Derrick & Vivien by Christmas tree 12.63Most newly married couples, each with a family of origin, divide their time over the Christmas period between the two.  As I am sure you all know, this can have interesting results.  Vivien’s penultimate Christmas in 1963 was no exception.  After spending the day itself with my parents, we travelled by train to her family in Sidcup, where it was probably her brother Bernard who took today’s advent photograph.  In those days we had no car and entrained from Wimbledon to Waterloo station where, laden with presents and requirements for overnight stay, we crossed over to Waterloo East and travelled on to Sidcup.  I still know the stations on the Dartford Loop line by heart.  Now, all these years later, it is Jackie and I who will be catering for our not so young offspring and their loved ones.

I have developed a brute force technique with which to open and close the passenger side door of our car, so we will probably defer the repair of yesterday’s storm damage for a while.  This was useful when we took an early trip to Ringwood for Jackie to perform the last of the Christmas food shopping and me to walk along the Castleman Trailway.

I walked through the town, across the Bickerley, along the Trailway, and back, to meet Jackie in the Aroma bistro where we brunched.Church through tree by Avon

On my way along the gravelled footpath, the reverberation of a bough above me was caused by an acrobatic trapeze artist in the form of a squirrel.  Hanging from all four paws on the underside of the branch, it would appear to have swung from one tree to another.

PoniesThe River Avon has not yet burst its banks, but the fields that were so waterlogged this time last year are showing signs that the ponies may again require rescuing. Gulls by Avon The gulls are already waiting to take Waterlogged fencepostspostspossession.Footpath overgrown

Where the Trailway parts company with the River Avon, there is a small picnic area from which a gate, that last year the water rendered unreachable, leads to a footpath along the river. Trees by AvonFootpath petering outRiver Avon through trees So overgrown was the path this morning that I was beginning to regret having taken it quite some time before I finally gave up and turned back.

On my way back along the gravelled footpath, a well-turned out elderly woman carrying a shopping bag approached me from ahead.  As we passed she commented on what a beautiful day it was.  ‘Yes, it’s lovely’, I replied.  After she’d gone the whiff of her fragrance reached me.  I turned and cried, in the general direction of her retreating form: ‘So’s your perfume’. She seemed rather chuffed as she in turn turned and thanked me.

Tess has recently posted a set of festive photos on the Upper Dicker Village Shop Facebook page.  One is of the reindeer whose story is told on the post recording my surprise birthday party in 2012.  This afternoon I inserted that picture into last year’s 1st July entry.

Later I read Voltaire’s ‘Histoire des voyages de Scarmentado’, a short story about the journeys of Scarmentado who travels the world observing sixteenth and seventeenth century examples of man’s inhumanity to man largely in the name of religion.  Things haven’t really changed all that much.

This evening we dined on chicken stoup.  For the rest of the world, unfamiliar with this particular meaning of the last word in the previous sentence, it is a wholesome hybrid of stew and soup and should definitely find its way into the dictionaries.  It was delicious anyway, especially when accompanied by Lidl’s finest in store bakery crusty bread.

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