Christmas 2019 Part 5

Saturday 21st December 20191222_083954

It was mostly a much-needed lazy morning. My cousin called to let me know that Jan had had a bout of sickness overnight and suggested it would be wise to delay my arrival by 24 hours. Given that I was still shifting the remnants of a cold I was happy to agree. We would keep in touch over the next 24 hours to see what developed. There was a short drive out, to the nearby village of Teversham to lay some flowers and say hello to Mum.

Saturday afternoon I headed to over to Impington, a village north of the city of Cambridge and the one in which I grew up. I was meeting friends and as grog would be involved, so would a bus journey. Two in fact. I didn’t want to be early but was still on the first one from near the site in plenty of time, figuring that it could well run late through the Saturday afternoon traffic. It didn’t and I found myself in Cambridge with time to spare. A nice wander through the Grand Arcade and into John Lewis I thought. On the last Saturday afternoon before Christmas. What was I thinking? It was heaving. I gave it nearly a whole minute and headed for the exit, opting instead for a mooch around the Market Square which was only slightly less packed.

As it happened, I still arrived early but so had my friends, at The Railway Vue, a short walk from where my parents used to live, and where I spent rather too much of my time back in the day, it also being just across the road from Trev’s shop.

There followed lots of chat and laughter and an enjoyable time was had by all although thankfully no-one was in the mood for a lengthy session. I first politely refused then gratefully accepted, the offer of a lift back to the site, quite relieved at not having to spend an hour or so on buses again.

Dinner was clearly forgettable as I’ve forgotten what I had, though the inevitable smoked cheese, salami and biscuits most definitely featured later on, watching the same film simultaneously with a friend and chatting on line.

Sunday 22nd December

Another morning at the ‘van, pottering a bit but without achieving much. Andy called to say Jan was much better and was waiting to see if he too would succumb. I’d call later but would stay another night anyway, checking online too that should everything go pear shaped I’d have a pitch somewhere over Christmas. Both here at Cherry Hinton and my next site – Ashridge Farm - had space and whilst I didn’t particularly relish spending it on my own unless I had to, I knew I’d be catching up with them and friends for New Year.

For the second day in a row the regular leather trews got a rest from the inevitable strain of encompassing my thighs and backside, having been worn almost daily since the start of the trip. No jeans though, smart trews, shirt, tie and waistcoat. Black obviously and one of the selection of long leather coats I’d brought. Yes, I’d brought more than one. Again, obviously.

Lunchtime I met with Pauline again for a meal at a fairly recently opened and highly regarded Chinese restaurant called The Dumpling Tree, occupying the premises of a former pub on Perne Road. I’d never properly tried Chinese food – or at least what passes for it here – but Pauline had already been there for their works’ Christmas meal and said the food was superb.

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And so, it was. We planned to start with said dumplings and move on to the sizzling pork, pancakes and chow mien but it all came together. No matter, aside from the fact that we ordered far too much it was delicious and we were both properly stuffed by the time we finished – even dessert was reluctantly refused. Another feather in their caps was the presence of a proper real ale on hand pump – from the Timothy Taylor’s stable too no less. I went back to Patsy a very satisfied fella, calling into reception on the way to book that extra night.

Monday 23rd December

The news from Colchester was good – no more sickness and it was all systems go for Christmas, although I’d call again before I departed the following morning. A blog post was completed, then I contemplated what to do with a spare afternoon. A bus into Cambridge, a run to one of the nearby National Trust offerings, or nothing? In the end though I opted for walk into the village to pick up a few bits and bobs, which was really just a lame excuse for an afternoon pint or two. Three as it turned out – I gave the Red Lion a try but wished I hadn’t. Two of the three pump clips where turned inwards and the only offering was Greedy King IPA which at least was bright and clear when the uninterested bar man deemed to look up from his phone. I didn’t stay long. Across the road, the Robin Hood was much more welcoming, the excellent though rather potent Abbot Ale proving too enjoyable to just have one. A late afternoon snooze back at Patsy was very welcome indeed.

Tuesday 24th December

I was inevitably up early - I generally struggle to sleep in on a travel day and got most of the inside of the ‘van ready for departure in-between slurps of tea. By 9:30am I was off, after checking with Andy that all was good in Colchester.

I chose the longest of the possible routes, heading around on the A14, then joining the A12, a few miles longer than going cross country but similar time wise and a much smoother journey. Traffic was light but it was windy in places and Rosie clearly wasn’t keen, returning just shy of 25mpg on the 70 mile journey. Again not great and probably demonstrates that she’s a little underpowered when it comes to hauling Patsy about. No doubt too, some of her horses and pounds per foot have fallen by the wayside over the years.

There was one job I wanted to do once I’d pitched up on my cousins' drive - and that was wash the roof of the ‘van. It was disgusting and there were little clumps of moss that had taken root. The ‘shampoo’ that  I‘d picked up in the supermarket - having forgot to bring the one from home - turned out to be polish. The perils of shopping without my specs - numpty. Fortunately, Andy had some and a good hour was spent with the long reach brush and hosepipe. Perfect it isn't but at least there’s nothing now growing on it!

The clan - kids and grandkids - gathered that even for a delicious Lamb Rogan Josh, prepared by Andy & Jan. I may have had a second helping but I wasn’t the only one. It was great to be back with my family and I went to bed content, if somewhat full.

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