Oh, alright, then!
One or two friends have kindly enquired - and Brian has nagged - about the lack of blog so, somewhat reluctantly, here I am again. Not that I dislike writing my periodic bulletins it's just I'm not convinced that I have many readers out there and if I do, that they necessarily enjoy what they are reading. But just in case...
So where did the last 3 months of 2008 go? I really can't say although I think it's fair to assume that nothing momentous happened until Brian and I set off for a 2 week visit to Houston and Grand Cayman on December 7th. Reconnecting with old friends and enjoying their generous Texan/Scottish hospitality was awesome but I hope they, and all Houstonians, will forgive me if I admit to feeling a bit of an outsider all the same. Two years down the line, everything was still so familiar yet paradoxically alien at the same time which lent our few days there a slightly surreal edge. December is probably not the optimum time to visit Texas and Houston does not look its best under leaden grey skies even if the temperature is still in the mellow mid-seventies. When it falls 40 degrees overnight and conjures up snow (well, icy precipitation) the next day things really begin to feel out of kilter. Driving wasn't much fun on the freeways in Chevy's version of the PT Cruiser (small, low, poor visibility and no power) and was it my imagination or had driving generally become faster and therefore more dangerous? The old pound sterling didn't stretch very far this time and although Walmart still had some bargains on the pharmacy and cosmetic isles, pre-Xmas retail desperation would have netted us better savings in the UK. I did make an unexpected jewellery purchase in Old Town Spring but only managed to wear the heavily discounted moonstone earrings for about 2 hours on New Year's Eve before one of them mysteriously dropped off and disappeared without trace.
Grand Cayman was all I hoped it would be and very much more (apparently) than Brian had anticipated. We had almost perfect accommodation at the Turtle Nest Inn in Bodden Town well away from 7 Mile Beach and the main tourist track but only a 20 minute drive from most other island destinations. We couldn't fault it for position (right on the beach), comfort or friendliness of staff including 3 lovely resident cats and patient old dog. Although slightly cooler and windier than is usual in December we found the temperature just about right, both in and out of the water. Brian discovered a great deal more of interest than he had feared and only had to resort to his book of suduko puzzles in the hour between 9 - 10 am while he waited for me to start my day with a mug of coffee in one hand and a beautiful strawberry blonde cat in the other. Our friends' daughter's wedding was a very happy day in idyllic romantic surroundings and the perfect ending to a holiday we wished could have lasted at least a few more days.
Back in the UK we had less than 2 days to prepare for our low key Christmas and visit from Daughter Number 1 (numbers 2 and 3 spending theirs with boyfriends in New Zealand and London respectively). Having not had the pleasure of Number 1 at Christmas since the Bacchanalian celebration of 2003, we were just a little apprehensive as to how we might get on but all was good. Sir William was particularly sociable despite, or perhaps because of, his 2 week sojourn at l'hotel des chats where in the pre-Christmas slump he had enjoyed the dubious pleasure of being the only cat on the block and took the opportunity to form a close relationship with the new young female cattery Manager - and an intense dislike of the innocent but male work experience person.
So now it's back to "normal": Numbers 1 and 3 back in Brighton and back to work, Number 2 just returned from her Antipodean adventures, Brian in Korea bravely nursing shingles and me and Sir William holding the fort. House hunting which was put on hold in December is back to the fore as interest rates all but disappear thus rendering our rental lifestyle rather less cost effective than this time last year. The battle of the bulge continues but won't make much progress until the last of the sherry and Christmas cake are gone but don't worry, I'm right on it. The best people won X Factor and Strictly (although I did feel a bit sorry for Rachel Stevens), I couldn't care less about Celebrity Big Brother or the latest ALW vehicle: Jonathan Creek was the biggest TV turkey of the holidays (Wallace and Gromit were, of course, the pomegranate cocktails) and Baz Luhrman's "Australia" absolutely bloody awful in far too may ways to mention. Sharon Shoesmith is trying to get herself reinstated and Gordon Brown continues to preside, incompetent but complacent, over one hell of a mess. Happy New Year, one and all.