The last week of work was busy: Christmas party at work on Monday evening, followed by trying to catch people in the Cambridge Blue to say happy christmas and exchange gifts. Wednesday had the computing staff do at lunchtime, and Mike's work's Christmas party in the evening. And Friday night we went to see Ezio at the Barfly. This is now my second gig there (the first was with Glenys to see the Indelicates supporting Jimbob (of Carter USM fame). It's bad of me not to have written that one up as it was most excellent. Anyway after 2 gigs there I think I can safely say I hope the venue is a success. It's a nice size, but is slightly let down by the pillar in the middle of the stage, and the pretty poor selection of drinks. Ezio and Booga were good as usual, though it was a shame not to see the whole band, and the audience were just a little too casual - a side effect of knowing the band personally. We had a good time anyway.
Saturday we had a quiet morning in and then set off for Mirfield, where we have been for the past week having an excellent family Christmas. Mum greeted us with home-made mince pies and we spent the evening watching the Strictly Come Dancing final. We saw cousin Alastair and his girlfriend Cath on the Sunday, and watched the Great Escape then spent the evening playing Scrabble. Then Mike, mum and I watched the Railway Children on Christmas Eve and played with the Spirograph set we'd unearthed having been inspired by James May whining about being no good at it. Eventually we were joined by Dad (stuck with work that needed finishing before the break) and Steph and Dave - we played a good couple of rounds of Articulate after tea and left out a mince pie and glass of sherry for Santa.
Emily and John were joining us on Christmas Day and we were very restrained and waited until they arrived after 11 before we opened our presents - this is always fun and everyone seemed to have got some lovely things, though I think we all went a bit over the top in spoiling each other. Grandma, Grandad and uncle Walter joined us not long after making 11 for Christmas lunch, which was excellent. Local butcher obviously very good as turkey delicious. Mum and Dad have new Pentax digital camera for Christmas, and some tension was caused when Dad went to try one of their old lenses on it and it got stuck, not even on properly. Still, Dad took it to Jessops the next day, who were able to get it on properly, and then Dave remembered a set of feeler gauges in the car and managed to free it, so all was not lost. It was a nice day anyway - Grandma/Grandad/Walter went home after tea leaving the rest of us to relax at not having to entertain anyone any more and we played some more games.
Boxing Day was pretty quiet, especially as Emily and John had to head back to Hull before we'd even got up so Em could go to work in the Sales. We watched the Snowman on DVD (present to The Blairs from Santa - he always brings us a film if we've been good), played some more games and generally chilled out. Thursday afternoon Mike and I pottered off on the train into town for my schoolfriend Cathie's 29th birthday party at the Queen's Hotel, conveniently by the station. It was originally going to be a wedding, but her and Phil split up at some point between picking the date, booking the venue and sending out the invitations. As a result it was a slightly odd occasion, since Phil and his family were still all invited, and Phil was clearly not very happy about the split (and making this more and more clear as he got drunker towards the end of the evening). We still had a very good time though and it was nice to chat to people I've not seen in years. Plus I'd booked Mike and I one of their deluxe rooms for the night (on a reduced rate) which was definitely a rather nice luxury. Apparently it used to be quite run-down, but has been done up recently in a very sympathetic style, keeping a lot of 1930s Art Deco features, but with modern bath facilities, and an entertainment system built into the telly allowing you to pay for films (adult or not) and even to view your bill, which was handy for seeing just how many drinks we'd just charged to our room :-) The next morning we got up early enough for breakfast (which I always think is worth doing if you've paid for it) then checked out and went to have a look at the Art Gallery and the exhibition outside it celebrating 800 years of the existence of Leeds - it was interesting both to point out things to Mike and in telling me things that I didn't know either, though I'll admit we started skipping over the wartime ones.
We got back home to Mirfield in time for lunch, then headed out bowling in Bradford. Neither Steph nor Mike were very keen, but I think they had an OK time and I thought it was very good fun. Not that I'll mind if it's another 10 years before I go again. Home again briefly to chill out and shower and change and then we went out into Leeds again for dinner at Red Chilli. This is a chinese restaurant, but the menu is very different to the usual, and a lot of their dishes really do feature rather a lot of chillies. We all ate far too much food really, but it was too good not to try a bit of everything. All the dishes were good though, with delicate balances of flavour even where they were really rather hot. We finished off the evening with lovely (if expensive) cocktails in the lounge of the nearby Radissson, in its lovely listed building. Saturday was another quiet day with fish and chips for lunch before the long train ride home, where we had a small tea, watched Angel and opened the presents from friends which we hadn't had space to take with us. S'been a lovely week.
And today Mike took me out to buy my Christmas present. He'd actually given me a choice of two, with pictures in envelopes in my Christmas card to choose between a picture of a *very* large Le Creuset casserole dish or... well here it is (click through for more):
It's very shiny, and I've already got sore fingers from practicing. For now I'll be sharing Mike's amp, but I'll have to buy my own eventually - I did get a strap and a couple of plectrums and a beginners bass book to go with it. So far I have determined that my hands are just about big enough to play it OK, but that reading bass clef instead of treble clef is going to take a bit of getting used to - for now I'm using the real musical notation as a guide to what it's supposed to sound like and the tab to actually play it, which means I keep catching myself mentally thinking of entirely the wrong notes :-) But wow, I feel very very spoiled indeed!