MONDAY 31/12 NEW YEAR’S EVE Work finished at WVM at around 12 and I got stuck in to getting the cleaning up done as quickly as possible. I rang Linda at 5 to see what she was up to and Stuart [the publican at the Dove] had given her the night off so right there on the spur of the moment we decided to shoot up to London for New Year’s Eve.
Linda rang Jenny and arranged to meet them at around 9PM and then I set to work with a vengeance and got finished at 6:20. I drove home, quickly bathed, and changed then we chucked a few tinnies, the tape player and some cassettes in Eric and headed off up the A303.
By the time we reached London we had knocked back a few cans and were in a party mood. After an hour or so of first finding a cash point where we withdrew some money, and then wandering around Olympia lost, we found the Frigate and Firkin pub where Jenny, Lydia and Juliet were well underway! By sculling a couple of pints of snakebite [a toxically alcoholic mixture of cider and lager] we caught up with them alcohol-wise then got down to some serious dancing to the ragey band. When New Year arrived there were hugs and kisses all around then some more dancing as the band, one acoustic guitar and a singer blowing an electric harp, kicked into high gear.
At 1:30 am the bar closed and we all waddled back to the flat. En route we stopped off at Karen‘s house for tea and toasties and carried on back to Leighton Mansions.
Both Jenny and I were hungry so we set off in Eric to find a Burger King. As we drove around the streets of Kensington we had Nigel Kennedy playing Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons at full blast at 3am!!
We couldn’t find any open junk food joints so we returned to the flat empty-handed and crashed.
Linda went off to work at 9:30 and after watching TV for a while, I donned my Walkman and went out for a walk. It was a fine but very cold morning and I walked around to Upton Lovell then across the fields back to the Dove.
There was another Sunday breakfast session going on there so I had a big feed while yarning to Nigel [I have no idea who Nigel is/was!] then walked home. Spent all afternoon at home.
Ann rang up about 10:30 and asked me if I could go over to Frome to get her milk as both she and Betty have colds. So, I dropped Linda off at work then drove into town to Betty’s house and got Ann’s shopping list then drove over to the milk station at Frome. After picking up the milk I drove back to Warminster with INXS blasting through the Walkman.
I spent an hour or so in town, most of which was in the bookshop perusing travel guides on Morocco, Tibet and Pakistan. I dropped Ann’s stuff off and had a cup of tea then drove back out to Corton. When I dropped the car off to Linda at the Dove I got roped into doing the dishes! Spent the rest of the day at home.
Jenny and I got up at 5:30 and after a cup of tea we set off down to Salisbury for Jen to catch a train to London to go to work. Once I had dropped her off, I drove back home and went back to bed for a couple of hours.
Linda went off to work at 10:30 and Lyd, Juliet and I packed up some sammies and a bottle of wine and set off for a drive. We drove down through the Deverills and up over the hills with heavy squalls of hail, rain and driving wind periodically obscuring the bare, wintry landscape.
We followed random backroads and eventually ended up near Shaftesbury. We had a picnic in the car as it was too cold to sit outside, then drove up into the village for a look. Bright bursts of sunlight alternated with showers of light hail as we explored the narrow streets looking at shops and catching occasional glimpses of the countryside through gaps in the buildings.
After an hour or so in Shaftesbury we once again followed random backroads stopping for a glass of port at a cozy, crowded pub. It took us about half an hour or so to drive home and when we got there Lydia and Jules packed up their stuff and headed off up to Gloucester. I watched TV all evening.
BOXING DAY Jenny had everyone roused as usual and we sat around talking over tea and toast. It was a cold rainy day and no one felt like doing much so we mucked around the flat for an hour or two then went out for a drive.
The weather had cleared a bit but it was still overcast and windy as we drove down to Sherrington then took a side road up into the hills. When the road ran out we got out and walked up a track through the trees enjoying the cool fresh air. On the way back down, Lydia tripped over and grazed her hands on the sharp chalk shingle.
Back home we spent the rest of the afternoon drinking and nibbling then in the evening we watched a brilliant movie Back to the Future on TV.
TUESDAY 25/12 – CHRISTMAS DAY. Like a couple of excited kiddies, we got up early and opened our presents. Linda gave me a jersey, all five Viz annuals and a few little bits and pieces. Ann and Betty gave us lots of useful stuff including a book of 250 Tours of Britain.
Linda went off to work at 10AM and I sat round at home until 11:30 then went up to the Dove for a few beers with Bob, Steve and Richard. Lydia, Jenny and Juliet arrived at around 2:30PM and we had a few drinks while we waited for Linda to finish work.
Back at the flat we sat on the floor drinking wine and eating cheese, pate and biscuits. At 4:30 we all went into Warminster for drinks and Xmas goodies with Ann and Bet.
On the way home we called in to see Tina and ended up watching the movie Who Framed Roger Rabbit? on Sky. It was 8:30 by the time we got home and we had more to drink while we cooked up our late Christmas dinner which we ate with great relish while we pulled crackers and let off explosive streamers. The girls had brought us all rubber animal noses so we wore those while we ate.
By the time we had finished eating and doing the dishes we were all buggered so everyone went to bed.
Below are some photographs from that Christmas at Cortington Manor England. We were a bunch of Kiwi kids who had settled down and were happy in our little English world.
MONDAY 24/12 CHRISTMAS EVE. I left home mid morning and drove over to Bath to do my Christmas shopping. It was a fine cold day but gathering clouds gave promise of rain to come later.
I parked in the car parking building and walked over the bridge into the crowded Central shopping area. I spent about five hours wandering around the streets trying to find presents. I bought Linda a Turkish handbag and some earrings and some little gifts for the girls. It was showery as I drove back over the hills out of Bath, the sun breaking through the clouds to illuminate the valley here in there. Back in Warminster I bought a few last-minute things then went home. I spent an hour or so wrapping my pressies and placing them under the tree.
In the evening I went up to the Dove for a few drinks with the boring crowd there. Linda and I went to midnight church with Ann and Betty. It was a bitter night but it was nice going to communion1 – after nine years!!!
1Having been “confirmed” as a 14 year old I was able to take the Anglican communion. That freezing winter night in the little Saxon church at Sutton Veny was the last time I ever took communion, not being a believer.
I slept in until 2:30PM! I guess I needed a recharge and felt a lot better after such a long sleep. We had Ann, Betty, Diana and Roxy [the Duchess’ grand-daughter] up for drinks in our flat in the evening. Ann gave us a porcelain tray like the one her family has used for years at birthdays. Linda had the flat looking really nice with a Christmas tree, decorations, cards and flowers. Our little coffee party lasted a couple of hours. It was most enjoyable. I think Roxy even enjoyed it!
At 7 o’clock we picked up Stuart Cray and Al and drove into the Rose and Crown where we met Tina and Kath. We had a few drinks there then all piled into our car and drove out to Horsham to the pub there where we spent the rest of the evening. Back in Warminster at 11PM we went to a Chinese restaurant for a late meal.
MONDAY 17/12 – SATURDAY 22/12 It was a very busy week at work and I was pretty crook with a bad cold. By the end of the week I was just about stuffed and feeling pretty rundown. My final paycheck for the year was a hefty £260.
I spent a couple of hours over at Heytesbury on a farmlet owned by one of the directors of WVM trimming feet. The sheep’s feet were in a hell of a state and it took a bit of doing but I picked up £15 for my efforts.