Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas Shopping Hell, A Religious Encounter, The LTT's return and Poppy Is Allowed On Ted's Blanket At Last

After a glorious early-morning walk with Mrs M, Oscar and Ted (and a long cuddle with her very soft cocker cross lab Very Brand Spanking New puppy- there must be something in the air because that's the 5th puppy I've heard of in as many days) round the water meadows (during which I managed to trip on a bramble and go arse over tit in a not very elegant fashion), I ventured into Winchester for my one and only batch of Christmas Shopping Among Other People this year.

This is generally something I Avoid At All Costs. I do most of my shopping on line so I don't have to take part in the horror that is Town At Christmas, but today was my only free day to sort out stocking-type-stuff and it needed to be shop-based (alas) so there was nothing for it. 

J (who is 18 next week) recently announced that she expects stockings to continue even when she has grown up and is living in her own house. I didn't like to say that she should prepare herself for a nasty shock when reality bites on that one. For now, I am still diligently making up a stocking for her (and in fact, she is easier to buy for than the boys who have now outgrown toys but aren't yet into personal grooming etc. What do you get for 12 and 14 year old lads??).

As expected, Winchester was packed. The German Market was on in the Cathedral Close, and if I'd been dreading it less I would have thought to take the camera with me and get some pics to show you, but increasingly I find my Ventures Into Town resemble a desperate scramble to get in and out while drawing as little breath as possible, so the camera was left at home- sorry- you'll just have to imagine it (think lots of small orange sheds with fed-up, cold-looking, verging-on-grumpy stall-holders and a huge press of people milling about but not really buying anything to a back-ground of mulled wine and spiced oranges in a setting of ancient stone buildings with the vast Normal Cathedral as the back-drop and you're about there).

Parking was a nightmare. I got stuck behind the rubbish lorry who stopped at every single business on the extremely narrow medieval streets and then spent ages messing about reversing into a space he clearly was never going to fit in to. When I finally found a space in the multi-story I had to scramble over the gear stick and out through the passenger door because Winchester City Council are a bunch of tight wads and were very determined to squeeze every penny out of the space they used to build the car park on and as result only a stick insect could park their car there and get out of it comfortably and elegantly (and I say that despite having a friend who works there). At least I didn't flash my knickers at anyone because I was wearing jeans. I got half-way up the stairs before I realised I'd left a bag behind and had to repeat the whole squeezing-into-an-improbably-small-space routine again in order to retrieve it, only this time backwards. It did nothing to improve my humour.
It was only after I'd done this (accompanied by much huffing and puffing and blue-air type swearing) that I glanced round and registered the fact that the car next door had a smiling occupant in it who was patiently waiting for me to finish before he could get out. I expect the whole performance gave him a good laugh.

The shops were packed with evidence of consumerism gone mad everywhere you looked. I felt dizzy because there were too many people pressing in all around me and no-one was smiling despite it being the season of festive good will. The final straw was when the very full bag I was carrying split before I got back to the car spilling socks, hair bands, hot water bottles and chocolates all over the floor. I was not a happy bunny. Needless to say I came home and finished the rest of it off on line.

I am resolved to not setting foot in any town until after all Festive Shenanigans are finished (apart from Salisbury where I am meeting old friends for lunch next week, but that's different as no shops will be entered, only a nice festive restaurant).

I had a visit from some Jehovah's Witnesses this morning before the shopping debarcle. Ted was going ape-poo at the door, Poppy was doing her best to copy him, I'd not long been back from the walk and was therefore looking my usual haven't-washed-my-hair-or-face-or-teeth-yet-and-am-wearing-jeans-that-are-several-days-old-and-covered-in-mud type wreck. I got Ted in his room, picked up Poppy and opened the door to be confronted by a pretty lass and her neat granny smiling cheerfully in an attempt (that wasn't wholly convincing) to give the impression they weren't terrified about the giant-sounding dog roaring his head off behind the door. 

Too late, I realised that in all the excitement Poppy had done a poo on the floor and there was no way of hiding it, that I'd somehow collected several twigs and leaves on my jumper as well as a blob of dried mud on my cheek (doubtless when I fell over) which Poppy was trying to lick while at the same time growl at the visitors. To make matters worse, Ted chose that precise moment to stop barking behind the door and started gnawing his pig instead, and, as we've already established, his pig sounds nothing like a pig at all and everything like a sequence of very loud very bad farts.


Now, I consider myself a liberal-minded girl and that extends to religions. My healing work follows Eastern Traditions of Philosophical Thought with a dollop of various other things thrown in and I generally espouse a live and let live attitude to faith and all things really. My main concern is people hurting one another: as long as they're not doing that I find it hard to get overly worked up.

I therefore do not object to the JW's turning up at the door for a chat, even when I do look a sight and they must have been wondering what kind of mad house they'd arrived at. I consoled myself with the thought that at least I wasn't wearing a long green wig, a pair of silver wings and a tutu, like the time the vicar's wife came collecting for the raffle one afternoon last summer.

So I'm generally quite happy to stop for a chat. My father, on the other hand, used to spot them coming a mile away when we lived on the farm, and would gather everyone up with a war cry of "Jehova's Witnesses Ahoy!" and we would all be bundled indoors and the door firmly locked behind us with the curtains drawn until the danger had passed (and I'm only slightly joking).

We get them here every year or so, I usually have time for a word or two and often end up telling them I'm a Taoist, which intrigues them because usually they haven't heard of one before. My favourite response to this has to be today's: "Oh," (said the girl), "are there many of them about?"

The birds are starting to return to the garden. Today's have included a wren, great tits, blue tits, robins, dunnocks, blackbirds, collar doves, pigeons, a GSW and the Long Tailed Tits, who were in evidence in great numbers...



I love their expressions in this pic- I think the bottom LTT is telling the other 3 some Hot Gossip.

Take Off!
 


And Poppy has just achieved a landmark this week by being allowed to fall asleep on Teddy's bed. Amazing, no?

It's only taken a week- not bad going really
She's also perfected the art of washing the patio doors with her paws whenever she wants to go out or be let in. I must get a video of it, it's Quite Comical. I'll leave you with a pic of her menacing Ted by the fire this evening and promise to find something other than puppies to discuss next time (perhaps something featuring my Poster Boys, as surely a post of that nature is long overdue? We're coppicing in the woods this week so short of a tree falling on someone that ought to provide some good posting-type-material).

Wishing you all a good evening, and apologies for the long ramble of words- it's been one of the those days....Thank you if you've stuck with it to the end.

CT x




 

25 comments:

  1. One day, dear friend, you will look back on all this and laugh! As you know, I too share this town-o-phobia and shall never be truly at ease until I am living in the middle of a field surrounded by acres of grass. Until then I shall continue with the internal scream of a crazed woman every time people invade my personal body space.

    Years ago I had a long chat with a Jehovah's Witness chappie, and at some point I said something along the lines of, 'Well, it doesn't matter which ship we travel by, does it, because we all end up in the same boat.'

    To wit he replied, 'I hope I end up in a different boat to you,' before continuing with some bigoted comment about spiritualists being the handmaids of the devil. Charming!

    Have a lovely, lovely Christmas luncheon with your friends next week! X



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    1. He was evidently the Git Variety of JW. The nerve of it! So far I've only experienced nice ones.
      ps- an invasion of your personal body space sounds rather racy!!
      XX

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  2. I hate the crowds and try and get the christmas shopping done early or on line. What a shame you didn't have pictures of the Christmas market! My daughter has been to the Winchester one and wants me to go with her this year. I will try and search for my smiling faces and shoppers! How lovely to see Poppy sharing Ted's blanket.
    Sarah x

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    1. If you get the chance it is worth a visit- it looks very pretty and the smells are gorgeous. Even so I think online is the way forward! x

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  3. When the LTT's come back you know it's cold. Ours haven't. But it won't be long..
    ALL my Christmas shopping is on line. If it wasn't I would have to be asking you to help bail me out of the loony bin.

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    1. Yes- they've only just returned in the last couple of days as the temps plummet...

      I would gladly bail you out of the loony bin Jess, although if I'd been forced to do too much town-based shopping I would doubtless have been in there with you!

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  4. HI CT I hate shooping, full stop so Christmas is worse. I usually find ways round it like you. Poppy has settled in well and Ted seemsto have acceetped her now. My daughter who owned Chalrie who died last week, tell me they are getting a puppy, a cross between a Spaniela and Lab. They gether just before Christmas and I will be there at the time so great photo opportunities. You certainly are getting alot of birds into yor garden and these shots of LTT are great.

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    1. It seems we all share the same sentiments about shopping! So pleased to hear about the new puppy- I was very sad to read about Charlie.

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  5. Great post CT - am in total agreement about Christmas shopping. I will venture forth just once for similar reasons to you and the rest will be done online!! My son and daughter are in early 20's and still expect Christmas stockings!!! Although I have cut back and they get far less presents!!!!

    Love the LTT photos - so glad they've returned. We get a flock regularly passing through the garden but the only occasionally visit the feeders.

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  6. Sorry forgot to mention - The canon-shaped Christmas Pudding turned out brilliantly - came out of mould easy and all in one piece :)

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    1. Very pleased to hear the pudding was a success (bet you're relieved).
      You haven't filled me with much hope that I'll be able to off-load stocking duty in a year or two... :-)

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  7. A very amusing post CT! I think we might have to venture into town tomorrow, which will no doubt be awful! I think LTTs are gorgeous and you have captured their character perfectly! Bracken does a hilarious window wiping routine which I too must video! So glad Ted has allowed Poppy to sleep next to him on his bed - what a good older brother!

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    1. I love the way all us country folk have the same opinion of visiting towns! I'm very pleased the LTT's have returned- I've missed them x

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  8. I share these sentiments about shopping crowds. I probably spend too much of my time out in fields, woods etc. I'm also going to London one evening this week to meet friends - I can't wait to catch up but I'm dreading those London crowds. And in rush hour, too.
    I love your gossiping LTTs and your lovely dogs look so sweet curled up.

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    1. I think I'm the same Wendy- far happier outdoors in the countryside than anywhere else. You're a brave woman going through London at rush hour. It's great for a day trip and I'm sure you'll have a lovely time with your friends, but I agree- I usually can't wait to come home again afterwards! :-)

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  9. The internet is a phobic's friend. I avoid Exeter like the plague at this time of year!

    Fabulous Long Tailed Tit pics and as for Poppy - I'd like to pick her up and put her in my pocket.

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    1. I don't know how we coped before it arrived Em.

      I have to check L's pockets each morning before school....

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  10. A cracking and amusing read as always CT, I too hate towns and only venture into my local town of Beverley early in the morning before everyone else gets up and I can't even remember the last time I visited Hull ! The only time I visited Winchester it was very busy indeed and I'm not keen on returning though it was very pretty :-)

    Love the Long Tail pics and it is good to see that Poppy is continuing to settle in well :-)

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    1. It seems a common thread for all of us, this aversion to towns. Country folk through and through...

      Poppy has settled so well that she has, in fact, been in trouble today for legging it up stairs whenever my back has been turned!

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  11. Your shopping trip does sound awful. I too hate the crowds and am always pleased with myself when I am able to leave the mall without having shouted at anyone.

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    1. It becomes a test of endurance doesn't it? :-)

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  12. Such a humorous but true post! I am sorry that it was all jammed in your area due to X-mas shopping! Here it has started as well. I am a lucky girl who can go shopping on foot and whenever I can I am there when the shops open and avoid the hustle and bustle. About Jehova's witnesses: Just yesterday a man started talking to me and said that I am very lucky and that my life is going to change in December to the better. I answered that I am so happy and lucky at the moment that I hope it does not change at all! He was so shocked and surprised that he turned away grumbled goodbye and left... Have a good day and by the way the photos are so wonderful! CHrista

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    1. Best to get to the shops early and avoid the crush :-)

      I wonder why people are surprised when someone is happy and doesn't need their life to change from what it already is?

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  13. Well I don't think dog poo on the floor or you looking like you had an encounter in the undergrowth would put off the JWs. I love your fathers approach-I think me and hubby will forever more shout "Jehova's Witnesses Ahoy!" ...that cracked me up I can tell you CT.
    Love the LLTs they are so pretty and I love their unmistakable call-I always know when they are about even if they don't stop by.
    I have crowded shopping too.
    So sweet to see Ted and Poppy on the same blanket

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    1. No, they can be Quite Determined can't they?
      Very relieved the bulk of crimble shopping is now done. Just a few more stocking fillers to get for M (and then all the cards to write and the presents to wrap...) :-)

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Thank you for leaving a comment. I always enjoy reading them and will try my best to reply to every one. CT x