Friday daytime was all about the shopping, toddling round the shops getting some bits and pieces we needed for that evening (Secret Hogfather) and Christmas presents for some of the Sheffield gang (yes, super-prompt, I know). Friday evening we went to the Sheffield SF group's Hogswatch Night Celebrations, where substantial quantities of pork-related products were consumed, and jelly-moulds in the shape of pigs were in evidence. As a result of my earlier purchases for the Secret Hogfather Fran will be more efficient and Jo will be more fragrant, and if their yelps of excitement are any guide I haven't lost it yet. In the same exercise I ended up with a biiig mug and some hot chocolate to go with it, and a small toy cat with a matching chocolate mouse.
Saturday, Sunday and Monday were spent in preparations for a New Year's Eve dinner party which Julia and I were hosting. This involved substantially re-arranging the entire house, for reasons which were not at all evident to me until after we'd done it. The largest bedroom, deprived of its bed (of which more anon), was converted into a north-African themed lounge -- reminiscent, perhaps, of a Sultan's harem -- with gauzy drapes and low furniture decorated with throws. The downstairs room had one sofa dragged through to the kitchen and the other stood on its end in the corner to give us enough room to open the kitchen table fully with eight rather cramped place settings. Eight new dining chairs had been purchased and only two assembled, so I worked my legendary magic with the allen keys and screwdrivers. Julia's father had provided cutlery as a Christmas present, and we bought a load of new crockery and glasses. There was rice, there was couscous, there was lamb-and-apricot thing and chicken-and-lemon thing. There was even, briefly, rhubarb cheesecake. Guests were frandowdsofa and johannes_d, hairyowl and Patsy, Ian and Yvonne (those last three being NOLJ). It was all jolly good.
Oh, and the bed-of-which-more-anon was dumped in the back garden until John arrived in his big car to take it to the tip. I'd researched opening hours on the website -- "Winter (October - March): 8:00am - 5:30pm" -- but failed to note that "these sites will also close at 2:30pm on Monday 24 December 2007 and Monday 31 December 2007", with the result that I misinformed John and he arrived at the tip an hour after they'd closed. Apologies.
Tuesday seemed to be filled mostly with washing up and moving furniture back again (this latter with the help of Ian and Yvonne, who came to polish off yet more cheesecake), and when I left at mid-afternoon on Wednesday much of it had been completed.
And you remember how promptly we got those Christmas presents? At the time I left, I don't think any of them had yet reached their intended targets. Let's hope Julia managed it sometime today.
Today I was expecting to be visiting a client in London (if his router had arrived) or another in Dorking (if her software had arrived), but I ended up working by remote-control from home, and catching up with housework here in the South. Tomorrow Julia drives down here and then we both head west to visit my mother in north Devon for a few days. Perhaps tomorrow morning I'll go to the shops early and see if I can get a present for my sister-out-law and my nephew, thereby maintaining my unparalleled record for last-minute shopping.