December 28th… Days Later

I didn’t realize when I set out on a run this morning that today was the public Boxing Day holiday.

I just assumed that the streets being zombie-movie deserted were ’cause Dawnise and I were among the few who didn’t cram onto trains to escape the city before the stay-at-home order went into effect. (I do wonder how many of those people “escaped” to places that came under the same restrictions a few days later, and how many of them contributed to that outcome.)

If I’m honest, it being a holiday makes a lot more sense, and explains why my Monmouth order placed before Christmas hasn’t yet arrived.

The 21st was our wedding anniversary (twenty four, but who’s counting). The DVSA finally acknowledged on Sunday evening that my Monday morning driving test was canceled, so with no need to leave, we spent the day at home. We had managed to buy each-other the same gift – each snagging a tricky-to-find copy of Horrified, so we punched out a bunch of cardboard chits and spent a while saving the villagers from Dracula and The Creature from the Black Lagoon.

For the past few years it’s been our tradition to have anniversary Beef Wellington at the Goring Dining Room. Of course, our booking for Sunday evening also fell victim to Saturday’s “Tier 4” announcement, so after considering delivery, we decided to have a go at making it ourselves. Dawnise watched a couple helpful videos, friends helpfully pointed me to Turner & George where I picked up a Chateaubriand sized for two, and we got the needed bits via Waitrose delivery and a quick trip for remainders. The result might not have earned a Michelin star, but it wasn’t far off, and was absolutely delicious.

We exchanged a few gifts on Christmas day – including more two-player friendly cooperative board games. A copy of The Captain Is Dead: Dangerous Planet, which we played (and lost) the other night, and a copy of Mysterium, which I expect we’ll play soon.

Though not strictly intended as a Christmas gift, I got her a copy of Superliminal, which she’s taken up and is enjoying even as I type.

I’ve taken off work through the 4th – and have been spending time reading, playing aforementioned games, and thinking a bit about work – what’s going well, what could go better, and how I might nudge things in that direction in the new year. I finally read Dune, after multiple aborted attempts in the past. I’m glad I did, but feel no particular compulsion to read the sequels

In other news, case counts in our local area are trending in the wrong direction, and I expect the current restrictions to be maintained or tightened when they’re reviewed in a few days. I don’t see a path to relaxing these restrictions that doesn’t involve acceleration vaccination, which in turn seems to hinge on the ongoing review of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

This is likely my last note of 2020, and with it we send our best wishes for your new year to start well, and to improve on 2020 in every meaningful way.

Stay healthy, stay sane.

This One Goes To…Four

Moments ago it was announced that London and much of the south east of England will enter a newly created “Tier 4” starting tomorrow morning, with restrictions largely matching the previous national “lock-downs.”

The oft-discussed plan to relax restrictions for the days around Christmas – clearly a concession to what people wanted and not driven by any rigorous rational reasoning – have been scrapped in areas in the new highest tier, and restricted to “just Christmas day” for less restricted areas of the country.

I’m waiting for the seemingly inevitable confirmation from the DVSA that my driving test Monday morning has been canceled. It’s fine. I’ve only been working on it since July.

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas

London has put on its holiday cologne.

I noticed it the other morning when I left for my run. A smell that hadn’t been there a few days earlier, and then was. It took me a moment to realize it was familiar and strongly associated with being in Europe over the holidays.

I’m not sure what it is. My guess is it’s the smell of home fires burning. We live in a smoke control zone, but smokeless doesn’t mean odorless.

That’s not the only sign of the holidays. Christmas tree lots have sprung up around the city, and trees of all sizes can be had at your local market. And Christmas trees are being erected and lit in public spaces and in private windows. A welcome bit of cheer.

We normally get a tree early in December. We broke with that tradition last year – we were traveling in the run-up to Christmas – and got a tree just before my sister, brother-in-law, and niece arrived for a visit. (Aside: how can something seem both mere moments ago and ancient history?)

We had an appointment on the other side of London the last day of November, and not knowing how long we’d spend in transit I had told work I’d be out all day, so when we got back, we took the attack of opportunity and got a tree.

The tree lot we found last year and liked is about a mile away – so we trundled over, picked out a suitable specimen, and for the second time had the slightly surreal experience of carrying a 2 meter tall Christmas tree down a major thoroughfare in central London to our flat.

We didn’t bring many holiday decorations when we moved, and we sorta expected to be back in Seattle before this holiday for a visit and be able to retrieve a few more. That obviously didn’t happen, but that hasn’t stopped Dawnise from sprinkling the place with Christmas.

Since we can’t go to the Christmas markets, we’re going to bring bits of them to us. We’ve bought the bits to make glühwein, and the “upgrades” to make feuerzangenbowle. Sorta surprisingly we can’t locally source individually sized zuckerhuts (sugar loaves) – and shipping from is pretty ridiculous, so we’re going to “make do” (that’s British, right?) with some rough cut sugar cubes. They’re the wrong shape, but once the over-proof rum gets involved, the shape won’t matter.

After brunch this morning we took a stroll to Konditor and got some mince pies.

So we’ve laid in the critical bits – booze and baked sweets. I figure that should keep us, at least ’till we have to sort out Christmas dinner.

Happy Holidays. Stay healthy, stay sane, take joy where you can find it, and we hope to see you in the coming year.