Today, I was invited out by a friend. We sometimes have Sunday lunch together, as his wife often goes to visit friends on a Sunday and he can be at a loose end. Today, he wanted to buy a new walking stick. It was one of those occasions when he picked one up, it was fine (it was a walking stick and it fitted, that’s about it really) and he bought it. We had lunch and then shopped some more.
He is a slow eater. I am not. I am purposeful about food. Put it in front of me and it vanishes into the gaping maw in short order. I mean, I can trifle with it politely so that I don’t finish way before everyone else, and I often don’t finish it at all – I’ve not a large appetite at the best, and nowadays I deliberately eat less anyway – but I like to eat it before it gets cold.
So on this occasion, I’d finished mine in ten slow minutes, because I was hanging back politely, by which time he’d had three mouthfuls. Then I ate most of his salad. Eventually, we both had carrot cake (I ate two-thirds of mine) and coffee and went shopping again. He had to do his Christmas shopping. “Goodness, you’re planning early” I said, rather bemused but impressed in spite of myself. “Well…it depends on which Christmas you’re talking about…” Two of his children, and nine of his grandchildren live abroad. Last year, he relied on internet shopping, but deliveries aren’t always that reliable, apparently, to Moscow, and some didn’t arrive until April or not at all (there may be some exaggeration here, I don’t know, but that’s what he said). He needed to crack on and get it done, so that they had their Christmas presents sometime before Easter.
We did it all in a rather nifty shop selling wooden crafts. He bought wooden pens, some turned and some carved, wooden keyrings, windchimes (he thought they would be fine as mobiles for the babies), unannoyingish musical intruments, a wooden hedgehog and that sort of thing. It took quite a long time, and I suspect the shopkeeper had to stay open late for us – he didn’t mind, we were surely his best customers of the day. Eventually, we left for home, but my friend wondered if I’d time for tea. Well, hey, why not, if I could ring the Sage to let him know – my mobile* was at home, charging.
I left a message on the answerphone, asking him to put some potatoes to bake in the oven. I finally got home well after 7 o’clock, scooted in … and the Sage was out too, visiting a friend in hospital, so hadn’t got my call. It was lucky I made soup yesterday – added the tomatoes, a chopped courgette and a handful of pasta, simmered for ten minutes, toasted some crumpets, put cheese on a board (not for me, I’d eaten cake) and dinner was on the table in 15 minutes, just after the Sage came home.
So, I didn’t get much work done today. I did bike in for the papers and I did play the clarinet for the hymns, including one in five sharps. Oh, and I’ve finally managed to cycle up the hill to the Post Office. Twice. I’m pretty pleased with myself. It’s a short hill, but has a funny camber, a side road with poor visibility (my uncle-in-law was knocked down crossing that junction, broke his femur and died) and is steeper than it looks. I have also, on three consecutive days, cycled up the hill on the back lane towards the castle and, on Friday, nearly managed the hill to the high school – I walked the steepest bit, but I didn’t think I’d ever manage that one at all.
Come the spring, I’ll contemplate the awful prospect of swimming, too. But in a pool, not on the fields, which are still quite flooded.
*telephone, not the one dangling over my cot