Friday 8 December 2023

November Round-up.

Thank you for the kind comments to my last post, I do appreciate you. It's good to be more settled and to start feeling like myself again.

Anyway To jump back slightly to the 31st of October and our anniversary. Cleaning our old house was not how I would have planned to spend it but that was what we ended up doing, well for the morning anyway. We had had to hire a carpet cleaner so my Mum popped round with her car so we could drop it back off and also brought lunch as she was fretting about us not eating. 

Whilst in town she wanted to go to Robert Dyas and pick up some water filters so I nipped to Boots to pick up a prescription and then met her and Himself there. The shopping gods were smiling on us because they had a set of saucepans by Salter with 65% off. We had found out the day before that the new house has an induction hob, which was literally the straw that broke the camel’s back when we got home exhausted, and in my case, craving pasta that night only to find none of our current saucepans are suitable so we couldn’t cook on the hob. Himself was livid that nowhere had this been mentioned so I left him to have a shower and calm down whilst I trudged off to the chip shop.

I could  have really done without having to buy a whole new set of pans, especially as the ones I have a really good, but there it was. for our anniversary Mum brought sandwiches, cakes and a bottle of prosecco. It turned out Himself had also booked a table for dinner at our favourite pub. At first I wasn't sure I could face it I was so tired and stressed, but actually it was lovely to put on a dress and make-up and go out for dinner. I had a delicious slow cooked lamb shank with mashed potatoes and seasonal veg whilst Himself had locally sourced sausages and chips. We shared a homemade orange cheesecake for pudding before waddling back home.


The 8th November would have been my Dad’s birthday so I took the day off work and spent it with Mum. I was worried how she would be but in the end we spent the afternoon reminicing rather than being sad.  The 11th would have been their anniversary, so the family went out for lunch and raised a toast. I still miss him every day.


I also went to a gig on the 10th. A friend of my brother’s is in a band who were supporting the American rock band, Warrior Soul. Back in the day I loved Warrior Soul, and had a major crush on the lead singer Kory Clarke!  I have seen them before a couple of times, but not for many, many years so it seemed a no brainer. 

I seriously need to spot the flags…the major one being why on earth an American band were playing a teeny tiny venue in Reading.

When we got there my brother caught up with his friend and the feedback was that Kory had done a great rehearsal so it should be a good show, depending on how much he drank in between then and going on stage!

Let’s just say when he did hit the stage, he had clearly done a fair bit of drinking, not just that night, but in the intervening years since I had last seen them live. His singing voice had gone completely so he just shouted in a hoarse voice for the whole gig, and I know it’s shallow of me, but other than the hair (which was still gorgeous) the once handsome face was unrecognisable. I sometimes think if the powers that be want to put young people off drink and drugs, don’t show them pictures of diseased livers or lungs, show them a before and after shot of a lifelong substance abuser. 

I understand why people say you can’t go back and don’t meet you idols, I think a little piece of 20 year old Me’s heart broke that night.


On the 17th I was up early and off to Paris for work. I had only recently been there at the end of June, (when Paris was gripped by a heatwave, and it was still 30 degrees at 8pm at night!) so this time I booked my return straight after the fair I was attending on the Saturday. 

I’m quite glad I did because it poured with torrential rain pretty much the whole time!

 The lady I was sat next to on the train going there and I got chatting and ended up having a wonderful conversation for the whole journey. We talked about everything and anything, hugged and kissed cheeks when we parted, and in that typical British fashion didn’t once actually exchange names!

According to the maps my hotel was a 5-minute walk from a metro stop but when I came up the stairs there were major roadworks which meant to rather than being able to cross the road, I had to head off on a major diversion which meant I got completely lost and even with google maps it took me nearly an hour to finally find my hotel! 

I had a wander along the Champs Elysee and then mooched back to a little cafĂ©/bistro nearby the hotel.  Having now done Paris twice and Brussels once, I think I can safely say solo travel is not for me. I find the travel itself incredibly stressful and frankly it’s just bloody lonely to sightsee and eat on your own. Due to budgetary constraints at work it is the new normal now, so I guess I will have to get used to it. Thankfully the journey home was uneventful and by 10.30pm I was in bed with a huge glass of wine watching Strictly on the laptop!


On the 25th I headed to Brimingham. The plan was to meet Charlotte at Banbury station then Alex at New Street in Birmingham, but sadly Alex tested positive for covid a couple of days before so had to cancel. 

As we had already bought our rail tickets Charlotte and I decided to go anyway. Good lord it felt like the world and his dog was in Birmingham that day! I guess it does show the need for high streets is still there, but it was just too busy for me. 

I had hideous train journeys on trains wedged full of people so had to stand all the way. Our first stop was a much-needed hot drink at 200 Degrees coffee shop. We both prefer to go with an independent shop rather than a chain, and Alex, who is a bit of a coffee fiend, loves it there. They were doing a brisk trade but we managed to snag a table so we could sit down with our brews and have a good catch up. We then set out for what became a fairly brief look at the Christmas market. It quickly became apparent it was mostly extremely over-priced food and drink, so we quickly headed away from the central streets. 

We found a smaller market in the cathedral square which was much more our sort of thing, all local artisans and crafts people. We had a leisurely browse and both made some purchases there before decamping to the wonderful (and conveniently nearby) Damascena for a delicious lunch. It’s always busy there but we thankfully only had to queue for about 15 minutes before we got seated. Very randomly the star of lunch for both of us was the mango Sunshine Shake we had both chosen as a drink, I’m still dreaming about it now!

It was one of those gloriously sunny but bitterly cold days so after lunch we went for a mooch around the streets of Birmingham trying to avoid all the crowds before grabbing a cup of tea and going our separate ways. Charlotte to Moor Street Station and me to New Street. From where I endured another packed train home, before I could collapse with a 4-cheese pizza and a very large glass of wine!


I finished the month by going out for dinner with Soo and Melissa. Both had come and helped us move house so it was lovely to see them when I was feeling more like myself and not demented with stress. They had decided on Jericho in Oxford and as they were meeting about an hour before I could get out of work. I found them happily ensconced in The Jericho Tavern drinking pints of Tribute, I was definitely ready for a beer after a full-on day at work, and gratefully accepted a pint before we decided on where to go for dinner. 

We went to The Old Bookbinders on the of chance and managed to get a table providing we were gone by 8pm. They have a delicious French menu and I was almost swayed by the Coq au Vin but instead tucked into a hearty fish pie. As Himself doesn’t like fish I don’t get to cook and eat something a pungently fishy as fish pie at home. The service was attentive without making us feel rushed and by 7.45pm we were replete ready to go. 

We completed our trio if pubs with The Victoria as they always decorate at this time of year with real greenery, which when combined with the open fire and the mulled wine behind the bar, well the smell is pure Christmas.

So that was November and now we are galloping towards the end of the year so more anon.