The reason we were going down (or at least going down on that particular weekend) was to watch Jeremy Hardy do a gig at the Norwich Playhouse. We both got the afternoon off work and after picking up the car at lunchtime we headed off for a leisurly moter down to Norfolk. Much to my shock, the car had no cd player so we were forced to gather last minute tapes to amuse us on the drive, but apart from that, all appeared plain sailing. And then we hit the traffic. And boy was there a lot of it. Traffic jams on the open road are my least favourite part of driving - at least in the city you can watch the pedestrians and things. Also, it's very annoying when you're rolling along really slowly, leaving plenty of space in front of you in the hope that you won't have to pull up so often, when someone in the next lane nips in and grabs your empty space. It took us about 4 1/2 hours to get to Norwich in the end, which was possibly the longest it's ever taken, but we made it in the end, ate dinner and then toddled off to see Jeremy. He was on fine form, although I did think that he's become more difficult to enjoy if you don't at least partially agree with him. I took Becks to see him 4 or 5 years ago and she found him very funny (she being a pro-hunting Tory). I'm not sure she would now. I did though. And he made my favourite joke about columnists - "'We can't just sit idly by' they say. Of course you can! You're columnists! Sitting idly by is all you ever do!"
Saturday was devoted to getting the easy Christmas shopping out of the way. Presents for grandparents, Christmas cards and so on. I got asked to put my PIN number into one of the new chip & pin machines but since they hadn't yet sent me the number for my new card I couldn't use it and had to stick to the old fashioned method. What with being tailed by Alex, Steve (my bro) and Dad we didn't get a chance to try for the harder presents so we decided to adjourn back home where a fire was lit, I wrapped the stuff I'd bought and started on a cross-stitch Christmas card. All very relaxing indeed. That evening I'd offered to take my parents out for dinner at a fabulous resturant which opened in Brundall (one of the local villages) 18 months ago - The Lavender House. When we arrived the chef popped out of the kitchen to say hello - they run cookery demonstration evenings which Mum and Dad often go to - and offered us a special treat that wasn't on the menu - a venison dish that he'd been telling Dad about at the last event. I couldn't resist. As always, the meal was fantastic. The venison was gorgeous and incredibly rich. Really, really good. Alex and I were so stuffed that we simply shared the little cheese board for dessert.
Sunday was a quiet morning with the family before soup for lunch and a leisurely drive home, marred only by a wrong turn on the Milton Keynes bypass - between the eratic signage and the driving rain, it was easily done. Then it was home with a burger and chips from kebab kid and a few episodes of the West Wing. I was amazed that after all that I still lost weight that week! I had a really lovely weekend - it was really nice to have Alex along with me for a change, and I don't think it was too great a hardship for him. I sometimes wish my parents lived closer so that I could go and see them more often, or more easily. Still, it's not like we don't see each other a lot - in a couple of weeks time we'll be meeting up again, this time at my Nans house. My Mum's still pretty sad that I'm not going home for Christmas this year, but I think she's coping and well, it had to happen some time, didn't it.