Christmas with the family
Am currently being fed & watered at the parentals for a few days. It makes for a really nice break from work, council and campaigning (although I have bought my laptop with me and made a few plans...)
Also staying with us is Chen, a chinese student studying at Sheffield for a Masters. Parentals have gone all civic minded (apart from all the stuff they do in the local community), and joined the HOST scheme, run by the British Council. I missed out on this experience last year as I was off running around distant parts of Ukraine monitoring their election.
Chen is soaking up the english christmas culture, and taking a deep interest in english cooking (parents cooking is quite amazing in a good, simple and non-showy way, ie no towers of food found in expensive restaurants, but treats like venison, mallard and the previously banned rib of beef on the bone).
My amazon wishlist has done its job again, so no disappointments, and a few surpises, although no-one has bought Creative Suite yet!
Coming home is always a time to catch up with friends, and to spend an evening in the Ship, the pub we congregate, at which many evenings have been spent in the past, celebrating A-levels and driving tests, the return from university for long summers and short winters, and several new years eves.
This year there was essentially only Andy P and myself, with other friends now having settled down, or even gone as far as starting families (Jim & Lucy were able to celebrate xmas with Violet, having been released from the special care unit 2 weeks ahead of schedule). But to my surprise, bumped into a work colleague, Gemma, who I had no idea was from the area. As she's 5 years younger we would only have been in the same school for one year, so not that surprising that I've not met her in the Ship before.