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.|
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|
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.