I got up this morning to discover I can't remember where the Christmas cards I had for my family had been secreted away.
I bought them earlier in the year and put them away where prying eyes & little hands couldn't find them. The trouble is my normally perfect memory can't remember where I hid them. So to my mum, sister, niece & Brett I apologise for the lack of Christmas Cards. If however in the middle of January, late April or early June you wonder why you are receiving a Christmas card from me, it will be for one of two reasons, either, I'm sending them early for next year or, the Royal Mail lost them somewhere & have just found them.
On Christmas morning I got up early around 8:45 and made my way downstairs to open Christmas presents with mother. Imagine my surprise when I unwrapped my present to find a new external, writeable, DVD drive to use with my ultrabook. I turned on my Ultrabook to test it out & discovered another present, a digital copy of 'The Lonely Planet, Guide to China' had downloaded itself to my Kindle library.
Mother, on the other hand, discovered presents for her under the tree which included a nice pair of trousers & a beautiful jumper. She thanked me for my kind gifts & complimented me on my choice and said how clever I was getting the right sizes for her. It truly was a Christmas Miracle, mum had chosen High Tech gifts for me that I actually wanted & I had chosen clothes for her that she liked & fitted.
We soon set off for dinner with Karen, Brett & Holly. We arrived & were immediately forced to drink Bucks Fizz by our hosts Karen & Brett, whilst my niece, Holly kept buzzing around demanding cuddles from her Uncle. We had a great dinner, turkey, gammon, sausages in soy & honey sauce with all the trimmings. After a few bottles of cider, the party games began.
Of course, Brett & I were teamed up against the Wicked Witches team (Holly, Jean & Shireen) whilst Karen refereed & showed total bias to the girl's team. Amazingly Brett & I overcame the numbers and bias of the referee to win the quiz & the game of 'Call My Bluff'. We were entertained still further by the magic circles newest member, 'The Amazing Hollyuisionist'. Holly entertained us with magical moving wands, cup & ball tricks and amazing feats of mental prediction by correctly predicting the numbers on hidden dice every time. She will of course soon be replacing Dynamo on television with her own brand of Hollyuisionism.
A warm mug of mulled cider put a nice warm glow in me and helped me off to sleep for the night before tomorrows onward journey.
On Boxing day morning I woke to be forced, by my sister, to eat a cooked breakfast of bacon, fried potatoes, tomatoes, sausages & toast. Not content Brett went out and fried up the eggs my sister Karen had forgotten & added them to my breakfast plate. Cheers Brett, they were the finishing part and made breakfast.
Many hours later, after the ladies of the house had finished putting on their war paint we all climbed into Brett's car to drive to Pulborough in Sussex for Boxing day with Ken, Armelle & their family. We were soon turned back from our route when the main A27 was completely blocked. Brett showed off his local knowledge and rerouted us, without the help of a GPS system and managing to avoid floods and many crashed or overturned cars, he soon got us back on route.
We arrived at Ken & Armelle's home to be warmly greeted by Ken, Armelle, Pierre, Antoine & Armelle's parents Jean Louis & Marguerite. Jean Louis & Marguerite had arrived from France a few days earlier and were dealing remarkably well with the power outage that had greeted them on their arrival. Our host Ken lived up to his Rambo image and had plugged in a generator to supply us with enough electric power to cook us a wonderful dinner. I am sure Rambo would have done it by rubbing sticks together to raise a fire, but Ken is a more modern-day man who buckles his swash in a much more advanced way. Well done Ken you provided us with fire to keep us warm & feed us.
So with Ken & Armelle providing us with a lovely dinner, it was the turn of Jean Louis & Margueritte to entertain us. Sat around a large dining table I was regaled by stories of their travels. If there is one thing that keeps my attention well, it is people's tales of intrepid journeys, courageous stories of doing & dare, with humorous anecdotes about people they have met & of places they have been. I found I had travelled on my trip to the National Parks & Monuments of the USA to many places they had previously been and found their stories very interesting. I hope we can one day meet again & share more of their travelling adventures. I would only be too happy to share my tales of a travelling Gooner with them.
After dinner & many stories we left Ken, Armelle, Jean Louis, Margueritte, Antoine, Pierre & Lizzy behind us as we ventured back out into the rising floodwaters & dangerous roads on our journey back through Sussex to Hampshire. Brett steered us manfully through everything that mother nature could throw at us and we were soon back at Karen & Brett's house in Cosham. Mother & I soon transferred to my Mercedes Benz, 2 seat sports car, for the short, high-speed dash back to Fareham.
The Christmas break was rounded off nicely sat at home in the warm, watching MOTD, and witnessing the mighty Arsenal hammer West Ham into submission to return to the top of the premier league. This travelling Gooner has returned safely from his Christmas travels & will now be a happy Gooner, at least until the next game.