre the last Saturday before Christmas, that’s going to be a pleasant experience ….
In other news Dudley (the car) is not sounding very healthy 🙁
Thank you very much to the lovely farli who sent me these lovely wooden tree decorations (plus a stick of rock as a clue, although I already had guessed my secret Santa’s identity from the postmark!). Rather embarrassingly we appear to have lost our Christmas tree (and with it all the previous decorations, including Miss Lisa’s decoration from last year’s WISE and some decorations from birdie as well from a ship secret Santa from a few years ago). It is in storage somewhere, but we couldn’t find it so I’m afraid we did without. However hopefully next year we’ll be more organised (and hopefully will be somewhere bigger where we don’t need the storage unit any more) and will have found the tree, so I’ll be able to show them in situ doing what they were created for.
Thanks again farli, the decorations are beautiful.
A few days late, but I am now back in Glasgow after a lovely week away down south visiting family, and gearing up to returning to work tomorrow (today is a bank holiday this side of the border, but before you jump up and down, we don’t get the August bank holiday – I think with the various changes it still all works out the same over the year).
After a quiet but lovely Christmas we headed down south on Boxing Day and spent a couple of nights at my parents’ place. I managed to do the bulk of my chapter 3 (which will later become chapter 4 as I rejig things) revision, and we had a walk through a park I used to play in as a child which was a bit bracing but nice to have a few minutes out. Then we headed slightly further south and spent a couple of nights at HD’s parents (where his sister, brother-in-law and nieces were also staying, so it was a bit noisier there). I used their broadband to email off the chapter revisions, and then was able to relax a bit. We went to the Milton Keynes shopping centre as I was after a new camera, this turned out to be a big mistake (MK shopping centre is HUGE, but has no specialist camera shop! Outrageous! Plus the rest of the county and beyond had the same idea, and it was absolutely heaving there). Anyway after all that we headed off to Herefordshire to stay with HD’s sister and family (the same lot who were at the outlaws – it was great to be able to spend so much time with them). Very excitingly, we went into Hereford on New Year’s Eve and I managed to buy a camera from a specialist (rather than a chain) and beat the VAT rise, and so I am now the proud owner of a second-hand one of these. It’s very shiny! (and was a bargain) 😀
For new year we all piled down to Somerset, and spent the night at some friends of HD’s sister’s family (whom HD also knew though they’d not seen each other since we got married so it was the first time I’d met them). We played Wii Samba which was fun, I played with the camera, and we had a lovely time. After returning we just chilled out, built a wardrobe, chilled out some more, and then we headed back up north yesterday. HD is now back in his digs and back to work today (his contract has been extended until the end-ish of March, which is good from the work/money point of view though not ideal from the living-in-the-same-place-as-his-wife-ie-me point of view), and I finally got home about 7.30 yesterday evening. It is very cold here, and icy, so I’m a bit nervous about driving to work tomorrow. We’ll see.
Rather upsettingly, when I got home I found that my key to the front (communal) door didn’t fit the lock, so I thought that it had been changed. The neighbour let me in, and it turns out that it is the same lock, but someone broke in last week by picking the lock and it is now really difficult to use – it’s always been a bit stiff, but I can now only get my key about half-way in. Even worse, they had broken into my neighbour’s place by pretty much kicking the door in, and had stolen quite a lot of stuff. The rest of the flats weren’t touched, but it is still worrying. Hopefully seeing the burglar alarm put them off. And in the meantime, we are finding it really hard to get in, and relying on neighbours who are already in to buzz us in. This morning I was woken up hearing someone trying unsuccessfully to open the door, it was absolutely freezing out there so I couldn’t ignore it so I let my upstairs neighbour in (at 7am – the poor guy looked frozen solid!), and we will have to phone the factors (management company) tomorrow when they get back to work as I think it will have to have a new lock. So I have to say I’m feeling rather Daily Mail-ish about whoever it was who did it, and it’s brought back some not-at-all pleasant memories of the two burglaries I had in London.
I have new year resolution-type-things to think about and other stuff, but it’s 1pm so I probably ought to get out of bed 😀 (if it’s any consolation, despite being in bed and the heating on, my fingers are still blue from the cold – according to the BBC weather, the daytime maximum temperature in Glasgow today will be -1, and at night the minimum temperature will be -8. Looks like the scraper will be getting plenty of use! Anyway – happy new year to you all, and I hope 2010 is happy, healthy and generally good to you.