December 28th, 2005


(no subject)

On Saturday we headed off to Oxford to see my parents. Surprisingly good journey - not much traffic (maybe people all went on Friday night or something), and only one hair-raising bit of roadworks (the traffic that was supposed to be giving way to us started up just before we'd finished crossing so there was a moment of pure terror ;) ). Once we arrived we had lunch and admired the decorations (the wreath on the door was partly made from stuff cannabilised from something my brother had won in a raffle nearly 20 years ago, and Dad had also got a small tree with blinking fibre optic lights, much to my mother's disapproval ;) ). Supper was organised by my father - so a trifle over-complicated, but nice - we had pizza with four different toppings and I think we all had a bit of three of them because in each case the fourth was something one didn't like.

Late in the evening we went to midnight mass, it'd been a few years since I'd been to my parents' church. It's very high church Anglo-catholic and being the first of the Christmas services this was one of the more spectacular ones - it was a sung eucharist, with lots of incense. How I prefer my church services, to be honest - gives it a sense of ritual and ceremony that I miss with more 'traditional' Protestant Church of England services. Since we were last there (5 years ago, I think) they've replaced the organ and it sounded rather grand (though possibly a little large for the church), and now there seems to be more of a choir (which is probably why the carols were pitched rather higher than I could manage - I find it hard to harmonise so can't drop the pitch to suit my voice, and I'm woefully out of practice so find hitting the top notes of Hark the Herald rather a stretch).

Christmas Day started late - my parents had had to go to the morning service too (they'd been put on the rota for the door, but didn't find out till too late to change it), so they were out by the time J and I surfaced. But once they were back we had second breakfast (lunch on Christmas Day in my family is traditionally a cooked breakfast) & opened our presents. We got nice stuff :) J & I had left our presents to each other at home, though, as it seemed foolish to transport two large boxes all the way to Oxford to unwrap and then be unable to do anything with till we got them home again. For Christmas dinner in the evening we had a small salmon salad for starter, then pheasant for the main course (with game chips & crab apple jelly) followed by Christmas pudding & ice-cream for dessert. Coffee was accompanied by fruit & chocolates, and liqueurs.

On Boxing Day my father had invited one of his colleagues and family to dinner - they're Chinese but lived in France for several years before moving to Oxford a year or so ago. The children are 13 and 3 - Rose (the older one) is at the same school I went to, but now in these days of specialist schools it's a language specialist school which suits her well as she's already done her French GCSE. François was quite sweet - and my father got to dote on a small child for a few hours, so he was happy. It was more awkward talking to the adults, as neither of them were that good with English yet so the conversation stumbled along a bit. Still, a pleasant occasion :)

Yesterday morning we drove back through the snow (actually, it wasn't that bad - it had clearly snowed everywhere, but the roads were mostly clear and almost all the 'snow falling from sky' happened on the quieter roads between Thame & the M1). After having some lunch we set to and re-organised our computer desks. We'd been meaning to do this for a while, but as we got each other new computer speakers for Christmas we had the impetus to actually get up and do it. Mostly prompted because the sub for mine is a) enormous (for computer speakers) and b) not magnetically shielded so had to be a fair way away from my PC & monitor. So, now we sit side-by-side rather than at an angle to each other. My speakers are a 2.1 set - most games I play don't really gain much out of surround (Civ4's my obsession, not Q4), but J got surround speakers and we spent a while last night doing things like firing rockets in Q4 then spinning round so the sound came from behind & such like :)